The Atlantic CityLab features Jackrabbit Homestead: http://www.citylab.com/housing/2014/12/the-last-homesteads-of-wonder-valley-california/383372/
The Guardian features a selection of photographs from Jackrabbit Homestead currently on view at the Autry National Center through August 23, 2015. To view the portfolio visit: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/oct/09/kim-stringfellow-jackrabbit-homestead-american-west-los-angeles-in-pictures
Jackrabbit Homestead opens at the Autry National Center on Septmember 13, 2014.
The Autry in Griffith Park: Irene Helen Jones Parks Gallery of Art
September 13, 2014–August 23, 2015
Artist Kim Stringfellow connects history and ecology through past and present settlements of Wonder Valley in California’s Mojave Desert. Through photography and audio interviews, she explores how the desire to flee the urban sprawl of Los Angeles and stake a claim in the fierce California desert resulted in both a collection of derelict cabins in the 1950s and the reclamation of the land for a burgeoning artistic community today. The exhibition also explores issues of land use and ecology that complicate the settlement of the arid West.
In 2012, Stringfellow became the second recipient of the Theo Westenberger Award for Artistic Excellence, presented by the Autry to honor contemporary women whose work in photography, film, and new media transforms how we see the American West.
For related events and the official press release visit: http://theautry.org/exhibitions/kim-stringfellows-jackrabbit-homestead
Morning at the Museum (Autry Museum members only)
October 11, 2014
9 to 11 am
March 29 – April 13, 2014
Opening: March 29, 7:30pm
Actual Size Gallery
741 New High Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Gallery hours: Mon-Fri 2:00-8:00pm / Sat-Sun 12:00-8:00pm
Free and open to the public
Calendar of exhibits/events: http://www.usc.edu/programs/ecotonelab/calendar.html
Ecotone Lab is an inquiry-driven curatorial initiative exploring the cultural contact zone produced between Los Angeles and the surrounding desert communities including Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. The project presents the work of artists Katie Bachler, Diane Best, the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), Bobby Furst, Mariah Garnett, Giovanni Jance, Stanya Kahn, Cheryl Montelle, Hillary Mushkin, Radio Free Joshua Tree, Steve Rowell, Kim Stringfellow and Julie Tolentino. Ecotone Lab will exist at Actual Size Gallery in Los Angeles for two weeks, with additional programming occurring at satellite locations in Joshua Tree. The materials and projects have been collected from artists, curators and other collaborators, and are shared in various forms that include a reading room, a radio broadcast, lectures, film screenings, workshops, performances, installations, and an evening of storytelling. An archival zine will be published at the end of the project along with digitally published documentary material, curatorial and artists’ text.
In the eyes of Angelenos and other Southern California city-dwellers, the nearby desert terrain is often considered through an aesthetic lens, noting a stark geological grandeur. Artists and other cultural producers have historically been drawn to the desert’s remoteness of location relative to urban density. This duality, taken together with the identity of the region as a spiritual center, fuels a utopic myth-making for the region, locating it as a space of possibility, where the harsh realities of everyday urbanism give way to an alternate existence fueled by the natural landscape.
The mythical, rapturous images of the “desert milieu,” as propagated by artists, historians and writers, tend to ignore the actual social conditions of the region. These conditions extend far beyond the romantic simplicity of the landscape; the Joshua Tree communities are also home to a burgeoning permaculture movement, a series of experimental art and music festivals, a grassroots anti-corporate campaign, and a vast military base and training facility. Ecotone Lab seeks to present these realities through an investigation of social and cultural production from within the region and outside of it, specifically in connection with Los Angeles. We posit this relationship not as an opposition but as an ecotone – a transitional zone where the two adjacent communities meet and integrate, or what cultural geographer Jacob Sowers calls “…a community based on the overlapping and competing identities held in a precarious tension.”
Rather than assuming a position of authority on the complicated problematic of artistic site-making in the desert, Ecotone Lab actively engages the social, political, and economic realities of curating within the public sphere.
A group exhibition and event series organized by M.A. in Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere candidates Toro Castaño, Başak Cömert, Amanda Courtney, Clare Eberle, Corey Mansfield, Julia McCornack, Katherine Rosenheim, Sonia Seetharaman, Sasha Ussef, and Nicole Wallace with Visiting Professor Connie Butler.
