Goldwell Open Air Museum

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This page last updated on 05/31/2017

Goldwell Museum
(Fig. 01)
MAP - Rhyolite Road Map
(Fig. 02)
Directions: From Las Vegas, follow US-95 North for approximately 115 miles to the mining town of Beatty, Nevada (Fig. 02). In the center of town, turn left (west) onto SR-374 towards Death Valley. Drive approximately 4 miles and turn right to the ghost town of Rhyolite. The Goldwell Open Air Museum is located on the left just before entering the ghost town of Rhyolite.
Description: The Goldwell Open Air Museum is a 15-acre outdoor sculpture park near the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada. The mission of the museum is to preserve, present, and encourage artistic exploration in and of the Armargosa Desert. The Museum began in 1984 with the creation and installation of a major sculpture by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski titled  “The Last Supper”. Over the years, this ghost like interpretation of Christ and his disciples sited against the backdrop of the expansive Amargosa Valley has inspired many a visitor. Since 1984, several additional sculptures have been added to the property. The museum is a free admission facility open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Parking is available on site. There is an on-site visitor center (Fig. 01) with exhibits and a gift shop, featuring Museum logo merchandise and original artwork. It is open most days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  except Sundays.  (In summer, it is usually closed by 2 p.m. because of the heat). Visitors are welcome to visit the museum anytime, whether the visitor center is open or not.

05/30/2017 Visit: Today I brought Jim Herring and Bob Croke to the museum for their first time. As a result, I added some additional information and a few new pictures to this page. The picture in (Fig. 04) is a shot of Bob taking a picture of the installation "The Last Supper".

The Last Supper and Ghost Rider by Albert Szukalski: Belgium artist and sculptor, Charles Albert Szukalski was born in 1945 and died in January 25, 2000. Known for many years in Europe as the sculptor of “ghosts” and a “situation maker,” Albert Szukalski came to the Nevada desert in 1984 to create what is perhaps the most unique piece of his career, “The Last Supper” (Figs. 03 thru 05). Today, it is the “genesis” piece of the Goldwell Open Air Museum. He made the life-size ghost figures by wrapping live models in fabric soaked in wet plaster, and posing them as in the painting titled “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci. After the plaster was set, the model was slipped out, leaving the rigid shroud that surrounded him. After some more refining, Szukalski then coated the figures with fiberglass making them impervious to weather. His other prominent sculpture is titled, “Ghost Rider” (Fig. 04).

(Fig. 03)

(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)

(Fig. 06)
Tribute to Shorty Harris by Fred Bervoets: Born May 12 1942 in Burcht (near Antwerp, Belgum), another Belgum artist created a portrait sculpture of Shorty Harris (Fig. 07) (an early miner in Death Valley) in 1994. This sculpture is located directly in front of the museum. Word has it that because Fred felt so “out of place” in the desert, that he wanted to include in his sculpture something that was an indication of how “alien” he felt in the Nevada desert. A penguin in the desert was the most out of place entity the artist could think of to represent his own feelings of displacement under the Mojave sun. The penguin reflects the optimism of the miners' endeavor.

(Fig. 07)

Icara by Dre Peeters: Born December 27, 1948, Dre Peeters created Icara in 1992. The Greek story of Icarus is the jumping off point for Dre Peeter’s wood sculpture “Icara,” Icarus as female (Figs. 08 & 09). The hot and sunny environment of the American Southwest is a natural location for a sculpture that takes as its beginning the story of the headstrong youth who flew too close to the sun with wax wings, which subsequently melted, plunging him back to earth. The Greek myth fits well into the dry desert reality; the female form of “Icara,” arms/wings spread wide, eternally poised at the zenith of her flight, caught between the earth below and the desert sky above. The figure was hand carved on site.
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
“Sit Here!” by Sofie Siegmann: Born in Munich, Germany in 1964, Sofie installed “Sit Here!” (Figs. 10 & 11) in 2000. An accomplished painter and public artist, Siegmann left Europe and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. “Growing up in Switzerland meant living in a small country. I sought adventure and moved to spacious California. The sunlight, the lightheartedness of people driving everywhere in cars, and no rain for six months straight has changed how I think and feel. I see colors and apply them onto the canvas: luminous, translucent and thick as tar.” Siegmann was an artist-in-residence at the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum in Las Vegas in 2000. For today's visit I had Jim take a picture of me sitting on the couch (Fig. 12)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)