Visit Goldwell Open Air Museum
From the eclectic to the modern, the bizarre and whimsical, you can walk around an outdoor sculpture garden between the Ghost Town of Rhyolite and the Amargosa Valley below. These desert scenery frames these artworks perfectly.
Located on 7.8 private acres, the sculpture park is free to the public.
The nonprofit museum was organized in the year 2000 after the death of Albert Szukalski, the Belgian artist who created sculptures here in 1984.
The Last Supper (1984) consists of life-sized human forms arranged after the Italian Renaissance painting The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Szukalski molded his shapes by draping plaster-soaked burlap over live models until the plaster dried enough to stand on its own.
Detail of The Last Supper.
In the early 1980s, a renowned Belgian artist, Charles Albert Szukalski, visited the Beatty, Nevada area and was captivated by the surrounding desert beauty.
So, he decided to stay awhile. In 1984, he relocated to Beatty and began exploring his new home. In particular, he was drawn to the ghost town of Rhyolite, located about four miles west of Beatty.
The Mojave Desert forms the backdrop to the sculpture--and is vital to the art and intention of Szukalski.
Szukalski later said that the setting reminded him of the lands in the Middle East during the time of Jesus Christ. He enlisted local residents to pose in sheets, which he covered with hundreds of pounds of plaster.
The Nevada gateway to Death Valley National Park is still. If you stop your car, the only sound you hear is the breeze clearing the valley floor or your feet crunching the gravel as you walk.
You can squint your eyes in the sunlight and look miles across the valley. It's vast, arid and empty.
For Charles Albert Szukalski, the late Belgian artist who spent a decade creating art there, it was inspiring.
The Last Supper, The Artist, and a more recent spiral maze at Goldwell Open Air Museum.
Albert was attracted to the Mojave Desert for many reasons, not the least of which was the Mojave's resemblance to the deserts of the Middle East. To construct a modern day representation of Christ's Last Supper, especially so close to Death Valley (where he originally wanted it sited), is eerily appropriate.
Working essentially from Leonardo Da Vinci's fresco of the Last Supper within the desert environment, Szukalski succeeded in blending the two disparate elements into a unified whole. Maintaining the staging of the figures in Leonardo's work and placing it in the American Southwest allowed the artist to meld Western Artistic tradition with the vast landscape of the New World.
(From an old print newsletter)
Since then, other artists have added new sculptures, each in its own way showcasing the arid landscape and stark desert vistas.
The Bycyclist and Sghorty Harris metal sculpture.
The Artist looking out over the Amargosa Valley desert.
The artist. The desert view is integral to the art here. This viewscape is threatened with several large-scale solar project applications on public lands--see more on threats to the Rhyolite area.
The Artist. The Ghost Town of Rhyolite is in the background.
Some young travelors and visitors like to get away from the all-pervasive digital world and take Polaroid photos to hand out to people. At Rhyolite Ghost Town.