Ecotone Lab website: http://www.usc.edu/programs/ecotonelab/about.html
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/901226846605785/
Homestead on the Range
In spite of the somewhat virtual and expansive nature of the exhibit, the photographs at the Culver Center for the Arts are the visual core of “Jackrabbit,” and they elicit an immediate draw. These images of abandoned structures succumbing to the inescapable pressures of entropy and the relentless incursions of the harsh desert environment suggest a narrative of failed dreams, yet they also reflect the idealism and pioneer spirit of the American West that set homesteaders on their hopeful track.
The subject of Stringfellow’s project, the Small Tract Act of 1938, colloquially known as the Jackrabbit Homestead Act, created opportunities for individuals to homestead federal land. The 1938 law differed substantially from the Homestead Act of 1862 with respect to the size of the homestead. Whereas the 1862 law provided for homesteads of 160 acres, Jackrabbit homesteads were only five acres. Most of the Jackrabbit homesteads were located in Southern California, concentrated in the Mojave Desert around the Morongo Valley, Wonder Valley and outside of Twentynine Palms, and were not especially suitable for cultivation due to the lack of water.
Documenting the Jackrabbit Homestead Act, a display case houses copies of Desert Magazine’s six-part series from July–December, 1950, “Diary of a Jackrabbit Homesteader,” along with a how-to article from Desert Magazine offering tips to would-be homesteaders; a copy of Five Acres of Heaven, a 1955 vanity publication showcasing the skills of a land locator for hire; and a handful of photographs of homesteaders on their claims. Stringfellow’s book, Jackrabbit Homestead, is available on a wall-mounted pedestal next to an iPod-listening station loaded with her six-part audio tour. And paired with each of Stringfellow’s 18 photos is a facsimile of the land patent—the homesteader’s equivalent of a deed of trust.
As a photographer, Stringfellow divides her attention between exteriors, which situate the cabins within the landscape, and interiors that personalize the sense of decay. Signs of occupancy, and the residue left after the owners’ departure, offer a more intricate human narrative than the iconic building-in-landscape. The exteriors find a visual precedent in John Divola’s “Isolated Houses” series (1995–98), in which Divola photographed dwellings in remote locations in roughly the same geographic location—titled by their latitude and longitude. While Divola describes “Isolated Houses” as a sign of man in the landscape, Stringfellow’s homestead exteriors are a sign of man retreating from the landscape and the indicators of his presence being re-absorbed by the desert.
Stringfellow’s photos, like Divola’s, reveal the vastness of the desert, the isolation of these modest structures and their insignificance in scale. The small size of the homestead cabins becomes clear from the Culver Center installation. The layout of a popular model—the Nugget Cabin—offered by a local construction company and illustrated on the gallery floor in black adhesive, reveals just how tight 400 square feet can be.
Stringfellow’s website includes the audio tour as a download and a companion piece for those who wish to see the remaining cabins in the open desert. The site also provides GPS coordinates of known cabins uploaded to Google Earth, and Stringfellow encourages others to upload the locations of cabins not currently documented. The inevitable demise of the remaining abandoned homestead cabins assures an end to the interactive portion of the project, which is one of the more interesting aspects of “Jackrabbit.”
Stringfellow’s project is compelling because it does not simply address questions of beauty, or why people find the desert alluring; rather, she traces people’s dreams and the tenuous relationship humans have with this extreme environment. It is sobering to note that Los Angeles is a similarly arid, (though slightly less so) region that also depends on imported water for its survival. Stringfellow’s project surveys the determination required to flourish. Her photographs, which engage in a discourse with highly romanticized images of human structures in the landscape, are both elegiac and optimistic.
Appreciating the Beauty behind Wonder Valley’s Forgotten Structures
Exploring the deserts that lie on the outskirts of San Bernardino County, you will certainly run into some odd findings. Whether it’s the Wigwam Motel, where a teepee can serve as your next comfy slumber or the once thriving city of Zzyzx, which has a name alone that perplexes passersby heading out to Las Vegas, the desert has always produced quirky and obscure structures for us to gaze at. If you’ve ever traveled to the Morongo Basin east of Twenty-nine Palms, near Joshua Tree National Park, then you may have run into an entire cultivation of abandoned homes that litter the desert in a scattered about and chaotic kind of way. Welcome to Wonder Valley, California.
