Friday, February 01, 2008

Spiral Jetty in Danger?

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970, Great Salt Lake, Utah
I just received an email forwarded to me by my friend Josh, a sculptor, that it seems like Robert Smithson's Sprial Jetty might be in danger of being destroyed in the name of oil drilling. Bellow you will find an article which explains the situation, followed by an email from Nancy Holt, Smithson's widow. Whether you're a traditional or modern artists, or even if this is not your aesthetic, there is no denying that this is an important work in the history of art. Please help save it!

Los Angeles Times
Quick Takes
January 31, 2008
Drilling plans spur art protest
Artist Nancy Holt, the widow of artist Robert Smithson, is encouraging others in the arts world to protest plans for exploratory oil drilling in Utah's Great Salt Lake that may have an impact on her late husband's 1,500-foot-long, 15-foot-wide environmental artwork "Spiral Jetty."
The giant "earthwork," built in 1970 of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks and water on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake, near Rozel Point, is considered perhaps Smithson's most important work. Subject to the rise and fall of the lake water level, the work was submerged for three decades, re-emerging in 1999.
After being notified Monday of the drilling plan by Lynn DeFreitas, director of the group Friends of the Great Salt Lake, Holt blasted a group e-mail to artistic colleagues urging them to send letters of protest "to save the beautiful, natural environment around the Spiral Jetty."
In an interview Wednesday, DeFreitas said that the proposed drilling by Pearl Montana Exploration and Production would not call for drilling directly into the artwork but offshore equipment could cause noise and visual impairment in a relatively pristine area.
John Harja, director of the governor's public lands office for the State of Utah, confirmed Wednesday that his office had received about 160 e-mails from all over the world, mostly from artists or art facilities, protesting the drilling plans. He said the office had extended its deadline for public comment on the proposal to Feb. 13 and that Pearl Montana Exploration and Production would be taking all comments under advisement.
--Diane Haithman

From: Nancy Holt <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2008 12:34:46 -0700
To: Nancy Holt <>
Conversation: Spiral Jetty Oil Drilling
Subject: Spiral Jetty Oil Drilling

Dear Friends,
Yesterday I received an urgent email from Lynn DeFreitas, Director of Friends of the Great Salt Lake, telling me of plans for drilling oil in the Salt Lake near Spiral Jetty. See Attachments. The deadline for protest is tomorrow, Wednesday, at 5PM. Of course, DIA has been informed and are meeting about it today.
I have been told by Lynn that the oil wells will not be above the water, but that means some kind of industrial complex of pipes and pumps beneath the water and on the shore. The operation would require roads for oil tank trucks, cranes, pumps etc. which produce noise and will severely alter the wild, natural place.
If you want to send a letter of protest to save the beautiful, natural Utah environment around the Spiral Jetty from oil drilling, the emails or calls of protest go to Jonathan Jemming 801-537-9023 Please refer to Application # 8853. Every letter makes a big difference, they do take a lot of notice and know that publicity may follow. Since the Spiral Jetty has global significance, emails from foreign countries would be of special value.
They try to slip these drilling contracts under the radar, that’s why we found out so late, not through notification, but from a watchdog lawyer at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the group that alerted me to the land leasing for oil and gas near Sun Tunnels last May.
Thank you for your consideration of this serious environmental matter.
Be well,


Brandon said...

I didn't even know that sculpture was still existing. I love Smithson's works and I definitely concur this needs to be preserved.

Luis Colan said...

Hi Brandon, that piece had ben submerged under water for a long time, many thought it was gone forever, but in the late 90's it reappeared when water levels dropped.