Fishbowler

I make art in strange places and blog about it.

Tag Archives: Iveson Ranch

Crossing The Playa To Watch Rocks Fall From Space

Do You Think I’m Sexy?
Rod Stewart and the playa go hand in hand for me, particularly “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” When I was married we’d camp on the playa with other couples and friends and we’d party on this white tabletop desert for the weekend. This is not your average kind of camping but burners get it. Glamour camping is also called ‘glamping’ and this pastime involves fur and glitter and disco sounds pumped thru large speakers. It’s all about the fabulous. It’s all about a landscape of minimal distraction. The funky white bass carries across the ground in an interesting way. There’s a denseness, a soaking in and you start to think of the silt. How thick is it below these sexy people roller skating to Rod Stewart?

Cattle Clock
From Iveson Ranch driving down to Gerlach or the playa, it’s a short rural drive. It’s 12 miles to the edge of the playa, 27 to Gerlach. Half an hour is very short driving time in open country like this. It’s 2 hours to Reno. Be mindful of livestock and wild horses standing on the road, much more dangerous than hitchhikers.

We don’t have to leave the ranch much other than the grocery getters every couple weeks. JB the bossman calls those rocket runs into Reno & back. I think I was here for an entire month before I ever exited the gates. Often I feel like a head of cattle grazing on the ranch, spanning time. I did get in to Reno the other day for some shopping. I’ve been here since the beginning of July, a month and a half now. I was also here for the month of May. I feel like there’s no where better for me to be. My mind grazes here.

You take Sundays off here only after you’ve gotten stuff done. Today’s Sunday, this mural is feeling fairly done. Art is a different kind of thing, a different kind of time. I sit around alot, getting away from it and it’s done when I feel like it. I’m still going to work on it this afternoon, after my shower but before it starts getting cooler and into sunset, maybe crank up the generator and work after dark too. These murals are two sided. They’re steel cabins. This afternoon I’ll be painting on the East side, the shaded side. I’m painting horses.

Crossing The Playa To Watch Rocks Fall From Space
Black Rock Desert is the flattest expanse on Earth. It’s a dry lake bed at the core of what used to be an ancient inland sea that covered the entire top half of Nevada–a state that takes over 10 hours to drive from top to bottom. It’s a good desert to admire space from.

The plan was to take an art car 12 miles to the playa from the ranch to experience the Perseid meteor shower. Five or six art cars here are being worked on currently as we ramp up to Burning Man week. This one was red and called The Imperial, a Chinese Junk fashioned art car which seats 30 on two levels. It would be slow driving.

Neither of these things happened. Neither art car excursion nor meteor viewing came to fruition. The meteor shower’s best viewing wasn’t to start until after 3am, it was early, so we took fire dancers. This was a very good idea to bring entertainment. They brought themselves really, in a red Camaro from Oregon and we were a hit.

In a borrowed diesel, with 3 adults and a child, I drove us to the playa in the dark of night, which was relatively light. From the ranch 4 or 5 vehicles went out. I love bringing people to the Black Rock Desert for the first time. I remember my first time. It’s a landscape you drive more like a boat since, after all, it is a lake. We had a half moon to light our way.

So this party was a group of maybe 100 people and the Burning Man royalty were there in attendance and being pampered with margaritas. These were some founders of the event. You know it’s 30 years old, Burning Man? These are some people who are famous the world over for what they created. Burning Man has permeated creative cultures everywhere on the globe and enjoys international fame.

Burners will tell you it’s more than a party. It’s a movement. 60,000 fur adorned people can’t be wrong–and that’s just this year’s crowd. This is as significant as the hippy movement. When I told one of the fire dancers that Burning Man royalty was his audience for the night, he got excited, eyes lit up and he asked “Are they aware that we don’t have tickets yet?”

Advertisements

Not Much Tanning at Night

Brazen Bronze
I’ve been working on my tan, working on caring less about it. I’m becoming brazen about my bronze. I plan to stop needing sunblock. If my skin can be weened off of it then I’ll be resilient and I’m on my way to becoming the uncontested Grizzly Adams of self sufficiency. I’ve needed less each day and haven’t touched sunblock in a week now. One day it will be impossible for me to become sun burned–that’s the idea. They’ll think I’m aboriginal.

