Mojave National Preserve's Artists in Residence Program (AIR)

Plans for a Permanent Artist Residence May Soon Become a Reality

Authors: Andrea Castaneda, Sergio Ortiz, Hannah Noble, Marsela Warshaw

KELSO, Calif- We’ve all seen the magical desert landscape photographs on social media, the night sky illuminated by stars, the sun setting behind the mountains, and the curves of the sand dunes after a sandstorm. Many of these pictures are created by artists supported by permanent residence programs offered by national parks.

Mojave National Preserve’s Artists in Residence Program is in the works of restoring the Ox Ranch that will provide lodging for artists who currently drive long distances or camp out in the 2,400 square mile park.

Professor and Artist in Residence Jim Smart

Jim Smart's Website http://jimsmartphotography.com/

“Travel is one of the hardest obstacles for the artists,” says Jim Smart, a professor at CSUSB-PD and retired Artist in Residence Vice President in Mojave National Preserve. “One day, I drove 500 miles and I never left the preserve; you can drive forever.”

Interview with Jim Smart https://soundcloud.com/andrea-castaneda-34524980/proffesor-smart-interview

The restoration of Ox Ranch is to serve as a permanent home for artists at the center of the preserve. The artists are $18,000 short of reaching the goal and announcing the OX Ranch’s restoration date.

Evan Bracken, the newest member of the Mojave Desert’s Artists in Residence program showcased his work as a part of the fundraising effort.

“Nowhere is Magical,” the current exhibition will show Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. starting Jan. 6 and will be available until March 2 in Kelso, California.

Joshua Trees can live more than 500 years.

Bracken became infatuated with the desert from the first time he visited the Mojave Desert.

Interview with Evan Bracken https://soundcloud.com/andrea-castaneda-34524980/evan-interview-edit

James Kortmeyer, a local photography enthusiast who visited the “Nowhere is Magical” exhibit said that Evan Braken’s photography was admirable:

Newest Mojave artists in residence
Evan Bracken 2018

Evan was 12 years old when he first picked up a camera while camping at the Rocky Mountains of Colorado

Christine Hauber 2017

In 2012, Christine traveled alone in an RV for three and a half years photo to photograph he people of America and their work.

David Nelson 2017

In May 1983, David started shooting sports as a freelancer for magazines.

Lu Ross 2017

Lu's work has been published in many newspapers and articles such as Premiere OC-Orange Coast Magazine, Hobie Hotline Magazine, Laguna Beach Independent Newspaper, Harboring the Good Life – Dana Point’s visitors’ guidebook, San Juan Capistrano Treasures – visitors’ guidebook, The Orange County Fine Art Photography Fair, and the Santa Barbara News Press

Shelly Smith 2017

Shelly is a 2002 Fine Art graduate from the Columbus College of Art and Design.

“I usually don’t really like photos of landscapes but Evan captured things in such a way that made me change my mind about landscape photography.”

“Nowhere is Magical” was James’s first exhibit in the Mojave National Preserve. Because James liked the exhibit so much, he plans on attending as many exhibits as he can at the Mojave National Preserve artist in residence program. While James did not purchase any art, he believes that donations are essential for programs like this to exist.

There are 17 artists in the artists in residence program.

The artists vary from photographers, sculptors, painters, and poets.

Bracken says he develops his skills and explores new ideas by capturing Mojave Desert.

For him it is a 4-hour drive. On those drives, his car is packed to the maximum capacity with equipment and camping supplies.

“I’m figuring out everything I might need and not run into ‘oops, I forgot this… oops, I forgot that…’ and I think it [restoration of the Ox Ranch] would establish a location where artists can keep some of their stuff and make a [temporary] home,” says Braken.

When asked about the Ox Ranch, Bracken explained it will create a home base for the artists to help further their goals.

“At this point I barely need a map to know where I’m going in the desert. I actually camped out for every single night that I was there,” Bracken noted with pride.

Artists donate some of their profit on their art sold through exhibitions to the restoration of the OX Ranch.

Jim Smart's favorite place to photograph is Joshua Tree National Park.

One way the exhibitions are promoted through The Desert Light Magazine, the official magazine of the Mojave National Preserve.

Braken and Smart believe that the Mojave is a underutilized preserve that has a lot to offer.

“There are so many different kinds of rock formations. There’s the sand dunes, they have mine shafts, and old buildings and farms, so there’s lots of things to take pictures of,” says Jim Smart, who gives 100% proceeds from his sold art to the program.

Mojave AIR Website https://www.mojaveair.org/

Raquel Roman, a frequent Kelso visitor, is a big advocate of the restoration of the OX Ranch.

“The OX Ranch is important because it allows artists to have a place to stay while creating their art. Whether it is photography, paint, sculptures, or poetry, artists are given the chance to focus on their work with the help of the OX Ranch. The OX Ranch benefits not only artists, but consumers of art as well.”

Roman contributed to the restoration of the OX ranch by giving a donation. She is a firm believer that more people should donate to ensure the OX Ranch opens for artists.

The Mojave National Preserve AIR accepts donations of any amount on their website

The artists in residence program can provide an opportunity for artists to showcase the beauty of the Mojave Desert and can one day inspire future generations to preserve our National Parks by restoring the OX Ranch, a part-time home for artists.

Images that were showcased at Jim Smarts exhibition to raise funds to preserve the OX Ranch. Majestic Views, Grass in the Sand, and Cinder Cones and Rainbow.
Joshua Trees can be found at the Mojave National Preserve. It is illegal to remove the trees from their location.

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