Lisa Solberg's NIGHT RIDER
Lisa Solberg's NIGHT RIDER
A snowcat turned mountaintop art installation in Eden, Utah
When Lisa Solberg commits to a new project, she thinks big—whether it's the size of the giant chrome panels in her "24HR Psychic" show, the large tree trunks in "Cry Wolf," or floor-to-ceiling insulation panels for "Stalker." Now, she's taken big to another level—by working with a piste machine at Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah. The yearly Summit Series there has become known as a forum to discuss high-profile innovation and creativity. Solberg—who is based in Los Angeles—was asked to create "NIGHT RIDER" for their Artist in Residency program.
“When Summit approached me to do a project with a snowcat, the first thing I thought of was to turn it into a dekotora. I knew it would be the first thing of its kind,” Solberg tells CH. The artist shares her love for the elaborately ornamented Japanese vehicles with a name derived from an abbreviation for decorated truck, “They are the coolest things. At a core level, I am inspired by Japanese culture.”
Solberg spent many hours planning and preparing for the project, and she admits it was both energizing and also exhausting. She painted the interior gold first, then began to layer text and images with brushes used for pin-striping. Much of her time was spent inside Powder Mountain’s hilltop maintenance shop at an elevation of 8,900 feet.
Painting with pin-striping brushes, which have very small handles and extra long brush bristles, proved to be one of the many new skills Solberg needed to master. "They are incredibly challenging to get used to and to get them to do what you want them to do. By the end—now I feel great with them,” she says. Another hurdle was shielding herself from the fumes on the 1 Shot pin-striping paint: “I had to have the mask on the whole time. It was fucking horrible."
Solberg describes her works in the interiors of "NIGHT RIDER" as an amalgamation of the inner-self of the snowcat and herself: delicate and raw. The text and imagery depict a subconscious stream of vignettes, haikus and mottos—all layered with enamel paint, etchings and china marker. The project evolved to become a kind of spin-off of "Stalker." Solberg explains, “I have been wanting to do a 'Stalker' show with all gold instead of silver, and this is what happened. It’s the same stream of consciousness." The snowcat's interior is lit with red lights, while the exterior is wrapped in gold chrome vinyl and the windows are also tinted gold. “I love the color on such a crazy level,” she notes.
“My favorite part of the day was driving up from the canyon, up to the shop at the top of the mountain with the sunrise and driving down with the sunset... Overall it has been amazing, but taxing. I am starting to feel normal again,” Solberg explains. As she keeps working, somewhat venturing into the unknown, Solberg says she wonders how the whole thing will come together. The majesty of the mountain and the generosity of the people who live and work there keep her motivated. (She feels especially thankful for the the guys in the shop headed up by Roger “RV” Arave.) “The beauty of the mountain is humbling and amazing. Roger taught me how to drive the snowcat, which is the coolest thing I have ever done,” she says.
As her time at the Summmit Series came to an end, much of which was spent inside the snowcat, Solberg began the process of recovering from her labors. “I do love the physical work, but being in that space scrunched up in weird seated, standing, leaning positions at all times, it was physically taxing.” Phase two of "NIGHT RIDER" involves planning and installing the exterior embellishments of dekotora, to ultimately create a spectacle on the mountain that transports explorers and entrepreneurs of Summit to the beautiful natural playground, the backcountry of Powder Mountain.
Images by Zach Allia