Sunday, December 26, 2010

Xmas at the Purifoy Site

Our friends Judy, Timothy, and Susan came up from the low desert on Xmas day, and we drove out to the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum. I've blogged about this place before, and probably will again--there's so much to see that it's a new experience each time.

Basically, what this experience consists of is wandering at will around 7.5 acres of assemblage sculptures made by Noah Purifoy, primarily during the 1990s. They are weathering and decaying, as he intended they would--he was interested in how nature participates in the creative process. A good example is the bird's nest inside the bag in the photo above.

Here are Bill, Timothy, and Judy looking at a wall of plaques, above; and Susan in front of more fun stuff, right.

Below: more photos of fab found object art. (Love those bowling balls!) Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Censorship Show

Last night, we attended the opening of the Art Censorship Show at Gretchen Grunt's 29 Palms Creative Center. Here's Gretchen, shaking it up in front of the anti-censorship message.

It all began a few weeks ago, when this piece by artist Rik Livingston was censored after being accepted as part of his exhibit at the Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce. The issue was resolved after scores of local artists came out in support of Rik, and the whole affair inspired the Censorship Show.

Here's Bill with "Trashy Lingerie," a black-and-white image he took of a Los Angeles storefront in the 1970s.

Here's our friend Robert Morris (aka Roberto), also formerly of Santa Barbara, with some of his expertly altered images that insert nudes, classical architecture, and mythological figures into the landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park.

Huell Howser came out to support the effort (he has a home in the area). Here he is with Suzanne Ross in front of her piece.

It wasn't all just nudes--there were some offbeat interpretations of the theme as well, like Robyn Goudy's piece above. To the right, lovebirds Suzanne and Robyn.

Don't miss it! The show runs through January 18--for more info click here

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meditation Garden Dedication

The Meditation Garden at Sky's the Limit had its dedication ceremony on Sunday, December 5. Bill is the garden's official photographer, so unless otherwise noted, the photos on this post are his--thanks Bill! Above: an overview of the garden and the assembled crowd, looking towards 29 Palms.

This project came about due to the vision and persistence of Ray Yeager, aided by his wife, Shirley. (That's my photo above.) Ray designed the garden according to the centuries-old tradition of Japanese dry landscape gardening. The rocks are carefully chosen for their shapes and precisely placed according to the guidelines in an 11th century Zen Buddhist garden manual, which stipulates that such a garden should reflect the local scenery.

The ceremony featured chanting by two Buddhist monks from the local Thai Forest Monks' Monastery in Landers. Yes, it is true, the Thai Forest Monks live in the desert, where they are creating a beautiful oasis--with lots of trees, of course.

After the chanting, Abbot Pradit Abhijato sprinkled water on the attendees, then circled the garden and sprinkled water on it. The sun chose that very moment to come out. The boundary of Joshua Tree National Park comes right up to the edge of the Meditation Garden--there couldn't be a better spot for a garden like this. There's also a Nature Trail with benches for contemplation like this one, dedicated by our friends Phyllis and Richard Schwartz.

For more information about Sky's the Limit--which has plans for an Observatory and Nature Center on the site--click here

Monday, December 6, 2010


We spent the afternoon in the park on the day after Thanksgiving. At some point before Hidden Valley, we just pulled over, crossed the road and headed overland. I don't know the name of the spot where we were, but some climbers were there, too, in and around these rocks.

The trees and bushes were so thick in places that I would almost call the landscape riparian. You can get an idea on the left side of the photo above.

We hiked out to a ridge of rocks and back, and on the return trip I found a snakeskin stuck in a bush. It was completely colorless, and from a long, thin snake. When I picked it up, it broke in two and I ended up leaving it behind in the last patch of sun. (I'm told that one is not supposed to take home such things, in any case.) It's the first snakeskin I've ever found, and I felt lucky.

A few more treasures from this walk. Above: Boulder Formation 101. Right: how exactly do things like this happen? Below: a glorious golden yucca blossom, paper-thin by now, a miracle that all the pieces have not yet blown away.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

V Bar V Heritage Site

This is Part 2 of our adventures in Arizona a couple of weeks ago. From Montezuma's Well, we took a short drive down dirt roads to the V Bar V Heritage Site, the largest known petroglyph site in the Verde Valley.

From the visitor center, the site is about a half mile hike through a lush, green landscape--like a high-desert jungle, overgrown with grasses, vines and trees all springing out of brick-red dirt. The entire surrounding area is undisturbed and undeveloped, so all you hear is silence, rustling leaves and the faint sound of running water.

The images were created by the Sinagua people between 900-1300 AD. This large panel has two turtle-like figures towards the top, which are identified as being symbols of the Water Clan--the official sun watchers of the Sinagua. A man named Kenneth Zoll observed the progress of the sun across the petroglyphs over the course of a year, and he makes a convincing argument that the site was used as a solar calendar for agrarian and ceremonial purposes. His book and website are called Sinagua Sunwatchers--learn more about the Sinagua, the V Bar V site and archaeoastronomy by clicking here.

