High Desert Test Sites advances Andrea Zittel’s vision of creating art within the context of everyday life. The organization stewards A-Z West, Zittel’s 80-acre compound and artwork, where artists, writers, and thinkers spend time in residence while realizing projects that engage with our surrounding desert communities.
Co-founded in 2002 by Andrea Zittel, Andy Stillpass, John Connelly, Shaun Regen and Lisa Anne Auerbach—High Desert Test Sites has hosted the work of more than 460 artists, 12 expansive site-specific programs, and 25 solo projects.
Who We Are
PO Box 1058
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
Office hours: Tuesday & Thursday, 10am-5pm PST
Vanesa Zendejas - Executive Director, email@example.com
Connor Schwab - Facilities and Grounds Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sydney Foreman - Director’s Assistant and Visitor Services, email@example.com
Lisa Anne Auerbach
Shaun Caley Regen
WEBSITE AND DESIGN
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
David Knaus - Chair
Andrea Zittel - Founding Director/Treasurer
Brooke Hodge - Secretary
Marilyn Loesberg - Member
Susan Lubeznik - Member
Aram Moshayedi - Member
Paul Bessire - Member
High Desert Test Sites is grateful to The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Tides Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation - Arts Regranting Program/Inland Empire at The Community Foundation, Strengthening Inland Southern California through Philanthropy, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The Ranch Projects, California Arts Council, Sky Village Swap Meet, Copper Mountain Mesa Community Association and our generous donors for their support over the years.
When HDTS was founded in 2002, part of the original mission was to run on a zero budget. The idea was to support artistic visions in practical terms—provide help, guidance, tools, a cot, and infinite space. For many years this worked and it produced self-driven projects that were ambitious and independently spirited.
Over the past ten years, HDTS has been working towards building a more substantial funding structure for artists’ projects. This has included hosting recurring fundraising projects such as our Artist Painted Rock Auction, Gem/Mineral Expo, pop-ups at art fairs and art museums, and producing limited edition artworks for sale.
But these endeavors never quite add up to what we need—to pay our artists fairly, for venue rentals, for staff, liability insurance, the bookkeeper, to feed our volunteers, pay for all-terrain forklift rentals, and so much more.
As our programs grow every year, so does our budget. And although we make every effort to raise the money that we need with Andrea’s self-sufficient spirit in tow, we still rely on support from donors to make it all happen.
HDTS has been a registered 501c3 since 2013. Please consider a gift in any amount to help us in providing access to engaging, experimental, contemporary art in the high desert region.
Donate via PayPal, via Venmo (@hdts_azwest), or via check:
PO Box 1058 Joshua Tree CA 92252
Many past HDTS projects have only been temporarily sited, but some are permanent and scattered throughout the Morongo Basin. The best way to find these works is to follow the directions on our current HDTS driving map. This map also includes sites we’ve partnered with in the past and admire as independent projects. Most HDTS works are located at sites that we regularly activate and operate out of. Those sites include:
Our base of operations, A-Z West is Andrea’s project, where she lived and worked for 21 years. Located a few minutes outside downtown Joshua Tree, this 80-acre compound includes four restored homestead cabins, several experimental living structures, permanent sculptures, 4,000 square foot studio space, and pristine desert landscape.
Public tours of A-Z West are offered twice a month. Tickets for these tours can be purchased through the West Works store. All funds raised from tour ticket sales support HDTS programming and operating expenses.
Directions: Head east down Hwy 62 past downtown Joshua Tree. About 1 mile past Park make a right at the “Bail Bonds” sign onto Neptune. When the road hits a “T” make a left, then the next right. At the hanging wooden signs, go straight to park in the Encampment lot, or make a left to go to the house, cabins, or studio.
Behind the Bail Bonds
Sited on this 10-acre boulder strewn parcel adjacent to A-Z West are several works that may take some deeper exploring to divulge: Morongo by Nathan Lieb, Surveillant Architectures by Julia Scher, and CA Truck Heads by Sarah Vanderlip. Feel free to visit this site sunup to sundown but make sure you park in our designated parking and do not block the road.
Directions: Head east down Hwy 62 past downtown Joshua Tree. About 1 mile past Park make a right at the “Bail Bonds” sign onto Neptune. When the road hits a “T” make a left. Follow along power lines, park just before the turnaround area.
