Last weekend my older son wanted to see the property, so I brought him, his brother and his cousin out for one night. We arrived during a slightly cooler spell, meaning at 5pm it was only 101 and not 110. Still hot, and I really needed a cold drink before making dinner for three hungry teens.
What awaited us inside was a dead refrigerator and no electricity in the front half of the house. Why? A week earlier Ted had driven out for a 7am appointment with the electrician only to have him cancel. So Ted had to turn around. The guy came the next day and replaced the electrical panel (which was very old and dangerous) after months of delay, at a hefty price, of course.
Needless to say, it was not my best moment. All the food I had in the freezer and fridge was rotting, a huge bag of ice had melted everywhere, and there was no cold beer. Our electrician did come out on a Saturday night to fix what turned out to be a loose wire, apologized and said he'd pay for the spoiled food. But I don't know, it just seems like this sort of thing is happening more out here than in the city.
Next morning I calmed down with yoga at the 29 Palms Inn, and painted a wall in the office pink. So there!
I'm a painter, in part because I grew up surrounded by paintings. This one, "Desert Symphony" by Bill Bender, was painted the year I was born. It hung above the fireplace at my grandparents' house, and is now owned by my parents. Eventually it will probably be mine. I love it.
It shows the view of the mountains south of La Quinta, where my grandparents had their desert house. My grandfather collected the work of the Cowboy Artists of America, and Bender was a cowboy and stuntman. I don't think he ever had much success as an artist, but few do. The point is to live a full life, right? Enjoy.
Yes, I brought two buckets full of sand out to the Desert Dairy this weekend. Why, my young ones asked, incredulously? Because all sand is not equal--desert sand is too fine. This rough San Diego stuff will be used to make concrete for our... pizza oven! I am excited!!!
Literally. It'll be officially posted this weekend, when we hope to see the Perseid Meteor shower.
My helper is our "Turkish" son, come to visit California.
I drove up late, arriving after midnight, but was treated to a gorgeous orange half moon rising as I headed east on 62.
Next morning the guys arrived at 5:30am and by midmorning the trash bin was full.
And I did... nothing. The heat sapped my strength, my normal energy was zero. I considered abandoning ship, but instead sweat and slept the day away, and sat under the mister in the evening, after my ritual run to the grocery to cool off. My car said 115 at 6pm. That is hot.
Next day, though, I felt better. Went to yoga at the 29 Palms Inn (outside on the grass, I think we need grass somewhere on our property), and came back to paint a few walls.
And I began to appreciate our dirt, getting cleaner with each bin filled.
In thinking about starting an artist residency, I'm reviewing the experiences I've personally had at two residencies: Cill Rialaig in southwestern Ireland and the Centre Pompadour in northern France. I also took an Intro to Hospitality course at Mesa College last semester, and the professor allowed me to write most of my papers on artist residencies and similar "resorts." I learned A LOT.
What needs to be considered when planning a residency? First is to make sure it is financially viable. Every residency has to have funding, whether it is for-profit or non-profit. The rent/mortgage must be paid. Employees, insurance, infrastructure, taxes, PR... artists may not want to think about these things, but residencies are a type of hotel, and hotels don't run themselves for free.
Each residency is unique in the way time and space are configured. How and where do residents meet each other and the hosts? How do artists interact with the physical space, the land, the weather, the surrounding area? What will make the Desert Dairy unique from other residencies, especially the existing residency in Joshua Tree?
In coming posts I'll think about these questions. For the next year we'll be scheduling mini-residencies and workshops, asking artists and others to come and use the space to help us figure out how to best serve our guests, and about how to heal the land. We will ask for time and a bit of labor in exchange for using our property. Are you interested in helping out, when the weather cools off a bit? Let us know.
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.