Joshua Tree National Park AIR

Joshua Tree National Park Artist-in-Residence off-grid accomodations: Lost Horse Ranger Station.

Currently, the National Park Service offers 29 different Artist-in-Residence programs in 25 states under the national Volunteer-In-Parks program. While some are geared towards a specific discipline, most are open to range of practitioners including not only visual artists (in a variety of medium) but also writers, film makers, performers and composers. For this final off-grid residency profile, Joshua Tree National Park Artist-in-Residence program was chosen to represent these somewhat obscure, and possibly underutilized, federal resources.

Joshua Tree National Park Artist-In-Residence

Address: Artist-in-Residence Program, Joshua Tree National Park
c/o Caryn Davidson, Park Liaison, 9800 Black Rock Canyon Rd., Yucca Valley, CA 92284
Contact: Caryn Davidson
Email: Caryn_Davidson@nps.gov
Website: http://www.riversideartmuseum.org/jtnp
Phone: 760-367-3012


How is the project operated? For-profit, nonprofit, artist-run, etc.
Funding through the National Park Service.

How long has it been in existence?
Since 2008.

What was your motivation?
To promote stewardship of the national parks through the arts–not solely through the artists’ experiences, but through community outreach as well.

Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.

How are programs funded? (membership fees, public funding, sponsors, etc.)
Federal budget.

Who is responsible for the programming? (Curators, Directors, etc.)
Selections are made annually by a jury composed of park personnel, local artists, and museum staff.

Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
Difficult to estimate due to the fact that we not only exhibit flat work in the Joshua Tree visitor center, but have also organized a variety of community outreach events: printmaking workshops, poetry readings, dance performances in the park, installations, music concerts… I’d estimate that there have been about seven per year.

What kind of events are usually organized?
Usually we exhibit paintings, photographs, prints, etc. in an exhibit space at one of our visitor centers. Other events have been held in the community; dance workshops, dance performances, readings, paint-outs, installations, etc.

How is your programming determined?
By the feasibility of project proposals: we have fairly narrow guidelines about working in a national park. All resources must and will be protected. We are also limited by the climate: winter and summer are too harsh to host artists; spring and fall are the only periods during which we accept residents.

Do you accept proposals/submissions?

What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
We consider artists working in all media; our most important criterion is whether work can be done in the national park with limited use of electricity.

What’s working? What’s not working?
What’s working = people love being here; the landscape is magnificent; the opportunities to focus without distractions are many; there are opportunities to interact with the local communities if one wishes to; we have provided many different kinds of community outreach possibilities; we have good relationships with the local arts communities.
What’s not working = lack of clarity about some Park Service policies; indifference (on the part of some artists) to the limitations of working within a national park; an adjustment period to the relative isolation of the site; power limitations due to the photo-voltaic system; a few injuries; some resistance by park managers to seek solutions to the minor problems facing the AIR program.

What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
We are already playing a role in the local communities by presenting free access to the work produced in the AIR program. That happens in the form of exhibits, demonstrations, media access (interviews, profiles, TV spots, etc.) as well as the other events described above.

What idea are you most excited about for the future?
To continue, and to expand access to people working in less traditional media.

Images courtesy of Joshua Tree National Park AIR. Photos by Sandi Wheaton.

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