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Monumental Makeover

Artist Ugo Rondinone’s fluorescent totems — known as Seven Magic Mountains — have drawn throngs of visitors since they were installed off Interstate 15 south of Sloan in 2016. The unforgiving desert climate muted their shine, but a three-week restoration and several coats of paint have restored the magic.
Photos by L.E. Baskow, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Ivan Ibarra with Vergith Contracting Co. prepares the Seven Magic Mountains for new paint by pressure washing the towers on May 29. Created in 2016 by the Swiss-born New York mixed media artist Ugo Rondinone, and produced by the Nevada Museum of Art in collaboration with Art Production Fund, the installation consists of 33 boulders, each weighing 10-25 tons, stacked into seven towers.
Jose Cervantes with Vergith Contracting Co. evenly sprays a white finish on one of the rocks during the three-week renovation, which took approximately 300 hours to complete.
Ivan Ibarra pressure washes a tower after a week of high winds and other safety concerns delayed renovation efforts.
Some graffiti has to be removed with power tools, as John Henderson of Vergith Contracting Co. is seen doing here. After cleaning, a coat of white primer is applied.
The artist’s paint samples show exact color specifications for matching from various angles.
Amanda Horn of the Nevada Museum of Art inspects the progress with representatives from Studio Rondinone, Vergith Contracting Co. and Las Vegas Paving.
The stones came from a quarry, were cut with a diamond saw and drilled down the center to mount safely in place.
A train rolls by the Seven Magic Mountains on June 4. The installation is the largest land art project completed in the world in over 40 years, according to Amanda Horn.
Ivan Ibarra applies primer on June 4. The towers stand 30-35 feet tall.
John Henderson masks off rocks to prevent overspray on June 14. Each limestone rock received between 10-13 coats of the same kind of paint used on cars.
A tower is reflected in a bucket of pink paint on June 14. The Seven Magic Mountains are meant to evoke contrast and continuity from nature to culture, hence their bright colors.
John Henderson is silhouetted as Ivan Ibarra sprays orange finish on a rock on June 17. The palette is meant to be a stark contrast to its surroundings.
Visitors pose for a photo atop barricades on June 14. More than 321,000 people visited the site last year. More than 1 million have visited since its debut in 2016.
John Henderson mixes a batch of orange finish on June 17. The bright colors are typical of a Rondinone sculpture.
John Henderson sprays a final clear protective coating on the rocks June 18. The art installation is located off Las Vegas Boulevard South near the Jean Dry Lake bed.
Visitors explore the newly restored Seven Magic Mountains art installation on June 18.
Rocks stacked by visitors mimic the Seven Magic Mountains near the newly renovated art installation on June 18. Ugo Rondinone first created massive stone figures in 2013.
John Henderson works during sunrise on the final day of restoration on June 18. Ugo Rondinone says, “They look almost like people, just giant, nice people.”
Light reflects off the newly restored Seven Magic Mountains on June 18. Ugo Rondinone merged land art and pop art elements to create a piece uniting desert and city life.
Lights illuminate the newly restored Seven Magic Mountains on June 19. Due to the installation's immense popularity, the Nevada Museum of Art is now considering keeping the work there permanently.
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