A few years ago, I acquired several highway shields to use in photography, including one for California Highway 41. It was particularly good for photos like that one shown above. But I only knew small bits of the road itself. So when a certain birthday came to pass recently, I decided it was time to travel Highway 41 in its entirety.
Highway 41 begins in Morro Bay at an interchange with Highway 1. Morro Bay is a cute seaside town, and is distinctive for its large volcanic rock along the ocean.
The highway heads northeast through a relatively gentle section of the coast range and crosses US 101 in the town of Atascadero. It then climbs into the hills as a narrow two lane highway. Along the way it passes the many bucolic scenes of farms and ranches. As it climbs the hills, the trees disappear but the landscape remains quite green.
A little further north, Highway 41 joins Highway 46, a major east-west connector, and runs concurrently for a while. The change in traffic and speed was unmistakable.
As one heads east, the land becomes a drier and more sparse. 41 splits from 46 and heads north on its own. After coming over a ridge, the highway descends into a rather arid valley, quite different from the coast and the verdant hills further south.
We cross Highway 33 at a rather unassuming junction. There was an interesting looking roadhouse there, and I wish I had the courage to stop and try it. But I did press on across another, even more arid ridge to a junction with I-5 near Kettleman City. Kettleman City, which is not really a city or even an incorporated town, is probably the single sketchiest location along the entire route. I had been here before and taken a few photos. One of my favorite sites is still “alive and well.”
Continuing north, we move to the interior of the Central Valley at the edge of the former Lake Tulare, once the second largest freshwater lake entirely within the United States. It has since completely dried up, leaving a very flat landscape of farms. Many fields appeared to be fallow, perhaps due to the drought. It is a beautifully bleak landscape.
Just west of the town of Hanford, Highway 41 crosses CA 198, another major east-west highway. 198 is a freeway here, something I was not aware of. 41 itself becomes a four-lane expressway north of the interchange, and increasingly busy as we head north towards Fresno. As we pass the city boundary, it becomes a full freeway. It traverses the area south of downtown as an elevated viaduct, where it crosses Highway 99 and provides access to both downtown and nearby industrial neighborhoods.
I stopped here to do some photographs, one of which already appeared in an earlier Wordless Wednesday. Here are some more.
Heading north out of Fresno, 41 becomes the Yosemite Freeway, as it heads north towards the park.
The freeway narrows and then becomes a surface road as it approaches the foothills of the Sierra. The road climbs steeply into the hills and then descends equally steeply into the town of Oakhurst. The road narrows and climbs again into more mountainous wooded terrain.
We find the signed END of Highway 41 as we approach the southern border of Yosemite National Park.
But this is not the end the real end. The legal definition of Highway 41 continues into the park, although it is not signed as such. It goes through a tunnel the exit of which provides spectacular views of the Yosemite Valley.
Ultimately Highway 41 ends at a junction with (also unsigned) Highway 140 as it enters the valley.
This was an interesting road to complete beyond its numerical value in that it crossed through so many terrains and parts of the state. And a worthwhile and unique trip.
Today we look at the second of my two performances in New York this past November. This one took place at Harvestworks, a non-profit organization in lower Manhattan that supports musicians and helps them work with technology. It was also a bit of a homecoming for me, as I had interned at Harvestworks in the summer of 1993 – yes, 20 years ago!
The concert was actually part of artist-in-residence Rachel Mason’s ongoing work, and featured a collaborative performance with Michael Durek of The Use that exploited Harvestworks’ surround-sound system. The piece included a mixture of videos, both found online and created specifically by Mason, and live music that featured electronics from Durek and voice by Mason. You can see their full performance in this video.
It opens with a found video of an odd fellow talking about using electro-magnetism to detect ghosts. He explains basic electronics to the video (at one point getting his units wrong), with Durek slowly entering with discrete tones on the theremin. Soon the texture becomes thicker and moves into more beat-based music that I have heard in The Use’s more recent work. Rachel Mason’s vocals were quite expressive and melodic. The videos changed to show Mason in interesting costumes walking around both Brooklyn and Joshua Tree, two particular favorite environments of mine.
