A strange new sight has appeared on the horizon along the lonely stretch of desert between Jean and Las Vegas. Effulgent towers have sprung up out of the desert, drawing crowds of sight seers, hip art admirers, and just plain curious locals and tourists. But what are they? It turns out, they are sculptures by the renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Called The Seven Magic Mountains, these luminous cairns are built from stacked giant boulders that are individually painted in bright, neon colors.
Admittedly, the concept did not sound all that impressive at first; however, everyone who had seen it seemed to love it. As it turned out, this is just the type of art that has to be experienced in person to get it. Even photos do not do it justice or capture the feeling of the standing before these seemingly garish monoliths.
The experience truly begins before you arrive at the installation. As you drive down what is technically still Las Vegas Boulevard, about ten miles south of the M Resort and Casino, the colorful Magic Mountains suddenly appear on the horizon. The directions available online are not very distinct, and this is why—you literally can’t miss it.
The small parking lot was almost full upon arrival. The word on the street is this has been the case every day since it opened. It was surprising to find that a few paved handicapped spots were reserved for those who may need them, and a dumpster was also on site to prevent littering. There are no restrooms or water though, so be sure to bring something cold with you to drink. It felt a few degrees cooler there than it did in the city, a much welcomed event.
A dirt path leads visitors from the parking lot to the sculptures. The walk is short and smooth; anyone should be able to make the distance without too much difficulty. The Magic Mountains grow larger and larger as you near them; their size is apparent from the road, but it’s not until you are right up next to them that you can fully appreciate their grandeur.
Each boulder is about the height of a person, maybe a little over five feet high on average. Each of the seven spires has a different number of boulders and each one varies slightly in height as a result. They are all a little different; like trees in a forest, they are each unique from the others, yet as a whole come together into a single unit. From the pictures available online, they appear to be in a straight line, but this is not the case. They are staggered in a sort of zig zag pattern; you have to be at a specific angle to see all seven of them at once.
One unexpected observation was the reactions of children to the sculpture. Children are drawn to bright colors, hence their love of cartoons and brightly colored toys, so that they would like the Seven Magic Mountains is understandable. It went beyond this, however. At first, all of the kids ran circles in between the neon sentinels. Long after one would have expected their interest to have worn off and boredom to have set in, the young ones were still enamored with the place. This was most unusual as there was not any type of stimulus to keep their attention, just unmoving towers of rock and open desert. None of them wanted to leave!
Perhaps they sensed something there; a peacefulness, a feeling of something not quite expressible that pervaded the area. There really was something about these silent pillars in the middle of nowhere that seemed to influence everyone that visited them. It is simply a magical experience that all Las Vegans should see for themselves.
The Seven Magic Mountains exhibit is scheduled to be here for two years, from May, 2016 until May 11, 2018. It is unclear what will happen to the mountains after that time (will they be ceremoniously toppled? Or left to the elements?), so it is best to see them now. There are no entrance fees; the art is completely free for all to enjoy.