Kim Stringfellow is a visionary who felt inspired by the culture and history behind these small structures. She has presented a dedication of works, all under the name Jackrabbit Homestead: Tracing the Small Tract Act in the Southern California Landscape. Over the last six years since its artistic conception, Jackrabbit Homestead has graced the likes of numerous galleries around California, from Joshua Tree to Berkeley, now finding its way to IE’s very own UCR ARTSblock’s Culver Center of the Arts in Riverside. This installment is composed of an exhibition of photography, a published book and an online multimedia project, which includes an interactive audio car tour—giving you the chance to learn the importance of these homesteads first-hand from historians, local artists and residents.
Wonder Valley brings a whole new meaning to the term humble abode. Many small buildings that once served as someone’s home sweet home are now four walls cluttered with decaying pieces of drywall. Other structures have nothing left but a skeleton of their decomposing wooden framework. Some homes have fallen over completely—ultimately crumbled into the ground after enduring decades of abuse from nature’s elements. Often these places appear to be stuck in time, where old broken down electronics line ruins of once-thriving households. Classic broken down trucks, dated appliances, tangled mattress springs and even turned over boats are among the past’s prized possessions that now only serve as trash of the desert.
Looking at some of these rotted out places, you can’t help but wonder who used to belong to these American Dreams? Who was willing to invest their hard earned dollars towards a piece of dry and desolate land? Life’s pressures often include a feeling that owning property is a necessity, and to completely abandon these homes was forgoing a once living dream.
The Small Tract Act of 1938 was the last time the U.S. government offered up an inexpensive way for families to buy property. These lots of land were up to five-acres and available for purchase to those willing to do something with the land and in this case the most viable option was to erect a small homestead. These little shacks were pop-up-homes in a sense, often taking only one day to complete their construction throughout the ‘40s to‘60s. Many people who decided to come out to Wonder Valley were veterans of World War I. Veterans came back from the war seeking a cure to heal their lungs and doctors recommended the warm and dry air. Building a little homestead in the middle of San Bernardino County seemed like a great opportunity at the time, despite the harsh climate.
Those settling in this new area were not in for easy living. To this day, water is still not readily available to the settlers of this region. Coyotes and scorpions crawl across the hot desert grounds in search for their next meal, and the weather is known to be either blazing hot or freezing cold. While these deserted homes prove that the majority couldn’t stand the elements, there are still a handful of people that inhabit these homesteads, whether it is for their daily living or having a breathtaking art studio to call their own. Today, many still see something appealing in this area that cannot be found somewhere else, whether it’s the virtually unlimited space or the absolute freedom from urban sprawl.
Standing inside an old shack, the open windows frame the beautiful and desolate view of this wasteland. These roofless buildings serve as an open canvas to budding artists and individuals looking for an opportunity to absorb the charm of nature. In the end, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, so check out these forgotten gems of the Morongo Basin.
Tracing the Small Tract Act in the Southern California Landscape, 1938-2008, a project by Kim Stringfellow
Culver Center of the Arts
June 29 – September 28, 2013
Panel discussion with Kim Stringfellow and Chris Carraher on September 28, 2013 from 3 to 5 pm
UCR ARTSblock’s Culver Center of the Arts presents Kim Stringfellows Jackrabbit Homestead, a published book, photographic exhibit, and Web-based multimedia presentation featuring a downloadable car audio tour exploring the cultural legacy of the Small Tract Act in Southern California’s Morongo Basin region near Joshua Tree National Park. Stories from this underrepresented regional history are told through the voices of local residents, historians, and area artists – many of which reside in reclaimed historic cabins and use the structures as inspiration for their creative work. Beyond the proliferation of big box chains, car dealerships, fast food joints, and the nameless sprawl located along California State Highway 62 the desert opens up. Out there, where signs of familiar habitation seem to fade from view, a variance appears in the landscape in the form of small, dusty cabins – mostly abandoned – scattered across the landscape. The curious presence of these structures indicates that you are entering one of the remaining communities of “jackrabbit” homesteads left in the American West. The mostly derelict structures located among the occasional inhabited ones are the remaining physical evidence of former occupants who were some of the last to receive land from Uncle Sam for a nominal fee through the Small Tract Act of 1938.
