James Turrell Allowing Limited Visitors to Roden Crater for $6,500 a Person


Roden Crater.


On May 14, 15, 16, and 17 this year, the Roden Crater, artist James Turrell’s unfinished but still legendary piece of land art in the Arizona desert, will be open to a select group of people for a fundraising event–meant only for “serious patrons of the arts,” according to an invitation.

Turrell acquired the land the crater rests on in 1977, and has since been working to transform the interior into a “naked eye observatory,” as the artist calls it. Very few people have seen the inside–one of them is Turrell’s friend Chuck Close, as recounted in a New York Times Magazine profile of Turrell, who made the crater handicap-accessible for the wheelchair-bound Close.

The cost to visit in May? First, there’s a $5,000 donation to the Skystone Foundation, Turrell’s nonprofit organization that supports the project. An additional $1,500 will cover a hotel room, a tour, dinner onsite, and breakfast the following morning. Not included in that cost, according to an application that must be filed to attend the trip, are: “Airfare, personal or baggage insurance, meals other than mentioned above, laundry, valet, liquor (other than wine with dinner), room service or minibar charges, telephone calls, faxes or internet charges, pharmaceuticals, supplemental costs for (additional) single rooms and/or (additional) suites, and any other individual charges of a personal nature.” Twenty people will be let in per day, which means Turrell stands to raise about half a million dollars.

Considering that tables for the usual spring gala in New York cost around $25,000 to $50,000, $6,500 doesn’t sound so bad. Michael Govan, the director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where Turrell had a retrospective in 2013, has described Roden Crater as “even unfinished, as important as any artwork ever made.” Sure beats dinner at Cipriani!

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