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Spiral Jetty and ancient rock art honored by lawmakers

First Published      Last Updated Mar 06 2017 01:57 pm


Bills designate the contemporary land artwork, ancient sites as “state works of art.”

Both the Utah House and Senate have approved the designation of not only an official "state work of art" — the Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake — but also separate official plural "state works of art," namely ancient rock art scattered around the state.

The Senate voted 23-3 on Friday to pass HB211 for the Spiral Jetty. The House voted 57-12 on Wednesday to pass SB171 for the rock art. Minor amendments in the Senate on HB211 require a concurring vote in the House before both bills go to Gov. Gary Herbert.

Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, sponsor of the Spiral Jetty measure, said the two bills complement each other as "a nod to the prehistoric people who lived in our state and an acknowledgment of the contemporary land art that is so unique in our state."




Edwards earlier told the House that the Spiral Jetty "is internationally recognized as one of the top 10 land art features in the entire world…. I think the time is right for us to designate that and recognize and celebrate this beautiful work of art."

The sculpture was made in 1970 by Robert Smithson. It is a 1,500-foot-long, 15-foot-wide counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore — somewhat near the Golden Spike National Historic Site.

The bill's Senate sponsor, Sen. Peter Knudson, R-Brigham City, described Spiral Jetty as an "amazing structure." He urged his Senate colleagues to not only support the bill, but also to visit Spiral Jetty.

"When the lake is dry you can walk out there and experience the artwork," he said. "The point is for you to become part of the art."

Meanwhile, Rep. Christine Watkins, R-Price, House sponsor of the rock art bill, said Utah has some of the oldest rock art in America, including its only authentic ice age art: two panels near Bluff depicting mammoths.

"They are at least 12,500 calendar years old," she said, proving "the co-existence between paleo Americans and ice age" plants and animals. "This alone makes Utah one of the most important rock art theaters in the Western hemisphere."

Among current official Utah symbols are an emblem (beehive), bird (sea gull), animal (elk), flower (sego lily), cooking pot (Dutch oven) and even a gun (Browning model 1911).

Others are: state folk dance (square dance), fossil (allosaurus), fish (Bonneville cutthroat trout), fruit (cherry), vegetable (Spanish sweet onion), historic vegetable (sugar beet), gem (topaz), grass (Indian rice grass), insect (honeybee) and mineral (copper).

Still others include the state motto (industry), rock (coal), tree (quaking aspen), winter sports (skiing and snowboarding), song ("Utah This is the Place) and hymn ("Utah We Love Thee").

 

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