Desert Daze

Without living in California, I don't know if I'd ever appreciate the beauty of the desert as much as I do now. Growing up when I thought of the desert, I pictured the Sahara - photos I'd seen in my textbooks from Elementary school. A vast canvas of pinks, oranges & creams; camels creating shadows on the untouched sand. I am sure you've seen a lot of these photos as well. 

The desert in California has it's fair share of sand dunes - some of which in Death Valley & down south in Glamis - I hope to venture to soon. But, there's something magical about actually experiencing the desert - the still sound, the way the sun hits the surrounding hills - it's beautiful.

There are a million ways to get lost of course, but luckily service can be found. Taking the dirt roads instead of the paved - appreciating the journey, right?

A friend and I journeyed down to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park a few weekends ago to check out what was left of the #Superbloom. If you're unsure of what I mean by the Superbloom, here's some background. California has been in a severe drought for a few years now. Since I have lived here, I only remember short spurts of rain. Without rain, flowers have a hard time blooming. Thankfully, we got buckets this year - allowing beauty to sprout and thrive in places it hasn't recently. Thus, the Superbloom. I saw some California Poppy's in Lake Elsinore back in March - but desert flowers are a bit different.

Sadly, we missed a lot of the blooms - but there was still a lot to see!

We got there and knew what we were looking for, but didn't exactly know where to look. Behold the Visitor's Center - filled with great people and lots of information. They were such a blessing - detailed directions and maps to help us explore.

Located in Borrego Springs, the Visitor's Center wasn't the only shining light. We had lunch at a great Mexican joint - Jalisco's - which I think might be a chain? Mexican food in California is always bomb - so we knew we could trust this joint. 

As I love the harmony of art and landscape, one of the biggest attractions in this area were the metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda. There are all sorts of different animals/creatures scattered around - mammoths, a sea serpent, a scorpion & grasshopper, camels, etc. My favorites were the scorpion/grasshopper & the sea serpent. Here's some more information and other photos as well if you're interested in some history!

I definitely want to make it back out to Anza-Borrego to hit some trails and capture views of the badlands. Maybe stop at Julian on the way home for their infamous apple pies!

If you're anywhere near a desert - check it out. Honestly, there is something magical out in the vast open space. 

DESERT X

I know I know, I promised a post on the Exumas - but friends, this post was time sensitive! If you're anywhere in the Southern California region, or are going to be before April 30, you NEED to check out Desert X.

This may seem out of the realm of what I cover and showcase, but I promise it isn't! I see the outdoors as a canvas, as art itself. These amazing Contemporary Artists have done just that - taken the natural landscape and idea of the Coachella Valley and made art OUTDOORS. As Desert X explains on it's site, this exhibition is on from February 25, 2017 to April 30, 2017 and uses the Coachella Valley as a canvas. As our natural landscape provides us with the ability to ponder and think about whatever crosses our minds, these artworks do just that as well - how does each piece address today's world? What do the trees and the sky make you think about? What does the idea of a large zig-zag wall against a beautiful blue sky make you think about?

I am not always one to dig SUPER deep into art, but I invite you to think about these works and their significance outside. Some pieces are indoor, but what do they speak to the vast landscape of the desert? 

Diving into the day, a friend and I got up early (per usual) to head to Palm Springs and hit Doug Aitken's "Mirage" early, hoping we would be some of the only people there. Thank goodness, we were! As you can see in the photos below, if there were a lot of people, it would've been hard to grab these shots.

It was a lot of fun playing around and seeing how my body showed up in the many mirrors. Staying true to the title, "Mirage," the house from different angles, inside and outside, lined up with the landscape seeming as if maybe it wasn't really there! Very cool.

Next, we stopped at the ACE Hotel to grab a map/brochure and headed to Gene Autry Trail to see Visible Distance by Jennifer Bolande. These pieces are meant to be seen from a moving car, so no photos - means you have to go see it for yourself! :)

Will Boone's "Bunker" was next. This one required a code, so I emailed the day before just in case we didn't have service.

