Find the Artists’ High Desert Way

Mentone Plaza by Kerry Nieman

courtesy Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council

The magic of the High Desert manifests in many ways, from quaint coffeehouses to eclectic antique shops to liberated artwork. Buoyed by a Bohemian vibe, this distinctive community annually celebrates the flowing creativity of its inhabitants during Hwy 62 Art Tours. Over two weekends in October (20-21, 27-28), approximately 200 artists, musicians, and other performers throughout the Morongo Basin will open their homes and studios to the public.

Lorelei Greene, the event’s co-director, describes the art tours as multifaceted.

“These are rare, artistic experiences not to be missed, from aerial arts to book signings,” she says. “There are [a variety of] experience levels and art mediums: sculpture, painting, jewelry, photography, basketry, gourd art, mixed media, and more.”

The majority of artwork is for sale. Green advises bringing cash, as some artists may not be set up for credit or debit card transactions. She also suggests checking out the an art tour catalog online and mapping out desired studios before making the trek.

Produced by the Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council, Hwy 62 Art Tours includes special events and a closing party. The first weekend (Oct. 20-21) features artists in the western portion of the Morongo Basin, including Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, and Joshua Tree. The following weekend (Oct. 27-28) shifts the focus to the eastern region, including the Twentynine Palms and Wonder Valley areas.

In addition to art, music and books are a big draw over both weekends. The last few years of art tours spawned CDs featuring High Desert musicians. The 2012 CD will be available at Red Arrow Gallery in Joshua Tree.

“Our main focus is encouraging visitors to enjoy and shop as many studios as possible,” Greene says. “If you are often intimidated by traditional gallery settings, this is for you. It is without a doubt the most intimate way to experience art.”;

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