100°F
weather icon Clear

Creations add to art scene in Tecopa community

Artist Judyth Greenburgh pops a large green marble into a wire catch at the end of a metal tube that resembles a pirate’s eyepiece.

She holds it up to the light. “Have a look,” she says, and then changes the green marble for a clear one, completely altering the effect of the kaleidoscope inside.

Standing in the small Tecopa Artists Group Gallery last month, she is surrounded by an astounding array of these devices—a kaleidoscope of kaleidoscopes, all of her own creation.

Greenburgh is one of three “art emissaries” who’ve come from the ghost town of Darwin, 150 miles away over the Panamint Range and west of Death Valley National Park, to show their works in Tecopa.

Vibrant color

The new exhibit, which debuted on Jan. 20, displays both mixed media and traditional work, including vibrant and colorful abstract paintings, realistic landscapes, an unusual memoir and tiny works of art on salvaged tin.

The centerpieces of the show are large abstract paintings by 87-year-old artist John Emmett Hamilton, originally from Texas, who worked as a professional illustrator before he retired to travel the country in a camper.

Flanking Hamilton’s work is an extraordinary array of small art pieces largely created from rusted metal artifacts gathered in the old ghost town.

Artist and author Kathy Goss’ display is comprised of tiny works painted or collaged inside weathered sardine cans, along with mandalas and other designs painted on tin can lids.

Goss’ best-known work of art is her book “Darwoon Dyreez”, an unusual fictional memoir written in an entirely phonetic dialect that Goss created herself.

“If you were taught to read phonetically you probably won’t have any problem with it but it’s difficult for some people,” Goss said of the learning curve required to read her book. It makes the reader slow down and truly take in the story, she said.

Variety, community

Greenburgh, a transplanted Londoner, makes kaleidoscopes in many shapes and sizes.

Old flashlights, tin cans, shotgun shells, anything round and tubular, said Greenburgh, can be made into a kaleidoscope. She demonstrates her work with enthusiasm, showing how some require a shake, others require the viewer to turn the marble ingeniously fitted into the end.

All three of the artists live in Darwin, which in the last couple of decades has been enjoying a modest renaissance as an art community, Goss said.

The town has an official population of 36, and people tend to keep to themselves while working on their creative projects, said Goss. However, she added, there is a community center where they meet for potluck dinners and other social events.

Goss lived in San Francisco before settling in Darwin some twenty years ago. Greenburgh said she was an international advertising executive before she fled that life, removed to Darwin in 2008 and “became feral.”

Hamilton gave up his “ancient” camper, he said, many years ago to take over a job as caretaker at the mine works above Darwin. Then he moved down into the town where, he said, he has a comfortable house, good food to eat, and three fine cats for company.

Some mornings, Hamilton said, he has a paintbrush in his hand before he even has breakfast and he can work as long as the inspiration lasts.

Hamilton’s landscape paintings were his bread and butter for many years he said.

“People like landscapes because they understand them.” Abstracts were his passion but they were hard to sell. “Abstract painting is poorly understood. It is what it is. People look and ask ‘what is it?’ But it’s just what you see. It is what it is, it has no words.”

Show’s largest piece

The largest piece in the show is an abstract called “Seven Charas in the Language of Symmetry” Hamilton painted in 1967. It is complemented by an abstract he said he finished a mere few weeks ago. Many of his landscapes are also on display.

Darwin is rich in mining history and ghost town lore, which provided not only material for Goss’ book, but tangible relics for the artists to repurpose.

Greenburgh’s main showpiece is called the “Rusty-scope” and made of scavenged artifacts assembled to look like a large microscope.

Through the eyepiece, the viewer sees a diorama of miniatures both gathered in and representative of the town of Darwin. The diorama rotates lazy-susan style under the viewfinder, creating a kaleidoscope effect.

Goss and Greenburgh will be hosting workshops at the resort in February to show more of how and why they make their art.

Robin Flinchum is the author of “Red Light Women of Death Valley” and lives in Tecopa.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
IN SEASON: 5 common tomato problems and what to do about them

Every year around this time I see a lot of questions in my garden club about tomatoes and the issues that gardeners are facing when trying to grow them. There seem to be five main issues that desert gardeners face when it comes to growing summer’s most popular fruit. Fortunately, they are easy to treat and even easier to prevent.

Kasey Dilger wins 3 consecutive horseshoes tournaments

Just as it has in other sports, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the horseshoes circuit. But at a time when even outdoor gatherings are limited, the number of participants in most horseshoes tournaments comes under — sometimes well under — limits prescribed by health officials.

IN SEASON: Plant now for an October Pumpkin Primetime

Fourth of July weekend may have you thinking of fireworks and barbecue, but there is another tradition you may want to add to your list: planting pumpkins.

Pahrump Valley crowns state rodeo champions

Another year, another state champion for the Pahrump Valley High School Rodeo Club. This time it was Garrett Jepson, who captured the team roping title at the state high school finals that began June 11 in Alamo.

In Season: Look no further than goji berries for an exotic perennial edible that loves the heat

Every year in my garden, I strive to plant more and more edible perennials. The ability to plant once and have an increased harvest year after year makes perennials worth their weight in gold to me. Spending less time on maintenance allows for more time to devote to other chores on my little farm. The goji berry bush is one of my favorites in this class.