Sunday, April 29, 2012

I never metaphor I didn't like: Metaphor, The Tree of Utah

(You really ought to click on these to see what they look like big)

Driving through western Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats affords the eccentric roadside traveler a surreal, other-worldly landscape, and it somehow seems appropriate that a Swedish sculptor would erect an 87-foot tall "tree" with giant tennis ball-like leaves painted in colorful shades here. Back in 1982, Karl Momen began building what would eventually become "Metaphor: The Tree of Utah," a masterpiece made of 225 tons of concrete, 2,000 ceramic tiles, 5 tons of welding rod and a ton or two of minerals and rocks native to Utah. He completed the project in 1986, financed it himself, donated it to the state of Utah and returned to Sweden. It sits 95 miles west of Salt Lake City on a particularly stark and lonesome stretch of Interstate 80, and there is no access to get a good up close look at it, as Momen didn't spring for an exit ramp off the highway, so you either have to stop illegally along I-80, or snap away furiously as you whip past it going down the freeway. It's a wonderful site to behold though, in all its weirdness and odd beauty, right down to the shard-like "leaves" strewn around its fenced-in base.

Coming across a great roadside work of art like this makes me as happy as leaving my cake out in the rain, with its sweet green icing flowing down, and I'll never have that recipe again. How's that for a metaphor?

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