Kim Stringfellow is an artist and educator residing in Joshua Tree, California. She teaches multimedia and photography courses at San Diego State University as an associate professor in the School of Art, Design, and Art History. She received her MFA in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000. Her professional practice and research interests address ecological, historical, and activist issues related to land use and the built environment through hybrid documentary forms incorporating writing, digital media, photography, audio, video, installation, mapping, and locative media. Among other awards, she is the 2012 recipient of the Theo Westenberger Award for Artistic Excellence. Stringfellow’s work has been exhibited nationally at many prominent museums. Her newest audio tour project titled, There It Is – Take It! was funded by the California Council for Humanities in 2011. She is an editor at ARID: A Journal of Desert, Art and Ecology and also writes about SoCal arts and culture for KCET Artbound. http://www.jackrabbithomestead.com
Jackrabbit Homestead: Tracing the Small Tract Act in the Southern California Landscape, 1938-2008, a project by Kim Stringfellow was organized by UCR ARTSblock and curated by Tyler Stallings, Artistic Director, Culver Center of the Arts & Director, Sweeney Art Gallery, University of California, Riverside. UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) have provided support.
By Mark Muckenfuss | Staff Writer
Broken glass and dirt crunched under Kim Stringfellow’s sandals as she picked her way through an abandoned desert cabin in Wonder Valley, a thinly populated plain east of Twentynine Palms.
The walls were nearly skeletonized mostly bare timber frames with a few asbestos shingles still hanging onto the weathered wood of the exterior.
In what once was a living area, a tangle of rusted coils and a wooden frame were all that remained of a couch, its upholstery shed long ago. In the ruins of the bedroom a dresser still stood, its top two drawers gaping and full of debris.
Stringfellow peered in, curious.
“You wonder about the people that inhabited these cabins and what their stories were,” said Stringfellow, 49, an artist living in Joshua Tree. “How long did they live there? How did they end up here?”
The cabins some still occupied, others nearly ghosts dot the desert chaparral east of Twentynine Palms. Stringfellow’s fascination with them has spawned an art exhibit, “Jackrabbit Homestead.”
The show opens at the UCR Culver Center of the Arts in downtown Riverside on Saturday, June 29 and includes photographs, historical material and a life-sized floor plan of a homestead cabin. A companion website offers audio interviews and a map showing where people can tour some of the cabins.
Stringfellow published a book on the subject in 2008. But she has continued to explore the cabins, built as part of the Small Tract Act of 1938, as well as their importance to the landscape and to the development of today’s desert communities. These were the original residents who helped make towns such as Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley viable.
“It looks like a wash came through here are some point,” she said, noting the alluvial soil covering the cabin’s floor. “People would build during the dry season, and they weren’t accustomed to what happened when the rain came.”
Often when a cabin was hit by a mud flow, she said, the occupants would abandon the place, suddenly realizing the utopia of free wide-open spaces and self-determination was more often than not just a fantasy.
Tyler Stallings, artistic director of the Culver Center, said Stringfellow—an assistant professor of art at San Diego State University—”is one of dozens of artists seeking their own utopias in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree. Many of them are drawn by the open expanse and the stark beauty of the desert, as well as the affordable property that once drew the homesteaders.”
Stringfellow’s show is the latest in a series of projects and exhibits Stallings has produced in an effort to connect art and the Inland region’s deserts.
“Many nationally recognized artists are choosing to ground their work in and around Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert in a relocation that is akin to the spirit of the Wild West,” Stallings said via email.
JOHN WAYNE EXPERIENCE
Stringfellow said many of those who built the desert cabins in the middle of the 20th century were attracted by the romance of the vast open spaces.
“Everyone wanted that John Wayne Western experience,” she said.
And for just a handful of dollars, they were able to take a stab at it.
The Small Tract Act grew out of a migration of necessity, but blossomed into something wholly different.
The genesis of the historic episode is generally credited to Dr. James Luckie, a Pasadena physician often acknowledged as the father of Twentynine Palms. In the wake of World War I, Luckie was treating veterans with respiratory problems resulting from mustard gas exposure. He encouraged many of them to relocate to the desert, where the air was warm and dry.