Working here in the heat of the day is so absurd it’s almost unbearable. I have to wear black latex gloves so enamel paint doesn’t creep up under my fingernails. Glistening sweat pores from under these gloves and trickles down my wrists. Am I spoiled? I dunno but hey, I can work at night, alone, in silence, with the lonely breeze of refreshment. Nothing will be visible to compete with the horses I’m brushing on to this surface in red and blue. I’m all alone and in the best way possible at night, it’s only me. Me and the bugs. So just us.

My cabin is a 40 foot container actually ear marked for Eddie. I’ve been residing in his cabin during this stay and he’s not in a hurry to displace me. The guys have hooked up the water in this cabin first and I have a shower to myself. After six years coming here I’m the envy of camp.

Smack My Brush Up
I smack my brushes on the wall for splatters and they hate me for it. Paint brushes have tiny nails that hold them together which loosen up because they suffer at my abuse. Repairs are needed. I took the time today to replace screws in my brushes. I’m kinda proud of the whole thing, the abuse, the repairs–it’s work hard play hard. You should see me dancing around flingin’ paint.

It was to be the night I’d go full vampire. I want to paint late into the night with spotlights to see by. Bugs would convene, yes. My laptop assisted me in making a soundtrack which is 10 hours worth of music. It consists of 177 songs and I can’t wait to dig in. I’ve been talking about night painting sessions since before I got here. My tendency has always been for the night owl preference. Early wake ups suit me when I’m here but I’d prefer all-nighters for getting artwork done. My sleep schedule will take a bit of time to switch over. Years ago when i was just out of high school I had a performance motorcycle that I’d work on all night. Night working has been good to me. I’m a night crawler.

There’s a big blue jet parked right beside me. It’s called Playa One with a big ol’ official looking seal on the door. The wings fold out for people to dance on with spinnie glowey lights. Yes, it’s a Burning Man thing. This crew has a couple other art cars parked here in the dirt for maintenance as I paint on container cabins. Six cabins line this yard to eventually house workers during their stay here. This dirt is used to being trampled down by horses.  It’s a re-purposed stable at the West end of the inner ranch where the home front is. No vegetation is here, only dust, tons of dust. The horse patties have  returned to dried up biblical dust.

The weather is crisp and calm, just right. There’s a wind blowing cool air over me. I keep talking about sleeping out here. Seriously. One’s filled with pillows. My cabin gets pretty hot and never cools down. Sleeping out here on an art car might be just the thing I need. The stars are so luminescent it’s like a soup that you can dip into with your spoon–unlimited depth. New moon is the best night of the month to soak up the milk of the Milky Way.

These container cabins are 40 feet long, each side gets adorned with horses and so far I’m up to like 20 horses in total but some are very small and without detail so they almost don’t count. It’s blue brown and red basically. The short cabins are 20 feet long and those get rented to go out onto the playa for Burning Man which happens about a month from now. The cabin I’m currently working on will be a field office for JB, the owner of this ranch. It’s got the best view to the west. This is number 9.

No Dice
There was no gas available for me. I didn’t realize the gas cans piled were empty. There’s gas on the ranch in a big tank or two but I don’t have access to those. I can string a cord out from an outlet. This ranch does have power that’s generated by the big diesel genny. Also an array of solar panels generates energy for the ranch. My midnight lights will take power. Energy is rationed here.

The first night I ran out of gas. The second night I decided I could just plug in, skip the gas can fiasco. The second night I had my electrical cords all ready to go and I saw a flashlight out there in the dark by my painting. JB had walked out and he told me that we don’t have the power to spare. OK. I guess that’s that.

I had to cancel my mission but I’m happy to have it all set up and ready to go for another night and trust me, it’s on. This will happen. Choose your battles, as they say. On the ranch we get started on things that might not happen until the next day. The night was not a total failure because I now know what to expect.

