Mansions by Chris Carraher 2015
This blog has served its purpose, and this will be the closing post.
When I started this blog in 2008 it was to document the Wonder Valley Homestead Cabin Festival and to continue to explore the themes of the Festival: discovering the history, celebrating the culture, and strengthening the community of Wonder Valley through the arts.
Since that time, the high-desert homestead cabins have gained a visibility and vitality as a subject and theme in our arts to such an extent that they no longer need our support or highlighting here. Our humble homesteads have even found their way to a featured exhibition at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles.
I am gratified to know that the Wonder Valley Homestead Cabin Festival played a key part in that vitalization. When a community is not visible in art, it cannot be recognized in life. We are no longer invisible.
Christine Carraher/magicgroove, July 2015
Kim Stringfellow’s “Jackrabbit Homestead” exhibition will be at Culver Center of the Arts at University of California, Riverside, through Sept. 28, 2013.
A panel discussion on that date will include artist Kim Stringfellow, curator Tyler Stallings, and Wonder Valley artist Chris Carraher (yours truly) from 3 to 5 pm, followed by a closing reception 6-9.
The homesteads of Wonder Valley are featured in this week’s edition of KCET’s ArtBound, a vigorous new county-by-county art and culture web program created by local contributors and supported by community input.
Kim Stringfellow’s essay received enough popular favor to be chosen for production into an accompanying web video. The video features lots of Wonder Valley’s favorite crumbling cabins, as well as interviews with Kim, local historian Pat Rimmington, and myself.
In the essay Kim summarizes some of the observations from her book Jackrabbit Homestead: Tracing the Small Tract Act in the Southern California Landscape, 1938-2008:
Although some cabins have been passed down from the original jackrabbit homesteaders to family members for recreation and other purposes, today the majority of the area’s jackrabbit homesteads have fallen beyond repair, lending a ghostly and feral presence to the landscape. Others have found new function as primary, full-time residences with modifications, often referred to as “biltmores” by area residents. A small, but growing community of artists and musicians fleeing rising housing prices and general urban ills of the Los Angeles metropolitan area are reclaiming and re-envisioning the structures as artist studios or as creative retreats. Inventive enclaves forming within this geographically defined area are inspired by the Morongo Basin’s spacious desert backdrop, its perceived tranquility, and a desire to form a sense of community within a rural environment. Many have migrated to the region with aspirations uncannily akin to the original homesteaders and share similar outlooks or values with them.
Your chance to win a homestead painting by desert artist Bret Philpot!
Come join me this saturday night 6-9PM at the Red Arrow Gallery, (theredarrowgallery.com) for the Joshua Tree art crawl. They will raffle off your choice of two homestead paintings, one shown here. 100% of the proceeds go toward funding scholarships for the Artist Professional Development Program. First 50 people through the door get a free raffle ticket (be present to win, raffle at 8PM). This event and art crawl are free. My exhibition has been extended to show through April 1.
The Red Arrow Gallery in Joshua Tree is presenting Kim Stringfellow’s “Jackrabbit Homestead”, opening Saturday, January 14, 7-10 p.m.
The landscape of the Morongo Basin of Southern California’s Mojave Desert is dotted with unusual buildings and parcels of land that developed as a result of the Small Tract Act of 1938. The structures, which are remnants of a mid-century homestead movement, have become a lightning rod for seemingly disparate communities wishing to claim and inhabit the desert landscape.
In Jackrabbit Homestead, Kim Stringfellow, an artist and writer known for her cross-disciplinary work addressing the American West, land use, and the built environment, documents the character of the homestead architecture and the homesteaders who built it. Alongside her compelling photographs, she explores the origins of the Homestead movement, the Public Land Survey, and other U.S. public land policies that have shaped our perception and long-term management of the California desert.
The exhibit will include photographs, documents, and an audio tour. Copies of Kim’s book about the homesteads will be available for purchase, as well. The Red Arrow is at 61010 Hwy 62 in Joshua Tree.
Art Tours is bustin’ out all over the Basin this weekend and next, including “Tromp l’Oeil on Cabin…a mural in progress…being painted at Judy Wold’s homestead cabin” at 60433 Sonora Rd. in Joshua Tree.