Andy’s Gamma Gulch
Co-founder Andy Stillpass has generously allowed countless HDTS projects to take place on this wildly beautiful 100-acre parcel north of Pioneertown off of Pipes Canyon Rd. Several works are sited here, includingGradually/We Become Aware/Of a Hum in the Room by Halsey Rodman, Trail Registry by Scout Regalia and Tapwater Pavilion by Tao Urban. Andy’s is also available to visit from sunup to sundown but make sure you park in our designated parking or if you do need to park off the side of the road, be careful not to end up in soft sand.
Directions: From Hwy 62 turn right at Pioneertown Rd. Drive about 7.5 miles. Turn right on Pipes Canyon Rd. Drive 2.2 miles to Gamma Gulch Rd, turn left (respect our neighbors – do not drive above 20 mph on this road!) Drive 1.6 miles to God’s Way Love (if the sign has blown off look for Dave & Jeannie’s sign), turn right. Drive 0.4 miles.
This 40-acre site, located at the most eastern edge of Wonder Valley, in the Sheephole Valley Wilderness area, is surrounded by BLM wilderness land. Located at the very end of the valley, but feels like the end of the world, this site is home to several permanently sited works, including Dineo Seshee Bopape’s HDTS 2022 work, and a mostly “invisible” project: Bob Dornberger and Jim Piatt’s Secret Restaurant. On the opposite side of Ironage Rd and slightly to the north is a work by Kiersten Puusemp (Untitled) that you will probably need to get out of your car and explore in order to find. Be very careful when parking off the side of the road as the sand is very soft here.
Directions: From 29 Palms continue east on Hwy 62. Drive forever (23 miles) and turn left at Iron Age Rd. Drive a mile or so until you see something. (Iron Age Road connects both Amboy Road and Hwy 62, so you can reach it using either access road.)
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
In May, we read The Art Stillness by Pico Iyer. We had a great turnout of about fifteen Book Clubbers, who gathered at Andrea’s house at A-Z West. Our conversation about Iyer’s call for stillness brought up many topics including the influence of technology, pressures towards productivity, and how life in a vibrant small town community influences each of our experiences of “stillness.”
This month, we will be reading another book that asks how stillness might transform our lives and communities. In her 2019 book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, Jenny Odell goes deeper into the question of stillness than Iyer does in his short TED talk. Rather than arguing for doing nothing in a way that could be interpreted as isolating, apolitical, or coming from a place of unacknowledged privilege, Odell makes an argument for refusing attention misdirecting devices such as social media by refocusing our attention towards the world around us, in ways that might increase collective engagement.
As the weather gets hotter here in the desert, we thought this would be a great time for the quarterly virtual meeting that Book Clubbers have requested, so this month we will be gathering for a virtual meeting on July 11th at 7:00pm PST on Zoom to discuss How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell.
Used copies of How to Do Nothing are available for less than $10 from many online bookstores such as AbeBooks.com and Bookshop.org. We also recommend checking out Libby and Overdrive, both great free resources for checking out library e-books and audiobooks! As a reminder, you don’t have to read any or all of the book to participate in Book Club, we will always include you in the conversation.
We are requesting that all interested book clubbers RSVP here. This will help us track expected attendance. At 7pm PST on Monday, July 11, click the link below to join the discussion!
Zoom meeting link to join:
Meeting ID: 862 5887 7361
If you have questions about using Zoom, feel free to email us.
Here’s a list of upcoming Book Club picks, if you want to get a head start:
August: TBD (email us with suggestions or if you want to host this meeting)
September 5: Chosen with author Stephen Mills (locals: (email: firstname.lastname@example.org text: email us) to pick up a free copy)
October 7: Brown Neon with author Raquel Gutiérrez (pre-order here)
DRL Book Club
After a brief hiatus during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, our in-person book club, formerly known as Kip’s Desert Book Club, resumed in January 2022 as the Desert Research Library Book Club (or DRL Book Club, for short). Each month, a member of the current Desert Research Library Artist Cohort or another member of the book club community selects a book from the library as that month’s book club selection. We meet at various locations throughout the high desert to discuss the books and share snacks.
The DRL Book Club grew out of our long-standing tradition of monthly book club meetings, first established by Katie Bachler during her Scout residency, then carried on as Kip’s Desert Book Club, from October 2014 through April 2021.