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The Physical and the Spiritual Basis of Hopi Life – Watchtower, Desert View, Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Desert View Watchtower rises as an open shaft lined by circular balconies overlooking the central space. Access from balcony to balcony is provided by small stairways. At the top the space is decked over, creating an enclosed observation level with large glazed windows. An open observation area on the roof of this space is now closed to visitors and is used for radio equipment. The steel and concrete structure of the observation level is concealed behind plaster, stone and wood. As you climb the stairs of the tower there are many stories imbedded in the paintings and artwork which decorate the walls. The first gallery, on the first landing, was done by Fred Kabotie, a Hopi from second Mesa. These represent the physical and spiritual origins of Hopi life and which describe the Hopi people’s cultural connection to the Grand Canyon. The circular painting tells the story of a Hopi man who floated down the Colorado River through the canyon in a hollow log. The ceiling images, painted by Fred Geary, are copies of now-destroyed petroglyphs at Abo, New Mexico, and may be their only surviving representation. Small windows – some of which are irregular in shape – are irregularly disposed in the tower’s shaft let beams of light into the lower space. The tower also features a number of "reflectoscopes" – black mirrors to reflect the view of the canyon in a more abstract style, providing visitors an alternative view of the Grand Canyon.