Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cyan of the Times

I met Daniel Kukla when he undertook the Joshua Tree National Park residency back in 2012 and was impressed by the perspective he brought to that challenge. We stayed in touch and I was happy to have Daniel return to the Mojave Desert in October, 2017. 

Daniel has been moving his practice away from traditional photography into the realm of the lenseless - working directly with chemicals, light and investigating biological processes. What I learned on this residency was that Daniel's undergraduate degree was in Evolutionary Ecology and Biology. This explained the able way in which he approached new ways of making work and how he brought a research approach to bear.

Daniel's residency was cut somewhat short by work considerations however he made the most of his time, working primarily with large scale cyanotypes on fabric. He also made some captivating video using only a leaking aquarium and shadows on the stucco.


Daniel's open house was part exhibition and part presentation on his fascinating processes - both very well received. Thanks to Daniel for coming out from Brooklyn and pushing his practice further in the desert. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Wagnerian Perspectives

Johanna Wagner came to BoxoHOUSe from Karlsruhe, Germany in November, 2017. She had been recommended to me by Aaron Sheppard, a local multi-talented artist and performer, so I knew things would be interesting. Johanna works across several mediums, reacting to the stimulus in the environments she travels to. She also has some series of works which she sought to extend through the residency, particularly her "night shots."


Johanna delved right into the studio, making drawings and paintings on glass, panel and silk. She also got out into the landscape and starting making images and video. Johanna was happy to be invited to participate in JT Lab's Artist Tea series. For her presentation,she devised a meditative performance that focused on the elements around her - wind, sand and water. She also gave an artist talk about her work and then led the audience through some exercises that put them in the performance frame on the topic of binary code. 


n the lead up to her open house, Johanna collaborated with Aaron Sheppard on several short pieces for  performance. Aaron and Johanna have an ongoing collaboration titled Nameless and Neutral and they performed under this rubric. Johanna's wonderful documentation of the open house exhibition and video of the performance are on her site here.

Many thanks to Johanna for coming over to Joshua Tree and providing her unique perspective on the desert experience.

Lou's Men

It was an honor to be part of the 24 hr programming that Eva Soltes of Harrison House Music, Arts, and Ecology arranged for the centennial of Lou Harrison's birth on May 14, 2017. BoxoHOUSE was proud to host Lou's drawings of men along with documentation of his poetry and other writings. This was perfect timing just ahead of the June Pride month. Together with Heather Johnson, we created  a sense of "being at home" with Lou, borrowing his rockers from Harrison House and some vintage cheesecake magazines from John Luckett. The day's proceeding were streamed into the studio and a true celebration of Lou's life ensued.


Full Circle

It was a huge pleasure to welcome Heather Johnson to BoxoHOUSE again in May, 2017 and to exhibit the work from her latest phase of her large project titled "In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful".   

Watercolor paintings and hand-stitched embroideries were on view, based on experiences the artist collected while traveling from Twentynine Palms, CA, to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2015. ISFB was conceived and put into practice through an artist residency at BoxoHOUSE four years ago, and Heather wass delighted to bring this work back to the desert and the community from which it originally sprang.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Sound of Change

I was introduced to Sofie Elana Hodara through Julie Weiman, a friend and Advisory Committee member; the two share a gallery in Boston. Sofie's work ranges from figurative landscape / still life work to abstraction through technological overlays. She initially proposed a project that involved capturing the local landscape and then developing patterns and other outcomes though the use of a technical process.

As our discussions evolved, Sofie modified her proposal to include collaborating with UBIQ, a publicity-shy sound artist that creates interventions in various settings. Their idea was to research the sound of Joshua trees slowly dying in the elevated temperatures now being experienced in the Joshua Tree National Park  - an alternative to documentation through imagery and a poetic approach to the issue.

Sofie wanted to start the residency with a research phase examining the  observable effects of climate change on the local environment. To this end, I connected her with Mark Wheeler, a respected expert on the area's biological processes, as well as with Danielle Segura, Executive Director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust. Mark took Sofie on an extensive field trip into the National Park and Danielle provided valuable input and arranged for Sofie to visit land the Trust had acquired and was conserving.


