Amargosa Desert Panorama

A Poem

from Fra Lippo Lippi,
by Robert Browning

…We’re made so that we love
First when we see them painted, things we have passed
Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see;
And so they are better, painted — better to us,
Which is the same thing. Art was given for that;
God uses us to help each other so,
Lending our minds out…
This world’s no blot for us,
Nor blank; it means intensely and means good:
To find its meaning is my meat and drink.

AmargosaPanoramaWSHaving spent 6 weeks in February and March 2009 at the Goldwell Open Air Museum’s Red Barn (near Beatty Nevada) as a Workspace Resident, I returned in November to paint a full panorama of the space seen from the Barn doors. I had played at working the space in oils on small panels earlier, but this time I wanted to try large linen panels. I also did a small scale set of studies for the larger panels. The set above, called The Amargosa is 5 feet high and 28 feet long. The image above, photograph by David Lancaster, is the way the linen panels looked on November 30, exactly 30 days after I began cutting the rolls of linen to size.

Here are images of the individual panels:

The Amargosa, Panel 1 (east),  4 x 5′,  Oil on linen, 2009

DesertOrientationPanel2WSThe Amargosa, Panel 2 (east),  4 x 5′,  Oil on linen, 2009

DesertOrientationPanel3WSThe Amargosa, Panel 3 (east),  4 x 5′,  Oil on linen, 2009

DesertOrientationPanel4WSThe Amargosa, Panel 4 (central),  4 x 5′,  Oil on linen, 2009

DesertOrientationPanel5WSThe Amargosa, Panel 5 (west),  4 x 5′,  Oil on linen, 2009


The Amargosa, Panel 6 (west),  4 x 5′,  Oil on linen, 2009

DesertOrientationPanel7WSThe Amargosa, Panel 7 (west),  4 x 5′,  Oil on linen, 2009

AmargosaPanoramaWSThe   Amargosa, 28′ x 5′, Oil on linen, 2009

“Dancing, which is always accompanied by music or a beat of some kind, dramatically abrogates historical time and oriented space. Music and dance free people from the demands of purposeful goal-directed life….” Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place.

“The desert has no middle ground. It lacks the natural features or built structures that allow us to focus on that part of the landscape where normally our vision, hence our imagination, spends most of its time. It’s [an] example of our dissonance with the Great Basin…. the emptier the space, the less history we perceive. Without evidence of events, save those of geological occurrences mostly eons ago, we are…temporally unanchored.” William L. Fox, The Void, the Grid,& the Sign

All the images and work are copyrighted by June O. Underwood.


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