One of the the most interesting projects happening in connection with the studio right now is actually being executed by a group of weavers located in various locations across the country. Sheila Shanti, our head weaver who is based in Maine, has spent the last few months making countless samples to test out a huge array of options in color, fiber, and weaving technique.
By now I’ve accumulated an amazing library of test strips in all sorts of wools, cottons and linens. The final products will be at least four different series of “panels” – elemental forms that have the ability to slip between functional categories and social roles depending on subtle contextual shirts or overlaying value systems. Curious? More soon…
One of the long awaited amenties at AZ West has been our own movie screen – a plan that finally came to fruition this month! A while back when visiting USC to give a lecture, I met A.L.Steiner and mentioned that I would love an opportunity to see “Community Action Center” – her new film that she made in collaboration with A.K. Burns. This conversation ultimately ended up with her agreeing to screen the film at AZ West in connection with HDTS. And the heat was finally on to get a screen made. Chris Engman, artist and current USC MFA student stepped up to help engineer this endeavor, along with the help of Lucas Wrench – our totally unflappable and every helpful summer intern.
The screen itself is a pretty awesome piece of sculpture – set back in the private wash area behind our new encampment. In addition to CAC we also got to watch C.L.U.E. – a collaborative work that Steiner made with robbinschilds (I became completely obsessed with this film when I first saw it at the New Museum…) One other bit of cool trivia is that part of C.L.U.E. was filmed in Joshua Tree – bringing the work in full circle.
I went by TKs Shop this afternoon to check out a workstation that we just finished as part of a new commision. Its been a really fun project from the start, and a nice opportunity to work with marine ply (I usually work with A/C ply) and also to try out a new rounded corner mirror shape. There is something so satisfying about making truly functional objects. I also love the big loopy grain of fir plywood – and the way that it takes on a subtle relief when sanded. It reminds me a lot of the home craftsman ethic that was so predominant in our southern California garage-workshops when I was growing up.
I started gardening this year in metal livestock troughs (24 inches high to keep the animals out). Growing food in the desert has been both fun and challenging, with a steep learning curve that I’ll write more about later. But all that hard work made me realize how smart it is to take advantage of native food sources that are both free and readily available. One of my favorites is Palo Verde beans. You pick the pods when they are still fresh and green, blanche or boil like edamame and then eat the seeds. Or they are just as good fresh off the tree. I’ve also read that you can dry and store the beans and sprout them at other times in the year… Other really good edibles that we have discovered at AZ West are Mormon Tea, Mesquite and Chia.