Grave Encounters

Artist’s portfolio: Scott Covert

THAT GLITTERING CHRISTMAS at Holy Cross Mortuary in Culver City, California, toward the end of 1999—it was the last Christmas of the twentieth century.

The cemetery is a massive site with rolling green hills and the occasional tree. Throughout the park is a patchwork quilt of flat granite or brass grave markers with the name of the rotting person beneath. Sometime before the holiday, the sprawling green pastures metamorphosed into a Winter Wonderland under the desert sun. You could see garlands in red and green, and reflective tinsel in virtually every color. There was a Santa’s workshop set up next to a complete nativity scene with the resting baby Jesus in his manger. The community is out and about to check and see what was done. Hispanic families were having fun with their neighbors and those below, saying Feliz Navidad to their loved ones.

When I was told there was a hobo cemetery in Britt, Iowa, I was there within a week. It was November and cool—I knew I’d finish a painting there. A hobo convention has taken place in Britt since 1900. This resting place has the ashes of different wanderers from all over the United States. I have been obsessed with hobos and homos for a long, long time.

All of the images here were taken by me over a period of twenty-some years.

Scott Covert’s first institutional survey, “I Had a Wonderful Life,” is up at the Nova Southeastern University Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, through June 25, 2023. Covert’s debut solo exhibition outside of the US, “C’est la vie,” runs until May 7, 2023, at London’s Studio Voltaire. Alex Jovanovich’s feature on the artist appears in Artforum’s April issue.