Everett Ruess, a young artist and writer who wandered the wilds of the southwest, mysteriously disappeared in the Escalante canyons in 1934 at the age of twenty. He has since become both a legend and symbol of the wilderness he revered.
The love and respect Everett felt for the places he roamed were expressed in his poems and essays, as well as in the images he carved for his precious block prints. He would trade or sell these prints to the occasional tourist and passerby to help pay his way for himself and his burros. Thus the few extra dollars brought him to another vista, and eventually to another piece of art. His wanderlust and his art became inseparable.
The prints in this collection span the last five years of Ruess’ short life, from the age of fifteen to twenty. They portray a variety of natural scenes and chronicle his travels along the California coast, high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and among the deserts and canyons of Utah and Arizona.
Five decades later these images still speak to us with vigor and force. They show the evolution of a maturing talent, fully capable of capturing nature in bold and simple terms.
Ruess’ Block Prints can be seen on the third floor of the Library at Southern Utah University, now through February 28th.