End of ART Tours and the beginning of the Season – High Desert – California



Art tours are over and artists have gone back to the drawing board. The colder weather is setting in, sweaters and coats are coming out and the next blast of community craziness is in the air. The holiday season!!

I was actually wished a good holiday season by someone who won’t see me until January. It was a lovely thought, but it shocked me when I first heard the words. Holiday, what holiday, already, what happened to the summer?

The summer is gone, and we are all, like it or not starting to gear up for the Thanksgiving – Christmas season. I’ve already bought a couple of gifts, thought about a Christmas Tree, and felt excited by every blast of cold wind.

Time for a deep breath, a new focus and letting go. How can we be so defined by external things like a time of the year, current activities, catastrophic events, and sometimes even the small things we make big.

I have decided to ask local artists questions. I will post what I learn.

Moira Fain – Sculptor, collage artists, children’s book author and illustrator.

How was the art tours for you?

The art tours are exhausting but fun.

What would you like to see next Year?

I think (the Art Tours) are a time when people come and see what I’m about, how and where I work, my development, and particularly how I fit into this desert.

How do you feel about fall? Describe what you are doing right now that is unique to this season.

Fall is busy and full of changes. I wait all summer to hike without the extreme heat. I like to search out the petroglyphs in the area and bask in that magic.

Any big art projects in the works

I will continue to design larger steel pieces.

Quote: “Life is good.”

I’m beginning a fundraising campaign for a trip to Africa

After seeing an ad for a documentary photographer to work with a British non-profit, Raleigh International, I decided to volunteer. I was accepted and will spend three months from June 4th to September 4th in Tanzania.

I’m mounting this fundraising effort to raise $4,600. $3,200 will go directly to Raleigh and will pay for all of my in-country expenses. $1,400 will cover my flight. If there are any additional funds raised, I will use it to spend more time in Tanzania photographing and documenting the culture.

Raleigh works at a grassroots levels in partnership with rural communities and local organizations to “make small changes that can have a big impact.” They work on different types of projects, but they always focus on “access to safe water and sanitation, protecting vulnerable environments and building resilient communities.”

Raleigh’s purpose resonates deeply with me.

Another important aspect of their work is to focus on young people.

They believe that empowering the next generation is the best way to bring about lasting change. Through working side by side, young people and communities are inspired to build a sustainable future, and the participants experience how grassroots development can transform the world.

You can find out more about Raleigh International at,

Raleigh’s mission touches my heart, and you too may be moved by their work. This fundraising campaign will go on for the next three months. I will have small funding parties at my homestead cabin, a chance for everyone to see the cabin, I will sell many items from art to home goods to clothing. I will even give nights in the cabin for a donation, and I am also in the process of posting an on-line funding campaign. If anyone is interested in giving to the Raleigh directly or to my campaign, please let me know, and I will give you the details.

Thank you all for the constant support and friendship I have received over the years.

I am adding existing images here that will be part of the collection available for donation.

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Festivals bring increased tourism and controversy to the Morongo Basin

Bhakti Fest 2016

Bhakti Fest 2016

Joshua Tree and the High Desert have become synonymous with festivals, celebrations, and concerts as well as being the home of the Joshua Tree National Park. Some people love the unprecedented rise in visitors, while others pine for the good old days.

The Morongo Basin hosts concerts, meditation festivals, yoga festivals, motorcycle camp-outs and rallies, vintage car rallies, art tours, art residency programs, dark sky and astronomy events and a host of other smaller events. Vacation Rentals are booming; restaurants are packed with waiting time extending 20 to 40 minutes. Local businesses are feeling the benefits. The Joshua Tree National Park has hosted 2.4 million people this last year. Tourism is turning many visitors into new residents as people are buying up abandoned homesteads as second homes or vacation rentals. Real-estate prices are on the rise, campgrounds are full almost all year long, and Joshua Tree is now called the new Brooklyn, bringing artist from all over the world.

The events range from the magical to the famous like the Paul McCartney concert at Pappy and Harriet’s, and the Childish Gambino event at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center. The controversial Desert Daze festival took place for the first time this last fall. There are the yearly and bi-yearly events like the spring Shakti Fest and fall Bhakti Fest. The Joshua Tree Music Festival at the Dry Lake Bed, in the spring and the fall every year. The Weekend ride-throughs Like Babes on Motorcycles that have evolved from a small group to currently over 2,000, and.
Well-known local events like the Grubstakes Day Festival on Memorial Day Weekend, The Gay Pride Parade that had been around for several years, but not last year. There are small local events like the Firemen’s Pancake Breakfast, and a new festival was held this past year – Healing Hearts with Roots Rock and Reggae. The Morongo Basin Orchid Festival has been around since 1996, and the Highway 62 Art Tours are held over two weekends every fall began in 2001. The Morongo Basin Conservation Association hosts a house tour designed to focus on water-wise gardens and Reach Out Morongo Basin holds a parade of homes tour on Presidents Day. Modernism Week is reaching out to the high desert with a house tour of unique desert architecture is the collaboration with their traditional Palm Springs tour.

The increased tourism and recognition bring an economic surge to the area as well as challenges. Many of the visitors don’t understand the desert ecology; plant life is being threatened, water use is always precarious, there is overcrowding in the park and an increase in park accidents. Many locals are unhappy with the increase in noise, and traffic. All of this is causing a disruptive split throughout the area.
The festivals bring sophistication and diversity to the area. Babes Ride Out, a yearly ride and camping trip host women from the UK, Japan, South Africa, South America, Canada, and all over the United States. Meghan Morris, from San Francisco, and a participant in the fall 2016 ride, has a company that helps farmers make incremental revenue from their secondary produce.

Morris said, “I love it here and have been here several times. It’s so picturesque, and it’s affordable. A lot of my friends are moving here from all over and building their utopia.”

Police reports during the Childish Gambino Concert and the Desert Daze festival were mostly about noise and a few drug or intoxication arrests. The Paul McCartney concert that sat 300 saw 2,000 hopefuls drive in from Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Los Angeles.

In preparation for the Gambino concert, the Retreat Center clearcut desert lands to make way for more parking causing a flurry of comments and discontent throughout the valley. Fraizer Hainey, the Director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) has made a public statement questioning the practice. Permits were handed out in a hurry, and although the process was legal, there has been pushback from the community.

This trend shows no sign of lightening up and groups are gathering to figure out the next step.

The Joshua Tree Gateway Communities Vacation Rental Association gathers once a month to review ways both working with the community and with the county. Ideas are being discussed as for how to inform and educate visitors.

Is progress good or bad, what are we losing in the tradeoff, who benefits and does the economic transfusion filter down to the residents? There is still plenty of work that lies ahead to find a way to balance the surge in new visitors and events with the lifestyle and charm of the area. For now, the high desert is a unique place with many attractions.