The Great State of Utah May Make ‘Spiral Jetty’ Its Official Artwork

If it passes, Utah will be the first state to choose an official work of art.

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty (1970). Photo: via Wikipedia
Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty (1970). Courtesy of Soren Harward via Wikimedia Commons.

Robert Smithson‘s iconic Spiral Jetty, a 1,500-foot-long landscape intervention made of 6,000 tons of basalt rocks arranged in a giant coil in the Great Salt Lake, may soon be named Utah’s official work of art, reports local news station KSL.

An exceedingly-popular art destination despite its remote location, Spiral Jetty could very well be the most famous land art work on the planet. It’s not surprising that Utah Republican representative Rebecca Edwards has introduced a bill to officially recognize it as the state artwork.

The Utah House of Representatives will vote on the legislation Tuesday, February 9, which is also Arts Day on the Hill.

Robert Smithson, <em>Spiral Jetty</em> (1970). Photo: George Steinmetz, © Holt-Smithson Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York.

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty (1970).
Photo: George Steinmetz, © Holt-Smithson Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York.

If the measure passes, Utah would be the first state to chose an official work of art. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve ventured into previously unknown state symbol territory, however.

In 1997, Utah became the first state to designate an an official cooking pot, selecting the Dutch oven. (Texas and Arkansas have since followed suit, choosing the exact same vessel, because copycats.) In 2011, Utah declared the Browning M1911 as the state firearm, the first state to select one. It’s also the only state with its own astronomical symbol, the Beehive Cluster, after the state emblem.

(The state’s newest symbol is more conventional. The Quaking Aspen became the official tree of Utah in 2014.)

Arturo Di Modica, Charging Bull (1989). Photo: Cap'n Surly, via Creative Commons.

Arturo Di Modica, Charging Bull (1989).
Photo: Cap’n Surly, via Wikipedia’s Creative Commons.

Regardless of whether the Spiral Jetty legislation is approved, we are hopeful other states will follow Utah’s example. Indiana, for instance, is home to the original Robert Indiana Love sculpture. New Mexico could pick Walter De Maria‘s The Lightning Field. In New York, legislators might choose Arturo Di Modica‘s iconic Charging Bull on Wall Street, which was originally a guerrilla art installation and is now an international icon.

Of course, other states will likely find they don’t quite have the art firepower to match that of Spiral Jetty. “It’s an opportunity for us to brag as a state,” Edwards told KSL.


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