Joshua Tree celebrates cooler nights with Saturday art walk

Artist Austin Arthur Hart, who has a BFA in animation and visual effects from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, creates the stand-out pieces for the exhibit including his artwork: “Reaching out from the White Room.”

JOSHUA TREE — Live music, happy dogs and art lovers converged at the Downtown Nights art crawl on a bustling Saturday evening.

Joshua Tree art galleries open their new exhibits with Downtown Nights on the second Saturday of each month. The first fall exhibit at Art Queen’s East Village Gallery was a short-run show featuring Austin Arthur Hart in his powerful new series “The White Rooms.”

Hart, of Morongo Valley, explores the idea of finding one’s self through isolation in the exhibit. “The White Rooms had a limited display that ended on Sept. 16.

The opening reception featured live music by Gabrielle Hart and refreshments.

Musicians Pat and Susan Kearns entertained the crowds in the Sun Alley courtyard outside the Space Cowboy bookstore.

Shari Elf of the Art Queen happily created art during the event in her studio, which was relatively quiet compared to the buzz outside at galleries and shops.

She said the busier months in the fall are great for artists and business in Joshua Tree.

“I’m grateful for all the traffic,” she said. “I look forward to the summer months so I can take a break.”

Wendy Lee Gadzuk, an artist and musician, said she was overjoyed with the positive reception of her current show, “Magnetisms,” at La Matadora Gallery.

“I know a lot of artists so I put it together,” she said modestly of the popular show.

“Magnetisms” is a three-person show featuring the work of California artists Jill Emery and Svetlana Shigroff as well as Las Vegas artist/activist Cristina Paulos. The show runs through Oct 6.

Shigroff is a textile and mixed-media artist who uses the themes of myth and intra-personal conflict in her artwork. Originally from Australia, Svetlana has been living and working in Southern California for eight years. Now living and working from her studio in Landers, she focuses on mixed-media tapestries.

Using reclaimed materials and dead-stock fabrics from the downtown LA fashion district, Shigroff uses a variety of hand tools and a method called tufting to create loop pile tapestries.

“The artwork takes a long time,” Shigroff said.

As subject matter, she looks to goddess archetypes, dream interpretation and sigil development.

Folk and outsider artist Jill Emery has been active in the Los Angeles art scene for nearly 25 years. A self-taught painter and musician, she was a founding member of the band Hole, and played with Mazzy Star along with many independent bands while continuing her art-making. In Emery’s artwork her paintings come with a story.

Paulos grew up in Southern California and relocated to Las Vegas in 2002.

As an artist, she incorporates various techniques from her animation studies and applies them to her work, creating impressions of movement.

Paulos is also a burn and trauma survivor, mental health advocate and police brutality survivor, according to the gallery press release. Her work reveals her personal journey through trauma, recovery, and madness to sanity. 

In her artwork and advocacy, she said she hopes to end the stigma of what it is to be labeled mentally ill and also hopes to elevate others to break the stigmas.

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