Although the visual arts receive a lot of attention during our beautiful fall, I would like to draw your attention today to three real desert treasures: Groves Cabin Theatre (Morongo Valley), Raven's Book Shoppe (29 Palms) and the Glass Outhouse Art Gallery (Wonder Valley) listed as they appear on Hwy 62 from west to east.
You might miss each of these if you blink as you drive by.
Each has a unique personal history. Each features a quality experience. As a 40+ year resident of the area, I have had the pleasure of seeing these venues mature-like fine wines.
On a drive from Morongo Valley up the grade toward Yucca Valley, you may have noticed a large rock painted red white and blue on the north side of the highway, at Desert Willow Trail. This has been the sign for this intimate theatre for decades. Seating a max of 20, this theatre was once a homestead cabin. In 1984 Joy and Bill Groves (who bore a striking resemblance to 16th President of the US) began producing plays--originally about Abraham Lincoln. At that time the theatre was known as the Lincoln Cabin Theatre.
Today the Groves Cabin Theatre has been remodeled, still seats 20, and has won numerous awards for its highly acclaimed theatre productions. The interior of this small homestead cabin has been incredibly transformed to resemble many interiors from the lazy humid South of Tennessee William's "Suddenly Last Summer" to in impeccable British drawing room of Noel Coward's "Private Lives." Currently in production is "You know I Can't Hear You when the Water's Running" originally produced on Broadway in 1967. For tickets, call or email 760 365-4523; firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the long stretch from Joshua Tree to 29 Palms, you may never notice some of the small businesses along the way. About 3 miles east of Copper Mountain College lies Raven's Book Shoppe. This remarkable treasure and historic bookstore has been selling used and rare volumes for over 30 years. In 2012, Patty O O'Toole bought the shop from the original owner and has lovingly organized its contents. From 12-5 pm, Saturday, December 1st, Raven's Book Shoppe will host the last and final event on the "Meet Your Local Writers" Tour.
This year celebrates the 10th anniversary of an unlikely, but highly successful art gallery with an unusual name, The Glass Outhouse Art Gallery. Three miles east of 29 Palms on the road to not a lot--you will find a most unusual and charming cluster of buildings. Laurel Seidel had a dream - and in the beginning, she had buildings serving as rabbit hutches. With the help of artist, Robyn Goudy, the hutches were converted to gallery space. A real glass outhouse (with one way glass) was an original feature and inspiration for the name. It has an amazing view of the vast uninterrupted desert. In its early days, Laurel was often met with nonchalance when she offered her space to artists. However, it did not take long for area artists of high quality to realize what a gem the gallery is. Laurel still shows the art of all interested artists who are willing to be put on the 4 year waiting list!
Over time, more gallery space was opened and a variety of installations have appeared on the property, most carefully constructed by Frank G. Openings feature live music and one can honestly say a good time is had by all. Laurel and Frank still do things the old fashioned way. A friend updates the Facebook page and all records are kept hard copy, by hand.
In a community where the forces that seem to attract the eclectic and wonderful, these three are not to be missed!
Photos below: The Groves Cabin Theatre sign in Morongo Valley; Joy Groves, Analisa Pilecki and Vicki Montgomery in "Suddenly Last Summer" at the Groves; rare books at Ravens Book Shoppe; Raven's Book Shoppe; The Glass Outhouse Art Gallery, the chapel at the Glass Outhouse Gallery
Hi Desert Art and Culture - covering artists who have been in the Hi Desert for decades and welcoming newcomers. Visual Arts-Music-Theater-Conservation Celebrating life in the unique and incredible Morongo Basin and More.
...and we are surviving many events and visitors. The Hwy 62 Open Studio Arts Tours will continue for a second weekend - October 22-23! I visited many and encourage you to do the same. Over 5,000 visited Joshua Tree during the Desert Daze concert featuring Iggy Pop and more. From my trip to Vons at 4:30 the Friday before the event, I knew I wasn't in Kansas any more.... We who travel by the venue daily, saw cars, lights, small pop-up Sahara style white tents and a grand outdoor stage appear. Even Steve Lopez, columnist from the LA Time featured the hi-desert,
The weather is PERFECT! Although I encourage you to create your own tour --discovering which of the 134 artists appeals to you, here are a few photos from my two days on the road.
You can also visit Gallery 62 (the official gallery of the Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Associan which sponsors Hwy 62 Art Tours) to see over 60 artists from the tour represented at one address! and to pick up a catalog. The gallery will have special tour hours 9-5 during October 22-23.
Elisabeth Pollnow David Bottomes Robert Arnett
Allene Payne Vera Topinka Marcia Geiger
Penelope Benson-Wright Paul Donaldson Heathe Sprague
Be adventurous. Talk to artists who are delighted to tell you about their work. Follow the map!
It is the desert-carry water! I always have a small cooler with about 6 bottles of water!
Tomorrow, October 14th, the highly acclaimed Joshua Tree based Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours begin for the 17th season! There are so many choices and so little time - literally. There are over one hundred artists to visit, and you will want to view the catalog first.
Today, I want to share painters. As a painter myself - this is the medium with which I am most familiar. I urge you not to miss these two artists who specialize in plein air painting of the incredible Joshua Tree area. They are open both weekends, Esther Shaw - studio #23 and Krista Wargo - studio#16. See images above.
