Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ghost Towns and Las Vegas

We're back, and now I can reveal where we were for the past week - taking a geological road trip through the Mojave and Grand Canyon region, and then winding up with two days in Vegas!

We went along with some friends and two youngsters, exploring lava, caves, dunes, canyons, craters, ghost towns, a distant nebula and Andromeda galaxy (through a telescope at Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was discovered) and Vegas' overwhelming neon overconsumption dreamscapes. I knew it would be an adventure, but I didn't realize how inspiring it would be for our glass work. Now I'm more excited than ever to get back into the "creating" part of the year!
We saw so many things, so I'll just stick to the glass-related stuff here. We explored two ghost towns, Two Guns (stone ruins, late 1800s to 1960s) and Chloride (wooden mining town, abandoned and then repopulated by an eccentric community). Andrea and I were fascinated by the shards of purple glass scattered everywhere in Two Guns. I collected a small handful, along with some cobalt blue and milk white glass. In Chloride I saw lots of purple bottle-necks but couldn't find anyone who could tell me what they were from. Now that I'm home I've googled it and have learned that the purple comes from a reaction between manganese in some pre-1915 glass and UV radiation from the sun. Which makes sense and is pretty cool. I'm slightly disappointed because it sounds like the purple colour will disappear if I melt it - which of course was my goal! I'm going to try it anyway and see what happens.
In Vegas proper we saw lots of bizarre and amazing design, which will be a source of inspiration of a different kind than the natural wonders we experienced. We all went to Ka, which was worth every penny, even from the back row. There was a Dale Chihuly ceiling and gift shop at the Bellagio, so I finally got to see the controversial and influential designer's work up-close. Amazing colours. We also saw a Warhol, Lichtenstein and Friends pop-art/minimalist art exhibition (rather dark, actually - I got to apply my Cultural Studies courses and teach Andrea the term "anomie"). The visual theme of Vegas seems to be "vibration" - colours and patterns humming together. It became hard for me to process after a while, and will take me weeks to decompress...

So much I want to do, but for now I think a good rest is in order. Let me end by suggesting that if you can, book a trip to camp at Hole-In-The-Wall at the Mojave National Preserve in April-May, when the cacti and wildflowers flowers put on their show. We saw it when things were just barely waking up and it was gorgeous then, so I can only imagine how beautiful if would be in full living colour.

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