An Excellent Intro to the High Desert
* THE RECAP *
After months of sculpting, weeks of maniacal preparation, and two weeks in Germany visiting family in the midst of a medical emergency... I pulled off the installation of this piece and my other artwork! It was such a delightful experience showing during HWY 62 Art Tours.
Hwy 62 Art Tours is an area-wide open studios event where patrons can visit their favorite studios (or pop-ups, in my case) all across the map! I showed with my friend Brian Leatart in a cottage on the Joshua Tree Retreat Center grounds.
I was excited to show there, since the reason I discovered this area was by going to a retreat there, many many years ago, with our spiritual teacher and friend Peter Brown.
From that trip forward, I knew I wanted to be out here- years later we bought land in the area, then a little more than two years ago we moved here.
This was my first time showing my artwork as part of this community, and I got to do it at the very place that introduced me to the High Desert! What a wonderful full-circle moment.
This was unlike open studios or art fairs I've been part of in the past- unlike being in a big building FULL of artists, the studios are very spread out. One has to CHOOSE specifically to come to your location, get in their car and drive there. Because of this, it continually hit me that each and every person of the hundreds who visited, made a specific choice to come see our artwork! How special! Because of this, everyone visiting was so friendly, respectful, excited... I feel really lucky to have had so many nice conversations with fans old and new!
We showed over two separate weekends, and let me tell you- it was equally rewarding and exhausting. I've realized that, living in the remote location that I personally do (FAR from town), the amount of people I spoke to, even on the first weekend, exceeded the number of people I've talked with in the past two years...! HAHA... I've really become committed to the hermit life, and while I am grateful for that, I realize it's time for me to start showing more, start being part of the community more, and come down from the mountain just a TINY bit more. :)
* THE PRINCE OF PRIMAL PEACE *
I was overwhelmed with viewers' reactions of appreciation for this sculpture, this installation, whatever you might wish to call it. I've decided to call him "The Prince of Primal Peace."
For the past 6 months at least, I've been experimenting with this piece.
Experimenting with sculpture for the first time in a long time.
Living out here on 40 acres, I feel surrounded by living sculpture. So I thought I would like to try sculpture myself. My first attempt was a human woman, and frankly, it sucked.
I thought I might try my hand at an animal sculpture instead.
And after having a dream of this red animal made of fabrics, jewelry, and beads telling me "If you want to be protected, you have to wear red beads" -
The concept for this red Jackrabbit was born.
I will admit, back in college in 2009/2010 when I interned for the FABULOUS sculptor Beth Cavener in a tiny town in Idaho, one of the pieces she was working on at the time was a red rabbit. I must have internalized that inspiration over the years. Hers is completely different, and completely beautiful, a clay sculpted ceramic piece, fired in pieces and re-connected, painted, and hung on a wall... suspended solo, as if floating in a dream space.
Mine is made of cardboard, glue, joint compound. Hardly "fine" art, but I've never shied away from using weird materials to make things before. And I never actually learned the fine art of ceramics. So I decided to use what made sense to me.
The result is this creature, this patron saint of the feeling I have, having moved to the desert. A feeling of total protection, and thus, the ability to have a freshly opened heart to things in life I once never thought I could experience. Stillness, peacefulness, a profound satisfaction and gratitude- all being done with far less "stuff" psychically, emotionally, physically, spatially... less places to be, things to do, less expectations on myself, less imagined pressure from society to be a certain thing. Less is more. There's more room for god and my imagination to come through- I hear these things clearly now- in the city there was so much atmospheric noise that I had to strain to hear my imagination and my soul's cries at a whisper- now I don't have to strain.
When I came out here, it became apparent that I was on a journey to become more primal, and, more peaceful. I have done that. And the journey continues each day. I've become an entirely new person, I have changed in ways I never knew possible.
* THE CHANGING VISION *
The rabbit has not been super popular on Instagram. (haha.). I get it, it might not seem to make sense with what I've been doing previously.
