Running Up James Magee's Hill at the Nasher

Categories: Arts
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James Magee's Mine Shaft, made in the mid-'90s using shatterproof glass, rubber, staples, salt and rust water
On Saturday the Nasher Sculpture Center debuted its latest exhibit: Revelation: The Art of James Magee, the first time in almost 20 years the El Paso-based sculptor's work has been collected and shown publicly. For the past quarter century, the lawyer-turned-cabbie-turned-artist has been hard at work on his hill -- The Hill, rather, which consists of four identical rooms (each 40 feet long, 20 feet wide and 17 feet high) spread across 2,000 acres in the dessert 90 minutes east of El Paso. Which doesn't even begin to describe the beast Magee is building in the middle of nowhere. Says Nasher curator Jed Morse in an Associated Press piece making the national rounds this morning, "I would imagine that The Hill will become one of the great landmarks of art in the United States."

Morse and Rick Brettell, the former Dallas Museum of Art director turned Professor of Aesthetic Studies professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, have written a book about The Hill titled, simply, James Magee: The Hill; says Brettell, "Everybody who has been divides their lives into two parts: before and after they've seen The Hill." Still, there's always room for a sequel, given it's not expected to be completed for another 15 years. Till then, there's the Nasher exhibition -- which can be toured online, complete with audio of Magee's narration accompanying the pieces, which are made using everything from car parts to shellac to grease to honey to paprika. In some descriptions the artist speaks; for others, he sings. And if you want to visit The Hill, the following dates are currently available: May 14 and October 15, 2011.

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