« Return to this article

Know the West

Rock art and the struggle for preservation

Review of Jonathan Bailey's "Rock art: A Vision of a Vanishing Cultural Landscape."


Jonathan Bailey’s haunting photographs of Western pictographs join essays by Lawrence Baca, Greg Child, Lorran Meares and others to tell the larger story of a disappearing cultural heritage and the need for its conservation. Rock Art: A Vision of a Vanishing Cultural Landscape brings an ancient people to life through their stone-etched images, many of which are threatened by development and vandalism. “What will the future be for these images?” Bailey asks. The passion behind his photographs is apparent — and hard-won. Bailey often climbed, unassisted, to towering narrow ledges to view the sites the way the original artists did, centuries ago. The mysterious pictures they left still seem to whisper a hidden meaning. “If we don’t preserve that,” he writes, “we don’t deserve the land we walk on.”

Rock Art: A Vision of a Vanishing Cultural Landscape
By Jonathan Bailey
187 pages, softcover: $28.95.
Johnson Books, 2016.