Carhenge is ruined

July 28th, 2008

D20 6891 Carhenge is ruined One of the major goals of this trip I’m on was to finally shoot some figure photos at Carhenge. I’ve been a big fan of Carhenge since it was created in the early 1980s. I visited it shortly after it was built. Back then the creator was fighting off locals who wanted it torn down, calling it a “junkyard too close to the road” among other less polite things. It was a wonderful creation back then, eerie and mystical, sitting in a cornfield in Nebraska.

I was quoted in a national magazine calling it the most significant work of art created in America in the decade. I still believe that. What could be more American than to take an ancient mystical monument from England and recreate it in a cornfield using junk cars. It’s who we are.

A few years after my first visit I returned and found a Carhenge banner hanging from every streetlamp in Alliance. The people there had finally realized that for the first time there was a reason for people to visit their town. There are now a bunch of new motels and other businesses…most likely directly a result of Carhenge.

But soon the dilution of the original creation began. First there was an uproar about one of the most clever parts of Carhenge. Carhenge is aligned to the sun, just as Stonehenge is. As originally created, on the summer solstice the sun would rise directly below a Honda Civic. But some people were upset that there was a foreign car in Carhenge. Soon the creator removed the Civic and replaced it with an American car.

Next other artists wanted to add their own creations to the site. While I appreciate the art that has been added, each piece added has distracted from the mystical feeling of the original. Now the place is cluttered with other sculptures. The original purity of Carhenge has been lost to that clutter.

But, it gets worse. Originally Carhenge was screened from the highway by a nice little growth of trees. I once camped there overnight while my best friend, Ken, did photos throughout the night. Now all those trees are gone, replaced by a large parking lot. There is nothing screening the site from the road. A problem for figure work.

And, horror of horrors, there is now a building on the site, housing a large gift shop. Oh my. I knew that the ownership of Carhenge had passed from the creator to a foundation, but didn’t realize how harmful to the art work that had become. Also, there is now a sign saying the place is closed and trespassing is forbidden after 10 pm. Ahh, bureaucracy, rules, cheap junk sales…the death of art…the antithesis of the spirit that created Carhenge in the first place.

Well, Brooke and I went ahead and tried to make our own anti-establishment art in spite of the hindrances…it was less than totally successful, entirely due to the photographer…Brooke was great as always and working hard in a difficult and somewhat less than secure situation. I was struggling with technical difficulties. As a result there are fewer successful photos than there should be. But there are a few, and one of them is with this post. There may be more to come. But I doubt that I’ll ever return to Carhenge again. It ain’t what it used to be.

The photo part of the trip is over. Tomorrow I’ll drive Brooke back to her home and the next day I’ll drive on to my home. It’s been a great trip. It’s been the most productive photo trip I’ve ever taken. We went to some great locations, but the major part of the credit for the success goes to Brooke…a great model. Thanks Brooke.

available light, Brooke Lynne, Carhenge, nude, rant, west trip 2008 | Comments | Trackback

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About this Blog

Photos and comments by Dave Levingston. This is the place to see my most recent work which may include nudes, dance, landscape, nature and whatever other kinds of photos I feel like taking.

Since it does contain nude photos, this blog is not intended for viewing by anyone under the age of 18.

All photographs and written comments on this blog are protected by the copyright laws of the United States.

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