Made in the Mojave

May 13 - July 30, 2017

Made in the Mojave celebrates the subtle beauty, rich history, and plentiful resources of the Mojave Desert.  The exhibit which focuses on the landscape interpreted through a variety of media, from painting, to photography, to social practice, is sure to awaken within visitors a new-found appreciation for the nuanced splendor of the desert.  Featured solo exhibits include artists Samantha Fields, Kim Stringfellow, Carol Es, Catherine Ruane, Aline Mare, Ron Pinkerton, Nicolas Shake, Randi Hokett and a site specific installation by local artist Marthe Aponte. Made in the Mojave expands our idea of the desert and its relevance in our daily lives.  In addition to the professional artist presentations, the Museum is honored to highlight R. Rex Parris High School students’ project, Wasteland, on the rooftop terrace.  As part of MOAH’s Green Initiative, this project was led by Los Angeles artist Nicolas Shake working in conjunction with R. Rex Parris High School art instructor Kris Holladay and her students.

Artists
Samantha Fields: Ten Years

While it is true that Samantha Fields spends a great deal of time contemplating how things fall apart, whether it be by fire, drought, tornado, typhoon, flood or simple human error, to say that Fields is obsessed with disasters would be reductive. There is a central and indefatigable impulse toward beauty and hope that underlies the artist’s process, which is as central to her final image as water is to a river.

 

Fields’ images are drawn from our collective human consciousness. They are recollections of events that have passed or are still raging on as in the epic fires that regularly engulf the Los Angeles landscape, which the artist has drawn to create a series of startlingly realistic images of fire plumes, simultaneously delicate and hard edged. Fields creates these paintings in a kind of vacuum, her hand never really touching the canvas as she applies acrylic paint through an air brush, only occasionally adding a more surreal gesture by hand.

 

Fields’ images are just as much metaphors for the state of the world as they are landscape paintings. The landscape, for Fields, is simply the best and most luminous vehicle to express these ideas. These images, drawn from disaster, highlight the viewer’s gaze into the abyss, searching for a sense of self in the chaos and beginning to understand the complexity of our human experience.

 

Samantha Fields is a painter based in Los Angeles, California. She received a Sabbatical Award from California State University, Northridge in 2015, an individual artist grant from the City of Los Angeles (COLA) in 2012, and was awarded the College Art Association’s professional development fellowship in 1997.

 
Kim Stringfellow: The Mojave Project

The Mojave Project is a transmedia documentary and curatorial project led by Kim Stringfellow exploring the physical, geological and cultural landscape of the Mojave Desert. The Mojave Project reconsiders and establishes multiple ways in which to interpret this unique and complex landscape, through association and connection of seemingly unrelated sites, themes and subjects thus creating a speculative and immersive experience for its audience.

 

The Mojave Project explores the following themes: Desert as Wasteland; Geological Time vs. Human Time; Sacrifice and Exploitation; Danger and Consequence; Space and Perception; Mobility and Movement; Desert as Staging Ground; Transformation and Reinvention.

 

The Mojave Project materialized over time through deep research and direct field inquiry involving interviews, reportage and personal journaling supported with still photography, audio and video documentation. Field Dispatches were shared throughout the production period at mojaveproject.org and through KCET Artbound. This initial phase of the project was designed to make ongoing research transparent, inviting the audience into the conversation as the project developed.

The Mojave Project culminates as a large-scale video installation incorporating the digital research journal, photographs, documents and maps along with other collected ephemera and objects gathered over the three-year production period. Launched at MOAH, the completed project, exhibition and corresponding publications will travel to multiple institutions over a two-year period.

 

Funding for The Mojave Project is provided through a Cal Humanities 2015 California Documentary Project production grant with additional support from San Diego State University. The Mojave Project is a project of the Pasadena Arts Council’s EMERGE Program. The Mojave Desert Heritage & Cultural Association and KCET Artbound are project partners.

 

Kim Stringfellow is an artist, educator and independent curator based in Joshua Tree, California. She is a 2016 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Curatorial Fellow and a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Photography. In 2012, she became the second recipient of the Theo Westenberger Award for Artistic Excellence. Other awards include a Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) “Investing in Artists” equipment grant in 2010.

 
 
Carol Es: The Exodus Project

Over the past 15 years, Carol Es has made several pilgrimages to Joshua Tree National Park. During one of these visits, a 10-day extended stay in a secluded spot of the park, The Exodus Project was born. As Es studied Jewish mysticism, meditated and explored her desert surroundings, she carefully documented the process, sketching, filming and blogging about her experience in an effort to gather as much preliminary work as she could before returning to her studio in Los Angeles, where she would work on the project for the next year.

