Basque tree carvings, or arborglyphs, have long been of interest to historians, Basque scholars, foresters and hikers. Carved by Basque sheepherders tending their flocks across the Great Basin, the carvings are at the crossroads where art, culture and nature come together.
The carvings are the subject of the exhibit, “Mountain Picassos: Basque Arborglyphs of the Great Basin,” at the Nevada Arts Council’s OXS Gallery in Carson City open until Sept. 7.
The exhibit is based on the book of the same name by Reno’s Jean and Phillip Earl. For more than half a century, the Earls used clues from old maps, letters and books to hunt for and document “Mountain Picassos” – distinctive figures carved into aspen trees.
These figures, along with the names, dates, and sayings were carved in the early to mid-20th Century. Jean evolved a unique method of preserving the carvings, using canvas and artists’ wax to create rubbings – two-dimensional representations of the carvings that are works of art themselves. The Earls have assembled more than 130 wax-on-muslin rubbings from the carvings. | nvculture.org