Apr 10, 2013


The winds are starting to pick up out here at the ranch as well as winds of change...No thats corny let me start again... I promise not to mention dogs, cows, or James... Er um almost did. Alright folks, this one is for real. Easter, or Ishtar is a time of re-birth and renewal...Oh Jeezus.

When you already live away from it all where do you go to get away from it all?

Slab City! Specifically East Jesus. East Jesus is an experimental, habitable, extensible artwork in progress in the desert started in 2006 by our friend the late Charles Russell. Jana and I have been a few times since 2009 and we hadn't seen the recent changes since before Charlie passed away in 2011. It was definitely sad without the Mayor, but it was really inspiring to see how his friends have kept EJ going despite the harsh summers and the constant threat of tweeker bandits that would pick the place clean if given the chance. Not only was it safe and sound, but it is flourishing. There are several new structures and sculptures and a lot of ingenius additions to the existing artwork and grounds. The new caretaker or sheriff (sounds like a better title) Frank is one of the most considerate and welcoming people I have ever met. ...And on the subject of renewal...There was a cat named Satan that just had kittens right before we got there.

No, East Jesus is not about Christianity or organized religion per se. Frank told a story about a time when he was giving the art tour to a group of  people and some Jehovah Witnesses pulled up and asked if they could join the tour. Then they asked if they could bring their Bible. Frank replied with something to the effect of, "The Bible is like our penises. We only look at them or use them by ourselves or with loved ones. We dont go waving them around in everyones faces." At this point the Witnesses got back in the car and drove off.
A work in progress. Like the desert, the art changes and mutates. Objects are added and subtracted to the sculptures by other artists as well by nature. Its a great lesson in non-ownership and the virtues of co-creating. This is the public entry arch designed by Royce and Charlie.  In the background you can see the Tower of Barbarella. Royce, aka Mr. God has designed  and started building "art temples" and he invites anyone that wants to participate in co-creating them to get involved. He has one in progress here at the ranch as well. Photo ©Jana Davis.

Ah memories. The first time we visited EJ we arrived in the evening around sunset to a wonderful dinner  and cocktails. Our friends were already sitting around this table laughing and scheming about art ideas and most likely the best way to blow them up or light them on fire. Photo ©Jana Davis.
The music room. Even though it looks like its all enclosed it's only got three walls. The rest is covered yet open to the elements. When arriving at night this is a most welcoming spot and the heart of EJ. There is usually someone playing music in here and several folks grouped around. Charlie was an excellent musician and singer. Photo ©Jana Davis.
Satan protecting her spawn. Photo ©Jana Davis.

So usually by the time we get there all the good suites are taken or reserved. We planned on arriving around mid-night and to set up our tent in the dark as usual. I met Frank on facebook and we became instant comrades because we share another friend that has passed on. Morgan Strub aka Salman the creator of digihitch. So we were surprised and grateful that Frank, having never met us in person, offered us a suite in the hitchhiker camp! Thats our personal trailer. It used to be Franks camp before he took over EJ. Photo ©Jana Davis.

Frank, Bob, and I. Frank put hitchhiking into perspective pretty simply. He said he was in Alaska somewhere and he really wanted a Philly cheese steak. So he put his thumb out and went to Philly. Photo ©Jana Davis.

The Tower of Barbarella. Royce organized an "Art Slam" to have folks create panels of art created out of cool junk to attach to the temple. Each team had one hour to dig through piles of hand picked junk and attach it however possible to a panel. At the end of the weekend they would be mounted somewhere on the tower. It is a race against time, but everyone involved is a winner. No judgement at EJ.

From the team of Jana, Solar Bob, and Myself, I present  our piece  titled Headboard.  It was a frantic frenzy of screws, glue, and paint, but we finished in time and were happy with the results.

Decorating the Tower. Photo ©Larry Woodson.
Often times people will donate cool junk to EJ. Charlie got a call that from a guy that had "some" duck decoys to donate. He showed up with a truckload. Photo ©Jana Davis.

The Duck pond.

Frank: "When you have arms like that you ain't carrying shit. Thats why she has him."