Some acquired land through the existing Homestead Act. But meeting that act’s requirement for cultivating a certain number of acres on a homestead was a challenge in the Mojave. In the mid-1930s, a federal land inspector suggested a different set of rules were needed for the region. The Small Tract Act, passed in 1938, provided homesteaders with five acres, requiring only that they construct a dwelling of at least 400 square feet within three years.
For a $5 filing fee and a lease of $1 per acre per year, a person could lay claim to a piece of the desert. If a dwelling was constructed and approved, homesteaders usually could purchase the land for $10 to $20 per acre.
Hundreds of homestead cabins popped up on the landscape after World War II. Even some famous names got involved. Stringfellow said Desert magazine reported that Ronald Reagan applied for a homestead at one time but never built a cabin, so the land reverted to the government.
The cabins were dubbed jackrabbit homesteads.
Stringfellow said the name came from the fact that the local rabbit population would take advantage of the ample shade the cabins offered in the desert heat. As if on cue, as she walked around the corner of another shack, a jackrabbit leaped off into the sparse brush.
“BE BACK SOON”
Some homesteaders made a go of it. Most did not. The result is the half-deteriorated shacks scattered across the landscape. Stringfellow’s photos depict these relics. But while the images are compelling and saturated with color, she purposely avoids any of the mystique that might have drawn the early residents.
“I wasn’t trying to romanticize the cabins,” she said. “I don’t want to do romantic skies and clouds.”
Instead, she wants to intrigue.
“I’m hoping it opens people up to investigating,” she said. “I want people to go out and actually experience the landscape. You don’t have a sense of the scale unless you’re out there.”
Part of the project is a website [www.jackrabbithomestead.com] that contains a map for touring the area and audio interviews with local residents and historians. Stringfellow wants people to understand that the cabins are more than a curiosity, more than a disturbance of the desert vistas.
“Maybe one of these should be made into a monument for the Small Tract Act,” she said. “I hope, at one point, the historical society acquires one.”
Such a monument could tell the history of the homesteads, and perhaps even some of the stories of those who lived there. Although, she said, she’s found more mysteries than stories.
One shack she photographed had remained largely undisturbed since its abandonment. She found shirts hanging in a closet and an old manual typewriter.
“There had been a note posted to the door that was, “Be back soon, something, something,” she said. “It was probably like the last thing that was left there. So this thing has been flopping in the wind for 25 to 30 years, it’s just sort of faded out.”
Such experiences only pique her interest more.
“I think I’ll always be photographing these,” she said. “I never really get tired of looking at them.”
Books & Co.
March 5 – April 27, 2013
Opening reception for the artist: Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 from 6:00 to 8:00pm
I want to be the Henry Ford of book making.
Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of Ed Ruscha’s legendary artist books together with books and works of art by more than 100 contemporary artists that respond directly and diversely to Ruscha’s original project. Organized by Bob Monk, “Ed Ruscha Books & Co.” has been drawn from private collections, including Ruscha’s own. Most of the books are installed so that viewers can interact with them and browse their pages.
Inspired by the unassuming books that he found on street stalls during a trip to Europe, in 1962 Ruscha published his first artist book, Twentysix Gasoline Stations under his own imprint, National Excelsior Press. A slim, cheaply produced volume, then priced at $3.50, Twentysix Gasoline Stations did exactly what its title suggests, reproducing twenty-six photographs of gasoline stations next to captions indicating their brand and location. All of the stations were on Route 66, the road mythologized by the eponymous TV series and in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Ruscha’s book traveled more or less west to east, from the first service station in Los Angeles, where he moved as a young man, back to Oklahoma City, where he grew up.
Initially, the book received a poor reception, rejected by the Library of Congress for its “unorthodox form and supposed lack of information.” However, during the sixties it acquired cult status, and by the eighties it was hailed as one of the first truly modern artist’s books. Ruscha followed up Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962) with a succession of kindred publications, including Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965), Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass (1968), and Real Estate Opportunities (1970), all of which combined the literalness of early California pop art with a deadpan photographic aesthetic informed by minimalist sequence and seriality.
