Desert Art

Desert-Sized Art

The desert is a seemingly infinite expanse of sand, with often little vegetation or infrastructure to provide a context of size.  Here, scale starts to disappear.  To build on this kind of radical scale requires radical proposals at unusual sizes.  Desert sizes. It is the goal of our Artists-in-Residence to enhance the landscape, increase the art that visitors will find on the museum grounds, and expose the community to new, interactive, art. #DesertSizedArt

Neal Lucas Hitch

Artist-in-Residence: 2012-2018

Lucas graduated Southwest High School in El Centro in 2013 and Judson University in 2017 with a degree in architecture.  He has interned for three months in Tokyo, Japan in 2017.  Art projects Lucas has designed and installed can be found at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum (Ocotillo, CA), Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Coachella Valley, CA), Hello Wood Studio (Csóromfölde, Hungary). As the Artist-in-Residence for the IVDM Lucas' designs have included mosaic snake tables, the Ocotillo Lunar Observatory, and the Giant Purple Cactus.

Giant Purple Cactus

Installed May 2018, these sculptures are interpretive executions of a child's rendering of a purple prickly pear cactus brought to life. This trio of brightly-painted sculptures are painted to reflect the life and diversity of the real purple prickly pear cactus- and to be just as eye-catching!  The base of one of the sculpture is covered in a mosaic of hundred if pottery sherds collected from failed pit firings of pottery made by children at the museum.  They remind us that everything comes from something, and the desert is a place of infinite resourcefulness and repurpose. 

Coming soon will be a small kiosk or sign explaining the art, as well as a landscaped trail guiding visitors the short distance from the road over the wash to the sculptures. #GiantPurpleCactus

Mosaic Desert Tortoise

Installed 2018 and funded by a local impact grant by California Arts Council, this desert tortoise sculpture is a concrete and foam base built by Rainforest Art Project. The mosaic stones were applied by Imperial County elementary school students on field trips over the 2017-2018 school year. #MosaicDesertTortoise

Ocotillo Lunar Observatory

Installed in 2014 and built in 2014 thanks to a grassroots fundraising effort through Kickstarter and a donation of hay bales, the Ocotillo Lunar Observatory allows campers and stargazers to set up telescopes in a sheltered location, free from the lights of the windmills and highway traffic.  The mosaic tile decorations were handmade by students and our Artist-in-Residence Neal Lucas Hitch and inspired by the museum's collection of painted ceramics. The phrase "Howka" means "Hello" or "Welcome" in Kumeyaay. In addition to Stargazing parties, the Observatory has hosted art projection parties, where designs are projected onto the Observatory walls. #OcotilloObservatory