“Homestead is where the art is.”

May 15, 2010

Homesteading in Manhatten

Filed under: Art, Events — magicgroove @ 11:14 pm

Desert fan Bernard Leibov is opening his New York microgallery, BoxoFFICE, to Joshua Tree artist Diane Best’s homestead cabins in the show SHACK, “a solo exhibition of large-scale black and white photography. ”

SHACK features images of cabins in the area around Joshua Tree, some occupied, some abandoned, some close to being reclaimed by the earth.

The Mojave Desert was one of the last places in the lower 48 where land was granted free to anyone willing to improve the land. The cabins featured in the photographs were built as a result of one of the last homesteading acts passed, The Small Tract Act of 1938, that granted 5 acre parcels “for such purposes as home, cabin, health and recreational sites”. The Small Tract Act  was also known as the  “Jack Rabbit Act”  as some people considered the desert land “fittin’ only for jack rabbits and tumbleweeds”.

The 5 acre plots were leased for 5 years for a nominal fee ($99. per year), and if a structure was built that was at least 12′ X 16′, the leaseholder could buy the property for $120. an acre. Water and power were not required. Many cabins were carefully built by weekend desert lovers, but many more were flimsily erected by land speculators and were never inhabited.

The artist herself says, “Living in the desert,  surrounded by these reminders of the past – many deserted with their contents intact, slowly blowing apart, decaying, and vandalized – I am fascinated by the question of their owner’s intent and untold stories of arrival, building and departure.”

Diane’s work was part of our Wonder Valley Homestead Cabin Festival together with that of Mary-Austin Klein in the Shack Appreciation Show at Trader Jeff’s.  The image above is Shack 21, (34 x 50 in., archival pigment print on dibond, 2010).  See more of Diane’s images on her website, along with a book available of her cabin photos.  She also has a new video, “SHACKS”, that will be featured in the BoxoFFICE exhibition.  Here’s hoping we get to see it back here at home soon! 

SHACK runs May 22 to July 10, with reception on May 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.  BoxoFFICE is at 421 Hudson Street #701 in New York.   More info at the BoxoFFICE website.   Also find Bernard and BoxOFFICE in an article on microgalleries in the New York Times.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Here is the original photograph, courtesy of homesteadcabin.wordpress.com: […]

    Pingback by Textural Irony Project | Sarah Stanley's Visual Glossary — November 22, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

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