dirt chronicles: part 1

December 27, 2010

dirt cheap, dirt poor, dirty rotten scoundrel– that stuff under our feet certainly has a bad reputation! since i watched this amazing documentary, dirt! the movie, i’ve been really into looking up information about the historical, scientific, and cultural significance of DIRT! dirt in science, dirt in religion, and particularly dirt in art, it’s really quite amazing how much this “lowly” substance really means to us. it produces our food, filters our water, allows many of us to build shelters. unfortunately here in the urbanized western world, we are quite distant from dirt and often become obsessed with avoiding it, eliminating it, and preventing it. but in much of the world, people have a long, deep connection between themselves and the earth.

i’m excited to share some of my discoveries with you in a series of posts about my latest obsession…DIRT!

let’s start off down down this dirt road with, well, some dirt roads. robert kinmont created this series of photographs entitled, my favorite dirt roads, in 1969. a native northern californian, his work was very much inspired by his natural environment and often featured it as a central character, one with a good sense of humor. he stopped making work in the 70s and disappeared from the art scene, resurfacing a few years ago with new works and a show at alexander and bonin in new york city. it’s personal and nostalgic and a bit kitschy, yet we can all identify with the experience of staring down a plain old dirt road.






This is my favorite dirt road. It goes up to Buttermilk and is mostly washboard and straight. It’s a modern dirt road, wider than most dirt roads. You can do fifty miles an hour on it. It’s sandy on the sides.

I learned to drive on it and we used to go up it in the winter to count deer and hunt cottontail rabbits. I’ve ridden a horse up it and walked down it and lost a wounded deer by it and watched miners set dynamite charges to improve it.

I’ve looked for chucker partridge, shot at quail, doves, done water colors of the rocks beside it under the trees over it, know one of the only unclaimed springs by it and watched mountain lions run away from it.

It leads to a road that goes to hanging valley mine behind the top of Mount Tom, to Horton Lakes, to the artists’ cabin, to the beaver ponds, to the place where they count deer in the winter, to the cattle guard, to the miners’ cabin, to the top of the sand canyon, to the Basin Mountain Mining road, to the Rocking Chair Ranch, and starts from one of the only recorded spots of a battle between Paiutes and Whites, almost exactly where the stream that crosses the desert from Bishop Creek leads to the ranch where I grew up.

images & text via alexander and bonin

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