June 24, 2009

Artist who disappeared in 1934 honored

A forum in Utah this week celebrated the life and mystery of a young artist who vanished in southern Utah in 1934.

Bones found last year were recently confirmed as those of Everett Ruess. The Californian was 20 when he was last seen near Escalante.

The forum Monday at the University of Utah attracted a capacity crowd, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Ruess's nephew and niece were there, as was Denny Bellson of Shiprock, N.M., who found the bones. Bellson, a member of the Navajo Nation, said he is a little nervous because of his recent fame.

Michele Ruess showed slides of her uncle's paintings and old family photographs of the infant Ruess. She read one of his teenage poems -- My soul hurls outward, to the sea -- to explain why the family decided to scatter his cremated remains on the edge of the Pacific.

Ruess's journals -- discovered by Wallace Stegner, a novelist and Harvard professor, and later by Jon Krakauer, who wrote about Ruess in Into the Wild -- gave him posthumous fame.

Bellson reportedly decided to search for Ruess's earthly remains after his sister told him their grandfather had witnessed his killing. The grandfather said he buried the young man's body after seeing three Ute Indians kill him.