We got to the site and went to the brown box in the ground. It was padlocked and we didn't see a keypad. After about 5 minutes of trying to jimmy the lock, I looked towards the car and what do you know - a pole with a Masterlock box. Bingo! Got the bunker door open and began climbing in - despite the warning "You assume all risk and or death entering this exhibit." UH WHAT?! Okay okay, I'll go in. I make my friend go down first and as I am climbing the ladder down, he SCREAMS! I was already nervous and this didn't help. Turns out, it was pitch black when he got down there and all of a sudden a light turned on. Where the light lit up was a person sitting in a chair! Now, of course this was just a bronze statue of JFK - but talk about a scare!

Due to the interaction, and an almost game-like experience, I think "Bunker" was one of my favorites to visit. 

Next, we headed to Sunnylands for Lita Albuquerque's "Hearth". I had never heard of this place, but was blown away by the beauty of the building and the gardens in the back. It took a little exploring, but we found her performance piece by the 'Desert X' signage that was very helpful at each site (and no, that is not a real person below).

Per the description of the piece, my friend and I sat in silence and listened to the soundtrack playing. We couldn't help ourselves also people-watching those who came to sit around the piece. The greatest was an older man taking photos with his iPad - haven't we all seen one of those before?

Another fun piece with mirrors, Phillip K. Smith's The Circle of Land and Sky, was fun to find all the different ways to see your reflection. Walking towards each mirrored piece and back, you can see the merging of the land and the sky at different levels. 

The clouds were just perfect.

Continuing on our path, we headed to Claudia Comte's "Curves and Zig Zags." Another instance where the sky showed perfectly with the piece.

Where this piece is located, there is a trail. Being a hiker, it was awesome to see everyone coming down off the trail and taking photos. One of my favorite photos below, a hiker came down with a dog that I wanted to take home. Ah!

Further South in the old town of Coachella, Armando Lerma's "La Fiesto en el Desierto", graced one of the large walls. A very different piece than what had been seen so far. It was hard to get a good photo due to the parking in front of it, so you'll have to experience this one as well for yourself :)

HANG TIGHT, we're almost through the pieces I was able to get to.

Needing another code for our next stop, I texted the day before, gaining access to an abandoned shed. About this time is where we started seeing a lot more people. It was probably around 1:00 PM? Glenn Kaino's Hollow Earth is best experienced with a small group (1-3 people, at most) and with the door to the shed closed. It's crazy looking over the large hole, how it does seem like you're looking down to the core of our planet!

Like I mentioned, this is best viewed in small group. As Desert X grows in popularity, which I know it will, please be respectful of the pieces, and those viewing them! 

Some of the pieces have hours of viewing, including this next one, Gabriel Kuri's Donation Box. We arrived within the hours, but the front door was locked. We were able to look through the window, but that's not the same! Some others who had been in before told us we were just missing the ashtray smell inside.

Making the most of our day, we took a small detour out to Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Desert Art Museum & the Big Rock. These are not a part of Desert X, but definitely great places to see if you're out that way!

With an hour drive to Whitewater Preserve and about 59 minutes until the last site closed, we booked it out of Landers to make it to Sherin Guirguis' One I Call. The road out to the 'Largest Boulder in the World' (rumored) is rough - so small cars beware (I didn't take mine this time dad).

We got to Whitewater with 2 minutes to spare, but the gates had already closed. Luckily, they were easily jump-able (not recommended). After a full day of Desert X, I was not about to leave this one behind. We ran just up the trail to the large Beehive, took some quick snaps and hit the road back home.

As you can see, Desert X has a lot to see and experience. We were able to do most of the sites in one day, so anyone can do it too! It will start getting busier, especially with music festivals coming into town soon - so go see it now!

Seeing these beautiful pieces outdoors was heaven to me - the two things I love most collaborating and making people think. I hope you enjoyed some of the photos taken and that this inspires you to take your own adventures! There doesn't need to be an exhibition to find the art outside, but it sure does help a little, right? :)