Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

sand island petroglyphs   13 comments

Posted at 9:24 pm in Arizona,Art,geology,history,Utah

Baby Rocks formation near Kayenta, Arizona

In my last post about travels through Utah, I wrote of our campsite in the high desert, a few miles west of Kanab. We stayed in that area for the first few days of November before moving eastward. My original plan had been to camp at one of several dispersed sites that are located along a couple of dirt roads north of 89 between Kanab and Page. However, after making inquiries at the Kanab BLM office, it became apparent that I’d have to look elsewhere due to road closures. In such arid regions, one would think that the roads would be easily maintained, but not so. Rock falls and wash-outs can make roads entirely impassable within minutes. Clean-up and rebuilding can take weeks to several months, so it’s always wise to stop in at the local BLM office to check on road and weather conditions before venturing off the beaten path.

With my plans foiled due to a recent rock fall, I decided to spend the better part of a day on the road, driving east from Kanab, past Lake Powell and over Glen Canyon Dam, through Page, Arizona, then taking routes 98 and 160, through the Navajo Nation lands of the Four Corners region, before turning north and re-entering Utah near Bluff. Once in Utah, I figured that I would find somewhere to camp the night. The drive from Page to Bluff was my first trip through the Navajo lands. I passed a number of farms, many with hogan structures in the yard. Also seen along the way were several hand-painted signs for community horse races. Northeast of the town of Kayenta, I took the above photo of Baby Rocks, an unusual formation of sand- and siltstone that has broken up into vertical towers which resemble a gathering of people (click on all images for larger version). From the highway, it was also possible to see several of the immense rock formations of Monument Valley.

view of a panel of petroglyphs on cliff face at Sand Island site near Bluff, Utah

By late afternoon, I was back over the Utah border, heading north on 191. I crossed the San Juan River, then turned east toward Bluff. Soon, I spotted signs for the Sand Island BLM campground and made a mental note to return there if I did not find a suitable campsite elsewhere. Continuing east, I made a quick exploration of Bluff, then returned to the BLM campground. Once again, I found myself almost alone – which is always nice. I chose a campsite beneath a tall gold-leafed cottonwood, near the towering sandstone cliffs that run parallel to the river. Before making dinner, I took the dogs for a walk over to the cliffs to study the many panels of petroglyphs which were a good part of the reason for my choice of stopping points for this evening. Various sources I’ve read date some of these petroglyphs to about 2500 years old.

our campsite, as seen from the trail along the petroglyphs (far right). The San Juan River is obscured from view by the trees.

Although the elevation was over 4000 feet at this location, we enjoyed one of the warmest nights of our trip. The campground is very sheltered and the south-facing cliffs must store a great deal of heat on sunny days. Although quiet during our visit, this site is a staging area for river rafting on the San Juan, so must see a lot more traffic during warmer months of the year.

anthropomorphic figures surrounded by Bighorn Sheep and other creatures

The petroglyph panels at this site are protected by a chain link fence along the sections with the highest aggregation of figures. However, the fence is close enough to afford an excellent view of the glyphs. I walked the length of the expanse of sandstone cliff and also found a number of isolated figures high above ground level. As we followed the roadway, Ravens occasionally appeared to soar along the upper edge of the cliff face.

several Kokopelli figures appear in one area of the glyphs (figures playing flutes)

Figures at this site include many anthropomorphs, perhaps most notably, a small group of Kokopelli figures – those playing flutes in the above photo. There are also many animal figures forming lines like small herds. The petroglyphs at Sand Island are the most accessible of those located along the San Juan River. There exist many more sites which may only be viewed from the water. Perhaps some day I will have a chance to take a rafting trip to see these additional sites.

geometric and more abstract figures appear in some of the panels

I spent awhile photographing the petroglyphs in the evening and again the next morning. The warmer light a couple of hours after sunrise seemed to produce the best results. The number of figures is so great at this site, that it could provide many of hours of study for those who are interested in such things. I would return to this campground later in this trip, only to notice new figures that had somehow been overlooked during my previous visit.

After shooting more photos, I packed up the van and set out for the next stop on our exploration of southeast Utah – Hovenweep National Monument – to camp and visit the stone dwellings. More about that in an upcoming post.

cliff face as seen from our campsite

Written by bev wigney on January 5th, 2011

my yesterday   12 comments

Posted at 1:04 pm in Arizona,Art,being alone,birds,desert,friends

the completed “Nevermore Cat” painting

Back to some chronological leaping around. A couple of days ago, I added to the account of our November travels through Utah. Today, I’m jumping forward to yesterday. I would like to share some photos taken over the past forty-eight hours, illustrating what the dogs and I did in lieu of celebrating christmas. The night before last, I presented good friends with a 12 x 16 inch canvas of the “Nevermore Cat”. As most of you know, it is based on Paul Gauguin’s 1897 painting Nevermore. In 2008, I had created a smaller version on some canvas board, but decided to make a larger version on a stretched canvas, this time working from a better photograph of their cat. My friends were surprised and pleased when I handed over the finished painting. (Note: Click on all photos for larger views).

an unusually deserted view of Main Street in Bisbee

Yesterday, I spent the morning working around the place and then playing guitar for awhile. Around noon, a friend called to ask if I might like to go for a walk around town. I’m always game for that as Bisbee is a place unlike any other. For those who harbor an appreciation of art, architecture, building materials, texture, and history, there is much to see. I never fail to see something new each time I go for a stroll with my camera. Yesterday proved to be especially nice as there were so few people out and about. That’s a rare thing as there are usually dozens of tourists wandering around the streets on any given day.

giant fly-on-the-wall above the entrance of the Sam Poe Gallery

My friend and I are both art and architecture junkies, so our attention was drawn to stone, tile and ironwork, old doors and windows, cast-iron manhole covers, metal rain gutters, crumbling concrete walls, graffiti, hand-painted signs and lettering on brickwork, and a bunch of other stuff that I can’t even begin to go into here.

large panel of an agave and kangaroo rats

As mentioned, each time I wander around town, I see something that I’ve never noticed before. Yesterday’s coup was the above panel of an agave and kangaroo rats, and its twin, a panel of a yucca and a horned lizard.

ironwork gate and figures by Benjamin Dale

For some time, I’ve been meaning to stop and photograph the wonderful gate and figures created by metal sculptor, Benjamin Dale. If you have spent any amount of time walking around Bisbee, you will have encountered his work. More examples can be found on his website.

Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw

Our afternoon walk-and-photo session was cut short when we ran into friends who were heading over to Whitewater Draw to visit the Sandhill Cranes. My friend and I decided to join them, tossed our binoculars and cameras into the van, and made the short drive to the playa where the cranes gather between foraging forays. On this occasion, they were on the east side of the playa, affording a very good view. We remained for an hour or so before heading back to town. I arrived home in time for my evening walk-about with the dogs before making our dinner – leftover stir-fry from the previous night. Not your traditional holiday fare, but then, who keeps track of this kind of thing anymore? Not I.

Sage looking over the garden gate

Written by bev wigney on December 26th, 2010