Saturday, December 6, 2014

An Imagined Joshua Tree

Eliza Kentridge is based in Wivenhoe, a quaint English fishing village on a river in Essex close to where the water empties into the sea. Quite the contrast from our desert town nestled against the rocks of the National Park. As Eliza was only able to come to BoxoHOUSE for 10 days, she came up with a wonderful idea to give the project some duration. Without resorting to the google machine, Eliza conjured up ideas and images of her imagined Joshua Tree - associations invoked by the name and stories she had heard. She then made a series of pieces reflecting these notions in her Wivenhoe studio, packed them up in a portfolio and traveled a great distance to experience the real thing.

When Eliza arrived in the desert, we immediately began a fairly intensive orientation to acquaint her with the area and provide material for the second part of the project, creating works that reflected her actual experience of the place. From walks in the landscape and hikes in the National park to sound baths at the Integratron and a fairly packed social schedule meeting local artists and even attending the Halloween party at Pappy and Scarriets (sic), Eliza took it all in. She immediately took to working in the studio, documenting her experiences and turning some of them into work in progress. Fabric, paper, drawing, gouache prints, and clay all in motion.



While we were running around the Joshua Tree area, it occurred to Eliza that, although there were many obvious contrasts to Wivenhoe, there were also many similarities. Both are small communities with significant artistic communities, though it also emerged that both are located near large military installations and have connections to a "William Loveless". We compiled a list of contrasts and similarities and posted them at the community open house held on November 8 2014. The open house featured the works made in Wivenhoe alongside the works in progress made as a response to the real Joshua Tree. A great crowd came out on a gorgeous fall day to take in the work and meet Eliza.



Many thanks to Eliza for making the journey and engaging so completely with our desert and community. I look forward to the opportunity to show work flowing from the residency in the future.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful: The Journey Continues

Following her residency project last year, Heather Johnson decided to change up her life and continue her project, In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful, through Mexico, South America and possibly the world. No small feat or ambition. Heather conducted the Mexico portion of her journey in the Spring of this year and then came to the Joshua Tree area to regroup for a while before taking on South America.

Heather was given the opportunity to exhibit her work at the University Gallery at CalPoly San Luis Obispo in November of this year. We got talking and I thought it would be a great opportunity to exhibit the work first here in Joshua Tree in October. As will all open houses for the residency, Heather had only been able to show work in progress with the final pieces being exhibited at BoxoOFFICE in New York last Fall. Now it would be possible to share the work with the local community, including new works made in Mexico and locally.

 We hosted an opening on Saturday October 18 which was well attended on a beautiful Fall day in the desert. The exhibition remained on view during the first weekend of Art Tours and then Heather took the work to San Luis Obispo for the show there. Congratulations to Heather again on a wonderful body of work.