 

Back in her studio, one of Es’ first endeavors was a short film, produced in collaboration with visual artists and animators Jonathan Nesmith and Susan Holloway. Together they created Up to Now, a six-minute movie featuring Yuddy, a giraffe-like creature representing Es’ spiritual quest and Moppet, who resembles a ragdoll, symbolizing the artist’s inner child. It is a short story, narrated by Es, about “freeing oneself from emotional baggage.”  The short is featured inside Camp Up to Now, a multi-media installation consisting of a large yellow tent that acts as a miniature theatre.

 

The Exodus Project also encompasses a series of oil paintings on canvas and gesso boards, called the Joshua Tree Paintings, inspired by actual locations mixed with the artist’s imagination, as well as an additional series, Rock and Refuge, consisting of more abstract, collaged paintings on panels of birch. These pieces are meant to represent the unique architectural landscapes which can only be found in the high desert.

 

Carol Es is a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation and the Artists’ Fellowship in New York. She has also received a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship and a Wynn Newhouse Award. Additionally, she writes, illustrates and publishes handmade books via her independent publishing company, Careless Press. She has also just completed her memoir, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley.

Catherine Ruane: Dance Me to the Edge

Visitors to the Mojave Desert often comment on how the wide vista of its windswept environment feels like being precariously close to the edge of the world. Catherine Ruane grew up on this “edge.” The Mojave Desert is a wild place full of mystery, challenges, danger and impossible wonders. The native plants are not only miraculous to behold but are a metaphor for our own survival. Ruane’s set of drawings are dedicated to the iconic, unusual and yet ubiquitous Joshua tree.

 

Dance Me to the Edge consists of 12 round drawings, 12 inches each in diameter, providing a nod to the counting of time on the face of a clock, as well as the recognition of balance and continuity inherent in the desert’s unchanged landscape. There is also one larger drawing, depicting a Joshua tree in full bloom, which stands as a symbol for the continuum of life in ongoing generations: life begets life.

 

Joshua trees are slow-growing and long lived, with several reaching a thousand years in age. This plant tells a story of survival, resilience and persistence. There is a symbiotic relationship between the tree and one particular, tiny moth that pollinates the Joshua flower in exchange for its food provisions and protection for its maturing eggs. Cooperation and the space of time are significant to the survival of this desert tree.

 

Ruane chose to use basic charcoal and graphite pencil to meticulously draw the features of this prehistoric plant and its dependence on a tiny desert insect. It is as if the Joshua tree and its moth are in a dance of perfect balance, reflecting the delicate relationship between humankind and the environment itself.

 

Catherine Ruane is a member of Southern Graphics Council International, College Arts Association, West Coast Drawing and Los Angeles Art Association. She has also completed commissions for several large businesses, including: The Walt Disney Company, Citi Bank, the Hyatt Hospitality Corporation, and the Ritz Carlton Hotel Development Company. She currently resides in San Diego, California.

 
 
Marthe Aponte: Memories of a Joshua Tree

Marthe Aponte is concerned with the relationship between time and looking, seeking to create pieces in which the artist and the viewer are transported into another world, where one is encouraged to savor the moment, inviting deceleration and contemplation. Her picoté technique, composed of varying sizes and textures of holes pierced through paper with the artist’s singular tool – an awl – forces viewers to slow down in order to best appreciate the intricacy of each composition, an experience that runs directly counter to the high-speed, technology fueled reality of modern existence.

 

The subject of this work is the Joshua tree. Of her subject matter, the artist stated, “I am interested in the Joshua tree not because it is a symbol of the Mojave Desert’s flora, but instead because it gave me the opportunity to explore concepts of life, death and fate.” Thus, the artist incorporated the presence of the mythological Fates, sisters visiting from Greek mythology, who flank the tree at each side. An organism that must survive on meager resources, the Joshua tree’s austerity lends itself well to Aponte’s minimalist picoté technique. For the artist, the Joshua tree is a sacred site, existing somewhere in the liminal spaces between life and death, potentially subject to the mercy, wrath, or whim of the Greek sisters.

 

Marthe Aponte is a self-taught artist who began her practice in the Antelope Valley five years ago. Since then, she has become a member of the Los Angeles Art Association’s Gallery 825 and has participated in numerous exhibitions throughout Los Angeles County, including Coagula Curatorial’s Sweet 16 Juried Exhibition and 2017’s stART Up Art Fair. She was also awarded the Beryl Amspoker Memorial Award for Outstanding Female Artists during MOAH’s Annual Juried Exhibition, Cedarfest. Aponte currently resides in Lancaster, California.

