July 7, 2012


Why yes, that is what that is. A spiral "Jetty," in fact....
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Posted by greg at 2:45 PM

February 2, 2012

On Jetty Time

I've kept quiet and hopeful for six months, but now I think it's time to congratulate Dia Foundation, the Utah Department of Natural Resources, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College...
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Posted by greg at 8:24 PM

November 27, 2011

On Bruce McAllister's DOCUMERICA And Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty

One of the startling images Alan Taylor included from the EPA's DOCUMERICA collection is by Bruce McAllister. The caption:A train on the Southern Pacific Railroad passes a five-acre pond, which was used as a dump site by area commercial...
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Posted by greg at 1:21 PM

November 26, 2011

DOCUMERICA And The Ills Of The 1970s American Landscape

Following on from the multiple installments of archival World War II images on hisphotoblog In Focus, Alan Taylor has assembled selections from another remarkable public photo archive, this time from the Environmental Protection Agency. In the early 1970s, the newly...
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Posted by greg at 5:41 PM

August 18, 2011

Great Minds Think Alike, But Only Some Of Us Write For The New Yorker

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit I didn't read it earlier, and I have to read it now, obviously, now that it's finally been published in the US. But I wonder if my first short film may be an inadvertent...
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Posted by greg at 12:06 AM

July 30, 2011

Conversation in Salt Lake City

Robert Smithson, "Conversation in Salt Lake City," 1972:There's a word called entropy. These are kind of like entropic situations that hold themselves together. It's like the Spiral Jetty is physical enough to be able to withstand all these climate changes,...
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Posted by greg at 3:16 PM

July 14, 2011

Dave Hickey's National Geographic for Esthetes

The short answer is yes, Dave Hickey's writing was even more off-the-wall in the Seventies, and you really might just as well scroll straight down to the song. Otherwise, I just brought home a stack of old Art In Americas,...
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Posted by greg at 12:26 AM

July 13, 2011

On Reliction, Sovereign Land, And Entropy

Underlying [literally] this whole Spiral Jetty situation is the fact that Smithson constructed the Jetty on so-called sovereign land, the land under a body of water--in this case, Great Salt Lake--that is claimed by the state under Public Trust doctrine....
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Posted by greg at 12:46 AM

July 10, 2011

On And Around Rozel Point

As you might expect, I've been going deep into the history and context of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty lately. I'm in Salt Lake City right now, meeting folks and listening and trying to gather some firsthand perspectives on the issues...
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Posted by greg at 11:07 PM

July 7, 2011

Site Specifics: Why I'm Bidding On The Lease For The Spiral Jetty Site

I've begun speaking to enough people on the ground that it wouldn't have gone unnoticed for much longer, but now word's got out that I've established a foundation to bid on the site of Robert Smtihson's Spiral Jetty, a...
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Posted by greg at 3:45 PM

June 27, 2011

1994 Calling: Spiral Jetty

We're consolidating storage spaces between New York and Washington, and it's given me a chance to reorganize a bit. I found a couple of boxes my 1994 self apparently just threw stuff into, sealed up, and shipped off, almost...
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Posted by greg at 5:30 PM

June 8, 2011


Holy smokes, this is like something out of Land Art Kafka. Tyler Green points to a just-published report by the Salt Lake Tribune's Glen Warchol: the Utah Department of Natural Resources is claiming the Dia Foundation's 20-year lease on the...
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Posted by greg at 10:44 PM

May 21, 2010

Oh My Heck, Spiral Jetty India Pale Ale

That is so Epic. From Epic Brewing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah. Spiral Jetty IPA | Epic Brewing Company [epicbrewing.com via the freshly relocated tyler green] Related? The Shoppes at Rozel Point, from Visiting Artist (sic), a lecture involving Smithson...
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Posted by greg at 10:02 PM

April 29, 2010

Hilton Kramer: TMI

God bless him, even if he's on the wrong side of [most of the intervening 40 years of] contemporary art history, you gotta love Hilton Kramer's eviscerating takedown of MoMA's 1970 conceptualist exhibition, Information, curated by Kynaston McShine:The exhibition is,...
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Posted by greg at 11:03 PM

March 20, 2010

Wanted: Smithson's Movie Treatment For Spiral Jetty Poster

I've been working on a shot-for-shot remake of the Spiral Jetty film for a while, and so I'm quite familiar with the storyboard-like drawings Smithson did for it. Familiar with them as drawings, that is. He called them Movie...
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Posted by greg at 11:07 PM

March 3, 2010

The Not So Spiral Jetty

For a generation of art watchers, Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty existed primarily as an image, via the making-of film and Gianfranco Gorgoni's iconic aerial photographs, which were exhibited at MoMA's seminal Information show and were published in Smithson's Artforum...
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Posted by greg at 11:31 PM

