The John Hilton House in 29 Palms: Artists’ Playhouse Restored

When LA resident Jamie Caffrey went looking for Twentynine Palms real estate a few years ago, he knew he wanted a pool. Driving out to view one listing, he found smashed windows, busted children’s toys and debris strewn everywhere. There was indeed a pool–once a gathering place for the desert artists–but now it was just a dark hole in the ground. Jamie had never heard of the former owner, artist John Hilton, but he says: “The house had a mystery about it. It captured my imagination.” So it happened that the Irish-born Caffrey–he formerly worked in the music and film…

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Marcia Geiger: The Secret Lives of Vintage Trailers

The Tin Goose was just an old school bus parked outside the Joshua Tree Saloon until Marcia Geiger decided to make it the subject of a painting. In Geiger’s version, the Goose looks at you head-on and unflinching. It seems to be reciting the dreams and defeats of every seeker who ever lived aboard. The…

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When Chuckwallas Dream: The Cahuilla Hills Homestead of Susan Smith Evans

Lucky is the artist who bonds with a significant place. Georgia O’Keeffe had her Abiquiu, Agnes Pelton her Mt. San Jacinto, and Susan Smith Evans–who died in an accident on March 6, 2017–her Cahuilla Hills, a rustic hideaway just outside Palm Desert. Drive three miles up Highway 74 from 111 and you’ll find a neighborhood…

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Jim Toenjes: The Path of a Migratory Desert Painter

Longtime Palm Springs resident Jim Toenjes took off in his trailer four years ago, with his paints and his German Shepherd Greta by his side. His itinerant lifestyle resembles that of the early desert artists who made a seasonal circuit from Palm Springs to the Arizona Navajo country and then up to the Sierra in…

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John Hilton and the Smoketree Gang

Editor’s note–In anticipation of Kathi Hilton’s visit to Palm Desert March 17-20, 2017, we’re featuring Dan Rohlfing’s article about Kathi’s dad, John Hilton, and his own Wild Bunch of friends. John Hilton, who died in 1983, ran with a circle that included Agnes Pelton, Clyde Forsythe, Maynard Dixon, Bill Bender, Nicolai Fechin, Desert Magazine editor…

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