Hoo Doo Hiking & Stripping Rust

One peak rises highest in the vicinity of the ranch and that would be my 3 mile destination. This hilltop was supposed to have a cluster of cairns. Around here we call them HooDoos. I went to see them. These rolling modest clean hills around us are volcanic sediment and so sagebrush clung hold but not so often. Brief barren steps got me up hills to their tops which looked almost bald of vegetation. The wind has blown across these crests for so many centuries that bushes could never take hold, not in recent centuries anyway.

I’m under a tree smaller than the mightier cottonwoods which line the creek through the center of the ranch. Typing these words about yesterday’s ridge top adventure I lounge on lawn chair, I’m in the shaded apple orchard. My Macbook is made by Apple. The dappled light flickers as I type.

On the hilltops I’d seen the topping cobbled with rocks. It all looked so perfect I commented more than once that I thought it was bought at Home Depot and installed here. No grass or soil remained and down the sides the soil laid on top of black rocks that stream down in vertical trickles scoured, abiding by gravity. I call them the stretch marks where the soil has broken way to the rocks’ exposure. It becomes apparent that the entire hill is made of these big black rocks while the dirt had settled on top. All the hills are that way here, handsome.

I could see out over the valley of Haulupai to the Black Rock playa itself, glowing with white dust devils carving across it as the sun bounced its rays off the playa to meet with my eyes perched 12 miles away.

But these cairns were not all ancient. I think only one of them was. I say this from observation/experience. This feels like looking at crop circles, pondering how old these are and what people it was that made them. Graceful symmetry blessed the real ones.  Precision placement ensure the pinched rocks distribute weight evenly throughout these constructions. Impatience permeated the “fakes”.

There’s this natural draw to stacking rocks. This seems to be apparent once you open the wiki page for cairns. They’re all over the world, everywhere there are rocks there are cairns. Hoo doos. We’re the king of nature’s builders and we see stacking when we look at rocks.

In the morning I was grinding a shipping container with Korean and French writing on it with doomsday rust that’s probably seen every vista the world has to offer, including the wide open seas and the interior urban cores. My grinder was wireless powered by a battery and spinning at super speeds. I’m using a cordless drill with stripper attachment. The other tool is a grinder which spins at much faster RPMs but the wire wheel attachment doesn’t do the job perfectly. The combination of the two tools is working well. It all wails like a sick stork.

My headphones are shiny blue and wireless playing tunes stored on my battery laptop. Mobile is important. The charging of the battery comes from wall sockets which here, on this ranch we’re off grid, meaning a huge ugly generator with it’s own building bulls this place with power. A few windmill on rooftops spin here, not for looks. Solar’s out back.

The horses are for looks only like trophy wives. I’m starting to love horses for very superficial reasons. There’s no where else I need to be. Thanks for being open to my journey.

Drawing From Horses

I’m horse drawing tonight before sunset in their huge fenced territory, the horse pasture. There’s a bit of daylight left, raked from behind the closest ridge in front of us. Six horses live here, Arabian and quarter horses. One is a black and white mule, the only male. He’s 37. I’m told in human years that’s 120. His name is Catfish.

One horse came over to look me in the eye. I mean literally, only 3 inches stood between our eyes, hers huge, dark and milky, inspecting mine, foreign, light and tiny.Like swimming with a whale.

They differ in mood, the horses. A couple horses were very slow to come over and meet me. The ones who did introduce themselves, they had their various ways of interaction. Some more cautious.

You think about how bored they must get but after all, these are not humans. Their desires are simple and definable. I bet their desires and their lust don’t get in the way. Their dreams and aspirations probably aren’t a concern that gets confused. Do horses even have egos? I don’t think they crave attention in general, though perhaps I’m wrong there. There was one brown Arabian who liked to pose for me. What does a horse want out of life besides soft vegetarian food, a light breeze and an agent?

