|"Once Removed," 5x5in., oil on masonite|
The closest thing to living off the grid in Southern California is laying claim to a dusty patch of moon in the desert and sourcing a little water so the sun doesn't desiccate you in a half hour and leave the last drops in your bones to be sucked dry by snakes and scorpions.
We went to Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert a few weeks ago and while the place is mystical and U2-y, the rock formations and especially the Joshua trees magnetic and unreal, I couldn't stop wondering about all the cinder-block homes just off the main drag. I didn't see anyone outdoors, so who knows who's in the homes, but there were heaps of scavenged objects and barking dogs, alongside beaten-up pickups. I felt like I was in a junkyard, but somehow a creative one, arranged nicer.
I've always been biased about artists fighting to stay in cities, the centres of cultural production, but if you just can't make it in this world of endless dollar taking, it's nice to know a sizeable contingent of drop-outs awaits you in the desert. In a brochure for a studio tour, I saw a lot of large-scale metalwork and sculpture in the vein of Simon Rodia, the builder of Watts Towers. Kinda dreamy.
This image, with some snow in the San Gregorio Mountain in the distance, was from behind the Visitor Center.
For this Mini in the Mail and others, see www.ivanostocco.com.