‘Mojave Madness’ moves the masses with 9th largest arts exhibition

Artist Dustin Otterbach’s mixed media art piece titled “Hammered” gets a close-up by an art patron at the opening of "Mojave Madness" Feb. 8.

YUCCA VALLEY — The Yucca Valley Visual & Performing Arts Center debuted its ninth large arts exhibition last weekend with “Mojave Madness.”

The exhibition drew crowds to the art center with overflowing parking lots and festive gatherings inside celebrating more than 40 artists’ individual style and flare.

The exhibition features work by 42 artists from the Mojave Desert and was curated by the center’s executive curator, Michael McCall.

Performance art in the exhibition by Jennifer Henry caught the eye of the attendees, who could ring a bell to prompt two women to change places with each other. One wore a blue dress and the other wore red.

Pat Kennedy, an artist from Joshua Tree, said he loved the creativity behind the performance art.

Cain Motter’s mixed-media credit card-art wowed the crowds.

“I love it,” said Josie Kim Parker, a Morongo Valley artist. “I’ve just been shredding my cards. This is so much better!”

Parker said the exhibition was top-notch and a spectacular addition to the art scene.

“The ‘Mojave Madness’ exhibition is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time,” she exclaimed. “It’s also so nice to see performance art at an art gallery!”

Lewis Parker, her artist husband, agreed and praised the exhibition.

“The diversity with so many different artists is amazing,” he said.

Bianca Banks, a fire dancer who lives in Morongo Valley, performed her flaming art outside of the center for the reception.

The gala and public celebration with a full bar started at 6 p.m. and lasted until after 9 p.m. on Feb. 8. A private members-only advanced viewing was held for about 40 people the night before.

According to McCall, the exhibition — including painting, sculpture, photography and collage — is a survey of how artists express a variety of ideas that reflect their passions in communicating their relationship with living in the Mojave Desert.

“I picked every individual piece,” McCall said, adding it took him about eight months and nearly 40 studio visits.

Some self-taught, others trained in arts academies, the artists all work while isolated from the mainstream cities of America to pursue their goals while exercising their passions, according to McCall.

The curator is thrilled with the number of artists relocating to the Morongo Basin. He also hopes to attract more community involvement in the gallery in the future.

“This art scene is exploding with artists from Morongo Valley to Wonder Valley,” he said.

McCall is interested in working with local artists to establish an arts district for Yucca Valley.

“I want to help the artists here and have the arts organizations working up here to build a consensus together,” he said.

“Mojave Madness” will be open through April 12 at the Yucca Valley Visual & Performing Arts Center, 58325 Twentynine Palms Highway in Yucca Valley. The gallery is open 1-6  p.m. Thursday through Sunday, holidays excluded. Admittance is free.

(2) comments

Samson

Michael McCall is a fraud. He says he wants to 'help' artists but only when they've submitted to unpaid work at the gallery. The 'scene' is anything but. Desperate art with a mediocre and self centered failure.

Samson

"I want to help the artists" Michael McCall. What a crock!

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