I’m just glad to see these horses never picked up smoking. Not heavy drinkers either so this is good. Boredom never wreaked self-destruction for them. I can’t tell if they care about the sunset or not. All in all I’ve found these horses to be a very easy going bunch. Like me, dislike me, they don’t seem to care about me either way.

It’s very Zen of them to be so chill. For humans it is a challenge to just be. Having no opinion, pushing no preference, a person would feel disengaged or just plain dumb to have no problems to fix. We occupy ourselves with jobs and the pursuit of ideals. We suggest that having no opinion is lazy and fence riders be damned but we fail to see how often the opinions we choose are wrong. And the ones who think they are rarely wrong are more wrong than the rest!

Horses don’t seem to have opinions. Or at least they don’t bank on it. Horses are so open minded I wonder how true it’d be if I called them geniuses. I don’t think there’s ever been a horse war. A war between horses is an absurd thought.

Abstraction isn’t their game. Horses don’t do abstractions—they hate algebra for instance. Yes they told me. They don’t have much to say about art either. I learned this first hand in the pasture. The quality of my renderings made no impression but the smell of my paper interested more than one horse here so maybe genius is a loose term.

There has never been evidence of a horse God. Horses don’t go in for belief systems. There are no political parties in the equine world. There are no divisions amongst horses. You just won’t find schisms. Horse is the original pacifist. It’s going to be fun painting them. I start soon.

–Chad Sorg, July 2016, Iveson Ranch, N. Nevada

Playing Sherpa

Navigating these scrambling rabbit paths leads my mind to my childhood when I’d get into one-kid adventures surveying the forest lands like a scout or mini white sherpa. Later I got motorized with a red and chrome Honda 50.

Here the dirt is dry and it’s not even dirt, it’s sand. It ain’t mud. Trails that haven’t been blown away are evident still, but the lack of human intervention out here is the freshest air. I’ve been trying to see as the animal sees. I’ve been trying to stop my mind from forming words. Writing essays and silent minded hiking don’t mix. Now I know.

My boots wind me down a couple slopes to a mass of low willows filling this low folded area wall to wall. It’s a low gulch here. The glut of life accumulates here and feeds the mouths of a whole panoply of species from the micro scale up to the species like bobcats that would have us for dinner if they had to. That’s extremely rare though, just so you know. The deer live here untouched, unbothered by human aggressions and passions and if we watch them closely we may even find evidence of frolicking.

Moisture runs the show. Vegetation is here in this crevice between mountains because the creek flows through with reservoirs. Water, my friend. Even the shape of the ground here was eroded by water in its various phases and amounts. Water, ice, snow and steam work to mold the ground of our lands.

Quiet wind cools my writing on this modern papyrus with fine point gel pen at this poetic moment. These winds have carried away souls for centuries and probably poems too. People have lived here where I write for a long time. A few have died here I’m sure. It’s a natural cleansing cycle. The rhythm rings echoes of death. Layers of the dead bring more layers of life and the desert doesn’t try to hide much in its dried mulch.

There are remnants of historic encampments around here just like I’d see in Goldfield, pots and pans and the various exciting trinkits decomposing gracefully. I wonder if they were mining for gold too. Maybe hunting, I really don’t know but the ‘leave no trace’ ethic didn’t take with these guys. I don’t mind because it all rusts away to make for astoundingly glamorous photos.

They should call this the front 40. Maybe they do. Hiway 34 is gravel and runs through here from Gerlach, twenty some miles away. This area of the property butts up to that.

It’s an unexpected wilderness serving as the dumping point for ancient rivers and shoreline of an ancient high elevation sea. The desert leaves traces apparent for generations. The depth cut in is dramatic here with sharp erosion edges at 45° angles and it becomes wholly apparent that it’s only mounds of sand waiting to change. I’m standing along the border between flattened and ridged. The Granites father this family of hills along the Haulapai flats. Fly geyser bubbles a few miles away and past that the might Black Rock desert. A passionate land.

Horse stables surround the houses of this ranch and beyond the fences are low ridges that sweep into winding formations, gracefully photogenic but unapologetically woeful toward any rubber wheels. Like the rest of the western half of this continent, It’s all volcanic here. Yesterday a kid broke his collarbone riding motocross. It’s dude ranch 2016 style.

