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 life is a veritable how-to manual for desert artists and mystics, linking her to greats like Agnes Pelton and Carl Eytel, who lived a monastic life in the rocks above today’s Palm Springs Tennis Club. We’ll have more on Culp and her upcoming exhibit–Predator Country–at…

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Collecting Arizona: How Gary Fillmore and David Picerne Tracked Down the State’s Greatest Paintings

David Picerne, a real estate developer, and Gary Fillmore, an art appraiser and owner of the Blue Coyote Gallery, went on a hunt to find the state’s very best landscape art, seeking out offerings from the Taos artists, Santa Fe railroad artists, California Impressionists and our own Smoketree Painters. Currently on view in Wickenburg (through March 4, 2018) is their comprehensive display of landscape art from around Arizona. There is plenty of overlap between the California desert and Arizona artists. To understand the Mecca Mud Hills…you have to be versed in the Superstitions, as well. Gary Fillmore knows both. He has…

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Harry and the Giants: The Geoglyph Photographs of Harry Casey

Harry and the Giants: The Geoglyph Photographs of Harry Casey

Editor’s note—One morning in the 1980s when I was working as an LA Times reporter, I hopped in an airplane with archaeologist Jay von Werlhof and pilot Harry Casey. Flying out of Brawley, we cruised low over a sandy expanse in search of the original desert art. Casey, an Imperial Valley farmer, steered us over cliffs beside the Colorado River and soon we saw below us a giant human figure with his legs cut off from view, as if he was tumbling into the river. This was my first glimpse of the massive ground drawings known as intaglios, geoglyphs or…

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Out of the Desert: Internment Camp Art Discovered in Banning

Editor’s note: Banning historian Bill Bell recently unearthed a rare trove of art inspired by exile. The hand-stitched scrapbook–poems, essays and linoleum prints–was made by high school students interned at the Poston Relocation Camp, three miles from the Arizona side of the Colorado River and north of Blythe. The internationally acclaimed sculptor Isamu Noguchi voluntarily moved to the camp in 1942 and may have helped to instruct the young artists. The scrapbook is discussed here by the man who found it.    While sorting through decades of donated items to the Banning Public Library I recently found a scrapbook from…

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Victory Ride: The Memoirs of 29 Palms Artist Chuck Caplinger

Editor’s note–Chuck Caplinger, a leader in the 29 Palms arts scene, recently published his life story. An Artist’s Journey: Memoirs of the Creative Life of Artist Chuck Caplinger follows Chuck from his childhood in Pasadena, Texas, through his tenure as a NASA artist, then on to painting custom vans and film posters in Hollywood. It culminates in the momentous Harley ride that led him to Twentynine Palms and his current incarnation as a desert and wildlife painter. In the chapter excerpted here, the artist nicknamed Cowboy is commissioned to paint a Desert Storm Victory Parade mural in 29 Palms. The…

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