Rubén Martínez
Rubén Martínez

A native of Los Angeles and the son and grandson of immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador, Rubén Martínez is a writer, performer and teacher. He holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Literature and Writing at Loyola Marymount University, and is an artist in residence at Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts.

He is the author of: "Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, The New Americans and The Other Side: Notes from the New L.A., Mexico City and Beyond". His new book, "Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West" will be published in August, 2012.

He hosted and co-wrote the feature-length documentary film, "When Worlds Collide," shot on location throughout Latin American and Spain, for national PBS.(

As a musician, he has collaborated with the likes of The Roches, Los Illegals and Concrete Blonde. He is the host of the VARIEDADES “performance salon” in Los Angeles, interdisciplinary shows that focus on topical themes. He has been active for over two decades in the spoken word and performance art scenes.


WHAT INSPIRES ME: músicos, poetas y locos


FAVORITE WRITERS: At the moment, one: Mexican poet and peace activist Javier Sicilia, leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity.



WHY I LOVE WHERE I LIVE: because the ground – literally and metaphorically – is constantly shifting under my feet.

Recent Articles
All Things Must Pass: House of the Moon (Coda)
All Things Must Pass: House of the Moon (Coda)
In the final installment, we come full circle, back to Fred Drake, the "gay cowboy rocker" who led us into the House of the Moon.
Shooting The Desert: House of the Moon, Part VII
Shooting The Desert: House of the Moon, Part VII
In the penultimate excerpt, we remain beyond the buzz and speculation of the real estate boom of the 2000s, hanging with the scruffy bohemians that helped to pioneer the art colony, and at Al's Swinger, the working-class watering hole, where an elder's passing marks an important transition.
An American Carnival: House of the Moon, Part VI
An American Carnival: House of the Moon, Part VI
Rubén returns to Al's Swinger, a hangout for Marines and the High Desert working class, which suddenly find themselves wondering about whether the new arrivals to the desert are a harbinger of gentrification and its discontents.
Civilians on the Battlefield: House of the Moon, Part V
Civilians on the Battlefield: House of the Moon, Part V
Last week, Rubén visited the high art scene of the desert, which had a distant view of the Marine Corps training base north of Joshua Tree. In this installment, we get a close-up of the battlefield, via a young desert denizen's journey onto the California sand dunes that serve as a simulacrum of the Persian Gulf.
High (Desert) Art: House of the Moon, Part IV
High (Desert) Art: House of the Moon, Part IV
In this week's installment of "House Of the Moon," the arrival of a renowned artist to the scene reveals the fault lines all the more intensely (and ironically).
Local Colors: House of the Moon, Part III
Local Colors: House of the Moon, Part III
This weeks' excerpt of Rubén Martínez's upcoming release, DESERT AMERICA, the new desert denizens learn about their new home and the complex social geography set amid the iconic vistas. The more the newcomers explore the Mojave, the more they came to realize there were many deserts within the desert.
Sex, Drugs, and Drying Out in the Desert: House of the Moon, Part II
Sex, Drugs, and Drying Out in the Desert: House of the Moon, Part II
We continue deeper into our desert journey, which describes the gradual gathering of personalities on a quest for spirit and art in the Mojave. It is a trip from the city to the country... from Hollywood to the High Desert... from one imaginary to another.
House of the Moon
House of the Moon
Rubén Martínez tells the origin story of the thriving Joshua Tree art colony--profiling desert artist pioneers Fred Drake and Ted Quinn. The first installment of an excerpt from Martínez's new book, DESERT AMERICA.
< Prev 1 Next >
section header: disciplines
icon, Architecture/ Design discipline

Architecture/ Design

California becomes an international export by redefining the concept of city and home.

icon, Community Arts discipline

Community Arts

Through workshops, education and placed based projects, art is the connective tissue of a community.

icon, Cultural Politics discipline

Cultural Politics

Funding bubbles, cultural deserts and the politics of access to the arts in the 21st century.

icon, Film & Media Arts discipline

Film & Media Arts

At the shadow of the entertainment industry, video artists and underground filmmakers take a stand.

icon, Literature discipline


Noir, sunshine and dystopia create a multi-ethnic narrative that is read, watched and admired around the globe.

icon, Multi-Disciplinary discipline


Multi-hyphenate works that combine disciplines, remix dogmas, and reinvent the wheel.

icon, Music discipline


A dialogue between cultures, the music of our state serves up the California dream like no other artform.

icon, Performance discipline


Staging the drama of California through dance, music and theater.

icon, Visual Arts discipline

Visual Arts

Breaking away from the European and New York vanguard, California reinvents the art world.

Featured • More Columnists
Loading Columnists...