October 6, 2015

El Vado and Artists In Place

By Jeanette Hart-Mann
El Vado
September 22, 2015

Artist at work in El Vado Lake

Our El Vado site is generously situated at Bill Gilbert’s cabin, whose family and friends built it about 25 years ago. It’s a great site for Land Arts because it provides a solid roof over our heads if the weather gets rough and/or if the art/ists get really embedded in their work and find themselves literally covered in the muddy swill of this lakeside attraction.

This fall was particularly chilly with cools reaching almost freezing. Throughout the night the forest was alive with coyotes howling and elk bugling. A most bizarre chorus of sounds impossible to visualize into physical animal form. The culminating sound does not equate with any creature I can represent, but inhabits a surreal space of true animal dialogues and relations known only to them.

Disappearing water of El Vado

El Vado lake is just south of Heron Lake and both bodies of water are managed for the plumbing use of several New Mexico municipalities, hydroelectricity, acequias and farmers, rafters, speedboaters, and of course us. I would also like to think that the river (its still there trying to meander through the innards of what is now lake) and its riparian counterparts are also a part of this wheeling deal to make sure everyone has enough water.

Preparing for a day of art

As a ruffian rabble of artists we jump head first into this physical space and respond through a series of both planned and spontaneous actions. In particular the water and mud itself is the main attraction. Over the four days artists were busy creating performative gestures, working together to move water hand to hand over the land, scavenging materials to build a boat enabling a floating tea ceremony, digging holes, painting, and walking transects across large areas of the lake. This and much more.

CB, painting with her Wengerian easel
Eleanora's water transfer project, with LAAW crew

Visiting artist Alan Boldon also joined us for several days on site, sharing an evening presentation about the creative work he is doing all over the world bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to discover creative solutions as agents in place and with other. On the 20th he led us on a walking workshop where we learned more about one another and shared stories of place. After this we spent an afternoon working collaboratively to compose improv sculptural installations in place with found materials and our bodies.

Alan Boldon
Kacie, mobilized during our collaborative project with Alan Boldon
The entire crew of LAAW artists engaged in place

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