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Bill seeks to declare Spiral Jetty as Utah's official 'state work of art'

Published January 26, 2016 8:40 am

Symbol • Jetty in the Great Salt Lake could be first such designation in U.S.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah has an official emblem (beehive), bird (seagull), animal (elk), flower (sego lily), cooking pot (Dutch oven) and even a state gun (Browning model 1911), among many other official state symbols.

Now, Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, is proposing to add another: declaring the Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake as Utah's official "state work of art."

"It is really renowned worldwide, and is probably one of the top 10 land art projects in the world," Edwards says about the sculpture made in 1970 by Robert Smithson. It is a 1,500-foot-long, 15-foot-wide counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore.

"I think many Utahns are not aware of it. They have never been there," even though she says it's not too far from Golden Spike National Historic site.

Edwards adds that she believes that no other state has an official work of art. "So we're leading out on this. That's the point, not that many states have land artwork like this."

She said she is pushing her bill, HB134, at the suggestion of art students at American Fork High School. She seeks only the official designation for the Spiral Jetty, and not any money for protection, preservation or access to the sculpture.

She notes that while the jetty currently sits above water, it often has been submerged as the lake level rises and falls.

So what happens if an official state work of art disappears under the water again? "Then it would be the submerged state work of art," Edwards joked.

"Part of the beauty is that when it emerged from under the water, the algae, the salt and the chemicals in the water had really impacted the coloration of the basalt rock used to create the jetty," Edwards said.

"So depending on the time of day, the day of the year, and the year in general, you can experience the jetty in a different way. It's really special right now because you can walk out there. You are part of the art."

Some of the other official emblems Utah now has include: state folk dance (square dance), state fossil (allosaurus), fish (Bonneville cutthroat trout), fruit (cherry), vegetable (Spanish sweet onion), historic state vegetable (sugar beet), gem (topaz), grass (Indian rice grass), insect (honeybee) and mineral (copper).

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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