Discovery is endless here in greater Joshua Tree. Divinely stumbling into an artist, song crafter, storyteller, drama queen, shape shifter, metal bender, cherub, or alien you’ve never met before happens all the time. Scattered along the long stretch of highway known as Route 62, some of these forces of nature have been here throwing sparks of magic into the atmosphere for decades. Others are newer, still unlocking their unique brilliant voice in the craft they are compelled to pour themselves into. Having one of these stardust-filled creatures in a room is a lovely thing. Having hundreds of them gather under one historically crafted roof is a phenomenon. That is what happens at The Joshuas.
There were no winners or losers – just good folks taking turns celebrating each other’s efforts in a magical sanctuary built by Lloyd Wright. Folks were nominated by their peers in 24 categories of outstanding contributions, and the people voted. Those honored before, passed the torch to other fabulous efforts. Music played, dances were danced, drinks were poured, food was served, and everyone shared the moment together like it was Christmas and the big gift under the tree was community all wrapped up in a big shiny bow.
The sculpted tribute given to each artist, musician, conservationist, and community builder, known as “a Joshua,” was a thoughtfully crafted piece created by local artist, Ron Therrio. On the surface, it is clearly made to represent the unique rockscapes of our National Park, but if you look closely, there is more. There are several different elements incorporated into these Joshuas, according to Therrio: “The cross and sun rays are a nod to Gram Parsons and are meant to reflect a sense of the spiritual, of optimism, and the possibilities that dwell here. The ‘Life Spiral or Labyrinth’ acknowledges the unseen natural forces beyond our understanding that inhabit this place and our lives. It’s also the cycle of renewal. There is a ghostly face – a tribute to those that came before and who first felt and connected with the other-worldly. The rock formations represent the wonder and awe of our natural environment and the gift of majestic inspiration. There is also an alien face that represents the night sky, the universe, and its totality – the phenomenon that defy human understanding – the infinite unknowable.” Every Joshua is made up of 25% genuine Joshua Tree sand, so no matter where life may take the recipients of a Joshua, this piece allows them to take a piece of Joshua Tree quite literally with them.