12. The "Valley of Fire", Nevada
Joe Thomson, Artist, 03.29.2013, P1 of 1
The artist Joe Thomson, with his wife, visited the "Valley of Fire", 50 miles north of Las Vegas, in May, 2013, during a custom van tour of the weather –beaten sandstone outcrops that form stone rills and buttes in the parched, Nevada landscape, dotted with cholla cacti, as far as the eye can see.
The red rock rills have taken on many facial forms and fantastical images at the weather-beating hands of the forces of Nature over the millennia so that their shapes now carry their own descriptive names: the "Beehive", the "Wedding Arch" and the "Sphinx".
The elusive gold and silver mine deposits in Nevada are found to border the geological upheavals in the strata that have occurred in the distant past and signal the locations for productive but expensive mining operations still in the State. Other minerals that are mined are limestone for cement and borax from Death Valley for cleaning detergent.
The ancient native North American Indian pictographs drawn on selected black, surface-coated sandstone outcrops are visible to view in protected sites for preservation. Other sites contain petroglyphs that testify to the once forested and watery basins to which these shallow valleys once gave rise. The Paiute tribe, now consisting of 800 members, is still native to this Nevada territory.
To the artist, the multi-faceted ridges, the sculpted carvings wrought by Nature evoke an ancient time, albeit lost in eternity. The exploratory insight into this unique, ancient land of natural beauty is one that stands almost petrified, in silent witness to its own creation. Yet it is still alive with varieties of bushes and desert animals, like snakes, rodents and small mammals that take advantage of the night to hunt and forage in this arid, hot terrain.
The art collages created from the images of these monolithic, sandstone rocks can now transform the living embodiments of these stone faces into other natural personas created by the artist, as shown in his collage entitled "Life on Mars" in the associated photo gallery.
NASA' s Earth equivalent to the Red Planet's terrain was the Mojave Desert to replicate the conditions that would confront the Mars rover "Curiosity", before its launch in 2012.
Meanwhile, the hidden, sculpting hand of Nature, assisted by the torrid heat, occasionally raking the valley basins with wild-fires and tempestuous winds, continues to work its millennial wonders, imperceptibly in the "Valley of Fire". Their collages, too, are to be inspired.
Joe Thomson, Artist, Poet, 03.29.2013