Then it was time for me to take the stage. I also used video, a very simple live-processing patch in Jitter that combined generated images with live input. For this piece, I had a set of cat-themed playing cards, which I would draw, show via the video processing, and then interpret for the next section of music, either as a literal specification for a patch on the Dave Smith Evolver, or more abstractly with the analog modular synth and Garrahand drum. You can see the full performance in the following video.
Overall, it was a great show, and we managed to have a full house, which is always a nice experience as a performer. I certainly hope to be able to work with these artists and with Harvestworks again in the future.
My visits to New York almost always include an afternoon wandering the galleries in the Chelsea neighborhood. And I was able to get back again this year and see how the neighborhood had rebounded from Sandy last year. The area was hit hard with flooding, and last November many galleries were closed, while others were physically open as crews removed drywall and ran industrial fans. There was little outward evidence of the damage this year, save for a musty aroma in a couple of galleries. Thus, the focus was on the art itself.
The major event in the neighborhood appeared to be Yayoi Kusama’s solo exhibition at David Zwirner. The large exhibition including both paintings by Kusama as well as several installations. A large video installation Manhattan Suicide Addict featured the artist with bright red hair and outfit greeting visitors in front of changing psychedelic patterns. Nearby was a visually captivating immersive installation Love Is Calling featuring light, sound, sculpture and mirrors. The experience within the space was disorienting, but not at all disturbing with the large softly curving forms and cool colors.
Because of the limited space inside, access to the installation was limited. However, there was no line for Love Is Calling when I visited, while the wait for Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013 was several hours long. There was no wait at all to see Kusama’s paintings, which while equally loud, had more of a cartoonish or folk-art quality to them compared to the overt technological nature of the installations.
A surprise discovery was Piece of Silence, an exhibition of new drawings, paintings and sculptures by Sandra Cinto at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. Among the major themes in her show was music, and indeed the entire lower gallery featured a series of elaborately illustrated cellos and other musical instruments mounted onto walls covered in musical staff systems. The illustrations featured elaborate naturalistic landscapes and water, themes that were also used into Cinto’s other sections of the exhibition. As the gallery was not too crowded, it was possible to linger in the stark gallery and take in the “silence.”
We then go from something unexpected to something completely as expected. There wasn’t much surprise in Richard Serra’s monumental sculptures at Gagosian Gallery’s two Chelsea locations, but they are nonetheless favorites of mine for the scale, metal texture and industrial quality. (I have heard is work derided as macho in the past, but that is a topic for another day.) At the 21st Street location, there was a single installation made from huge undulating sheets of rusting metal. One could walk through and explore the interior spaces, which ranged from round chambers to narrow passageways.
The pieces at the 24th Street, by contrast, were very linear in nature. I did particularly like this set of rectangular slabs.
Michel de Broin’s sculptures at bitforms featured industrial elements, but on a human scale and constructed from existing utilitarian (or formerly utilitarian) objects. Tires, utility boxes, broken light bulbs, are all fair game in de Broin’s work, which is arranged quite minimally and efficiently around the gallery’s space. There is also a playful quality to these pieces.
Found machinery and industrial objects are also the essential elements of Hidden Tracks, a solo exhibition by Reinhard Mucha at Luhring Augustine. The large pieces in the exhibition included working elements such as model railroads and old TV screens playing videos of similar industrial apocrypha.
In reflection, the industrial and the technological dominated the art that I focused on during this particular tour. But that is not surprising. It also was a major part of Michael Light’s photography exhibition at Danziger Gallery. The show focused on human technology set against the natural landscapes of the western United States, as seen from the air. That included several images of large freeway interchanges, including some classics from California and Arizona that we have included in our “Fun with Highways” series here at CatSynth.
As always, my Chelsea gallery walk ended with a visit to The Red Cat for a Manhattan and some samples from their menu. This time, that included a season soup with sausage confit that was highly recommended by my server and definitely worth enjoying slowly between sips of the cocktail and reflecting the days activities.