was also at this time that Price re-discovered the salvage yard
at the Los Alamos National Laboratories, which he had first become
aware of two years earlier after seeing exotic shapes of glass and
metal at the home of his friend, renowned photographer Walter Chappell.
This was the beginning of what became his most important artistic
effort. “Los Alamos to me was finding a place of just
pure raw materials and fantastically, beautifully shaped metals.
I found it a perfect mountain of art to experiment with, to create
with and I go out looking for specific parts and sometimes there
it’d be right there just as if hundreds of men had machined
these things for hundreds of hours and cart it out and dump it right
there in front of my feet” he said.
Although Price continued to utilize his
skills as a stone carver to produce sculptures to sell as a way
to support himself, he became so impassioned about what he referred
to as “our nuclear nightmare” that he dedicated
the next 30+ years of his life to creating his Atomic Art.
artist has to take responsibility to keep people awake to these
horrors and I feel a type of responsibility to build these things
from this place. The hope is that it would wake them up, it would
remind them, it would get them thinking about it. It’s all
our problem, it’s not just the artist’s problem…but
it’s the problem of everybody” Price said.
His early pieces made from Lab salvage were often utilitarian items
such as tables, chairs and utensils and other items he needed at
the time. Many pieces had an element of sound and emanated amazing,
ethereal tones. It was also at this time he began to create monumental
works such as the giant gongs he called “Maya’s
Song” after his first daughter.
piece, made from large metal cylinders suspended from a huge scaffold,
could be seen from the road in a large field in El Rancho, NM. “Los
Alamos scrap is a kind of pure art in itself, since you are dealing
with a harmonic principle of nuclear physics”.
was through his discovery of these gongs and Price’s giant
music box that filmmaker and activist, Godfrey Reggio (Quatsi
trilogy , Anima Mundi etc.) would eventually meet Tony Price,
who became one of his closest friends and confidants. He described
the encounter: “Upon driving in I saw this huge squared
box with glass panels all around with an enormous snorkel on the
top that had speakers in it. I climbed into the box and saw the
mind of Tony Price at work. It was fantastic. Here were five piano
harps, one on the ceiling, one on each of the walls – just
an absolute work of brilliance as a tool, as an instrument. It played
beautiful music. There was a guitar in there. If you played it,
the strings would recycle what you played in their own vibration.
It was like entering another dimension”
Music was a form of meditation for
Price: “The question that faces all explorers is: How
do you get inside and explore in these other dimensions? Right now,
my way of getting inside is through my music. I build music boxes
made of four walls and a ceiling of piano harps. I get
inside it and play open guitar beginning with a basic harmonic.
When it lines up as a pure harmonic, the energy produces an overtone.
I line up the overtones and they split into two, four, eight, sixteen.
To do this you have to totally listen to what you're doing. Listening
is surrendering to what you want to hear and puts you in the now.
I've found that when you slow time in the now, you have a virtuality
Price - Life & Times
by James Rutherford