The exterior of the farmhouse still looks pretty bad. Stacks of trash are gone but the stucco and trim is worn and battered by the brutal sun and wind. We're patching holes and cleaning out planters. Eventually we'll need to change out the windows for double paned ones, so must wait on replacing trim.
And... we have a new (used) swamp cooler that works! Because of the strange layout of the house we couldn't figure a better place to install it, such as the roof. Function has to trump looks in this case.
At first I didn't understand why so many desert property owners obsessively scrape the ground around their houses, getting rid of anything that grows. Now I do: fire and critters. We still haven't seen a snake, but if you pick up wood, carpet, or trash that's been on the ground a while, there's likely a scorpion underneath. Black widows love nooks and crannies. So we are now appreciators of the clean earth aesthetic.
Some color ideas...
Several weeks later, shot on a monsoon afternoon:
We have planted new trees in the past year: a desert willow (blooming above), a palo verde, a mesquite, a pomegranate, and another olive. Will we live long enough to reap the shade? Oh and it’s supposed to rain again in 29 tomorrow. Crazy.
I've used dozens of studios in my career. I like to work outside my living space for multiple reasons, including
• as a woman, I need to appear more professional
• my home turf is distracting
• I want to be able to leave projects in process/a mess
• I enjoy bringing people into a studio that has a certain "mystique"
• I need storage, lots of storage
I'm thinking about which studios I've loved...
a pre-famine stone hut in Ireland, with a glass ceiling
an attic in a French chateau above a forest
my large office studio at a Turkish university
the Barrio Logan studio I shared with Daphne Hill (even though it leaked, had termites, and the floor sloped). I miss that damn studio now, having moved into a garage space, which is perfectly serviceable, but has no poetry.
Which brings me to our Desert Dairy barn, built in 1930. When we bought the place it was filled with and surrounded by junk and trash, it hosted a large beehive on an inside wall, and it had a roof basically blown to bits. Our construction crews have had to stop repairs for weeks because of high winds. But finally the place is almost ready, and I'm the type of person who doesn't need things to be perfect before beginning to work in a space.
I can already tell, it's special. The natural light and airflow can be adjusted easily by opening and closing shutters on both east and west sides. The floor is solid concrete so can't be damaged. It's so quiet. We have only one working outlet, so no lights there yet, and you have to walk to the oasis for water, but that's ok. We can make BIG work, and stand back from it, and take sky and mountain gazing breaks. I don't know how other artists will react, but I'm definitely inspired.
Anna does most of the writing. Ted does most of the photos. But sometimes we switch. We are repairing a distressed property in 29 Palms, California, and eventually hope to run an artist residency there.