George Zupp and I made a decision to join each other in Redford back in 2007-2008. During that time we were discussing the issue of how an environmental change can affect an artist's work through a healthy natural influence. In May of 2009, the capital had been saved, and the adventure was set into action; however, my arrival in Redford was met immediately with tragedy. Losing a friend and companion to the harsh nature of West Texas, my first "marker", or sculpture, went up without my realizing it's importance. It would mark the beginning of my time there, and also serve as the center piece for an ending as well.
An environment such as Big Bend can generate a multitude of inspirations within the heart of an artist, needless to say, it flooded mine with ideas. My relationship with George was a bit distant, while at the same time loosely collaborative. Each person wound up watching the other in what felt like a Mexican standoff of artistic egos, each reluctant to place ideas on the table for fear that the other's were better, or would be stolen, however, we did try to work together in the media of video but from my perspective, the video collaboration was largely unsuccessful. In retrospect, the bigger narrative videos I had scripted were never produced, largely due to difficulties between collaborative energies, and partly due to a lack of dependable resources. On the brighter and better side, the desire to produce these videos inspired the greater of the two, an on site installation leading into the mysterious Bofecillos.
The path of the installation was originally intended to compliment George's work beginning with a pyramid of food cans, which he had been sculpting with, and ending with his being reunited with a bunny sculpture, which made several appearances throughout our time there. In the video script, he was to acquire a lost map from the Angel of Death after a West Texas shootout concerning a desert art critique gone wrong. From the first map, he would have to follow along a series of markers and installation pieces to find new maps ultimately leading him in the direction of the hidden bunny. The first point on the map was the pyramid of cans, climbing out of an arroyo near Texas Highway 170 and the old Redford Elementary school.
From that point, a series of posts, or markers, doubling as removable walking/hiking staffs, would lead deeper into the desert. Each post,a total of five, were created from recycled spam cans, metal striping, polymer resin, acrylic & wood and were topped with blue paint buckets or hoods, to protect the medallion pieces from the sun and to also make the markers more visible in the desert landscape. Their installation was key, four being set on a line leading to the top of Checker's Hill and the last positioned off the beaten path leading to an alternate hill where sits the "Golden Chair of Academia", the last resting place of the bunny.
Coupled with the video idea, this was meant to indirectly give a "choice" to George concerning which path to take. The path is not an easy one however, after the second marker the trail dives off into a series of arroyo channels and the path becomes lost, hidden there was a sculpture I rescued from the old San Marcos Warehouse arts scene and titled "portrait bust of a Lost Soul". This was a location of the second map, and encouraged keeping faith and pointed to the next direction. Also, there was a dead tree of stolen spam cans meant to incite horror or disgust in the arroyos. All in all, the participant could find their way out of the labyrinth by maintaining sight of the remaining markers.
The markers eventually follow a path leading up to the top of a hill where my dog was buried and where a blue cross now stands overlooking Kelly Pruitt's jacal, toward the old Polvo Baptist Church, and a view into the larger Bofecillos mountains and Texas' Big Bend Ranch State Park. Just beside that hill, and on the alternative route, stands another smaller hill where I placed an old elementary school chair painted gold, calling it the "Golden Alter of Academia", or "Golden Chair of Academia". It was a poke at our academic backgrounds and an indirect blow from my position that academics will never rise above the magnitude or potency of the supernatural or biblical prophecy in the minds of humanity. But still acknowledges academia's importance as a continuingly vital institution while leadership and direction maintain truth.
In the end, my vision to produce an entertaining sequence of videos revolving around this installation piece were never realized. Fortunately, the installation itself was. In the larger scope, the finale was the installation. It was the artistic effort to produce a physical journey for viewers to experience in a site specific space, a call to all, to adventure seekers to explore some of the desert's mystery in real time. An invitation to take the path of discovery, to continue on into the greater mountains, to reach the higher peaks and find the treasures hidden there, the treasure of imagination sparked by the natural world itself.