When comparing and appreciating the Polish Negative artwork, left, to the Double Negative land art, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Both are located in the middle of Mormon Mesa south of Mesquite and accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles. Photos by Barbara Ellestad

Looking for a new adventure in the desert, Bob and Jon suggested guiding me to a place I’d heard of but never seen. That’s all I needed to pack up the side-by-side 4-wheeler and hit the trails.

Up and over Flat Top Mesa, the three of us took out in our Razrs heading southwest towards Overton. Destination – the Double Negative land art located on Mormon Mesa.

But thanks to Bob, an added treat was the Polish Negative art piece located nearby. In order to understand it, you have to understand Double Negative and have a very good sense of humor.

Land artist Michael Heizer created Double Negative in 1969-70 by moving 244,000 tons of rhyolite and sandstone rock. The end result is a long trench that’s 30 feet wide, 50 feet deep, and 1,500 feet long straddling a ‘natural’ canyon.

According to several Web sites, “the ‘negative’ in the title thus refers in part to both the natural and man-made negative space that constitutes the work. The work essentially consists of what is not there, what has been displaced.”

Double Negative land art

That’s pretty much it. A long trench in the ground that’s barely visible unless you know where to look.

A New York art dealer, Viginia Dwan, purchased the 60-acre site that allowed Heizer to create his art. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MoCA) took possession of the artwork in 1984 after Dwan donated it to them.

Bob, Jon, and I much preferred taking in the gorgeous views of the Virgin River as it lazily flowed through the valley several hundred feet below us.

But all three of us had a hearty laugh at the Polish Negative art site just down the trail a bit that was obviously a parody of its more famous neighbor. There’s no known website that explains its history or origin of many of the objects included. No artist has claimed ownership.

As is the case with a lot of “art,” the value is all in the eye of the beholder.

You can reach both sites through Overton by vehicle; a 4-wheel drive is preferable since most of the road is dirt and rock.