Artist to create fluorescent mountains in the desert

Seven 50-foot-high mountains created by Swiss-born New York artist Ugo Rondinone will be placed along the I-15 near Jean in 2014.
Photo: Carina Scheuringer

Just when we think that there is little left to say about the simulacra-saturated Fabulous Las Vegas, someone comes along and stokes the conversation, reminding us of the peculiarity that is our home.

This time it’s Swiss-born New York artist Ugo Rondinone, whose fluorescent-painted mountains are scheduled to be placed along the I-15 near Jean in the fall of 2014.

Described as a “contemporary critique” of simulacra-style destinations such as Las Vegas, the project between the Nevada Museum of Art and New York’s Art Production Fund (which also partners with the Cosmopolitan) includes seven 50-foot-high mountains, each made out of 3- to 6-foot-long boulders.

Each monochromatic mountain—pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, red—will sit amid the natural Mojave landscape for about two years, says David Walker, executive director and CEO of the Nevada Museum of Art, adding that Rondinone conceived the project two years ago when he was approached by Art Production Fund.

The Nevada Museum of Art, which has the esteemed Center for Art + Environment in Reno, joined in about 18 months ago. It’s largely involved with raising funds for the project (estimated between $2.5 million and $3 million) and will connect it with its 2014 conference on art and the environment. Walker says that Aria, serving as the hospitality sponsor, has donated $1 million.

The location near Jean Dry Lake is historically significant. Jean Tinguely and Michael Heizer created Land Art works there.

Though there are a few small hurdles to cross, Walker says that “Seven Magic Mountains” is “all looking doable.”

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