Sunday, January 30, 2011

Altered Books Opening, January 23

My altered book group's show, "Altered Books: A Collective Journey," opened at the Palm Springs Art Museum on Sunday, January 23. In case you missed the opening, the show runs through March 6, with a special presentation by our group on Sunday, February 13 (as part of the museum's "Free Second Sunday" programming).

Here are some of the faces behind the art: above, the amazing and prolific Bonnie Brady, who originated the idea for our group. Right: group member and artist extraordinaire Cathy Allen, who was instrumental in making the museum show possible. (Visit Cathy's website by clicking here)

Here is our resident email, papermaking, and wabi sabi diva, Tobi Taboada, with Robert Brasier, the museum's Deputy Director of Education and Public Programs. (Robert, a high-desert dweller, belongs to a second altered book group that meets in 29 Palms at Gretchen Grunt's studio.)

Top: another group member, the soulful Mayah Martin, with Bonnie Brady's son John Greenfield (one of my favorite high desert ceramicists). Above: more beautiful bookies, Jean Loomis in the foreground, and Norma Mackie. Group members not pictured: Peggy Heinz, Mary Kinninger-Walker, Noreen Lawlor, Suzanne Ross, Phyllis Schwartz, and myself (feeling under the weather that day, I managed an hour's appearance before missing the rest of the fun).

Thanks to the many friends, neighbors, and members of the high desert art community who turned out to support us, among them artists Karine Swenson (above) and Nora Lousignont (right).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sights Around Tecopa

If you like offbeat destinations, you'll like Tecopa! Here is one of the town's landmarks, the abandoned U We laundromat, complete with matching rusted truck. That white stuff on the ground is minerals that have come more to the surface than usual after heavy rains this winter.

Down the road a piece, just before Shoshone, you'll find Dublin Gulch, where there are "caves" that miners and vagabonds lived in through the 1960s. Check out the stovepipes! Middens of rusted cans (mostly beer cans) are everywhere.

Here's a close-up of these dwellings dug out of the soft rock. You can tell they would be nice and cool during the hot summer months. Famous figures in the history of Death Valley spent time here, including Shorty Harris and the Ashford brothers.

For unspoiled natural beauty, there are hiking trails behind China Date Ranch that go way back into the hills. The Armagosa River is nearby. On our hike, we were followed by the calls of Phainopepla, a species of crested, silky flycatcher that thrives on desert mistletoe--which is abundant in the area's mesquite brushlands, below.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Our Opening in Tecopa

Saturday was the opening of Bill's and my photo/poetry show at Tecopa Hot Springs Resort. Here we are in the gallery. We had 13 friends join us from the Morongo Basin, plus my brother from Northern California and locals from the Tecopa Basin Artists Group and nearby communities. Thanks to everyone who showed up--plus special thanks to Amy Noel, owner of the resort; Chef John, for his wonderful food; Shelly, waitress extraordinaire; and Jake, Amy's dog and my new best friend!

Highlights of the weekend included hanging out with all our good friends, soaking in silky soft, hot mineral water, winding our way through the labyrinth at the resort (pictured above) and a poetry reading on Saturday night after dinner (more thanks to everyone who participated).

On Sunday morning we descended on Shoshone en masse for breakfast at the Crowbar. The Shoshone Museum is right next door. Both are must-stops on a tour of the area. The museum has great displays on local history, including prehistoric bones and footprints. Regular blog readers will know I have a thing for fossil camels, and the museum has fossil camel footprints dating back 12 million years! Below, a depiction by artist Ben Nafus of what their life might have looked like back in the day.

More on this trip next week...BTW our show runs through February 24.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Altered Books -- A Collective Journey

Above is the front of the invitation to "Altered Books -- A Collective Journey." I'm part of the group of 12 women artists in this show, which is happening at the Palm Springs Art Museum from January 23-March 6. The reception is Sunday, January 23 from 1-5 pm. You're invited!

The format of this group is a little bit unusual, so I'll paraphrase our artist statement to explain how it works: To begin, each woman either constructs a new book or alters an existing book to express a particular theme. Then, using a "round robin" format to exchange the books, each woman adds to and builds on the theme. In the end, every book contains artwork by all of the exchange's participants. (Thanks to Diana Shay Diehl for the photos in this post--her photos will be part of the exhibition as a slide show.)

The books are exchanged on a monthly basis--we rotate meetings at each others' houses, which involves lots of food and fun. Here we are with some of our books--left to right, first row: me, Norma Mackie, Bonnie Brady, Suzanne Ross, Phyllis Schwartz; second row, Jean Loomis, Cathy Allen, Noreen Lawlor, Tobi Taboada, Peggy Heinz, Mary Kinniger-Walker. (Not pictured: Mayah Martin)

This is a hands-on show where viewers can pick up the books, turn the pages, etc. I'll end with a quote from our artist statement: "These altered books express beauty, mystery, playfulness, curiosity, and the sisterhood of a dynamic group of artists. Letting go of preconceptions and embracing the unknown can be intimidating; being nudged out of one’s creative comfort zone can be unsettling. The process, however, becomes a journey of inspiration and encouragement, producing artistic adrenalin as well as artistic freedom. Ultimately, each individual evolved through this collective effort."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Day "Sound Bath"

We celebrated New Year's Day with a visit to the Integratron in Landers for a public "Sound Bath" with our friends Timothy, Judy, Phyllis, and Richard. Above, the exterior of the Integratron. If it looks like something from outer space, you may be right--its creator, George Van Tassel, said he got the building plans from extraterrestrials. The upper part of the structure was supposed to spin around and act as a rejuvenation chamber. Though it doesn't actually spin, it's an amazing building nevertheless. (To learn more about the Integratron, click here)

Here's the upper area of the dome where the sound bath takes place. The structure is acoustically perfect. Note the quartz crystal "singing bowls" used for the sound bath experience. Each bowl is keyed to a different chakra of the body. The sound bath is described as a 30-minute sonic healing session that produces waves of peace, heightened awareness, and relaxation of the mind and body. We all found that to be true!

The very top of the dome looks like this. That's 1.5 tons of concrete up there holding all the beams together, which are made of laminated wood with no nails or screws.

Here's the man himself, George Van Tassel, a pillar of the UFO community. His epitaph read, "Birth through induction, death through short circuit." Rumors abound that the U.S. government tried over the years to put a stop to Van Tassel's activities--some say that if he had succeeded in constructing the Integratron as planned, he may have been able to bend time. After his death, his proprietary electronic equipment, notes, and diagrams all mysteriously disappeared and have never been found.

Back in the 1950s, there used to be big "spacecraft conventions" in Landers. Here's a souvenir program from one of them.