While synthesizing the information, UBIQ and Sofie took trips into the National Park, recording the trees in various locations.. Sofie was also moved to consider proper burial for the carcasses of dead trees, and she performed a Jewish ritual, draping a tree (outside of the Park!) with a simple white shroud and observing a minute of silence. In parallel, Sofie created evocative weavings using printouts of the imagery she was capturing.

For their open house, Sofie and UBIQ edited a sound piece and two videos as works in progress to share with the community. Sofie also displayed her paper weavings and the road map they had followed in creating their project. Sofie's artist talk was well received with its crafted mix of earnestness and humor. Many thanks to Sofie and UBIQ for coming to BoxoPROJECTS and creating this alternative approach to dealing with the effects of climate change in the Joshua Tree area.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Unrestrained Drawing

When Gosia Wlodarczak contacted me about returning to BoxoHOUSE for a fifth anniversary residency, I was truly gratified. In customary fashion, she told me I had 12 hours to decide before a Quantas seat sale expired. I had no hesitation whatsoever. Gosia was the first resident at BoxoHOUSE and her FROST DRAWING FOR JOSHUA TREE has become an enduring symbol of the program and the property.

Gosia told me that she would like to do a tunic project - making custom tunics for herself, for Longin her husband, for me and for some local friends, and then drawing on them. The idea intrigued me and I also let her know that I had proposed a booth at Art Palm Springs during the period she would be here. Gosia proposed doing a second project, part of her Shared Spaces series, at the fair and the residency was set.

Gosia and Longin arrived into LAX and I immediately whisked them off to a coffee and a percussion session with The Silk Road Project at LACMA. From there to the art supply store, then to Joshua Tree and the residency was off and running. 

And run it did. The first part of the residency involved three days of almost non-stop drawing in the BoxoPROJECTS booth at Art Palm Springs. Here Gosia kicked off both the Modernist Conversation piece and California Tunics. Modernist Conversation was a "shared spaces" project for which Gosia drew in one color and then switched colors when she was joined in conversation by others. It was begun at the art fair, continued in the studio and then completed at the open house. 


California Tunics  were a set of tunics handmade by Gosia and worn by her, her partner Longin, me, Jake the pooch and a couple of selected community members. Gosia drew on these tunics in various settings and the resulting pieces reveal the energies that imprint on our bodies over time.

These projects bridged the art fair to the studio where Gosia also set up a tunic workshop to create the tunics for Jake and the local tunic wearers, Diane Best and Tracey Fisher.


Gosia and Longin were here for the opening of DesertX and Randy Polumbo's fantastic event unveiling his galactic space station which eventually landed on Bombay Beach. Lots of local art and color to go around.

The residency concluded with a wonderful open house at which the final touches were put on the works and then they were complete. Many, many thanks to Gosia and Longin for coming over from Oz and for a highly energetic three weeks.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Frequency Hopping

Amanda Beech and I met at a panel discussion for an exhibition on sound held at the Torrance Museum of Art. It's interesting to me how chance encounters such as this manifest into residencies and others forms of project work....
Several years after our meeting, Amanda proposed coming to BoxoHOUSE to work on the beginnings of a new project that looks at communications, specifically how the form of communication can shape its content. Amanda's projects are large and develop over time, resulting in high production videos complemented by sculptures, installation, print and painting.

Working around her academic schedule at CalArts, Amanda chose the end of year break as a time to focus on this new project. As her interest extended to games and strategy, and how communications shape them, Amanda asked about the possibility of getting on the nearby USMC base in Twentynine Palms. Having worked with the public affairs folks there before, I enquired and was very pleased that they agreed to arrange a tour for us. This tour took place ahead of the residency, in October, 2017, and was a very comprehensive look at some of the amazing training areas including the large simulated Iraqi village and the video simulations for armed vehicles.

During the residency in December, 2017 Amanda did some test shooting in areas around Joshua Tree, extending out to Amboy, with a view to returning here with a full production team when the final video will be made. She also spent a lot of time writing for the project and completed a web commission for the Remai Modern Museum in Sakatoon, Canada.

Amanda ended her residency with a very well received artist talk presenting past projects and talking about the groundwork on the new project. Many thanks to Amanda, her husband Matthew Poole and Blaise the dog for sapending time at BoxoHOUSE.