The town of Rhyolite, NV, had been virtually abandoned since 1919, so this town that had deteriorated to the point of reaching "ghost town" status (with a population barely into double figures) seemed a most unlikely place for an outdoor art museum.
Yet there it was. The Goldwell Open Air Museum.
“Jim Spencer, Rhyolite’s ‘mayor,’ granted Szukalski permission to put his sculptures in the town, partially because he hoped that this would be the start of an art colony" (Sceurman, Moran, Oesterle, and Cridland, Weird Las Vegas and Nevada).
And so Death Valley became the site of Szukalski's The Last Supper.
Our first reaction was one of admiration for the artist's creativity. This reaction was followed by a profound wonderment. The "figures" had a more meaningful impression than if people had been portrayed in the shrouds.
Sofie Siegmann created Sit Here (2000) for an artist-in-residence project for a museum in Las Vegas. It was rescued in 2007, lovingly restored, and re-envisioned at Goldwell in 2007.
One explanation for the inclusion of the penguin is that it represents the artist, who felt “as incongruous in the desert as an Antarctic bird.”
As we drove down the lane to the Museum, the memory of art in the desert lingered.
(Information contained here was obtained from the Goldwell Open Air Museum's brochure, roadsideamerica.com, and takemytrip.com/desert)