As the prolific and playful examples in the exhibition attest, Ruscha’s artist books have proved to be deeply influential, beginning with Bruce Nauman’s Burning Small Fires (1968), for which Nauman burned Ruscha’s Various Small Fires and Milk (1964) and photographed the process. More than forty years later, photographer Charles Johnstone relocated Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations in Cuba, producing the portfolio Twentysix Havana Gasoline Stations (2008). The most recent homage is One Swimming Pool (2013) by Dutch artist Elisabeth Tonnard, who re-photographed one of the photographs from Ruscha’s Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass (1968) and enlarged it to the size of a small swimming pool, consisting of 3164 pages the same size as the pages in Ruscha’s original book. The pages of this ‘pool on a shelf’ can be detached to create the life-size installation. Between these early and recent examples are a wealth of responses to Ruscha’s ideas by artists from all over the world, gathered here in this celebratory exhibition:
ABC Artists’ Books Cooperative, Noriko Ambe, Edgar Arceneaux, Eric Baskauskas, Luke Batten / Jonathan Sadler (New Catalogue), Erik Benjamins, Victoria Bianchetti, Doro Boehme, Jeff Brouws, Denise Scott Brown, Wendy Burton, Stephen Bush, Corinne Carlson, Dan Colen, Julie Cook, Jennifer Dalton, Bill Daniel, Claudia de la Torre, Joshua Deaner, Jen DeNike, Eric Doeringer, Stan Douglas, Harlan Erskine, Frank Eye, Kota Ezawa, Robbert Flick, Jan Freuchen, Jochen Friedrich, Thomas Galler, Anne-Valérie Gasc, Steve Giasson, Simon Goode, Oliver Griffin, Daniel S. Guy, Dejan Habicht, Marcella Hackbardt, Sebastian Hackenschmidt, Karen Henderson, Mishka Henner, Kai-Olaf Hesse, Taro Hirano, Marla Hlady, Dominik Hruza, Steven Izenour, Sveinn Fannar Jóhannsson, Taly and Russ Johnson, Charles Johnstone, Rinata Kajumova, Henning Kappenberg, Jean Keller, Shohachi Kimura, Julia Kjelgaard, Joachim Koester, Sowon Kwon, Tanja Lažetic, Gabriel Lester, Jonathan Lewis, Jochen Manz, Michael Maranda, Scott McCarney, Mark McEvoy, Jerry McMillan, Daniel Mellis, Martin Möll, Dan Monick, Jonathan Monk, Simon Morris, Audun Mortensen, Brian Murphy, Toby Mussman, Maurizio Nannucci, Bruce Nauman, John O’Brian, Stefan Oláh, Performance Re-Enactment Society, Michalis Pichler, Tadej Pogačar, Susan Porteous, James Prez, Clara Prioux, Robert Pufleb, Joseph Putrock, Jon Rafman, Achim Riechers, David John Russ, Mark Ruwedel, Tom Sachs, Joachim Schmid, Andreas Schmidt, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, David Schoerner, David Schulz, Yann Sérandour, Travis Shaffer, Gordon Simpson, Paul Soulellis, Tom Sowden, Kim Stringfellow, Derek Stroup, Derek Sullivan, Yoshikazu Suzuki, Chris Svensson, Eric Tabuchi, Elisabeth Tonnard, John Tremblay, Marc Valesella, Wil Van Iersel, Louisa Van Leer, Robert Venturi, Reinhard Voigt, Alex Von Bergen, Emily Wasserman, John Waters, Henry Wessel, Keith Wilson, Charles Woodard, Theo Wujcik, Mark Wyse, Hermann Zschiegner
“Ed Ruscha Books & Co.” will coincide with the publication of MIT Press’s Various Small Books: Referencing Small Books by Ed Ruscha (2013), which documents ninety-one of the books inspired by Ruscha’s own, reproducing covers and sample layouts from each, along with a detailed description. Various Small Books… also includes selections from Ruscha’s books and an appendix listing most of the known Ruscha book tributes.
