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Wildling Art Museum: Visionscapes

Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2005

By: Holly Cline (Expired article)

Los Olivos, CA -

The summer exhibition at the Wildling Art Museum entitled “Visionscapes: Vanishing Rock Art Sites of the West,” will feature a series of very large 360-degree color photographs by Utah-based artist and award-winning filmmaker, Diane G. Orr.

These photographs depict Native American pictographs in Utah, Wyoming, Nevada and Arizona, in their dramatic landscape settings. The pictographs captured in Orr’s photographs, some of which may be 1200 years old, are threatened by mining, natural gas development, tourist predation and random vandalism. It is Orr’s concern for the preservation of these artworks by America’s first artists that has lead her to photograph them, both to record them before they are further destroyed and to draw attention to our neglect of these irreplaceable rock art images which are valuable culturally and well as aesthetically.

To help her understand the meaning of these images, Orr has enlisted the help of Larry Cesspooch, an Ute spiritual story teller, who believes in the enduring importance of rock art communication. Together Orr and Cesspooch created a video documenting the pictographs and petroglyphs in Nine Mile Canyon, an ancient thoroughfare connecting Northern Utah with the Green and Colorado Rivers that is being impacted by natural gas exploration and development. This project led her to photographing other rock art sites in the West with her 360-degree panoramic camera, allowing the viewer to see the pictographs up close as well as the entire landscape which surrounds them.

From what she has learned from Cesspooch and others, Orr concludes: “Rock art recorded historic events, served ceremonial purposes, marked thoroughfares and territorial claims, functioned as calendars and seasonal markers and, no doubt, had other unrecognized purposes. We may never unravel the deepest meanings of these mysterious and beautiful communications from the past, but hopefully we can and will preserve these extraordinary links to our shared landscape and history.”

“Visionscapes: Vanishing Rock Art Sites of the West” opens on June 19 and will continue through September 11. The Wildling Art Museum is located at 2329 Jonata Street in Los Olivos (between Mattei’s Tavern and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church). Public hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11-5. A donation of $2.00 per person is requested (Members and children 12 and under are free). For further information about the exhibition or other summer events at the Wildling, call 688-1082.

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