A landscape of desert playas, craggy peaks, and the remnants of ancient inland sea makes Nevada an ideal landscape for outdoor art. Let’s face it: Nevadans have never shied away from the quirky and unconventional. This is a place where shrouded ghostly figures rise by the dozen at the edge of Death Valley National Park, and a small bronze plaque marks the site of ‘Rhyolite’s District of Shadows,’ just one tale from a parallel universe called Kcymaerxthaere. The further you get out into Nevada’s vast open expanse, the more likely it seems you’ll stumble upon some sort of incredibly unique artisan display.
Some, like the large-scale works of earthwork pioneer Michael Heizer, cover enormous stretches. For example, at more than a quarter-mile long, 50-feet deep, and 30-feet wide, his Double Negative is a ‘reverse sculpture’ created from the displacement of 240,000 tons of desert rhyolite and sandstone from a mesa in Clark County, resulting in two colossal trenches.
Others, such as Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains in Sloan, are decidedly more accessible. Bridging the gap between natural and artificial, Rondinone’s colorful stacks of painted neon boulders appear like fluorescent ice cream cones in the barren scape of the Mojave Desert, about 10 miles outside of Vegas—brightening the sky in vibrant hues of yellow, blue, orange, and pink.
Bizarre folk art and roadside attractions are also par for the course. Take Goldfield’s International Car Forest of the Last Church, the rusted-out bodies of more than 40 cars, trucks, and vans, abstractly painted and piled, plopped, and standing diagonally out of the dirt like Hot Wheels that have been left outside during a sandstorm. Or aphorisms, like “Maybe something for you” and “No matter what you think of this road remember the price is right” that are etched upon the flat rocks along Guru Road in Empire, a tiny town perched on the southwestern edge of the Black Rock Desert. Larger found-object pieces, including a “rocking” Elvis tribute and a driftwood-based weather vane, add to the mystique.
From “post-impressionist” fence art crafted from weathered horse skulls and old vacuums to a Stonehenge-inspired solar calendar beside a landfill in the desert, these 9 Nevada outdoor oddities will surely delight, inspire, and surprise.