For further information please contact the gallery at email@example.com or at +1.212.744.2313. Original post: http://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/ed-ruscha–march-05-2013
Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha
Edited by Jeff Brouws, Wendy Burton and Hermann Zschiegner
With Phil Taylor and Mark Rawlinson
In the 1960s and 1970s, the artist Ed Ruscha created a series of small photo-conceptual artist’s books, among them Twentysix Gas Stations, Various Small Fires, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Thirtyfour Parking Lots, Real Estate Opportunities, and A Few Palm Trees. Featuring mundane subjects photographed prosaically, with idiosyncratically deadpan titles, these “small books” were sought after, collected, and loved by Ruscha’s fans and fellow artists. Over the past thirty years, close to 100 other small books that appropriated or paid homage to Ruscha’s have appeared throughout the world. This book collects ninety-one of these projects, showcasing the cover and sample layouts from each along with a description of the work. It also includes selections from Ruscha’s books and an appendix listing all known Ruscha book tributes.
These small books revisit, imitate, honor, and parody Ruscha in form, content, and title. Some rephotograph his subjects: Thirtyfour Parking Lots, Forty Years Later. Some offer a humorous variation: Various Unbaked Cookies (which concludes, as did Ruscha’s Various Small Fires, with a glass of milk), Twentynine Palms (twenty-nine photographs of palm-readers’ signs). Some say something different: None of the Buildings on Sunset Strip. Some reach for a connection with Ruscha himself: 17 Parked Cars in Various Parking Lots Along Pacific Coast Highway Between My House and Ed Ruscha’s.
With his books, Ruscha expanded the artist’s field of permissible subjects, approaches, and methods. With VARIOUS SMALL BOOKS, various artists pay tribute to Ed Ruscha and extend the legacy of his books.
About the Editors
Jeff Brouws is a photographer whose work is in many private and public collections, including Harvard’s Fogg Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Princeton University Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His homages to Ruscha include Twentysix Abandoned Gas Stations.
Wendy Burton is a photographer whose work is in such collections as the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the University of Louisville Photographic Archive. Her homage to Ruscha is Real Estate Opportunities.
Hermann Zschiegner is a principal in the award-winning New York–based design agency TWO-N, a member of the ABC Artists’ Book Cooperative, and the author of Thirtyfour Parking Lots on Google Earth.
Order this book form MIT: https://mitpress.mit.edu/index.php?q=books/various-small-books
Jackrabbit Homestead is featured at KCET’s new SoCal arts & culture transmedia series, Artbound:
BOOM: A Journal of California featured photographs from JRHS in their Fall 2011 issue for Art in the Land by Alex Schmidt.
1. The Question
One doesn’t visit the historic ranch house of cowboy-turned-actor Will Rogers to gawk at Hollywood extravagance. The cozy home sits nestled above Sunset Boulevard, in a leafy Pacific Palisades canyon. All of the old stuff in it—Rogers’s furniture, his cowboy boots, his western-themed knickknacks and art—are said to be exactly as he left them, down to their placement over fireplace and atop table. So, to a ten-year-old wandering around the house, it can make for a different sort of awe—the feeling of physically standing in the reality of another person from another time.
For me, the Will Rogers house was the seed of what would become a long running (and, until recently, mysterious) fascination with tours that touch the past. From the Palisades, it wasn’t too far a leap to the ghost towns of Southern California, where I’d road trip out to discover cultural remains of the desert. I never considered these trips critically; they were a hobby, and viscerally enjoying them without thought was its own reward. But I learned recently that physically experiencing local sites—touring—is an interest I share with other Southern Californians. The strangeness of that coincidence makes the question unavoidable: Where does our collective local, physical-aesthetic obsession come from? The centrality of landscape in Wonder Valley provided a clue.
Continue reading the full story online at: www.boomcalifornia.com/2011/09/art-in-the-land/
These Days with Maureen Cavanaugh
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Produced by Angela Carone
While driving through the California desert, you may come across derelict shacks spotting the landscape. These homesteads, called jackrabbits, were built by people laying claim to plots of desert land in response to the Small Tract Act of 1938. Our guests, both artists, have explored the jackrabbits in their work, through photographs, audio tours, sculpture and installation.
Claire Zitzow is a local artist getting her MFA in visual arts at UCSD. Her solo exhibition “Jackrabbits and the Crow: On Dwelling and Passing” is currently on view at the Andrews Gallery.
Kim Stringfellow is an associate professor at San Diego State University. Her book Jackrabbit Homestead features photographs and text documenting the small tract act in the California desert. You can also download an audio tour at jackrabbithomestead.com.
Claire Zitzow’s solo-exhibition “Jackrabbits and the Crow: On Dwelling and Passing” is currently on view at the Andrews Gallery in Little Italy. There is a closing reception on December 10th.
