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Artbound

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Ann Japenga

Ann Japenga

Ann Japenga is a Palm Springs-based writer specializing in stories about the art, history and landscape of the California desert. As a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times she roamed the West and discovered a love of stories tied to the land. Her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Utne, Sierra, Palm Springs Life and the Los Angeles Times Magazine, as well as anthologies such as True Tales of the Mojave. She is the founder of the online magazine www.CaliforniaDesertArt.com.

Ann Japenga
Paul Grimm stands on the side of his painting of Harry Bennett and his horse Sonny.
Article
Artbound

In the Desert, Henry Ford's Strongman Finds His Artist's Heart

From stopping union uprisings for Henry Ford to a desert landscape painter, Harry Bennett wasn’t just a militaristic figure in corporate America but also, strangely, a skilled artist.
Jon Gnagy signs his name on an easel with his back turned to the camera. The profile of his face can be seen and he is wearing a plaid collared shirt.
Article
Artbound

Before Bob Ross: Jon Gnagy Was America's First TV Art Teacher

As America’s first TV artist debuting in 1946, Jon Gnagy was a predecessor to the now-trendy Bob Ross. Hundreds of artists and artists credit him as their inspiration, from New York contemporary artist Allan McCollum to Andy Warhol.
 Agnes Pelton, "Star Gazer," 1929. Oil on canvas. | Collection of Susan and Whitney Ganz
Article
Artbound

The Real World of Transcendentalist Agnes Pelton

Agnes Pelton’s Cat City home is no majestic artist enclave, but unable to drive, she still found her mystic inspirations in her small hometown. Walk in her shoes.
Night's Regent, 2000 | Courtesy of Sharon Ellis
Article
Artbound

No LSD Required: The Electric Landscapes of Sharon Ellis

Sharon Ellis' luminous landscapes draw on nearly the whole history of landscape painting. Think American Luminists, Charles Burchfield and his "animated landscapes" and even Light and Space artists James Turrell and Robert Irwin.
Norton Allen map of Corn Springs, between Indio and Blythe. There was no I-10 at the time the map was drawn. | Courtesy of Ethel Allen
Article
Artbound

Beyond Martinis and Modernism: An Elusive Mapmaker Reveals Another Side of the Desert

"Desert Magazine" published from 1937 to 1985, offered readers an appealing world of mirages, ghost towns and lost treasure. Its maps sizzled with life and adventure. They were created lovingly — and it turns out painstakingly — by an elusive mapmaker.
Cathedral City in the era of the Sven-Ska art colony with Mt. San Jacinto in background. | Courtesy of the Cathedral City Historical Society
Article
Artbound

The Lost Colony of Sven-Ska: Christina Lillian and the Cathedral City Artists

She was a beautiful blonde artist — a friend to Greta Garbo, D.H. Lawrence and Agnes Pelton — and she ruled over a Valhalla of early artists, Sven-Ska, somewhere out in the California desert.
The former home of architect R. Lee Miller. The sign on the door says: "Shanti. Enter with Primitive Bare Feet." | Courtesy of Palm Springs Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.
Article
Artbound

The Real-Life Hobbit Houses of Palm Springs and the Nearly-Forgotten Architect Who Created Them

A masterwork of organic architecture by a virtually forgotten 1920s Palm Springs architect, R. Lee Miller, the Araby Rock houses could be mistaken for the Shire from "Lord of the Rings," and over the years, it has attracted its own vivid residents.
 Hazel's Garden viewed from above | Joe Barrett
Article
Artbound

Mysterious 'Invisible' Land Art Can Only Be Seen From Above

Over decades, Hazel Iona Stiles created an uplifting — almost invisible — piece of land art that could only be appreciated from the elevation of an airplane, or even higher.
Susie Keef Smith and Lula Mae Graves on the Bradshaw Trail, a historic gold road through the California desert, 1930.| Warner Graves Collection.
Article
Artbound

Into the Chuckwallas: Rediscovered Desert Photographs of Susie Keef Smith and Lula Mae Graves

In the 1920s, armed with a .38 revolver and a large format camera, Susie Smith and her cousin Lula Mae Graves set out to photograph the last of the prospectors, burro packers and stage stops in the remote desert to the east.
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