Well the Kern County Planning Commission just voted YES to permit a new art project called “Terminal” to proceed.
I report on this, not because I’m against it, because I’m never against something creative, even if it may be a little weird. I report on this because I know my friends back in Indiana will be shaking their heads once again about their beliefs about California. Some of the time they’re even right. Just remember, this isn’t a California artist proposing this, we just have ample room for artists to try anything and everything.
I remember when the Cristo Umbrella project was planned back in the early 90s. At the time I thought it was a crazy idea to put up yellow umbrellas in a Southern California mountain pass. . At the same time blue umbrellas were to be displayed in Japan. The project cost the two artists (Cristo and his wife/art partner, Jeanne Claude) over 26 million dollars. I thought it was weird until I viewed it. It was simply spectacular to see 1760 huge yellow umbrellas flowing up and over the mountain canyons of our local “grapevine”, the mountain pass we drive between here and Los Angeles. Each umbrella was 26 feet high and 20 feet wide. Over 3 million visitors saw this project. It became a very popular tourist attraction and people picnicked and held weddings there.
In 1991, one of the management people from my home office in St. Louis was traveling with me in Orange County. He had read about the Umbrella project and wanted to see it. We booked a helicopter fly-over out of Van Nuys airport. When we went to the airport at our appointed time the flight was cancelled due to high winds and rain. At the exact time we were to take our cancelled flight that last weekend of October, 1991, one of the umbrellas toppled over and killed a lady visitor. The project was shut down immediately. Many of us who drive that pass often still imagine seeing the beauty of those yellow umbrellas and would give anything to see them their again.
So, we have another art project which will not be seen by many folks. Only 15 visitors per week will be allowed to view the “Terminal”. What is the Terminal?
A Swiss artist, Christoph Buchel, is going to bury a Boeing 727 underground in the middle of the desert, 38 feet underground to be exact. He purchased some acreage around Boron; that’s in the Mohave Desert about 90 miles from here, 1/3 of the way to Las Vegas. The plan is to have a small parking lot where you will leave your car. Then you will enter a 400-foot tunnel leading to the door of the commercial jet to allow visitors to enter. The engines and fuel will be removed and a new air conditioning, ventilation and septic system will be installed and the planes’ restrooms will be available to be used by visitors. The desert landscape over the top of the plane will be restored to look as if nothing has changed. But, 38 feet down under, will be a 153-foot-long Boeing 727. Right now, just like my initial umbrella reaction, I’m thinking….weird.
For a look inside the mind of Christoph Buchel, I will quote the structural engineer who is designing the project: “Buchel creates hyper-realistic environments that are, in essence, like walking into a mind at work. Buchel has developed and artistic sensibility that allows layers of social and political commentary to permeate within a uniquely contemplative space.”
Hmmmmm. So, if I can expect to perceive social and political commentary in this contemplative space, I might walk down this 400 foot tunnel that will take me 38 feet underground where I will enter a buried “737”, look around and suddenly realize….Newt is really crazy.