~Yampa Sculpture Path & Studio Is An Evolving Idea~  

Hawk Ridge Lookout / Looking Northeast from top of hill.

As of September 17, 2020, we are now a registered 501c3 nonprofit.  We found property, a home, February 2019, roughly 12 acres of open land just outside of the town of Fort Bidwell which is located in the far northeastern corner of California known as Surprise Valley.

Fort Bidwell is situated within what is called the Tri-state region of Oregon, Nevada, and California.  The entire area is a historic treasure, cradling part of the old wagon train route that cuts across the Great Basin stretching through northwestern Nevada to the edge of northeastern California, arriving at the unexpected grassy meadows and hot springs of Surprise Valley.  This was a resting place for the early settlers before attempting the treacherous Fandango Pass over the Warner Mountains.

Yampa Root

Yampa  is the Paiute word for an edible tuber that provides nourishment.  The wild tuber still grows in the surrounding hills here.  It was an important food source for the Northern Paiute living in this region and could be eaten raw or cooked.  It was also dried and stored to eat during the long hard winters.  Like the wild tuber provides food for the body, we believe, art provides nourishment for the soul.

Assembled tufa, granite, obsidian with partial wild horse skull.

Sandhill Cranes
Photo by Brian Taylor

”Yampa Sculpture Path”  will cultivate a place for enjoying sculpture within nature, fostering creativity, contemplation and health-giving relaxation for all who visit.  It also would provide opportunities for the surrounding region to experience the arts in profound and meaningful ways. ”Yampa Sculpture Path” walks at the northern edge of the high desert and grasslands of Surprise Valley surrounded by mountains… just beautiful.  The Sandhill Cranes nest here in the spring and the views are quiet ones.

The Spiral Pollinator Garden with Sculptures

The centerpiece of YSPS is the Sprial Pollinator Garden.  Along the path will be large wedge-shaped gardens of pollinator plants for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. These areas will be endowed with sculptures casting back some other kinds of light to ponder.  The spiral path is a walk to breathe attention to our vulnerable pollinators.  Our butterflies, our hummingbirds, our bees, and also our artists who cross-pollinate ideas into our communities. Anyone can walk the path, hopefully learning that beauty inspires life.  I am the founder of Yampa Sculpture Path & Studio, but first of all, I am an artist.  I am hoping this place will attract more artists, connecting them to their own journey and finding some solid ground inside themselves for soulful utterance.  The hummingbirds will be your guide, the butterflies will test your benevolence and the bees will sound your mantra.

Petroglyphs on Barrel Spring Loop

Petroglyphs  Before the Paiute came their was a more ancient nomadic people living here that we know very little about. They can be traced throughout the landscape painted on the rock walls and overhangs.  The images are fading away.  We want to honor these people by reproducing their images on cornerstone markers along the path designating each of the exhibition areas here.

The Studio building is a historical structure on the property dating back to the late 1800s when the old fort closed down.  The property is referred to by the locals as the “Old Indian Property.”  When the reservation was established and the government was closing the fort, it still owned parcels of lands associated with the old fort.  So the land was divided up and given to Native American families.  The government built a small house on each parcel of land.  Later on, most of these families sold their property to the local settlers and the little houses were abandon.

Yampa Studio will be divided into three small spaces: Gift shop, gallery and mediation space.

Remarkably, the original house on the property still stands.  We would like to preserve the integrity of the original outside design of the building and put up a plaque about it’s history honoring the families that went through this heartwrenching time.  Inside the building will be the ”studio”, it will be divided into three small spaces: a gallery, gift shop and meditation space.  Yampa Path hopes to artistically preserve the ambiance of the inside, with streams of sunlight flowing through the building like a brief mirage into the past.

Sherburn LaBelle Limestone

”Yampa Sculpture Path”   is a rare place where people can come to walk or sit, to reflect or heal, while experiencing the phenomenal relationship art has with nature.  Some of the large scale sculptures will be permanently exhibited here, so that they can be visited and revisited as many times as one wants.

Yampa Studio”   While the purpose of ~Yampa Sculpture Path~ is skillful contemplation and cross-pollination through art and nature, the purpose of the Yampa Studio will be to include engaging contemporary 3D works.  The works will incorporate any 3D artist that wants to participate, with a special invitation to contemporary Native American artists. 

We can provide a place for both local artisans and sculptors to exhibit and sell their works, as well as, promoting new ideas with various exhibits open to all sculptors.

You don’t have to be a history enthusiast to have a good time in Surprise Valley.  It’s has been a vacation destination for rock-hounds, hot spring crusaders and back-country adventurers. It’s great place to go birding, or you can go fishing in the nearby lakes.  There’s horseback riding, hiking and it’s easy bike riding throughout the Valley.  At the end of every summer, Burning Man holds its big event. The ”Burners” pass through here on their way south into Nevada’s Black Rock Desert which is about an hour’s drive.

Parade Honoring the Boarding School Elders.

In October, Fort Bidwell has a big parade honoring the Native American Elders that were forced to go to the government boarding schools when they were children.  It’s put on by the local Paiutes at the Gidutikid Reservation with an entire weekend full of activities.

Every Fall, Surprise Valley holds a valley wide yard sale with treasures you will not find anywhere else.  There is also a couple Old Car Shows that drive to Fort Bidwell each year and the town puts on a big BBQ to celebrate, all visitors are welcome.

All these events could be augmented with a visit to Yampa Sculpture Path, a nice way to begin or end the day, perhaps having breakfast, lunch or dinner at the local hotel. You could even stay an extra night or two.  We are hoping, Yampa Path will stimulate the area by adding a few new jobs, increase tourism while offering a public forum for artistic expression.

We are working on establishing funding along with other details for its success. Our aim is that it will include a visiting artist program, educational opportunities for children and art excursions for adults.  You can support us by donating at the bottom of the page. All donations no matter how small are greatly appreciated.

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Thank you, with smiles.