It’s pretty deplorable: despite the fact that I LIVED in rural New Mexico, not even 100 miles north of Quemado, the entire time that I was there I never made it out to see Walter de Maria’s brilliant Lightning Field.
Someday, when I’m back visiting Thoreau and Gallup, though, I will. And I’ll drive through Zuni country, pay the $250 dollars to stay the night, and head back up through El Malpais the next day.
I feel like I’ve been posting a lot about people who died lately, but if death is an excuse to pay tribute to some of my favorite artists, hell, I’ll take it. Walter de Maria died yesterday, and yes, I’m using this as an opportunity to share Lightening Field with RAAB readers.
Lightning Field is an installation of 400 stainless steel rods in a remote field in New Mexico. Viewers are encouraged to experience it over an extended period of time, and it’s felt differently for everyone. Lightning may or may not be a component of the unique experience (but I would sure like to see it if I made the trip out.)
Created in 1977, Lightning Field was one of the earliest works to challenge the confines of galleries and museums, and reimagine what pure abstraction means when an artist thinks beyond traditional mediums. I swear, New Mexico is home to everything strange, experimental and shady- it’s the best part of having all that open space.
If his work in sculpture wasn’t cool enough, De Maria has another AWESOME claim to fame: In the mid-’60s, he played drums in a proto-proto-punk band called the Primitives with Lou Reed and John Cale. “The Ostrich” was a kind of rock and roll parody of popular dance songs of the time, and it was a minor hit:
PS- You might like: My very first blog post of all time, which was right after Mike Kelley died.