About Us

Ann Japenga

Ann Japenga is a former Los Angeles Times reporter whose work has appeared in many publications including Sierra, Utne, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times Magazine. She has written columns about desert lore  for Palm Springs Life and Desert magazine; and her essays appear in anthologies such as “The New Desert Reader”.  Ann has a deep acquaintance with the canyons and oases that inspired the desert painters. She’s also versed in “deserata”—prospectors, burros, hidden treasure, hermits and ghost towns.

Ann’s introduction to desert art came when she bought her first smoketree  painting at Carl Bray’s roadside gallery in Indian Wells some 15 years ago. Though she fretted over whether to drop $100 on the painting, she wound up with a far better deal than she could have guessed. The canvas was her doorway into the rich, bohemian world of the early desert artists. Opening this door led her to friendships with early artists like Carl Bray and Bill Bender, along with contemporary artists such as Elaine Mathews and her plein air buddies of the Desert Art Center.

Contributors to California Desert Art include collectors, scholars and the artists themselves. Their goal is to tell the untold story of desert art and to elevate the Smoketree School to its rightful place of prominence in California and Western Art.

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