Metaphor – Tree of Utah: Wendover, UT

Located just next to I-80, about an hour west of Salt lake City Utah, and maybe 15 minutes east of Wendover, Nevada, I’ve driven by the “Tree of Utah” many times over the years, but this is the first time I ever stopped… and really looked at it IMG_4580I remember the first time I passed it was like a mirage, as you’re driving through a very large desolate desert area (the Great Salt Lake outside of Salt Lake City Utah) … the sort of place that must have terrified the first settlers in their covered wagons…

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only for this weird alian-like tree to suddenly pop up on the side of the road…IMG_4557

“On a clear day the Tree is visible to travelers on the highway at a distance of 17 miles. Motorists first see the multicolored spheres, as though they are suspended by seemingly invisible means above the desert. In warm weather the trunk is lost in the convection currents of hot air rising from the blanched desert floor.  Only the spheres shimmer mysteriously and silently in the arid atmosphere. On travelling nearer, the trunk becomes visible and the balls are elevated high above the surface, changing hue with the prevailing conditions of light and weather.” — AboutIMG_4571

I.e., now that I’m blogging about, I just discovered that this was in fact the artist’s intention, and it was based on him having just that sort of mirage like experience the first time he drove across that bit of desert.IMG_2333“The tree’s six spheres are all coated with natural rock and minerals found within the state of Utah, and the pods below symbolize the changing of the seasons, when trees naturally transform themselves.” — Wikipedia

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The artist, Karl Momen, built it at his own expense and gifted it to the state. Only when you try to approach it you’re NOT allowed to walk right up to the statue (there’s a fence around it — see above) so from that distance you can only JUST make out the plaque on its side, but can’t really read it… so the artist’s comment is unreadable without powerful binoculars — and the state’s made no attempt to replicate it where you can read it (which kind of tells me something about the state’s relationship to the work).

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I spotted a lot of Rest in peace (RIP) messages written to friends and loved ones on the surrounding salt flats by the placement of small stones

What’s really interesting is if you actually stop your car (which technically you’re NOT supposed to do (I passed a sign that said do not stop for any reason right as I was approaching it… although it’s clear when you get up close and personal that many people disregard that sign)

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is the relationship that locals and travelers have developed with the work. Every one of the “fallen fruit” type things that surround the work are heavily graffitied /tagged

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And individuals have even found ways to put their mark on the fencing that surrounds the work, which are much harder to see from even a few steps away

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After I got back into my car and started to drive, about five minutes more west of the tree I came across this off to the side of the road and stopped…. to give you a sense of its actual size (it was a bit away from me)IMG_2332

The Pink flamingo is the size of pink flamingos that folks tend to put in their front yards… i.e., the green monster is much larger than you think….

 

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