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.
September 6, 2013
May 23, 2012
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.
January 15, 2012
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.
October 22, 2011
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.
September 28, 2011
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.
May 19, 2011
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.
October 13, 2010
This summer’s Basin Wide Spirit profiled the redoubtable Mary Quamme, the angel of Wonder Valley Thrift. The thrift shop fills a classic cabin on Godwin near the Highway, and according to the article the cabin’s use is kindly donated by the LaCroix family of Torrance.
Anyone who has shopped there knows Mary and appreciates her unflagging and unflappable presence. Rain or shine, freeze or bake, Mary is there, comforted by all the technological relief Wonder Valley can muster – in other words, she must really suffer to bring us these bargains! The shop is famously open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 9 to noon all year round, including the doggiest days of summer, when that tiny building stuffed to the rafters with “stuff” can reeeally roast.
Somehow Mary keeps things pleasantly organized, so the sheer volume of merchandise does not cause overwhelming paralysis or, heaven forbid, paralyzing accidents. And the goods are in the best tradition of serendipity, treasures and trash tumbled together and may your curiousity profit with sorting them out. How often have I admired a Valley resident’s latest acquisition, be it decor, apparel, or something uncategorizable, and received the proud response, “Wonder Valley Thrift!” By which they mean not only should you notice their taste, but also that they paid dirt for it! The prices at WV Thrift cannot be beat.
The Thrift is a production of the Wonder Valley Hiking Club, which has been around for ages but gave up the hiking long ago. The Club, and the Thrift, are entirely dedicated to supporting the WV fire department. Your donations of goods, time, or cash are always welcome!
You can view the profile of Mary and the Thrift here (PDF; go to p. 5).
Also in that edition of the Spirit is an article on the Cleghorn Lakes Wilderness Area, another secret treasure of Wonder Valley; see p. 11 at the same link above.
September 24, 2010
The humble homestead cabins have found their way into this year’s Annual Desert Writers Issue of The Sun Runner. Included is an uncharacteristically sober verse and drawing by recent Morongo Basin transplant Rik Livingston, as well as the above charming pastel and water color “Starry Starry Wonder” by Lisa Maher. We’ve written about Lisa and her 3rd-generation homestead before. You can read about her latest trip to Wonder, which inspired this painting, on her blog.
There’s lots of good desert writing in this issue, so be sure to pick up a copy before they run out. Find out where at thesunrunner.com.
May 21, 2010
Wonder Valley’s own Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum has been in the news. Here’s how Jeff Hafler’s creation is described in an April 21 travel piece on Joshua Tree boutique hotels in the New York Times on-line:
Then there’s the Beauty Bubble: an unclassifiable one-chair salon tucked inside a replica 1930s homestead cabin that Hafler has turned into a showcase for vintage beauty-shop bric-a-brac. Bubbles were popular 1960s hairdos, and as Hafler notes, “The higher the hair, the closer to God.” Of the more than 2,000 objects that the self-described “hairstorian” (it’s California, go with it) started collecting back in his beauty school days, his most cherished is a 1940 Duart Perm Machine that belonged to Veronica Lake’s hairstylist.
Last month part of the Beauty Museum collection traveled to San Francisco for the exhibition Beauty Shop Culture at the venerable SOMArts Cultural Center:
Award-winning photographer, writer and cultural critic Candacy A. Taylor, presents Beauty Shop Culture, an exhibition that explores the beauty shop as a community-based institution and addresses issues of gender, race, class and identity. For centuries hair salons have functioned as makeshift communities where people gather to discuss everything from intimate family sagas, food, and pop culture, to finances, politics, philosophy and health. For the exhibition Beauty Shop Culture, Taylor employs photographic documentation, installation and sculpture to explore the contemporary manifestations of beauty shops as a form of community space, and to highlight traditions and history of hair, hair care products, potions and pomades from various cultures throughout the world beginning in the sixteenth century.
Community-based institution, indeed. Who needs a newspaper when you got the Beauty Bubble? ;-)
Image of the Beauty Museum above from the Beauty Bubble/Moon Way Lodge website.
March 6, 2010
“Dry Immersion 3″ comes to Wonder Valley on Saturday, March 6, 2010. Per the Press-Enterprise:
Artists from seven University of California campuses will gather Saturday amid the creosote and hollowed-out cabins of Wonder Valley east of Twentynine Palms for a desert-inspired art event.
The remote landscape will be host to art installations, musical performances and at least one video work. The public event includes 19 artworks created by 24 artists.
“Dry Immersion 3″ is the third part of a project co-organized by UC Riverside’s Sweeney Art Gallery and the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts.
In October, a four-day roving symposium shuttled 66 artists to various areas of the desert to familiarize them with the terrain and culture and encourage them to create desert-oriented works.
Saturday’s event is a result of that exposure.
“I feel kind of organically connected to the culture and the landscape out there and have done for a number of years,” co-organizer Dick Hebdige said, as quoted by the P-E.. “There are a lot of artists moving out to that corner of the desert. More than that, there’s a great sense that the desert is an area of special interest in debates about the future.”
The desert, he said, is at the center of discussions regarding environmental concerns, water depletion, resource management and the impact of population on what is a fragile ecosystem.
Some of the art pieces use digital mapping technologies along with the raw landscape, Hebdige said
“I think a lot of artists are fascinated by this new relationship to the land,” he said.
The image above is “Postmodern Mojave Viper” by exhibition artist Christopher Woodcock, who has produced a series of five large photographs focused on the architecture of the Iraq/Afghanistan training villages at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center near Twentynine Palms.
The art installations will be open from 1 p.m. to sunset at JT Getaway Ranch, followed by a series of poetry, video and music performances by the Sibleys and others at 8 p.m. at The Palms Bar and Restaurant. More info in the Press-Enterprise. Directions to the event are on the Sweeney Website; click on Dry Immersion 3>Directions for Public.
For more information on the “Mapping the Desert/Deserting the Map: An Interdisciplinary Response”, including Dry Immersions 1, 2, and 3 as well as an interesting proposal for a Desert Studies program, see the UCR Sweeney Art Gallery Website.