Art

Protecting ‘City’: ‘Levitated Mass’ more than screening in campaign for Heizer national monument in Nevada

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Visitors view Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, on Sunday June 24,2012. Thousands showed up as the gigantic work was unveiled on the museum’s rear lawn, where it is intended to remain forever.
AP Photo/Richard Vogel
Crowds gather to watch a  transporter almost three freeway lanes wide carry a 340-ton granite boulder, standing 21 feet, 10 inches high and measuring 32 feet across to its new home at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where it will become the centerpiece of artist Michael Heizer's "Levitated Mass" in Los Angeles on Friday, March. 9, 2012.

Crowds gather to watch a transporter almost three freeway lanes wide carry a 340-ton granite boulder, standing 21 feet, 10 inches high and measuring 32 feet across to its new home at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where it will become the centerpiece of artist Michael Heizer's "Levitated Mass" in Los Angeles on Friday, March. 9, 2012.

One way to draw attention to contemporary art in the 21st century is to drive it through the streets of Southern California on a truck the size of a football field.

When part of Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass” sculpture was hauled 105 miles in 11 nights in 2012, people living along the route hit the streets to greet it and cheer it on.

Appropriately dubbed “the rock star,” the 340-ton granite boulder measuring 21.5 feet by 21.5 feet—reportedly the largest such megalithic stone transported since ancient times—had traveled from a quarry in Jurupa Valley to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where it was placed on a 456-foot concrete slot that allowed visitors to walk beneath it.

Aerial view of Michael Heizer’s “City” under construction in Nevada.

The story of the journey of “Levitated Mass,” which actually began in 1969 when Heizer conceived of it, is told in the documentary of the same name that will be screened February 12 at Barrick Museum’s auditorium. Presented in partnership with the Contemporary Arts Center, the screening is part of a campaign launched this year for national monument designation of Heizer’s “City” in Lincoln County.

The artist, whose “Double Negative” land art is located near Overton (on land owned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), has been working on “City” since 1972. The complex of giant, minimalist, abstract structures designed to appear similar to ancient monuments and sites is more than a mile long, still under construction and not yet open to the public.

Conservation Lands Foundation is working to rally local support for the project, with the goal of inspiring President Obama to use the Antiquities Act to protect “City” and the more than 800,000 square miles of mostly federal land surrounding it.

Arts advocate and native Las Vegas resident Melissa Petersen, who has been active in connecting Conservation Lands Foundation with the arts community here, is working to raise awareness of Heizer and his work throughout Southern Nevada. The screening of Levitated Mass, she says, will hopefully help educate people about who the artist is and his significance in the art world, adding that, “Michael Heizer is one of the most important contemporary land artists. ‘City’ is one of the more important pieces of land art.”

Following the screening, the film’s associate producer, Erin Wright, will join Neon Museum executive director Danielle Kelly in a Q&A session.

Levitated Mass February 12, 6 p.m., free. Barrick Museum Auditorium, 702-895-3381.

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