The International Car Forest of the Last Church is the unusual dream project of two Nevada artists. Some artists work with paint, others with clay, marble or stone. Chad Sorg’s challenge was to make art with cars, buses and trucks and this “church” looks more similar to a druidic henge of junkers than any Christian chapel!
The product of artists Chad Sorg and Mark Rippie, the Car Forest began when the Reno artist Chad Sorg was driving through Goldfield, Nevada, several years ago and saw a vehicle sticking out of the ground. Intrigued, he explored further and found its creator: Mark Rippie, a longtime resident of this former gold boomtown. Rippie explained that he wanted to create an “artists’ playground” with dozens of old junkers stacked or embedded in the ground serving as canvases. Sorg moved here in 2011 to live in a trailer and to help Rippie expand their “forest.”
The result of their collaboration? More than 40 rusted, aging vehicles including cars, trucks, and vans have been some planted, some stacked, all in juxtaposition to the barren desert, looking like a group of toys some giant child simply left lying around his room.
Each of the cars has also been uniquely painted: Sorg painted most of the vehicles, while other artists accepted invitations to add their own touches to the project. There’s a portrait of politician Ron Paul on a blue hatchback, its hood buried in the ground, while huge ants and a skull cover an upright white sedan.
Sorg named the work of art “the International Car Forest of the Last Church” due a combination of the idea of a national forest that people could visit and a reference to Rippie’s website called “the Last Church”, based on his religious belief that eschews organized religion.
There is no sign explaining or naming the work, listing the artists or describing the work. And there are no signs providing directions from the highway, but a burned-out bus stands on a ridge above the rest of the vehicles and, in the Nevada desert, such vehicles aren’t exactly hard to find. Rippie envisioned his car forest as a free attraction, something to draw people off the road, and he wanted to top the number of vehicles at Carhenge in Nebraska, (a copy of England’s famed landmark made out of a few dozen old vehicles) to get in the Guinness World Records. (But such a record really exists?).
Unfortunately, the two artists no longer work together. Their relationship had begun to sour and ended after they staged an “End of the World Party,” which featured a bus burning. Afterward, and for no stated reason, Sorg said Rippie kicked him off the property and he returned to Reno. And Rippie recently was convicted on federal gun charges and sentenced to two years in prison.
However, the forest still stands and will likely outlast those who planted it.
Author’s note: the International Car Forest of the Last Church is located off US Hwy 95 South of Tonopah on a dirt road, just east of Goldfield, Nevada.
Images from Web.