2020 Suite No. 2
2020. Acrylic and ink on canvas. 14 x 11 in.
The venerable Beatnik Lounge in Joshua Tree has reopened and is holding its first IRL show since March 2020. For the “OOOF” show – “Olly Olly Oxen Free” – curator Deb Tobin had some guidelines that resonated fully in the desert this summer of 2021:
The call for the hide-and-seekers to come back to the base.
The cartoon sound of a punch to the gut.
The sound of being greeted by 110ºF Mojave desert salutations.
It should also be noted that 2021 is the year of the Metal Ox in the Chinese zodiac, so those oxen can come in free too.
Joshua Tree happily supports a permanent floating population of a kind of beatnik strain, and there seems always to be a venue to fill their needs and house their productions. It changes names, proprietors, and sometimes location, but defining boundaries across time are few. Its current incarnation is the Beatnik Lounge which, in my version of local history, has its roots all the way back in the early or mid ’90s with Jeremy’s Cappucino Bar, a tiny coffee room in the strip mall between Sam’s Indian Pizza and the radio station. Jeremy then moved it over to its current roomier location in more central JT, where, as I remember it, the words “Beatnik Lounge” got added to the name. Due no doubt to its prehistoric age I find only one reference to Jeremy’s on line (a characteristic blues jam with JT musician Clive Wright), and it is probably from this second location.
At some point the sign changed and it became The Red Arrow Gallery, which is when the arrow (not as big as the original 15-footer in the gallery’s old location up the highway) appeared at the roof-line. The Red Arrow put more emphasis on the gallery but retained the refreshment bar along with performances and readings, and many a memorable, free-wheeling event was had.
And then, somewhere along the line, the name became Beatnik Lounge once again (Jeremy having many years since decamped Back East), and so the spirit continues in its eclectic, welcoming, opposite-of-uptight floating way. Welcome back, Beatnik, and congratulations on making it through Covid Year.
However, just down the block, Gallery 62, the flagship of the cooperative Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council, will sadly close its doors at the end of October. The collective show of the annual Open Studio Art Tours will be the final exhibition. The Council and the Gallery have made it through the last tough year and a half, but the rent is just too much at this point. They will retain JTAG gallery, though, so all is not lost. And it appears that the Art Tours will be proceeding as planned this year, after being derailed in 2020 by everybody’s favorite pandemic.
And if I may be allowed to note one final local and quite personal milestone: cooling has returned to my studio. Last weekend the unit fired up and ran perfectly, and I’m so grateful to say that peace, quiet, and moderate temperatures are now supporting my creative efforts. I could not be happier. In honor, I post the first of the Mandalas, subtitled “Nandi Wanders the Universe”.
Mandala I (Nandi Wanders the Universe)
2021. Acrylic on canvas. 12 x 12 in.