In 1967 my father bought a Pontiac Catalina and a dingy old travel trailer and took his girlfriend, my brother and me on a road trip. Over the next 8 weeks we drove 13,498 miles, visited 51 parks, and saw wonders like geysers, redwoods, grizzlies, and the Summer of Love in San Francisco. The trip made an indelible impression, cementing my appreciation for the natural world and the American landscape. This summer Pamela and I hope to repeat the experience for our family.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pamela: Cloud World

On Thursday we backtracked about 50 miles up highway 89 through a beautiful valley filled with farms and edged with spectacular cliffs. Our objective was artist Maynard Dixon’s house and studio in Mt. Carmel, UT. Dave and have always admired Dixon’s work and had read that his studio was out this way.

The tour began in a beautifully appointed gallery. The art shown was all by contemporary plein air painters. Most we would gladly hang on our walls. None we could afford. From the gallery we walked a short way to the homestead nestled in a cottonwood grove. The log and stone buildings framed a small square of grass. The Mary Coulter influenced house was small with high ceilings. Dave and I could have moved in tomorrow. The studio was built later and was reminiscent of Wright’s Taliesin designs. The third side of the courtyard was comprised of a bunkhouse where artists can come for several days to paint.

After wandering through the grounds we climbed up a hill to the spot where Dixon requested his ashes be spread. The view was one he painted often with the red and white layers cliffs across the valley and the azure sky polka-dotted with puffy clouds. The man in the gallery called them Dixon clouds.

Back the gallery Lark settled in at the grand piano while Dave and I bought a Dixon print to be shipped home. It is called Cloud World. Linden told the man it reminded her of Georgia O’Keefe. He replied that it was the other way around. Dixon showed that very painting in 1923 at Columbia, a time when O’Keefe still was living in New York. It was the only painting from the American southwest. O’Keefe saw Cloud World before she ever moved west. From now on, great puffy clouds that float in a blue blue sky will forever be Dixon clouds.

1 comment:

  1. A few years ago, I heard an interview with mountain climber Ed Viesturs about his assault on K-2. His quote at the time was "Getting to the top is optional. Getting back to the bottom is mandatory."

    Since he trains a lot in the southwest, I suspect now that he knew the Grand Canyon sign that you listed, and made a few adjustments for altitude and direction.

    No matter to the order as long as one gets home safely at the end and has enjoyed it. That's the mandatory part.