Robert Weathers: I've been here for 39 years. I did work on a ranch for almost 10 years at a big ranch right next to The Lightning Field. I miss it, but I have cattle of my own here also. I just don't get the time to graze them. I was just looking for a job when they were starting to build it, so I helped them with the construction of The Lightning Field.
I didn’t see myself doing this, but I have a lot of respect for the people who were putting it on out here. They asked me to stay and take care of it, and it was a good opportunity. There are not that many jobs out here, and it paid better than cowboying.
Lam: What are your responsibilities?
Weathers: Anything that needs to be done. A lot of it is keeping the cabin and [the operation] going right, and making sure the field is staged like it should be—mowed, raked, and all that. I take care of the grounds and the Quemado office, and all the buildings here on the site.
During the summer, I'm driving people to and from the site. I start at around 10 a.m., because we don't go out with them [to visit the site] until 11 a.m. So I get things together and then get back home around 4:30 p.m. When I'm not driving them, I am just doing whatever needs to be done to repair the facility.
There’s three of us here: Hayden Fosdick, Kim Kalberg, and Jeanie Cowell. Kim and Jeanie clean the cabin and get it ready for the next group of people, because [Hayden and I] leave and get the visitors back here around 3 p.m. Kim and Hayden also drive some, because I'm getting ready to retire.
Lam: Is your job different during different months of the year?
Weathers: I work there year round. During the busy visiting season, from May to October, I mostly bring people and supplies to and from the art site, and doing everything we can to keep visitors comfortable and happy. The other part of the year is fixing everything in the fields.
Lam: Tell me a little about the location. It’s far from civilization?
Weathers: Yes. The closest town is about 40 miles, so we're way out here and our phone doesn't work very well (reservations are made via email). I have been out here all my life, so it's normal for me. I was born and raised in Pie Town, New Mexico, which is a very small town. At age 14, I went to work on a ranch out here next to the lot where The Lightning Field is.
Lam: Is the art installation dangerous in any way, since it can catch lightning?
Weathers: Not really. The only danger to guests is rattlesnakes; they are the only thing that's really poisonous or dangerous that live out here.
The lightning, it can be dangerous, but it's stated in the release form that you should go back to the cabins whenever there’s a lightning storm. We haven't had any problems—as far as any kind of injuries—so far.
Lam: What do you think about the art itself having worked there for nearly 40 years?