Here's another photo. I'm drawn to the large birdlike figures. Maybe it's the Bird Clan? I don't find a reference to these in Zoll's book, but Bird Clan works for me!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Montezuma's Well

We had an early Thanksgiving get-together last weekend with my parents and brother in Prescott, Arizona. We took an excursion one day out to Cornville, which is in the Verde Valley area between Prescott and Sedona. We ate lunch at the Manzanita Inn, a popular spot with excellent crepes, sandwiches and burgers--worth a stop if you're in the area. Above: Steve, Bill, Mom, and Dad.

After lunch we headed to Montezuma's Well, just a short distance away. It's a gigantic natural cistern that has been there since prehistoric times, filled by over a million gallons of water a day from underground springs. They say it was actually once a cavern and the roof caved in, exposing what you see here. An outlet sends copious amounts of water into Beaver Creek and keeps the water level constant. The cliff dwellings along the top are relics of the Sinagua culture.

These stairs lead down to an Indian cave dwelling. There was also once a thriving pueblo on the rim, see photo below.

The setting is completely unspoiled with sweeping views--it's part of the Montezuma's Castle National Monument but 11 miles away. Next week: Part 2 of our adventure, the V Bar V Petroglyph Site!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Park Therapy

Lately, I've developed a case of project-itis...too many projects! Fortunately an afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park is the cure. Above, Joshua trees across the road from Quail Springs. I love how they look like a plantation, like someone carefully spaced them at equal distances apart--although of course they did it themselves. I took the small photo standing over a baby Joshua tree--it's the top of the tree's single stalk.

Then we headed down Ranger Station Rd. to the Lost Horse Wall area--a popular spot for rock climbers, though we saw only three that day. We walked up a large and spacious wash lined with yellow-blooming shrubs.

This mini-arch provided a nice keyhole view.

Check out the man-made rock wall at the base of the hill. It forms a cache basin that would easily fill up during a rainstorm. Brilliant green grass and weeds grow thick around the inside rim.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shared Visions

After all these years of doing photography and poetry together, Bill and I finally have a book! It's called "Shared Visions," and it features all of the work that we'll be showing at Tecopa Hot Springs Resort in January.

There are three sections in the book: Guardians (Eastern Sierras), Aces & Spades (Salton Sea) and Little Petroglyph Canyon (China Lake).

To make this book, I learned the Blurb bookmaking software. The process was easy, and we're really pleased with the result. The book is full color with the photographs and poems on facing pages. Here are a couple of sample spreads.

You can view more sample pages using the "Check Out My Books" widget on the home page of this blog, and order copies from

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Art Tours 2010, Second Weekend

It was another big weekend for us on the annual art tours. On Saturday, our friends from Palm Springs, Timothy and Judy Hearsum, came up for the day. We had lunch at Pappy & Harriet's ("Best Honky Tonk West of the Mississippi") and visited a number of studios in Pioneertown and Landers. I didn't get out the camera, though...

Today Bill stayed home getting a new photo ready for the 29 Palms Gallery's Southland Show, and I took off on another studio jaunt with friends Phyllis and Tobi. I have always coveted one of Christy Anderson's license plates and finally "got lucky"!

We also visited Bonnie Brady. I love her books and cards, most of which use handmade paper (sometimes paper she makes herself). Above, a couple of books; to the right, a card. I've learned a lot from Bonnie and always feel inspired by her creative output. (Her son, John Greenfield, and daughter, Susan Brady Gonzales, are talented artists as well, and they all show together on the tour.)

There are still a few things blooming in the yard at this late date. Does anyone know what this purple flowering plant is? We inherited it when we bought the house; it's certainly going to town lately. There are rumors that temperatures next week will be back up around 80 degrees, we (and our plants) are anticipating a last blast of summer!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Art Tours 2010, First Weekend

We've covered a lot of ground over the past couple of days, visiting artists on the Hwy. 62 Art Tours. Weekend One this year covered Joshua Tree, 29 Palms, and Wonder Valley. We started out yesterday in JT at Ellie Tyler's brand new studio. There's Ellie in the doorway--a beautiful space for her beautiful photography!

Then we went on to Karine Swenson's place--always one of our favorite stops. We were sorely tempted this year by a large and extraordinary painting of a Joshua tree. For now, we've brought home a giclee of a jackrabbit--plus a winter hat for Bill crocheted by John Lauretig.

Next we visited Rik and Cat Livingston's studio, where this piece of yard art caught our attention. Rik and Cat produce an amazing array of humorous art, which is interspersed with their massive collections of comic books, action figures, and more.

After a delicious lunch at the Crossroads Cafe, we headed out to Wonder Valley and the studio of Perry Hoffman, where Mayah Martin also had work on display. I brought home this Buddha statue of hers.

Today we kept it simple, visiting two more of our favorites: Ellen Hill and Mike Smiley. We finally sprung for one of Mike's iconic small statues, a hawk carved in limestone.

If you're in the area and feel inspired to check out the tours, they continue next weekend--Ellie, Ellen, and Mike's studios will be open then, too, and Mayah will be showing at a different location in Pioneertown. Full details are available by clicking here