What is real?

Gili Orr

Haarlem, Netherlands

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“What is real?” was featured in the group Public Art

The Amargosa Opera House, Death Valley Junction, California.

In the spring of 1967, when Marta Becket found herself peering into the the old theater that would become the Amargosa Opera House, it was obviously abandoned…. and had been for some time.

During the years 1923-1925, the Pacific Coast Borax Company constructed a company town consisting of a U-shaped complex of Mexican Colonial style buildings of adobe to house the company offices, store, dormitory, a twenty three room hotel, dining room, lobby, and employees’ headquarters. A recreation hall was built at the northeast end of the complex and was used as a community center for dances, church services, movies, funerals, and town meetings. At the time it was known as Corkhill Hall. The architect who designed the town was Alexander Hamilton McCulloch.

In July of 1968, Marta began what would become years of painstaking work, painting an entire audience on the walls, filled with characters who might have attended an opera back in the 16th century. From the King and Queen, to royalty, nobility, bullfighters, monks and nuns, the walls came to life […]
American Indians discovered by the Spanish in the early 16th century grace the walls at the bottom, performing various feats of skill and chance for the entertainment of the King and Queen. Upon these walls Marta has created a world of the past.

It took four years to complete the murals. During this time the audiences grew. 105 garden chairs were acquired through the donations of trading stamps from patrons. A nine foot concert grand piano arrived as a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Ellsworth Johnson of Spokane, Washington. More stories were written about the Opera House in the desert.
Source – and more info

Photo taken in March 2007, while attending a performance by Martha Becket. She was actually not at her best anymore (80 something with back problems), so we didn’t get the dance show we expected (sort of promised). But this opera house with its beautiful murals was certainly worth a visit.

Canon PowerShot S70, 1/60 s, f/2.8

Artwork Comments

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