 
Nicolas Shake: Wasteland

The source material for Nicolas Shake’s work is derived from what others leave behind. The commercial detritus of suburban life, discarded in the desert, becomes reconfigured in complex and often surreal arrangements, only to continue their slow disintegration in the harsh climate. To create his compositions, Shake has stacked tires, constructed abstract scarecrows from cardboard boxes, upended sofas and made flimsy fences out of mops, brooms and rakes, arranging and rearranging these cast-off items in an ode both to their temporal nature and the human failure they imply as discarded remnants of the American dream. Once the compositions are complete to the artist’s satisfaction, he illuminates with the light from his vehicle. This results in large-scale otherworldly arrangements that echo themes of dreamlike possibility as much as they evoke post-apocalyptic disaster. Once completed, the structures are left to decay back into ruin—and this is part of the point.

 

Nicolas Shake received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design in 2008 and Master of Fine Arts from Claremont Graduate University in 2011. Shake lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

 
Ron Pinkerton: The Last Stand

The source material for Nicolas Shake’s work is derived from what others leave behind. The commercial detritus of suburban life, discarded in the desert, becomes reconfigured in complex and often surreal arrangements, only to continue their slow disintegration in the harsh climate. To create his compositions, Shake has stacked tires, constructed abstract scarecrows from cardboard boxes, upended sofas and made flimsy fences out of mops, brooms and rakes, arranging and rearranging these cast-off items in an ode both to their temporal nature and the human failure they imply as discarded remnants of the American dream. Once the compositions are complete to the artist’s satisfaction, he illuminates with the light from his vehicle. This results in large-scale otherworldly arrangements that echo themes of dreamlike possibility as much as they evoke post-apocalyptic disaster. Once completed, the structures are left to decay back into ruin—and this is part of the point.

 

Nicolas Shake received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design in 2008 and Master of Fine Arts from Claremont Graduate University in 2011. Shake lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

 
Aline Mare: The Angle of Repose

Over the past year, Aline Mare has found herself drawn into several mysterious encounters during extended trips into the Mojave Desert. In this suite of images, the artist has immersed herself in those landscapes, open to the pull of objects and narratives embedded within the nakedness of the desert. Mare attempts to capture the spirit of the environment through its tangible elements: roots, seedpods, wispy clouds, Joshua tree flowers and other various fragments of the desert’s living systems.

 

Each piece is an amalgam of images that are scanned, altered, painted and recombined to create a rich layering of sources. Biological and urban objects are fused with mark making, photo sources and digital media to compose a poetic language where systems of generation and communication are linked to form a new syntax. Using the machine’s illumination as an original light source, Mare utilizes digital scanning as a contemporary interpretation of the nineteenth-century photographic process of cliché verre, literally a Greek phrase meaning “glass picture.” The distinct layering of image and sensory background amplifies the direct beauty of the natural object as it interfaces with technology, creating a modern hybridization between the historic photographic process and the artist’s hand-rendered paintings.

 

Thus, the eroded objects become talismans, charged artifacts of past habitations, bleached and fractured from the sun and loaded with a subjective energy. Each tableau is a theatre set where time becomes the actor—both giver and destroyer of life—within a space where quiet mysteries are revealed.

 

Aline Mare is a multi-media, multi-disciplinary artist, currently concentrating on photography, video and installation. In 1991, she was awarded a New York State Residency for the Arts as well as the New Langdon Arts Grant. She participated in the Headlands Residency for the Arts in 1999 and was the Kala Artist in Residence in 2006. In 2012, Mare was awarded a Creative Capacity Grant by the City of San Francisco. In 2015, she participated in New Mexico’s Starry Nights Residency, as well as Surpass, a Sino-American China Art Tour.

 
Randi Hokett: Crystalworks

Hokett draws upon the volatility of tectonic plates and volcanoes as geological manifestations of creation as a metaphor for the formation of the personal landscape. Utilizing a variety of materials including salt and borax mined from the Mojave Desert itself, Hokett grows crystals on disrupted, broken and burned panels of wood. She uses chemistry to grow the crystals and then adds ink, paint and encaustic to create the finished panel. Blurring the lines between painting and sculpture, she explores a complex narrative of growth in a place where at one time there was only damage. Crystalworks draw heavily from science-based ideas and processes in order to address the wound or scar as the liminal space that allows for the beauty of growth, change and transcendence.

 

Randi Hokett was born and raised in southern California. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from University of California Los Angeles and her Master of Fine Arts in Art History and Museum Studies from University of Southern California. She is inspired by science, especially geology and chemistry. Recurring themes in her work include the relationships between damage/growth, isolation/connection, love/lust, birth/rebirth, light/dark and other places of intersection. Hokett’s work has been show at Los Angeles Municipal Gallery, Irvine Fine Arts Center and Lancaster Museum of Art and History. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

Mailing Address: 44933 Fern Ave.,

Lancaster, CA 93534

665 W. Lancaster BLVD,

Lancaster, CA 93534

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