It is July 30, 2012, approximately 28 years after Albert Szukalski began work on his signature sculpture “The Last Supper,” in the sweltering summer heat of central Nevada that would begin what is universally known today as the Goldwell Open Air Museum and Artist Residency.
Goldwell 1.0 was initiated with that action in 1984. As you all know the story, Albert would regularly invite fellow artists from his native Belgium to realize a piece on his 8-acre triangular piece of desert during the hottest parts of the year. These adventures resulted in six additional large-scale sculptures being installed, which stood the test of time for more than 16 years—five of those original pieces still stand to this day (regrettably, Szukalski’s Desert Flower and David Spicer’s Chained to the Earth succumbed to the elements).
Goldwell 2.0 began with the arrival of artists Suzanne Hackett and Charles Morgan on the scene following Albert’s untimely death in 2000 with their promise to care for the sculpture park “the Maestro” had brought into being and to fulfill his deathbed wish “to keep it going.”
An IMLS-funded conservation assessment in 2004 fostered several memorable efforts, including 2005’s Pink Lady Paint Party, the first “Lost Weekend” collaborations in 2006, and the installation of Sophie Siegman’s “Sit Here!” mosaic couch in 2007. Goldwell 2.0 also saw the installation of two new pieces, Eames Demetrios’ Kymaerican plaque in 2006 and David Berg’s Politician’s Compass in 2011.
Still, the rehabilitation of the donated Red Barn property into a functioning art studio, gallery and event space stands as the major accomplishment of the period, resulting in the creation of The Artist Residency at Goldwell which has since hosted 38 artists and artist teams from across the country in supported residencies, as well as 28 more in its Workspace Program.
Goldwell 3.0 begins this summer with the relocation of its printmaking program to the Las Vegas Arts District and its rebranding as “Open Air Printers,” a makerspace for visual artists of all disciplines. Opening in September 2012, Open Air Printers will provide equipment and technical expertise, classes, workshops and residencies and will serve as a gateway to the other experiences Goldwell offers for a broader audience here in Nevada. The world has already found us!