However, it is wonderful to see artists whose work and medium may be completely new to you:
Pine needle basketry - Kathi Klopfenstein #28
Assemblage sculpture - Allene Payne #73
Earth baked sculpture and assemblage - Elisabeth Pollnow #81
If you love abstract paintings, try visiting a realist for a different perspective. If you are drawn to realism, visit an abstract painter!
I guarantee you will be greeted warmly, learn about a new art form and much much more! Happy touring!
The hard copy free catalog is spectacular and available at the official Information Centers. Here is the link to the virtual catalog.
The Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours are in their 16th year and begin this weekend.
If you have not picked up a catalog, here is the link to the virtual catalog. You may have participated in the tours for years or are discovering a brand new experience. Over 100 artists! Where do you start?
Many communities have open studios art tours – but few compare in size, variety and landscape. And how many take place near the beauty of a National Park—and the incredible landscape of Joshua Tree?
As a figurative artist, I must begin with two figurative painters. The studios of
Alane Levinsohn Studio 57 and David Bottoms 54 (first weekend only) are worth visits!
A sample of their work is in the catalog, but you can find more on their websites:
Look through the catalog--mark your preferences and you're off on a creative adventure! October only comes around once a year!
Look forward to news about the art, music, and theater this month!
In a land of desert enchantment and a destination for hipster visitors, two things are not new to the area: music and alien lore!
Joshua Tree appeared on the music map with the last visit by Gram Parsons and U2's ground breaking album The Joshua Tree. Desert Skies have triggered imaginations of life from beyond the blue. Today music abounds.
In the 1950's, George Van Tassel built the Integratron, a dome structure in Landers , CA. Van Tassel believed that the strong electromagnetism within the dome could rejuvenate human cells. During the 1960s and beyond, UFO Conventions at Giant Rock and the Integratron were popular. Today one can attend a "sound bath" within the Integratron.
This month, Barnett English, creator of the Joshua Tree Music Festival, will host the 12th annual festival, an event that draws musicians from around the world and from the heart of Joshua Tree, catering to families and artists, as well. May 18-21
Interested in aliens? Attend the Alien Invasion: drive in installation and art show, created by resident artist Scott Doten.
The Incredible Hi Desert- rarely a dull moment!
From this painter’s perspective, desert spring brings a renaissance of creativity. This year’s superbloom and April awakening is spectacular.
The hi desert boasts a variety of art forms from many artists. Last weekend’s Joshua Treenial lasted three days at multiple sites and included installations, light projections, sculpture, film and more – a contemplative contemporary complement to the desert landscape.
The Glass Outhouse Art Gallery in Wonder Valley-an installation itself on an acre of open land with uninterrupted vistas, features a joyful April exhibit: monsters on yupo (plastic paper) by Marjorie Franklin and clay shell and cactus sculptures by Ann Chevrefils.
Local galleries have new exhibits: Gallery 62, Joshua Tree Art Gallery (JTAG), 29 Palms Art Gallery, Taylor Junction. Hwy 62 Art Tours just completed registration of 130 artists for the fall open studio art tour in October and promises another wonderful autumnal art experience.
Some (even more) unique venues include the Mojave Pot(tery) Shop and Llama Rescue on the Yucca Valley Mesa, studio of Snake Jagger in Morongo Valley, and Chuck Caplinger's Desert Art Studio in 29 Palms (available by appointment). Don’t miss East Joshua Tree galleries and shops. The Joshua Tree National Park Desert Institute offers a vast playground and classes.
Music, theater, local festivals abound for curious and creative visitors, hikers, painters and photographers. Attractions include the Joshua Tree Music Festivals in May and October, the Orchid Festival in October (orchids grow in one of the countries’ largest greenhouses at Gubler Orchids-open year round), Big Morongo Canyon Preserve (year-round) and local historical societies offer programs.
My current work? Inspired by the fields of yellow brittlebush, pops of orange mallow, red Indian paintbrush and blue lupine. And the ocotillos will bloom soon!
This morning I stepped outdoors and knew I had to forget my daily routine and seek wildflowers!
I am overwhelmed by the expansiveness of the lower Joshua Tree National Park. Yes, it is large on the map, but driving it on one of the first “spring” days reveals the variety of flora as one descends the hills to lower elevations. The cholla are at their “fuzzy finest” haloed in the sunlight. The ocotillo-not a cactus- verdant waiting for the heat and right moment to burst into vermilion flame-like blossoms.
As a painter, I take in the shades and hues, thinking of how they can be recreated on canvas.
I am ashamed to say that when I forts came to the desert I did not appreciate all it has to offer. Today the plants are familiar: creosote, cholla, ocotillo, and beautiful smoke trees at the bottom in their natural wash.
Aware of stillness on a Friday before the weekend influx, I cross momentary paths with those stopping, as I, to breathe in the beauty. Two women stop just minutes to photograph the smoke trees. A friendly hiker from Ventura sports a wide brimmed hat.
Humanity’s threads touch for a brief time – all seeking the satisfaction of the day. I see my first mallow of the season, bright orange. A tiny pale yellow butterfly flits by.
The temps are in the high 70’s. I could be a thousand other places, but for today the desert solitude, sunshine, wildflowers are mine to ingest!
Photo credit- Mary at Desert USA Blooms at south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park on March 1st. Poppies, Lupine, Chia, Brown-Eyed Evening Primrose and Desert Dandelions.
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writer, artist, observer, social commentator. I arrived to the Hi Desert 3 decades ago - to enter my chosen field. At the time, I saw the vast horizon as the end of the world. Now, I see it as the beginning of creativity.