ART + THE GREAT OUTDOORS: SPIRAL JETTY
SALT LAKE CITY - Its almost summer, and the ubiquitous American road trip is on the mind. There are plenty of amazing places to go see, things to do, and people to meet, but why not take a turn off the beaten path and let your thirst for adventure and the outdoors have an affair with modern and contemporary art. For our first edition of SUMMER ROAD TRIPS WORTH TAKING, we want to highlight Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. Smithson’s famous earthwork from 1970 funded by the Dia Art Foundation is a hallmark in post-war art, but many have only seen photos. Spiral Jetty has a fairly remote location on Rozel Point on the Great Salt Lake in Box Elder County Utah, about a 2.5 hour drive from Salt Lake City, though the directions provided by Dia Art Foundation will land you basically at the front door of the artwork, you can still enjoy a great day hike around the rugged terrain of the lake.
Spiral Jetty is worth the drive, not only for the striking scenery and hiking opportunities that the Great Salt Lake provides, but for the truly astounding sight of the work itself. Stretching out to over 1,500ft long and 15ft wide, the piece is comprised of mud, precipitated salt crystals, basalt rocks, and water. Smithson, one of the frontrunners of the Land Art Movement that included artists such as Michael Heizer, James Turrell, Donald Judd, and Smithson’s wife Nancy Holt, had a robust career, working in mediums of drawing, painting, sculpture, but is best known for his earthworks, which were are located globally, ranging from Italy, Holland, and the United States. Though many of his works are quite famous, the Spiral Jetty is by far the most celebrated Smithson of record. Smithson sadly was killed in an airplane crash in Amarillo, Texas, just three years after contemplating Spiral Jetty at the tragically young age of 35. It remains only speculation what stellar works Smithson would have created if he had not met such a devastatingly young end.
The work by Smithson was created during a drought in April of 1970. The work took just over 6days for Smithson to complete. Due to the fact it was constructed during a drought, the water level that the piece exists at is quite low, so depending on the time of year and the amount of rain that has occurred, the piece may not be visible. However – unfortunately for Utah, but fortunately for Smithson seekers, there is a drought going on - so the likelihood for you to get the chance to see this seminal work by such an important figure of post-war art are reasonably high!
DIRECTIONS PROVIDED BY DIA ART FOUNDATION
1. From Salt Lake City take I-15 north approximately 65 miles to the Corinne exit (exit 365), just west of Brigham City, Utah. Exit and turn right onto Route 13 to Corinne. *LAST GAS STATION is in Corinne.
2. Past Corinne, the road becomes Highway 83. Continue west for 17.7 miles. Follow signs to Golden Spike National Historic Site (GSNHS) Visitor Center.
3. Turn left onto Golden Spike Road and continue 7.7 miles up the east side of Promontory Pass to Golden Spike National Historic Site Visitor Center. *LAST BATHROOMS are at the Visitor Center. *LAST CELL RECEPTION.
4. From the Visitor Center, drive 5.6 miles west on the main gravel road to a fork in the road. Continue left, heading west. *There are small white signs directing you the entire way to Spiral Jetty.
5. Cross a cattle guard. Call this cattle guard #1. Including this one, you cross four cattle guards before you reach Rozel Point and Spiral Jetty.
6. Drive 1.3 miles south to a second fork in the road. Turn right onto the southwest fork, and proceed 1.7 miles to cattle guard #2.
7. Continue southeast 1.2 miles to cattle guard #3.
8. Continue straight 2.8 miles south-southwest to cattle guard #4 and an iron-pipe gate.
9. Drive south for another 2.7 miles around the east side of Rozel Point. You will see the north arm of Great Salt Lake and an old oil jetty (not Spiral Jetty) left by drilling explorations that ended in the 1980s.
10. The road curves turning north and ends at a cul-de-sac parking lot directly next to Spiral Jetty.