HIGH DESERT ART ROUND-UP: Spotlight on January Art Events

By Katie Nartonis

The art scene in the High Desert is growing. New and veteran galleries, pop-ups, artist residencies, performative pieces, and happenings are blossoming from the desert floor, like wildflowers after a good rain.

In 2023, this Joshua Tree Voice High Desert Art Round-Up will grow to include as many art events—from the edge of the Morongo Valley to Wonder Valley, from Landers to Joshua Tree—as we can squeeze into these pages. If you are interested in participating going forward, please reach out. I encourage you all to keep on making great art and supporting our cool art spaces and incredible local artists. The Second Saturday Gallery Walk this month falls on Saturday, January 14th, 6-8pm.

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High Desert Art Round Up – February 2023:
Kindly send me a press release, show dates, location, and images, (by the 10th of each previous month) to be published in the High Desert Art Round Up. You can reach me at: katienartonis@gmail.com.

Katie Nartonis is an Art + Design specialist, writer, curator and documentary filmmaker. Her passion is telling the stories of the historic artists and makers of California, and those of her artist neighbors here in the High Desert. www.thenartonisproject.com


Twinkie Accident: Coco Hall show at La Matadora, Joshua Tree

Coco Hall settled as a full-time artist in Joshua Tree in 2009. She had moved to the desert from the East Coast. Hall majored in sculpture and minored in ceramics at Bennington College in Vermont.

After school, she founded her own toy design company satisfying her love of soft sculpture and her fascination with the endless variations in texture of different materials. Hall’s current art works are related to her love of textiles – “fleece faux fur, flocking, fiberfill, velvet, papier mâché, and paint.”

“Artist and Activist, that’s me. I am submerged in the darkest corners of our wildly disassembling world and though I am longing to represent it with accuracy, my work often emerges as fun.”
-Coco Hall, Artist

Hall’s sense of humor is very much evident in her current art works, while some of them also draw on her twenty years’ involvement as an animal and environmental activist. Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums from New York to Los Angeles. Today, Coco maintains an art studio in Joshua Tree.

Twinkie Accident – a solo art show by Coco Hall opens at La Matadora Gallery, 61857 Highway 62 Joshua Tree. Show opens on Saturday, January 14, 5:00-8:00pm and runs thru February 5th, 2023.
Contact: Colleena Hake, Gallerist at lamatadoragallery@gmail.com or www.lamatadoragallery.org



Angles of Intent: Hard Edge Painters James O’Keefe and the late David Mackenzie at Joshua Tree Art Gallery

The work of James O’Keefe and the late David Mackenzie will be shown at the Joshua Tree Art Gallery (JTAG) from January 7-20.

“My work is a mediation between fractured and deconstructed perspectives. It is my way of coming to terms with painting’s inherent contradictions of representation and the concrete.”
– David Mackenzie, late artist



David Mackenzie (1942-2020) was born in Los Angeles and received both his BFA and MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, where he studied ceramics, sculpture, and painting. His work has been included in the Whitney Biennial and has been shown throughout Europe.

He received grants both from the Pollack-Krasner Foundation and the National Foundation for the Arts. David work is included in the Phillips Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Oakland Art Museum among other institutions. During his last decade, Mackenzie worked in Joshua Tree, where he found a meditative rhythm, producing his last series of structured-surface paintings in the desert.

“How can I say the most in a way that appears the least?”
– James O’Keefe, artist


David and James both arrived in the desert in 2009. They both joined JTAG and soon became friends. James notes, “We were scheduled to have a show here in April 2020, but it was canceled due to Covid.
David passed in June of that year.”

James O’Keefe’s works for this show were all made in 2022. They are representative of the artists’ continuing effort to be more minimal in both color and form. Although these works are described as ‘paintings’, they are very much independent objects and could be seen in a similar manner as one would view contemporary sculpture. O’Keefe has been painting since 1988 and has a BFA from Otis Art Institute. O’Keefe spent the last 30 years residing on the Oregon Coast and now lives in Joshua Tree, CA.

JTAG is a member-based space run by the MBCAC (Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council) The gallery is in Joshua Tree and is open Fridays 11am-3pm, Saturdays 9am – 3pm and Sundays 12-3pm. More information: visit www.mbcac.org


January Circus Show: Artist Joe Alvarez at Goat Mountain Dry Goods

Owners of Goat Mountain Dry Goods in Yucca Valley designed their gift shop to include a wall for rotating art shows. This month’s wall will see the January Circus Show featuring the quirky, fanciful works of GMDG owner and bon vivant, Joe Alvarez. Don’t miss this delightful space, art, and hand-made Holiday gifts!

Goat Mountain Dry Goods is located at 55940 Twentynine Palms Hwy, Yucca Valley, CA 92284. Open Mondays + Thursday-Sunday from 12:00am – 5:00pm. Phone: 562-313-1665

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