Hazel’s Garden: Outsider Art Discovered in Wonder Valley

Despite its current popularity with fashion photographers, Wonder Valley can feel godforsaken on a hot summer day. It was just such a day when Joe Barrett huddled beneath a shade canopy and sent his drone into the sky to take photos of an abandoned five-acre homestead. The original shack was busted up; no one had lived there for decades. But a neighbor had noticed–while browsing Google Earth–that there appeared to be rows of stones arranged to form words. Big words. They were hard to make out from the ground so Barrett and his drone were enlisted to see what was…

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Unexpected Beauty: Robert Cole Caples’ Nevada

Sixteen-year-old Robert Cole Caples left New York City for the West in 1924, landing in the Great Basin desert of Nevada. When the boy got his first look at Pyramid Lake, his future as Nevada’s leading artist of the 20th Century was cinched. “Such unexpected beauty really hurt,” he said. “It was like being struck…

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The Golden Age of Warner Graves: Back to the Canyons

With so many international artists now sampling desert themes, it’s refreshing to meet a painter who is not a tourist but is genetically rooted in this place. Via his grandparents, Warner Graves III is connected to many epochal events in the region, including the formation of the Salton Sea and the building of the All-American…

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Jim Trolinger and the Magnificent Six: Showdown at Joshua Tree

Ed. note: In the grand tradition of early desert painters, Jim Trolinger sees plein air painting as a team sport. We previously posted Jim’s tale of his group’s Death Valley expedition. In his latest account, the optical physicist and his merry band of painters take on Joshua Tree. In February 2018, the Magnificent Six+ returned…

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Desert Devotional: The Anza-Borrego Paintings of Jane Culp

Desert Devotional: The Anza-Borrego Paintings of Jane Culp

Editor’s note: Many people paint the desert but only a few embody the ur-qualities of the early desert artists. Jane Culp is one. She lives in an off-grid straw bale cabin perched above the Anza-Borrego desert. From this solitary outlook, she observes–and participates in–the natural forces that pulverize granite and push tectonic plates.    Her…

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