Two stunning horses were here on visit, belonging to a wife of a biker is what I’m guessing. Both were a deep smooth brown. One horse was statuesque. A giant. Art car people come and go too. There’s also a family reunion gathered here now so it’s alot of people on the grounds. They’ve all brought enjoyable energy.

Mountain bikers pass slowly down a path as I write this. At a distance they remind me of the Mormons in the suburbs. This is kinda’ funny. I was lost in a Calvin and Hobbes fantasy wearing bobcat skinned sarong brought abruptly back to 12 geared reality in the last frame. I’m not sure they’re wearing the ties but their shorts and shoes look uniform. They are of the dirt biker clan who meets here yearly but today seen roaming more silently. A quick ride before they leave have to leave.

Skybox Painting, My Newest From the Ranch (photos & journaling)

SkyboxSANYO DIGITAL CAMERASANYO DIGITAL CAMERASANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Rain on Latch

 

I lumber from bed

in my wild orange box cabin

five days moving forward

each moment toward commencement morning

making my waking here fruitful.

This one, the sky box,

will eventually house the workers

whose spaceships touch down here,

buses don’t run out here

to Iveson Ranch

with its glorious sunsets and its crunching mix of souls

and its ancient Indian remnants on the ridges

the hoo doos.

First I had to kill the rust who were grazing here.

for two days loudly I did that

Early afternoon the rains came in

so either I napped or I drew.

It was the blue that got me started.

Bright patches would shine through and I knew

that color would scream to be obscured.

And deep greys were important to me too

because rain clouds here are a treasured gift

from the hoo doos?

But without the pinks

none of this picture would hold any hope

and it was the sky’s change from moment to moment

that this picture was all about.

These days, the daily grind here is more about entertainment,

the biggest desolate desert party in the world,

and instead of hunting mule deer into the canyon for the tribe’s dinner

these tribesman celebrate the burning of a giant wooden effigy.

Those working at the ranch were either using air chisels

to mend windmills or cookin’ stew

for the off roader party

about to roll thru for the weekend

couples in campers

no more deer hunting.

Jeep CJ8Sleeping Quarters  SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Skybox Very IncompleteSANYO DIGITAL CAMERAIveson Ranch Rails SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA  SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Iveson Flags SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Woodgrain Steel SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Windmill Iveson Ranch & Creek SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Painted Container SANYO DIGITAL CAMERADrawing HorsesDrawing Hillside Drawing Meadow  Bucky Dome SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

started 5-19-14

Journal from my 6 days at Iveson Ranch

Day 1: Grinding steel all day. This box has some cancerous rust to get rid of. Whatever.

But tonight we watched a show, The Voice, because these guys have gotten into it. That’s fun. The rooting for your favorite, it pulls you in. This kid blew me away. His skill was astounding. He sang Stevie’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and I love Stevie, but this kid BROUGHT it. He had it. He just did. Confidence, poise. But goofy looking and even that, he made work. Talent, ya know.

So I did these black & white drawings and watching this show is what pushed the drawings. Talent; it’s all a practice. If I want to be good at something–if I am good at something, I practice.

I’m wanting to write about sleeping. I just woke up an our ago. It’s a rain day. My first night I stayed in the guest room up at the house but last night I moved to my new home for this week, the orange container cabin. It’s many fruity colors actually; yeah, maybe I should call it “the fruity cabin”. It wasn’t warm but last night was damn cold. No heat source here other than me. 2 sleeping bags was a good idea.

This unit is painted indescribable colors: grey/lavender, orange, pale yellow, silver-brown. So yeah, I guess they are describable. See the pictures of it?

But when I stepped out to pee in the morning a cat meowed behind me and when I turned to see him, he was stretching his “good morning” at me. He was in the compartment on the side of a neighboring empty camper where the battery was to be stored. It’s just the right size for a ranch cat to crash in and my guess was that this is a regular spot of his. I hadn’t known he slept there last night, I woulda’ invited him in.

