|“Many Utah contractors were suspicious of a New York artist who wore black leather pants in the middle of summer” - ah, the simple life. Smithson made a reality show out of the Jetty, and it’s still going on. Other than keeping it generally intact, I don’t think they should do much with it. Smithson’s movie provides authoritative documentation of the original conception; the rest is history. The piece will not suffer, I think, even if it comes to nothing more than a raised line in a desert of salt, white on white. At least it will suffer no worse than Roman sculpture dug out of the earth suffered under the Renaissance eye, or the remnant of “Primitive” art has suffered the attention of the modern.
Do go all the way through the Times slide show. Near the end is a larger, color version of the picture at the top of the page. Compare with this one from September 2002 for a perspective on recent changes.