January 26, 2010

Everyone's An Earth Artist: Lamanites

I guess if God can appear to a backwoods New York farmboy, send an angel to groom him for four years, and then command him to translate a sheaf of golden plates into the Book of Mormon, He can...
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Posted by greg at 7:41 PM

Everyone's An Earth Artist: Dolphins

I know dolphins are supposed to be super-intelligent and all, BUT. While this detournement of Smithson's Spiral Jetty executed from rapidly dissipating, tail-agitated mud is passably performative, as a critique of entropy, it's a little too pat and predictable....
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Posted by greg at 7:25 PM

July 21, 2009


If I'm a little high right now, it's just because these conservators just hit like every art button I have:To photo-document Spiral Jetty, we used a tethered helium balloon about 8-10 feet in diameter, attached to a digital camera...
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Posted by greg at 1:55 PM

July 20, 2009

For the Record, The Spiral Jetty First Re-Emerged In 1994.

Not 2004 when the state put up a sign pointing to it. Not 2002, when my sister first took a college date out to see it but Artforum's Nico Israel couldn't find it. 1994. After a Salt Lake City artist...
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Posted by greg at 6:50 PM

April 27, 2009

On Dean On Ballard On Millar On Smithson

Who knew? Tacita Dean writes in the Guardian about her late friend JG Ballard's shared interest in Robert Smithson:My relationship to Ballard had begun a little earlier, with our mutual interest in the work of the US artist Robert Smithson....
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Posted by greg at 8:05 AM

April 16, 2009

Visiting Artist [sic], Parts 7 & 7: Robert Smithson

These are the last two segments from the lecture I gave at the University of Utah School of Art in 2007, titled Visiting Artist [sic]. They're both about Robert Smithson. The first [above] is about Smithson's own 1972 slideshow...
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Posted by greg at 9:19 PM

November 4, 2008

Finding Double Negative has never been easier

Finding Double Negative has never been easier, originally uploaded by gregorg. Not since we programmed it into the navigation system of my in-laws' car, anyway. The car also has an offroad navigation feature that logs virtual GPS breadcrumbs at...
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Posted by greg at 7:58 AM

October 15, 2008

Backroads Backstory: Walter De Maria On Michael Heizer

I started poking around a bit on the making of story of Michael Heizer's Double Negative. I'd known that it was commissioned by Virginia Dwan, the incredible gallerist who was also behind Smithson's Spiral Jetty. Here's a bit of her...
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Posted by greg at 12:24 AM

September 26, 2008

So How's That Spiral Jetty Doin'?

Is he done? I think so. Tyler Green has turned Modern Art Notes into State of Spiral Jetty Notes this week, and it seems clear to me that the biggest entropic threat Smithson's masterpiece faces is not natural, but institutional....
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Posted by greg at 1:40 PM

September 7, 2008

Well, I Remember The First Time I Visited The Spiral Jetty

Former NGA curator and Dia director Jeffrey Weiss writes about the state of Land Art in the latest issue of Artforum. His focus: T.S.O.Y.W., a 3-hour Earthworks road trip movie/installation by Amy Granat and Drew Heitzler shown in this year's...
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Posted by greg at 10:33 PM

July 27, 2008

Is The Spiral Jetty Visible? Check USGS Elevation Data

So the geocachers I've relied on to provide the link to the USGS real time data about the elevation of the Great Salt Lake have rejiggered their site. So here's the link I'm using to see if the Spiral Jetty...
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Posted by greg at 9:22 PM

February 1, 2008

Lemme Tell You A Story 'Bout A Man Named Smithson

Score one for the bloggers. In the face of an instant, last-minute, blog-fueled burst of attention, the Utah Department of Oil, Gas & Mines has extended the public comment period until Feb. 13 for Application to Permit Drilling #08-8853,...
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Posted by greg at 9:17 PM

March 30, 2007

Leaving On A Jet Plane, Speaking On Art Tuesday

"Spiral Doily" postcard, Corinne, UT, 2005 Yow, didn't realize how radio silent it's been around here. I've been working on a couple of deadlines, one article I'll go into later, and a lecture I'm just tightening up right now....
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Posted by greg at 10:31 PM

October 9, 2006

Non-Sensical Non-Site Non-Art?: Smithson's "Hotel Palenque"

Curator Nancy Spector described Robert Smithson's Hotel Palenque, which the Guggenheim acquired in 1999 from the artist's estate [controlled by his widow Nancy Holt and represented by James Cohan Gallery] this way:Hotel Palenque perfectly embodies the artist's notion of...
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Posted by greg at 4:45 PM

January 30, 2006

What If Sprawl Is The Real Entropy?