My brother Steve made this for the Tower a few years back. Somehow it ended up in this basket near the kitchen.
Fame Retardant, 2011 Found wood, metal, and paint. By Ben Wolf and Heidi Tullman. Photo ©Jana Davis.

The whole place is made up of found objects. There are little sculptures nestled in spots so that every turn is a discovery. Photo ©Jana Davis

I dont know what this one is called or who its by.  It  looks like he crash landed here without much hope of getting back off the ground. 

With intention even a pile of glass becomes art.
That's what she said.

The Transit Antenna bus! These guys really did crash land here. So they left the bus and it got buried at an angle. All of the furniture inside has been leveled to make it a master suite complete with shower. The bed is at the end of the bus so after a long night of "whatever" you can just let gravity roll you down to the bed.

A Wizard's house. Created by Habitat for Insanity (actually Joe Holiday). The Wizard Mopar lives there.

Mopar appreciating the new art on the Tower.

A shot of the sculpture garden. One of my favorite abstract junk sculptures.

He's flat chested. Get it? Oh I slay me.
East Jesus circa 1918. Mopar, Bob, and Marty. Photo ©Royce Carlson.

Photo ©Jana Davis

A tribute to Charlie. Mayor of East Jesus.

Charlie' music room in the daylight. His photo is there on the piano.

The photo on the piano of Charlie. He's sitting in his art encrusted bus "Cinnibar Charm" naked and handing out chocolate martinis possibly at Burning Man. For the record I have no idea why there is a bright red light reflected where Charlie's penis should be. One can only guess... A perverted message from beyond perhaps?

On certain Sundays The Church of the Chocolate Martini gathers in honor of Charles Russell.
Jana at the Clothing optional shooting Range.

I'm about to shoot a musket for the first time.  Photo ©Jana Davis

Video by Jana Davis.

Channeling Hunter Thompson. Photo ©Jana Davis

Near the Slabs and Salton Sea is an area where there is thermal activity that creates these mud pots. As you get close you hear comical blooping sounds coming from the bowels of the earth.

Mud Pots.
On the way home from EJ Jana suggested that we drive through Joshua Tree National Park. We did. It was awesome.

Using my macro lens for the iphone I got this cool shot of  caterpillars. There are strange colonies of them in silky nests in low bushes.

This is Jana and her Jana sign.

Jana and I met about 4 years ago during the first annual Bunny Rampage in Flagstaff, AZ.  She moved from Prescott to live with me in Hollywood and we lived in CA since last December. If you would have asked us then that our adventures would lead us to living on an 80 acre off grid ranch outside of Flag we would have pooped jelly beans. 

4 years later at the fourth annual Bunny Rampage!!!

This costume cost me $1.50. I got the bunny at Savers and I stole my brothers funky suit from the closet at my moms while I was in Phoenix. I was surprised it fit. He's a slim dude.
Bunny instigator John aka Hot Candy on the right and David looking ready to hop to it.

Hey Phoenix! Did you know that you have a highly charged intensely beautiful religious ceremony full of amazing costumes and activity that goes 24/7 and lasts 40 days leading up to Easter that is open to the public? Hint: Its behind Christies Cabaret in Tempe. I did, and I went friday to see Jesus get crucified and see the latest costumes. One guy was dressed like Kung Fu Panda. Now go get on your google machines.

Photo and caption from the web because photos are not allowed:
The Yaqui people are famous for their Easter (Pascua) ceremonies during February, March and April. Upon contact with Europeans, the Yaqui developed a syncretic but independent form of Catholicism. Easter ceremonies act out a battle between good and evil in the person of Fariseo(Pharisees) and Chapayekas who attack the church defended by Matachinas armed with flowers. In the end, good triumphs and an effigy of Judas along with the evil-soaked masks of the Chapayekas are burned, as shown here. The photo is by Western Ways of Tucson.

My new temporary studio at the ranch while the straw bale studio gets revamped. I've got 2 paintings going that need to get shipped to Chicago on Friday. Details to come in the next blog post.

Thanks again for checking out my humble little blog. Assalamu alaikum.

No comments:

Post a Comment