The stark beauty of the Mojave Desert is also a magnet for creatives that work outside the mainstream. Think of ballerina Marta Becket who stumbled upon an abandoned theater in Death Valley and took that on as her life mission. The Amargosa Opera House saw performances by Marta every week for four decades, and in her spare time, she embellished the inside of the opera house with fantastical murals of an audience painted in naive style.
Or consider Noah Purifoy‘s outdoor Desert Art Museum in Joshua Tree, California. Purifoy lived for the last fifteen years of his life creating ten-acres full of large-scale sculpture on the desert floor. Constructed entirely from discarded junk, the Desert Art Museum helps visitors appreciate the landscape, and think about environment in California.
As a native of the high desert north of Los Angeles, I have an eternal fascination with artists that are attracted to the stark landscape and utilize existing landscapes or built structures to create their art. On a recent walk through the Rosamond desert, just outside of a subdivision, I was thrilled to see an art installation of painted boulders, carefully arranged and painted red, white and blue. The rocks are placed in lines that lead outward into the desert – perhaps pointing out a way out from the subdivision.
Will report back on the artist’s progress on my next visit.
Here is an article that discusses outsider art published in Frieze Magazine