Friday, September 26, 2008

Charles Dellschau

Was thinking last night (as I was waiting for sleep to take over) about a program I heard on Marfa Public radio a couple of days ago. It was about an artist named Terry Nowell that was having a reception for his work at The Yard Dog Gallery in Marfa. Was intrigued by his description of the work so I decided I just might like to take a drive. Plodded through some morning chores, including cutting brush for a path to the second water tank position and topping off my outdoor shower tank. By noon I had decided to do another supply run to Alpine and take in the reception in Marfa. Decided I should check out civilization again and take advantage of the opportunities that my new lifestyle allows. By the time I had showered and closed up shop here to hit the road - it was already 2:30.

Got my list of shopping done rather quickly - propane, electrical supplies to wire up 2 wind turbines to the battery bank, valves for my 2 new water tanks, and parts to build tail boom pieces for the next 3 wind turbines. ( I just now got a phone call from Chuck who is in Odessa for the weekend - and he picked up six 6VDC golf cart batteries for me from Sams Club ). The new charge controller I ordered won't be here for a week but at least I have more than enough to keep me busy till it arrives.

Headed over to Marfa at 5:30. Got into town just before the gallery was opened for the reception so drove around town for 5 minutes. I was a little apprehensive to attend a function in Marfa as is known for being the Soho ( NYC gallery mecca from the 1980's ) of west Texas. Since I was there early - and probably because I had built it up in my head so much - there where no crowds of pretentious f*cks dressed in black, sipping wine, talking about where they were doing for dinner and clubbing after. What can I say?....I lived through that scene back in my NYC days.

As I was first in the door - I met the artist right away. Terry Nowell was showing models he had built based on diagrams done by a German eccentric named Charles Dellschau. Dellshau lived in virtual seclusion the last years of his life and produced at least 13 known volumes of elaborate designs for flying machines, some of which just may have been built and flown by a secret society out in the California desert in the latter half of 1800 and may very well have been responsible for UFO sightings of the era. Terry was a great guy to meet out here in the wasteland as I really appreciated his work and the amazing story behind it. His models perfectly captured the tone of Dellschau's drawings. For a better description of the work and the story - check out the gallery website at and
This is the first time I have arrived home from Alpine after dark. Its one thing to be out here all day and settle in for the night -and quite another to drive down my creepy dark dirt road long after sunset. Kind of reminded me of an old sci-fi movie called Omega Man starring Charlton Heston. Contest! : This movie is sometimes mistakenly known for what "ground breaking scene" in American cinema? The first correct answer gets a fossil from the grounds of TheFieldLab.


maewestern said...

Wasn't that the movie that showed the moon walk as faked on a movie set? Or maybe I've got it confused with another movie ... it happens.

Mudguy said...

Hi John.
How great of you to add this to your blog.
I really appreciate you taking time to drive in all the way from Terlingua on Friday night. It was a pleasure to meet you, to hear about your adventures and experiments with wind turbines, alternative building techniques and your adventurous days living in the wonderful West Texas desert.
Yesterday I was discussing the opening with someone else who said something like... "the best part of the night was during the time when the first two people came in the door to see the show..." She enjoyed you also.
Your great energy reminds me of days when I first came to Marfa and the people I met here -

Got to see those wind machines of yours sometime.

THANKS again for making that drive, for your conversation on Friday at the show and for showing interest in the pieces and the amazing story of Charles Dellschau.


John Wells said...

Im sorry maewestern - that answer is incorrect...

casey said...

i'm so glad to see this on your blog! i really like these pieces. when i saw these i was really struck by how they are not in any way copies - but are interpretations... translations. i know nowell doesn't like being called an artist... but he's sure no mere technician. thanks again

Dawno said...

Found your blog via Boing Boing and am reading from the beginning.

I spent my youth in the Mojave desert of So. Calif, and your story brings back memories - not that my family lived as you do, my dad was in the Air Force, but that there were many who did all around us in towns like Rosemond, Mojave, Boron, etc.. and the people and the land seem so familiar.

I stopped here to comment on your question - not that I'm after a prize so many months later, but that I wonder if I know the answer - was it an inter-racial love scene between Heston and the African-American woman you refer to? It's been so long since I saw the movie, I might be misremembering...

Anyway, enjoying the stories and the photos so much - looking forward to finding out more about the burro, turbines, water's all fascinating!

boborama said...

Yes, it was Star Trek that had the first on-air interracial kiss (Kirk, the dog, and Uhura), not, as some people believe Chuck in "The Omega Man."