Art and Architecture, Reviews

Loved the ride

jacket imageA great review of Erin Hogan’s Spiral Jetta: A Road Trip through the Land Art of the American West appeared in yesterday’s New York Times Book Review. Reviewer Tom Vanderbilt has traveled some of the same Western highways as Hogan in his search for atomic bomb sites. He appreciates Hogan’s candor about her quest to see the monuments of American land art—works like Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, and Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field:

A prototypical urbanite, surrounded by friends and noise, Hogan says she was beset by an “early midlife crisis,” wondering if there wasn’t more to life than meetings and e-mail. “I wanted to learn to enjoy being alone,” she writes. And as a “recovering art historian,” she longed to experience works she had only known refracted through art criticism and seminar slide shows.
So Hogan packed up her Volkswagen Jetta and headed west.…
I can attest to the anomie of motels that still advertise color TV, the dread of cracked roads with “No Services” signs, and the difficulties in being the only stranger in a bar. As a woman alone—Thelma sans Louise—Hogan faces this even more intensely. She tells a tale, by turns humorous and almost harrowing…

Vanderbilt concludes:

I was never quite sure what Hogan was looking for when she set out—self-fulfillment or some new insights into what art is, or what it is for—or indeed whether she found it. But I loved the ride. In Spiral Jetta, an unashamedly honest, slyly uproarious, ever-probing book, art doesn’t magically have the power to change lives, but it can, perhaps no less powerfully, change ways of seeing. As one guide tells Hogan while they look at art in Marfa, Tex., “You’re supposed to draw your own conclusions.”

Read the rest of the review on the New York Times website. The Sunday edition of the Chicago Sun-Times also ran a review of Spiral Jetta.
We have an excerpt from the book and an interview with the author.