The High Desert art scene kicks into high gear in October with the Highway 62 Open Studio Art Tours. The event is sponsored by the Morongo Basin Arts Council, and includes the entire Hi-Desert area, from Morongo Valley to Wonder Valley, and everywhere in between, with Joshua Tree, naturally, as the epicenter. In the few years since it’s inception, the Tours has grown so large that it now spans two weekends – October 24/25 and October 31/November 1.
Many of the studios will be open for only one of the two weekends. Some will be open for both. The dividing line is roughly geographic: most “1st Weekend” studios are to the west of Joshua Tree, in Morongo Valley and Yucca Valley, Pioneertown, and Landers, while most “2nd Weekend” galleries and studios are in Joshua Tree and east into 29 Palms and Wonder Valley.
All venues open at 11am each day. If you are coming in from out of town, your best bet is to start at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum in Yucca Valley. They’re a participating venue, and currently have up an “Art Tours Collective Show,” featuring at least one work from every participating artist. You can take a precursory look at the art, and make a more informed decision whose studios you’d like to visit. You can do the same at the legendary Crossroads Cafe in downtown Joshua Tree, and grab yourself a great lunch while you're at it.
To participate in the Tours, purchase a Catalog and map here, for the paltry sum of $10. This money goes directly to support the Morongo Basin Arts Council, the non-profit organizers of the Art Tours. Once you have your catalog and map, away you go!
Bring your checkbook. All artists will have work available for sale on site, which will allow you not only to support the vast high desert arts community, but to actually meet the artist of your next “original work” purchase. Now you’re not just an art enthusiast, you’re a true collector. Congratulations.
It would be wise to book a reservation at a motel for the night, since there will be numerous nighttime activities and fetes to join in. The highlight party of the two week event will be the “November Furst” Hwy 62 Art Tours Closing Party, taking place Sunday night, November 1st, beginning at 6pm. The party takes place at the beautiful outdoor studio of local artist Bobby Furst. The food is potluck - you’re invited to bring a dish. There will be a no-host bar (bring cash), or byob. Best of all, there will be live music all night, and a respectable variety: upstart indie band Allison Stargazer (there’s no one named Allison in the band), who have been described as “Credence meets Jesus and Mary Chain.” Wow, if they can pull that off, I’m already a fan. There will also be a “jam band,” of the roots variety endemic to the region; and the night will spin on into forever with the trip hop dance grooves of local faves the Techno Hillbillies.
In addition to the “official party,” you can count on myriad parties going off all over the greater Joshua Tree area – some planned, some impromptu, and some unannounced: in other words, no one’s going to invite you unless you attend the Art Tour chat up the right artist! So be there. It’s the unofficial official kickoff to another glorious winter in J-Tree.
For more info: go to the Morongo Basin Arts Council Website. The 29 Palms Creative Center is also an excellent hi-desert art resource (and probably will host one of the best parties in the Greater J-Tree!)