Lonely Art


    Karuna Eberl photo
  • Art in Cisco, Utah

    Karuna Eberl photo
  In a crumbling, long-abandoned building in the desert of eastern Utah, anonymous artists have created one of the world's loneliest art exhibits.

"Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not steal," is scrawled ominously above a gutted upholstered chair inside a small building called the White Buffalo Bar. Cowboy boots, stuck upside down on posts anchored to the floor, stand in front of small watercolor paintings. Around the corner, 50 or so black-and-white pictures of the backs of people's heads are glued to the wall in a horizontal row. A towering heap of cinder blocks, springs and glass bottles balances in the middle of another room, precariously supported by thin anchor wires. A typewritten note nailed next to the doorway says the exhibit is an international cooperative project by artists from Utah and Krakow, Poland.

The exhibit in the White Buffalo Bar isn't static. Perhaps the artists return from time to time, or perhaps others have contributed to the exhibit. The silence of the desert, the randomness of the location and the anonymity of the creators increase the power of the art. In a museum or gallery, it would be another exhibit for people to scrutinize and criticize while trying to figure out its deeper meaning. Here, it is art for the sake of art.

The stories of who ate, drank and lived their lives at the White Buffalo Bar are lost - just as the White Buffalo Bar itself will soon crumble. The buffalo mural on its cinder block front is fading, and vandals have destroyed some of the art inside. But for now, the magic the artists have created remains.

*Karuna Eberl