At Feral Studios Julie Tolentino and Stosh Fila are curating a “pop-up gallery of works featuring artists and friends from New York, Los Angeles, Beirut, Berlin, and London…All work will be staged within, on, around the walls of the pre-existing 1940’s homestead cabin/studio adjacent to Tolentino’s tiny-off-grid solar powered home.”
October 22-23 and 29-30, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. From Hwy 62 left on Sunfair. Top of Sunfair turns into a dirt road: Coyote Valley Road. Take this to the top where it crosses with Daisy Lane, Homestead cabin is on the right.
Deborah Martin’s new (very new – when I wandered into the gallery just before opening some were not quite finished!) realist paintings of Wonder Valley are on exhibition at The Red Arrow Gallery in Joshua Tree this month.
I don’t have a copy of the Editorial Introduction by Alison Simonis posted at the show, but from Martin’s Website:
Her painted depictions of remnants and relics of this quasi ghost valley settlement of homesteads born out of a 1938 Federal Land Grant comprise a portrait of a place in metamorphosis.
Intimately coupled with the weathering austerities of the Mojave Desert, these outposts of human habitation exhibit an obvious struggle for survival.
Martin showcases a frontier of existential befuddlement: a seemingly confused pondering whether to persist, give up or renew amidst the trappings of domicile.
The rise and fall of opportunity, hope and longing present themselves, eerily, in these paintings.
The question looms whether an insubordinate Wild West is staging a mockery over the American materialist fantasy.
A special reception co-sponsored by Red Arrow and JTAG will be held on October 22 as part of this year’s Hwy 62 Art Tours. Music by Tim Easton and guests. 4-6 p.m., 61597 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree.
Homesteading is not new, and a trove of personalized postcards from a hundred years ago brings to life how much we may have in common with another set of homesteaders at a different frontier. From “Homesteaders Show Off Their Claim Shacks”:
Personalized postcards became a fad in the early 20th century; you could get any photo printed on photo paper stock and send it in the mail. The following are postcards of homesteaders in front of their new residences in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana, taken between 1907 to 1920. The subjects are dressed in their finest garments; they sent the cards to family members in other parts of the country to show off their new lives.
Accompanying the image above is the following:
Homesteading created an opportunity for women to own property for the first time. Many even built their own homes. Out West on these big, undeveloped expanses of land, they could start over, relatively free from scrutiny. “There are stories of lesbians going on homesteads together,” says Michael Williams, who has collected thousands of homesteader postcards over the years. “It was this really unusual gathering of people.”
View the whole slideshow, including some of the handwritten messages, on Slate.com.
A fun video from Japan on Joshua Tree as art oasis in the desert. Features lots of Wonder Valley, including The Palms, the Sibleys, WV artist Thom Merrick, Jeff Hafler and the Beauty Bubble and Museum, and beaucoup creosotes blowin’ in the wind. Also, Eames Demetrios at his wild Krblin Jihn Kabin in JT, expounding on the the wonders of deterioration. Noah Purifoy and the 29 Palms Creative Center are included, as well.
The viewpoint is a little unclear to me as the narration is in Japanese, but the locals, and the beauty of our crazy desert, speak for themselves.
Angela Carone interviews artists Kim Stringfellow and Claire Zitzow in the 30-minute audio program “Desert Jackrabbit Homesteads Inspire Artists.”
While driving through the California desert, you may come across derelict shacks spotting the landscape. These homesteads, called jackrabbits, were built by people laying claim to plots of desert land in response to the Small Tract Act of 1938. Our guests, both artists, have explored the jackrabbits in their work, through photographs, audio tours, sculpture and installation.
Kim’s work has been featured on this blog many times; learn more about her project at jackrabbithomestead.com. Claire Zitzow’s solo exhibition “Jackrabbits and the Crow: On Dwelling and Passing” is on view through Dec. 10 at the Andrews Gallery in San Diego.
Above is a photo of Zitzow’s “desert-based installation and jackrabbit homestead built by artist Claire Zitzow. The walls and sides are composed of paper, so the wind and elements slowly deteriorated the structure over time, not unlike the real jackrabbits it is based on.”