Sunday, 12 May 2013

Desert Public Art #2 and Awesome Museums, Southern California

It has been some time since I have posted on this blog. I have been so busy keeping up with my other website, that I have just not been able to keep up to date on this one. So a grand entry is in order. Here it is.

Recently my friend came to visit me all the way from London (where I lived for 12 years) and thus I had the chance to show her some gems I already knew about, such as Desert Christ, Yucca Valley, Salvation Mountain, Niland, and Ricardo Breceda's metal sculptures in Borrego Springs (written about here on this blog) as well as visit some new excellent places! Here is a write up on all the new places I got to go!


Cabot Museum
Desert Hot Springs

67616 Desert View Ave  Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
(760) 329-7610

Came across this one totally randomly. We were driving through Desert Hot Springs towards Dillon Road and kept on seeing signs for the Cabot Museum. Intrigued, we kept on it. And found this.

One man, Cabot Yerxa (of dutch descent), built this Hopi inspired pueblo in what would then have been still the middle of the desert. Already sixty, he was none to young either. His story is visionary and the building, architecture and thought gone into all the details amazing. Cabot started construction in 1941 and finished some twenty years later.

"Cabot Yerxa was an incredible man often described as a visionary, artist, writer, builder, architect, adventurer, explorer, collector, idealist and entrepreneur. He was a human rights activist concerned about the legal, economic and cultural crisis for Native Americans. Cabot was a highly degreed Mason. Masons believe in independent thinking and self-actualization. Cabot was also the president and founder of the Theosophical Society in 1946-47 in Desert Hot Springs."

He also was the one that discovered hot springs and cold well water in that area. On day in 1913 when he was homesteading his 160 acres, he dug into the side of the hill and found hot springs! Then, digging on the other side of the hill, cold water came rushing out. This hill was renamed "Miracle Hill" and is now the place for spa resorts and hot spring pools in DHS.

Admission was steep ($11 per person), but did really enjoy it; guided tours only, no photos allowed inside, hence why I only have outdoor photos. A very unique museum in a very unique area. Visit their website for all the info.


World Famous Crochet Museum
Joshua Tree
61855 Highway 62, Joshua Tree, California

Another gem we stumbled on. Visiting Joshua Tree National Park with the intention of also paying our respects to Desert Christ in Yucca Valley, Pioneertown and the Integratron, we came out of JT into Joshua Tree, the town and stopped at the Coyote Corner for a browse. Out of the corner of our eyes we glimpsed this wee museum. And thought YES! Onwards my friend! It was an amazing experience.

Shari Elf, who also is Art Queen, is the curator of the museum and is heavily into collecting crochet anything. You can let yourself inside and gaze at crochet goods for a long time. We regret not getting the t-shirts.


World Famous International Banana Museum
North Shore

So cool I ended up writing an article on the museum:

Click here for article.

And here is the link to the museum. A place you must visit before you die. And do yourself a favour, have a banana milkshake. Or banana soda ice cream float. 

East Jesus, Slab City

Just behind Salvation Mountain lies Slab City. During the World War II the area was used as a marine training base and ceased operation in 1946. In 1961, the base was handed back to the state as was and squatters, snowbirds and others started moving in, primarily in RV's and other self-contained mobile units, making use of the unused land, no rent or utilities, no real telling 'em what to do. Slab City is a community made up of people from all over. All socio-economic scales are represented, all ethnicities, all demographics. What binds them is their desire to live of the grid.

Slab City is also home to numerous artists who make use of the desert environment, the warm winter months and the "junk" they find. Using left-behind marine training junk, debris, metals, car parts, tires strips, duck decoys and whatever else, they assemble imaginative pieces of recycled art.  East Jesus is either a 'neighbourhood' in Slab City, or like the twin cities, considered independent but right next door and is "now populated by an ever-rotating cast of artists, builders, writers, musicians, freethinkers, merry pranksters, wandering messiahs, the dispossessed, the damned." 

You can't speak of  East Jesus without mentioning the great, late former mayor and sole resident of East Jesus, Charles Russell. Dying far too young at 46, sorely missed, with a shrine erected in his honor, he was instrumental in creating the sculpture garden and East Jesus. Transforming cars into moving objects of recycled art, shrines, building the bottle wall and bottle tree, inviting other artists to come in and embellish the place, the sculpture garden really took off. In Russell's own words:

"East Jesus is an experimental, comprehensive habitat and artwork comprising vernacular architecture, technophilia, common-sense environmentalism, desert survival and sculpture/assemblage using predominantly recycled, re-purposed or discarded materials, sublimating the unwanted and ugly into the purposefully beautiful."

For more info:

Artists include: Charles Russell, Joe Holliday, Flip Cassidy's, Royce Carlson and more.  

Welcome! To Work in Progress!

And to finish off:

a couple of photos of Salvation Mountain: