artistsMaria Sykes

Miles Mattison

artistsMaria Sykes
Miles Mattison

Frontier Fellow August 2011

Miles' website

Instagram

Born in 1985, in San Francisco, rasied in Petaluma, and currently residing in Oakland, CA. Miles goes places and makes things in response. He is attracted to interactions between people and land. He worries about the things that make us modern, but participates in some anyways, just to see how it feels. He will shamelessly be distracted by the sunset and the moon as every day transitions to each night. He thinks tools, lamps, bottles, ampersands, citrus, pathways, and the spaces between things are beautiful. He feels better when he's moving. After his initial Fellowship, Miles returned to Green River seasonally to complete his project Seasonal.
 

Downtown Green River from Monument Hill, 2011.

Downtown Green River from Monument Hill, 2011.

Green River is loaded with surprises.

From the moment I got here, I’ve been exploring, learning about, and experiencing this place. Surrounded by buttes, it’s a pocket of green. Immediately, my interest was peaked when Jack told me about a viewpoint that he’d never explored called Rod Hill. It’s perched just north of the interstate and is designed to look to the south, where test missiles were launched from two different sites that sit unseen in the hills. The military presence in Green River was a time of economic prosperity for the town. In combination with Uranium mine that sits just east of the river, there was an insurgence of residency from the 1950s to the mid 1970s. Perhaps it was a result of a group of locals drunkenly knocking down a rock that sit upon a butte west of Swaysey Beach that was legend to curse the town of Green River as long as it stood. There is a deep, rich history in this town.

The next day we would explore the site from which the missiles were launched. With Jack at the wheel, his trusty, dusty blue Trooper, dubbed “DG” for Dave Gordon, we bumped our way through the southern hills of Green River and found the test sites from which some of these missiles were launched. Out in the desert, we came upon this weird wooden bunker, half covered in earth. It had pipes, maybe for ventilation or perhaps wiring of some sort, that projected an image of the desert onto the wall opposite of it. This place seems to be a bit magical like that. For every material good that I lose here, I seem to find something that I was looking for.

The bunker at a former missile base south of Green River.

The bunker at a former missile base south of Green River.

"Gas Island" in Green River.

"Gas Island" in Green River.

With the company of former Epicenter crew member Aimee O'Caroll, who was visiting with her childhood friend Katie, I’ve also had the opportunity to explore some of the more common, but still quite breathtaking, attractions. The view from Green River Overlook in the Canyonlands was astonishing. It really gave me an idea of the scale, magnitude, and beauty of this desert in which I’m living. And also just why so much of this land is uninhabitable. Why do people live here? What has brought them to this place? And if they have come, what keeps them? These are questions that brought me here in the first place and whose answer I’m still investigating. 

The latter part of my second week was filled with the entertaining of the Bike & Build crew and making prints with Kyle Durrie, of Movable Type, with tunes in the background from her partner Dustin Hamman. The hand powered process of the letterpress is indeed a treat. When expressing to Kyle I wanted to make a line under my text, she replied by saying I’d have to make one! A quick lino-cut later and my print was complete. Kyle’s journey is inspiring and little truck print shop is one of a kind.

My "You'd Be Surprised" letterpress design.

My "You'd Be Surprised" letterpress design.

My illustrations of swamp coolers, melons, and missiles.

My illustrations of swamp coolers, melons, and missiles.

Friday morning came at 5am with a surprise trip to Marfa, as Jack and I drove Phyllis, the 1984 Tercel hatch-back with no AC, for 16 hours through the deserts of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Marfa is a hip hole in the desert, a town much like Green River with its sleepiness and isolation, but a bit different in its layout and original creation, and completely separate in its culture. I could feel the spirit of something that was once much more charged there, but perhaps now is muddied by misguided transplants that land there for a far too little time. There seems to be a tension between those who have always called Marfa home, the locals, and the artist crowd that has reinvented the place. Nonetheless, the near heat stroke suffered while exploring Donald Judd’s fifteen concrete arrangements, sleeping in a retro trailer, showering outdoors in the Texas sun, and nearly catching a single, dim light, was worth the drive.

Front signage in process, 2011. Photo by Frontier Fellow Nick Zdon.

Front signage in process, 2011. Photo by Frontier Fellow Nick Zdon.

And now we’re back in Green River, which after only living here for a week and half, I already missed. The coming weeks will be full of fun and work: drawing a topo map at Epicenter's entrance, adding front signage for the Epicenter HQ (see photo above), taking photographs of the town, hearing stories from the people, doing a bit of manual labor, hosting visitors nonstop and of course, going the beach, can’t forget the beach.