|Everett Ruess and Curly the burro|
|Noah Purifoy's outdoor art|
|Art car "Bluewheels" at Burning Man|
|Fantasy city sculpture at Burning Man|
|Cadillac Ranch, best known Western outdoor art installation|
|One of my favorites, in faraway Australia|
|Really big art -- a churning baby star named Sharpless 2-106|
Everett's two burros were found near his last camp in Davis Canyon.
Many others, including unlikely ones like D.H. Lawrence and Theodore Roosevelt, would be forever changed by their travels in the deserts and praries; some of them compelled to become folk artists and some who just didn't fit in anywhere else. Fine art along with crazy self-expression and impromptu theater has found a home west of the 100th meridian.
Changes caused by harsh weather become part of outdoor artwork's life. The rust color that develops in the dry climate gives Ricardo Breceda's large metal animal sculptures spread around the Galleta Meadows Estate at Borrega Springs, California, an aged leather look that is disconcertingly life-like. There are bighorn sheep, wild horses, an extinct elephantine creature and a saber-tooth tiger attacking a wild horse that freezes a moment in time from long ago.
More whimsical, the images of "Cadillac Ranch" near Amarillo, Texas are well-known worldwide; there is also a "Carhenge," painted ghostly white, in western Nebraska. As a European tourist remarked, "only in America!"
Going far beyond such ironic, static sculpture, there's Burning Man, a short-lived Land of Oz appearing each year in the Black Rock Desert of Arizona where art, costume, performance and astonishing temporary constructions swirl through the minds and around the bodies of tens of thousands of people; all is burned at the end or drives away. The art vehicles roll around merrily in a Sergeant Pepper and Yellow Submarine world brought to life by unrestrained, uninhibited imagination. When it's all gone and the dust settles, the chaotic energy rises and returns to the Sky, which has been home to a chaotic art show of its own for ages beyond knowing.
"I have left no strange or delightful thing undone I wanted to do."
-- the conclusion of Everett Ruess' last letter