Basque tree carvings focus of Carson City reception | NevadaAppeal.com

Basque tree carvings focus of Carson City reception

Guy Clifton
Travel Nevada

Artist Jean Earl poses with an aspen tree carving that was done by a Basque sheepherder. Such images are part of the exhibit, “Mountain Picassos: Basque Arborglyphs of the Great Basin.”

A reception and talk featuring Reno artist Jean Earl will be held on Tuesday at the Nevada Arts Council's OXS Gallery in Carson City.

The event, which is free and open to the public, starts at 5:30 p.m., with the artist talk scheduled for 6:15 p.m.

For more than half a century, Jean Earl, and her husband, Phillip, used clues from old maps, letters and books to hunt for and document Basque arborglyphs — distinctive figures carved by Basque sheepherders into aspen trees found in the high country meadows of the Great Basin.

The endeavor led to the book, "Mountain Picassos: Basque Arborglyphs of the Great Basin," and an art exhibit of the same name, which has been featured at the OXS Gallery since late July. The exhibition ends Sept. 7.

These figures, along with the names, dates, and sayings were carved in the early to mid-20th century.

Jean Earl 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.

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The Earls eventually assembled more than 130 wax-on-muslin rubbings created directly from the carvings on the aspens.

The OXS Gallery is located at 716 N. Carson St., Suite A, in Carson City. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.