This image from a craving on a Reno-Tahoe tree looks like a Picasso to Jean Earl. Photo PtD
FIELD NOTES: Jean Earl is an artist, who with Phillip Earl, have long been dedicated to showcasing the regional aesthetic of tree carvings (arborglyphs) by Reno-Tahoe area Basque sheepherders from the first half of the 20th century. Last week at Nevada State College, the current host of the traveling exhibition “Mountain Picassos: Basque Arborglyphs of the Great Basin”, Jean talked about scouting trees that were carved with images and messages. She also shared the rubbing process with muslin that now allows us to see the found images as displayed works.
As Jean noted, when you find yourself with a few dogs and a lot of sheep there is free time. The sheepherders left behind images of animals, sayings, hobbies, and in the tradition of all artists, the nude female form. It has to be noted that one constant reference was no matter the state of dress each female wore high heels, said Jean with an impish smile.
"Mountain Picassos" is presented as an intersection of art, culture and nature, but one can also say it is an early form of graffiti. Instead of paint, sharp objects were used to illustrate details in bark to leave evidence of existence. Since many of the trees with works are gone from the woods, what is on display at Nevada State College Gallery is an important document as well as insightful exhibition. ‘Mountain Picassos’ runs through July 6.
Nevada State College Gallery
Rogers Student Center Building.
1300 Nevada State Drive, Bldg. #300
Henderson , NV
Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Download a map of the works by local artists that are installed around the campus to make a day of it.