29 Palm’s eccentric art apex and 2023 Joshuas honors recipient

By Katie Nartonis

Owner and artist, Laurel Siedl.

“I thought to myself that there must be a lot of other artists out here. Like me, that don’t paint desert landscapes.”
– Laurel Seidl

The Glass Outhouse Art Gallery is the recipient of the 2023 Joshuas Honor for Outstanding Art Gallery. Nominated by peers and selected by public vote, this not-for-profit arts organization and gallery space has earned a place in the hearts of locals and travelers alike. Located minutes from the 29 Palms Joshua Tree National Park entrance, the gallery has been written up as a “not-to-be-missed roadside attraction,” in Smithsonian Magazine and other international publications. The site features multiple art galleries and features the work of local desert artists that change monthly. The surrounding land also includes walking paths that wander through a very unique property populated with glass bottles, unusual outdoor art installations, and found objects.

Privately owned, and run by long-time desert resident and artist, Laurel Siedl, The Glass Outhouse is a project she started over 16 years ago. Booked with artists through the end of 2024, the galleries show 9 or 10 artists at once and are well appointed, showing the art in good light in surprisingly spacious conditions noting that they hang in former rabbit barns. There are few requirements for artists to show: they need to bring a $35 donation, do their own advertising (Seidl does not own a cell phone or a computer), and bring food for the monthly artist’s reception. Donations, Seidl notes, go toward the free cold drinks, the tootsie pops and the “high quality” toilet paper featured in the glass outhouses on site. It is truly a labor of love. “I don’t make any money at it,” she admits, “But, I love talking to people. It keeps me 79 years young!”

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Laurel greets visitors warmly, surrounded by her coterie of semi-feral cats and kittens and her small lap dog. A native Californian, Seidl grew up in the Bay Area and settled in the high desert full time in 1982 with her late husband.

She recalls, “The first time we came down here in ’75, we came down for Thanksgiving. My husband-to-be was a machinist, and I was working for Levi’s. We were both walking up this road, and I stopped him and said, ‘Listen!’ It was so quiet it almost made your head dizzy. And then we turned around and saw that view! I just knew this is where I had to be. We decided we would build, and so we bought this land from my folks as a wedding present.” Not long after they were married, Seidl’s husband traded a shotgun for two goats. After much hilarity ensued, they mastered the milking process, and her husband started making and selling goat cheese and goat milk. A rabbit farm followed soon after.

Siedl notes that she started The Glass Outhouse when a local gallery in town would take her dues but not allow her to show her work. “At that particular time,” she recalls, “all they wanted were desert landscapes for the tourism trade. It pissed me off that they would take my money and not show my work. I thought to myself that there must be a lot of artists out here that don’t paint desert landscapes.” Seidl figured she was paying taxes on the buildings, and they should be used. She turned the former rabbit barns into gallery space.

Naturally outgoing, she interacts warmly with the many visitors from all over the country (and the world) who visit. On the first Saturday of every month, the Glass Outhouse is open for live music and the artist’s reception from 5pm-9pm. Donations are accepted, and especially encouraged for the live band. Don’t miss this unique spot right in our backyard!

The Glass Outhouse:
77575 29 Palms Hwy, Twentynine Palms Highway
Open 1pm-5pm, Tuesday – Saturday. Closed Sunday
Phone: 760-367-3807

Katie Nartonis is a writer, curator, film maker and specialist in art and design. Her most recent documentary film, “Jack Rogers Hopkins: Calfornia Design Maverick,” about the late San Diego based midcentury designer-craftsman, premiered during Palm Springs Modernism Week in 2023. She is currently writing “Glimpses of The Joshua Tree Dream,” a book on the way we live in the high desert.

Photos by Sandra Goodin

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