Eric Merrell: On Seeing Color in the Desert

Caravan of the Moon

Note: Eric Merrell teaches a class–Seeing Beautiful Color in the Landscape–May 14-16, 2014, in Pasadena. Deserts pose a “wonderful problem” when it comes to observing color, he says. Here are ideas on how to tackle the problem, from one of the most poetic painters of the California deserts. I really began to develop some of the color ideas during my Joshua Tree residency in 2009. In the desert in summer, especially in JT, there are strong shadows early in the morning and late in the afternoon, but for 5-6 hours when the sun is overhead there is hardly a shadow…

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Bidding On Agnes: A Newbie Goes to An Art Auction

A rare image of Agnes Pelton smiling, in her Cathedral City home. Courtesy of the Agnes Pelton Society.

I fell in love with Agnes Pelton’s paintings when I attended the Channeling Agnes Pelton: Portraits, Landscapes and Readings exhibition at City Hall in Cathedral City last year. Ever since, I’ve been on a search to acquire one of her paintings. They aren’t easy to find. I finally located one that had been put up…

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John Frost: A Quiet Mastery

Whitewater Wash, San Jacinto, 1926

Editor’s note: In the early days of desert painting, Palm Springs was a tiny outpost in the wilderness and artists roamed the dunes like nomadic prophets. Among the top-tier artists here around 1920 were the three friends Guy Rose, Alson Clark and John Frost. In a sweeping new biography from the Irvine Museum, Phil Kovinick…

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Henry Mockel: The Philosopher of Flowers

Mockel self portrait

This article first appeared in the Early Spring, 2014, edition of  The Sand Paper, the newsletter of the Anza Borrego Desert Natural History Association (www.abdnha.org). Faced with a field of spring flowers, some of us want to run the other way. The names confuse us, the profusion intimidates us. Fortunately for the phobic, Henry Mockel…

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Through the Red Rock Doorway: A Q&A With Erin Hanson

Erin Hanson, Joshua Tree

Mystical transformations famously take place in a single moment. One minute you’re ordinary and the next “the great door, that does not look like a door, opens,” in the words of Stephen Graham. That’s pretty much what happened to Erin Hanson when she was climbing in the red rocks near Las Vegas. Yes she had…

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