But an artist needs to stretch, move differently, challenge themselves, dream really big. My imagination is limitless- my task, as a human, is to bring my experience of the world (and the dream world) into the physical world in the best way possible. A professor in college taught us that it's not the medium that matters, it's what you're trying to say. You can pick whatever medium to make art in, as long as it's the best way of conveying that message. That's what an artist does.
That's something I lost track of, I think, and something that I've recaptured since moving here, taking time off creating, building a studio, finishing it... giving my mind time and space to conceive of some new way of creating that might be even more impactful than a painting.
Thankfully, the people who came to the installation absolutely loved it. The rabbit is very photogenic, but photos and video still don't do him justice.
Creating an installation room for him to dwell in was a great decision.
I even sold a wonderful digital collage to this AMAZING couple, who also just moved here from San Francisco!
We talked a bit about how the art scene down here is... hm... a little different from the culture of the Bay Area - and it's different in the best way-
My ten cents?
The art community down here is full of an abundance of love, appreciation, mutual respect. Everyone is here to lift each other up. And people who come here to appreciate the art, are extremely respectful and friendly as well. The entirety of this desert art universe has a flavor of humility, openness, honesty. At least that's what I have seen so far.
In San Francisco, though I did meet a ton of wonderful people in the art world, there was a heavy cloud of bitterness and competitiveness from others, that I sensed in many interactions. I had more than a handful of experiences where I felt like fellow artists hated me because my work was so unique. I was never out to compete with anyone- we all have a chance, and I take my chances showing just like anyone else does. I felt looked down on for being my garish self, I felt disliked for my art being too well-liked, I felt looked down on because they didn't see my visionary quest inwards as a valid "concept." Hey, man, everyone does this for different reasons, right?
Then at open studios or art fairs, patrons were disrespectful. Telling you to "make a piece like this, or like that", "do this, not that," as if we all weren't born with our own agency and given our own unique paths to take. My friend Brian told me, "people who say that to artists should be banned." Haha. I agree with that.
* HERE COMES THE BACKHANDED COMPLIMENT *
I'd be lying if I said every SINGLE interaction was wonderful during the art tour- there was ONE person, one single person, who reminded me of the massive amount of these types of interactions I used to have in San Francisco.
It's interesting, isn't it, when people will hide an insult inside a compliment.
An older man came into the cottage, told me he was just a looky-loo, then proceeded to tell me "you need to be applying to (this art fair, that art fair)," "You should be writing this down- there's a pen right over there-" "You SHOULDN'T be doing this event. You're too good for this." "You should be writing this down!"
I tried my best to inform this person of my past, successfully showing art at venues, fairs, open studios, galleries, and everything else for the past almost ten years, my now proven ability to sell my own artwork in great quantities, and the reason I wanted to show during art tours (I want to be part of this community of talented people) and I don't think I'm better than anything- he didn't listen, this poor guy. Only kept talking over me, undermining my personal decisions, continually telling me to write this shit down.
*Ah yes, I, a young woman, (I'm 35 now but ok) couldn't possibly know what I'm doing! *
I tapped my head and said, "I got it, in here."
It was the only sour interaction I had for the entire two weekends.
And thank god for that!
Out here, I am not looked down upon for being flashy and dressing up, I am not looked down upon in the art scene as just some young girl. I'm a fellow artist, a fellow woman, a fellow human being. Nobody is trying to manufacture a competition with me, because I'm not competing with them in the first place. We all get to live here, breathe here, express ourselves here. I feel so refreshed.
* THE DESERT ETHOS *
The common thread amongst people who find themselves here, is strong. Artist or not.
There's a pull to be here, something that calls us here.
It's a primal, animalistic, intuitive, instinctual thing that draws us here.
Something expansive, something vacant, where we can sense and express god better.
There's an upwelling of peacefulness in that expanse.
In the void, unnecessary things fall away.
People change, they heal, they find a new understanding of life,
they become more grateful, they become more whole,
they become more themselves.
They tend to be gentle and kind towards others, because everyone is living their own unique and beautiful life here- and we all are connected by this sense of place, and the peace that dwells here.
The stillness is our common bond.
Thanks for reading, and,
May You Go Lucid In Your Dreams.