Visitors to Western Nevada College’s Main Gallery will see the product of transforming 100-year-old tree carving art into preserved art.
“Mountain Picassos: Basque Arborglyphs of the Great Basin” is part of the Nevada Touring Initiative’s Traveling Exhibition Program and will be on display at WNC’s Carson City campus from Monday, Feb. 13 through Friday, April 7.
It provides a rare opportunity to see some of the intimate personal images inscribed by Basque sheepherders in the aspen groves of the Great Basin during the first half of the 20th century.
Jean Earl evolved a unique method of preserving the carvings using canvas and artists’ wax to create rubbings, two-dimensional representations of the carvings that are works of art themselves, eventually assembling over 130 wax-on-muslin rubbings made directly from the carvings.
Basque Arborglyphs of the Great Basin explores the unexpected intersection of art, culture, and nature. Basque tree carvings, or “arborglyphs,” have long been of interest to historians, Basque scholars, foresters and hikers. These carvings have been extensively documented in Nevada and California with photographs and through cultural asset mapping. This exhibit comprises 26 of these rubbings — along with text panels, contextual photographs and streaming video.
The traveling exhibit’s showing at WNC is possible through the efforts of the Nevada Arts Council (NAC), the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs (DTCA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The exhibit was curated by Sheryln Hayes-Zorn of the Nevada Historical Society and Patricia A. Atkinson of the Nevada Arts Council Folklife Program, in consultation with the University of Nevada, Reno Center for Basque Studies and Jean and Phillip Earl. It was funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts and the State of Nevada.