We find our place in life, the rancher man was telling me last night after steak dinner. That’s Eddie. He said we don’t always find it right off the bat and we might have to switch gears but there’s a place for us all.

It’s still not raining this morning but grey skies impede me. I’m almost hoping for some drops so I can continue hibernation without shame. Instead, though, I’ll move back to grinding for the second day. Hard disk or wire wheel?–we’ll see. Hell, maybe I’ll end up pulling some paint out today after all.

I can’t get away from this book this morning though. Cowboy poetry and paintings. Our resident Scottsman cowboy (Eddie) highly recommended it. He lives this life fully, having lived many other lives fully already.

I do understand why… this kind of life. It’s a certain culture to belong to–those that would appreciate the solitude of cow pokin’ or whatever they call it. Ranch life, even a modern ranch with its motor repairs and backhoes, it is a special existence. Nature simply fills up life more.

It’s strange to think that rust is a life form. It eats.

Anyway, we’re sitting in what was once the river bed. I like how rivers move through the centuries and you can tell where they might have been a couple hundred years back. The canyon still drains through here even though a ranch or two upstream diverting water.

The deer were run up through here. In close quarters, the Pauites would hunt those deer and feed their families. The water is great here. This spot is a pocket of life & life feeds on life. We don’t like to think about it like that these days but that’s part of our problem, being so detached from the natural processes.

The Indians had the solution to having limited numbers of hunters in the form of what we call the hoo doos. These “hoo doos” stand in formations made of dark rocks on ridge tops overhead, lining the valley and canyon floors around here. When running animals between ridges the hoo doos served as stand-ins to guard from above so the deer or whatever animal it was didn’t get away. They were fooled. It was very systematic and apparently successful, proven by how many of these are left meticulously standing today.

I painted the hoo doos on the last unit. That one’s going to be Eddie’s home, once the craftsmen finish the inside for him. Its a landscape all the way around and I think it looks pretty damn good–effective.. buoyant colors. This oil enamel technique of mine is dialing in.

These cabins actually are very temperature efficient. The steel is very thick and then they’re insulated in here. Drywalled and trimmed nicely. This unit has 2 beds, bunks, and a nice huge shelf/table. My dad actually helped with this one last year in the fall.. maybe it was summer.

I’ve got to get artists out here. This ranch can room 15 comfortably. This place is exactly right for creative making. My surroundings have engulfed me–it’s official.

When I come back from painting all day, I’m still wearing “painter eyes” and everything is being scrutinized closely of color. The form of my surroundings becomes delineated and I render edges to everything. Nothing is lost; this is not a lament. I would say that reality becomes questioned. What am I really looking at? Does the paper I’m writing on tonight really have yellow, grey and tan mottling to it?

There are prevalent batches of color staining my arm, mostly shades of blue/grey. My calves are sore. My back cries. This bed is plenty soft. I’m gonna’ end this writing abruptly and catch some Z’s now.

The following are some random notations I don’t feel like editing into their proper placement:

at one point, explaining, I pointed Eddie up to the clouds and said “Not like those–too easy.” My technique grows more streamlined with each piece but at times pure poetry was to pull me through.

The horses watched from start to completion. Who knows, maybe they crtiqued me with my impressionisms.

Every time I find myself rendering a painted sky I muse that once a year the two will match. As above so below.

The clouds and I both conjure up poetry. When there is nothing our motivation is to render poofs of something. We find ourselves with rhythm and alliteration to abbreviate the scene. The form of the score adheres where pattern & repetition presents in present tense. Precipitation, drama in quarantined sections rendered to push eastward or westward in Z’s and V’s.

Everybody’s ecstatic about this finished unit. It feels good to hear them say I’ve outdone myself.

Skybox Close SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Skybox Side Skybox Pinks SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Skybox and MountainSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA  HooDoo Painted Storage Container Home Unfinished   Sagebrush Desert Rocky Ridge SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Roadway

%d bloggers like this: