Artist Spends Decades on Work in Texas Desert

A new exhibit explores the works of artist James Magee. He is the man who has spent the last 30 years creating a monumental installation in the desert east of El Paso.

Set against the desert sky with sloping mountains in the background, "The Hill" is made up of four stone buildings connected by two intersecting stone paths. The 64-year-old Magee expects the structures will take another 15 to 20 years to complete.

The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas has an exhibit featuring about 20 of Magee's relief sculptures. It runs through Nov. 28.

Those viewing the Dallas exhibit "Revelation: The Art of James Magee" will also get to hear audio of Magee's resonant voice reciting what he calls the "titles" of the works.

Want it explained in more detail? Check out this passage from a Nasher news release:

Working with an array of found and castoff materials such as bits of iron, glass, concrete, wax, enamel, lead, wire mesh, linoleum, grease, brake fluid, shellac, car parts, ceramic tiles, roof panels, even hibiscus, honey, and paprika, Magee creates powerful, sensuous sculptural reliefs that are at once uncannily familiar and completely alien. Often framed in steel boxes with protective glazing and exhibiting a textural richness, the works have the feel of archeological relics and recall a wide range of sources from Christian altarpieces to the enigmatic boxes of Joseph Cornell and the  engrossing sensorial experience of paintings by Mark Rothko. Magee occasionally extends the experience of the works in their elaborate “titles,” prose poems that the artist intones only for the rare, fortunate visitor, recordings of which will be available in the exhibition.

Magee isn't as well-known as other artists because he has spent the past three decades working in the far West Texas desert. Obeservers expect that to change as "The Hill" gets more exposure.

The Nasher Sculpture Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm and until 11 pm for special events. General Admission to the Center is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for students, and free for members and children 12 and under.

More: Nasher Sculpture Center, Magee Hill

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