Listen to the archived radio segment or read the full transcript: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/nov/30/desert-jackrabbit-homesteads-inspire-artists/
The JRHS Audio Tour was featured in the January 2010 issue of Sunset Magazine.
Artists embrace harsh desert in creating their own wide open gallery spaces
By Judith Salkin | The Desert Sun
It’s hard not to hear the Eagles’ “Hotel California” in your head as you drive through Wonder Valley seeing the remains of the Jackrabbit Homesteads.
The homesteads, the result of the Small Tract Act of 1938, are a part of desert history that reminds us of the pioneering spirit of the post-World War II years when Americans yearned for the open spaces and freedoms of the Old West.
And the government yearned to populate the vast stretches of open land.
After completing a project on the quirky structures of the Salton Sea, photographer Kim Stringfellow began exploring the stories behind the tiny desert buildings.
In September, the Center for American Places will publish Stringfellow’s Jackrabbit Homestead: Tracing the Small Tract in the Southern California Landscape a slim (144-page) history of the homestead structures.
“I got interested in the hinterland fringe communities a long time ago,” she said by phone from Los Angeles. “They are so close to major cities, but they’re worlds apart from civilization.”
Stringfellow’s explorations brought her back to the Small Tract Homestead Act of 1938, an idea from the Bureau of Land Management that sold 21/2
Many used the cabins as weekend retreats from the metropolis of Los Angeles. “They wanted someplace where they could breathe,” Stringfellow said.
In addition to the book, she has a Web site, jackrabbithomestead.com, that includes audio tracks on the homestead history, a downloadable audio tour and driving map of the area.
She became so enamored of the region during her research, Stringfellow has decided to move to the high desert in the fall. “I’m waiting for it to cool off a bit,” she said.
A Homestead Of Her Own
Today, some of the surviving homestead cabins are inhabited by artists like Chris Carraher, who see the openness of the high desert not as desolation, but as a place that encourages self-sufficiency and creativity.
“People here allow themselves to exercise their own unique creativity,” said Carraher. “On one level, they live a life of reduced resources, but that also allows them to come up with inventive solutions.”
Carraher purchased the five-acre property from the heirs of its original owner for $7,000 in 1999.
The property features the original 192-square-foot cabin built in the mid-1950s, a separate 850-square-foot bedroom unit installed in 1963 and a working well.
Many of the furnishings in the house are “obtainium,” objects found in the desert and repurposed, like the former ammo boxes that make up her bookcase and office shelving.
“You need to be resourceful to live here,” she said.
Carraher has also made a few changes. To capture more of the 360-degree view, she replaced windows with sliding glass doors. “That took a little getting used to,” she said.
As more people move into the Morongo Basin, Carraher sees civilization encroaching on the land of the Jackrabbit Homesteads and eventually changing the very character of the open desert she calls home. “Paradise,” she lamented, “is never permanent.”
© 2009 The Desert Sun
Please join us for an audio tour listening party event hosted by the JRHS sponsoring partner the Twentynine Palms Historical Society on Saturday, March 28th, 2009 from 1 to 3 PM. This event is free and open to the general public. Presentations by project director Kim Stringfellow along with cultural geographer Jacob Sowers and artist Christine Carraher will follow the audio tour presentation. Refreshments will be provided free of charge.
Free Listening Party Event:
Saturday, March 28th, 2009 1- 3 pm
Twentynine Palms Historical Society Museum
6760 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Phone: (760) 367-2366
Directions: Heading east on California State Highway 62 take a right at National Park Drive and another right at Inn Avenue. You will see the museum’s parking lot across from the entrance to the historic 29 Palms Inn.
To coincide withe the audio listening listening party at the Twentynine Palms Historical Society Museum on Saturday, March 28th, 2009 an exhibit of cabin related art will be on display for one-day only at the 29 Palms Creative Center & Gallery. The gallery is located within close proximity to the museum. The artists will donate 25% of any artwork sold to the historical society during this event.
Related Art Exhibit:
Saturday, March 28th, 2009 (one-day only)
Reception: 3 to 5 PM
29 Palms Creative Center & Gallery
6847 Adobe Road, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Phone: (760) 361-1805