Jim McVicker: A Way of Seeing Documentary



There are few communities in the United States more majestic than Kayenta. Located in southern Utah, Kayenta is distinguished by its glorious natural vistas. The clay-colored landscape, rolling prairies, and imposing red rock cliffs inspire a feeling of inner peace bordering on the spiritual. The sumptuously photographed documentary Kayenta tells the story of this developing desert dreamland and the people who populate it. When developer Terry Marten first happened upon the area in 1968, he was immediately taken by its heart-pounding beauty. He was soon taken by a wild notion. What would it be like to live there? For most, life in the desert is an illogical proposition. But armed with a skill for innovative design and a passion for nature, Marten worked to realize the area's untapped potential. The key was to imbue each home with the sense of having been birthed from the land itself. This translated into structures that were built low to the ground with exteriors colored in darkened earth tones. It required areas in the home that were cleverly shaded from the sun, and a reliance on solar energy. Marten constructed his first residence in the desert in 1982, and it set the template for all that was to come. Striking, but not gaudy or ostentatious, the building allowed for magnificent views of the surrounding vistas, and appeared as though it belonged in its natural environment. Today, his impractical decades-long dream has blossomed into a community of over 500 homes. The film introduces us to several of the residents, and discovers their motivations for choosing to live there. Each of them relishes the opportunity to escape from the chaos of city life. They find grace in the 360 degree views, the cradle that the mountains provide, and in the delicacies of light and shadow. Their spacious desert homes feel secluded and private, yet the sense of community among their fellow residents is strong. The breathtaking aesthetics attract a variety of artists to the area - all of whom interpret the environment through the filter of their own unique styles. With its appealing score and appreciation for the transformative magic of architecture, Kayenta is an intensely pleasurable and soothing experience.

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