Maybe we have the whole Smithsonian entropy thing wrong. In 2002, Artforum's Nico Israel whined with condescension about the homogenous strip mall & fast food landscape he had to endure on his road trip from one perfectly isolated Earthwork [Spiral...
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Posted by greg at 10:33 AM

January 26, 2006

Cleanup Crew: 1, Entropy: 0 At The Spiral Jetty

From The Salt Lake Tribune, 1/21/06:Spiral Jetty cleanup: Utah officials last month removed several tons of junk from Rozel Point, the area along the Great Salt Lake's north shore that is home to Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty. "Anyone who has...
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Posted by greg at 5:07 AM

November 5, 2005

Digging Dugway

Whoa. The Dugway Proving Ground is in Skull Valley, an hour and a half west of Salt Lake City. It's where the US Army tests chemical and biological weapons and defense systems. It's the site of an incineration program...
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Posted by greg at 11:38 AM

September 24, 2005

All Things Considered, I'd Rather Be In Passaic

I guess there's some...irony? justice? synchronicity? between Robert Smithson's non-site works--pieces of far-off locations displaced into a gallery--and twiddling your thumbs at a boring* Smithson symposium in a college auditorium while the last 36 hours of the artist's Floating Island...
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Posted by greg at 1:08 AM

September 22, 2005

Smithson Symposium Saturday 9/24

New York Is Smithson Country this week, what with the Floating Island and the Whitney retrospective and the Smithson Symposium all day Saturday. What symposium, you say? Actually, that's what I said. I had no idea. Anyway, over four sessions,...
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Posted by greg at 7:50 AM

September 16, 2005

Tote That Barge

Randy Kennedy has an article on the making of Robert Smithson's Floating Island, a tree-filled barge which will chug around lower Manhattan for a week or so:Smithson's project is just as intimately connected to Central Park, which he regarded, in...
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Posted by greg at 3:01 AM

June 26, 2005

Earth Art Via Satellite

[via land+living]In the wake of Google Maps' release, a few sites have started collecting coordinates and satellite images of various earth art works, including Spiral Jetty, Michael Heizer's Double Negative, James Turrell's Roden Crater, and Walter deMaria's Lightning Field. Here's...
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Posted by greg at 1:56 AM

June 23, 2005

Bring The Spiral Jetty Into Your Home!

Do you ever wish you still had those Matisse Cutout posters from freshman year? Well, the good old days are back, my art advertising-loving friend. BetterWall will sell you an actual, cleaned up, polyvinyl street banner from your favorite museum...
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Posted by greg at 1:03 AM

June 7, 2005

Don't Book That Spiral Jetty Trip Just Yet

Recent record flooding in Utah has raised the water level (elevation, that is) of the Great Salt Lake to a five-year record high of 4,198 feet, enough to submerge the Spiral Jetty and scuttle any art world latecomer's summer pilgrimage...
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Posted by greg at 8:12 AM

September 1, 2004

The Cattle Guards of Box Elder County

So how did there come to be street signs for the Spiral Jetty? For years, the only way to see Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty was from the air, or in a photograph, or in the artist's own making-of film, which...
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Posted by greg at 12:44 PM

August 30, 2004

How to get to Spiral Jetty? It's never been easier.

On the 10-year anniversary of the re-emergence of Spiral Jetty and my first visit, and in keeping with our family tradition of visiting the Jetty whenever we attend a wedding in Salt Lake City, we popped on over Saturday...
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Posted by greg at 10:04 AM

August 18, 2004

Spiral Jetty: Still Spiral, Not a Jetty

Todd Gibson's posting an extensive first-hand account of his recent visit to the Spiral Jetty, which, because of an ongoing drought, is now completely out of the water. That's fast. Some friends went in early July, and it still had...
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Posted by greg at 10:03 AM

January 13, 2004

The Leonard Riggio Spiral Jetty Visitor's Center, Valet parking to the right

Well, not yet. But after years of drought, Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty is so visible (and walkable), it's getting so many visitors, the Dia Center is thinking: upgrades. Making the bone-jarring road more accessible; maybe adding some rocks here and...
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Posted by greg at 10:35 AM

October 2, 2002

Great Minds, etc etc

Arnolfo di Cambio et al, Basilica di Santa Croce, 1294-1442 [img via] As the Artforum.com discussion of Nico Israel's Spiral Jetty travelogue turned from my smug fact-checking to the romanticisation of contemporary art, E.M. Forster's A Room With a...
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Posted by greg at 2:55 AM

September 22, 2002

Placeholder: Spiral Jetty

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty.avi [1.3Mb], c. 2002 This will be the entry where I write about our trip to the Spiral Jetty and post some amusing pictures thereof. It will be enlightening and insightful, yet not without wry humor....
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Posted by greg at 12:47 PM

September 1, 2002

On Robert Smithson, film, and finding the way

The Spiral Jetty is back. Although it was submerged when we checked in July, my college senior sister said it was visible from the hill above it when she took a first date out to see it a couple of...
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Posted by greg at 7:42 AM