June 25, 2018

Photo Essay: Seeing the Forest from the Cars

I've experienced a few forests in my time—alpine forests, a bristlecone forest, a red forest, a cloud forest, and even a forest of bottle trees.

But a couple of weeks ago, I headed out to the Nevada ghost town of Goldfield to visit my first car forest.

There are only three in the U.S. that I know of, and this one is a lot closer than Carhenge in Nebraska (and bigger—in fact, it's the largest).

I wasn't sure what to expect—other than junked cars planted vertically in the ground—but what I found was a serene desert scape of outsider art.

And while some of the cars may have been already vandalized when they became part of the International Car Forest of the Last Church...

...their placement in this roadside sculpture garden has attracted a number of spray-painters and arsonists...

...transforming the site into a kind of art car graveyard rather than just an artfully arranged boneyard.

Are their placements arbitrary? It doesn't appear that way.

Rather, it seems more like a Stonehenge for desert rats, bandits, and other ne'er do wells...

...but you have to know how to read the formations.

Is it celestial, per se? Well, it's otherworldly.

It most certainly would confuse the aliens.

And I'm sure it changes depending on the angle of the sun, the fullness of the moon, and the amount of precipitation that falls at this high elevation, especially in the winter.

The wind—that inescapable wind of the Nevada high desert—does not, however, shatter their windshields or blow off their doors.

They do not topple.

And each car provides a window through which to see the rest of the cars—or, as it were, the entire forest, rather than just one "tree" at a time.

The 40 or so cars have populated this forest at least since 2011, with the idea having first begun to germinate as far back as 2002, though it feels far more ancient than that.

And it would be difficult to just stumble upon it, as it's set off the U.S. 95 enough to evade the most passing glance.

But it's open all day and night, which means I could rumble along its dirt tracks in my rented Nissan Rogue at 7 a.m. and still have enough time to fill the rest of the day with other adventures.

But this one, at the International Car Forest, quite literally stands out.

And while there is no onsite caretaker nor any services, there are also no rules.

If you're an artist, you can use the vertical vehicles as your canvas and your subject.

Not that the desert isn't inspiring enough on its own.

But sometimes those vast, dry expanses could use a little contextual framework.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: A Day-Glo Desert Detour
Photo Essay: Saving Sculptures from the Scrapyard
Is It Art, Or Is It the Desert?

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