Bad Luck, Hot Rocks
Ryan Thompson & Phil Orr
december 13, 2014


The Petrified Forest National Park in Northeast Arizona protects one of the largest deposits of petrified wood in the world. Despite stern warnings, visitors remove several tons of petrified wood from the park each year, often returning these rocks by mail (sometimes years later), accompanied by a "conscience letter." These letters often include stories of misfortune attributed directly to their theft: car troubles, cats with cancer, deaths of family members, etc. Some writers hope that by returning these stolen rocks, good fortune will return to their lives, while others simply apologize or ask forgiveness. "They are beautiful," reads one letter, "but I can't enjoy them. They weigh like a ton of bricks on my conscience. Sorry…” Bad Luck, Hot Rocks documents this ongoing phenomenon, combining a series of original photographs of these otherworldly "bad luck rocks" with dozens of facsimiles of intimate, oddly entertaining letters from the Park's archives.

Bad Luck, Hot Rocks: Conscience Letters and Photographs from the Petrified Forest, edited by Ryan Thompson and Phil Orr and recently published by The Ice Plant, brings together original photographs of returned "bad luck rocks" with never before published "conscience letters" from the National Park's archives.

Please join us Saturday December 13, 2014 for a very special presentation from Ryan Thompson and Phill Orr. They'll share images and stories from the Petrified Forest, followed by a Q & A and book signing (books will be for sale at the event).

Saturday, December 13, 2014, 3-5PM
Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center
65336 Winters Road, Joshua Tree, CA, 92252 

The Community Center is 4 miles east of Border Road on the left hand side. When driving north on Border, coming from downtown Joshua Tree, look for the Winters sign on the left and a large white Copper Mountain Mesa sign on the right.

RSVP - a suggested sliding scale admission of $5–15 can be made online or at the event (this helps offset the cost of the venue rental, light refreshments, and administrative expenses tied to this event - though no one will be turned away). 


Ryan Thompson lives and works in Chicago, IL where he is an artist and Associate Professor of Art & Design at Trinity Christian College. His current research examines various powers humans ascribe to the events and ephemera of the geologic. His work has recently been included in Cabinet Magazine, Fotograf Magazine, Making the Geologic Now (Punctum Books), Reframing Photorgraphy (Routledge), and Format P Magazine.

Phil Orr loves building things, particularly out of the discarded, salvaged, unwanted, or forgotten. Much of his work focuses on these objects and the complex relationships surrounding them. He makes a living as a carpenter in Urbana, IL where he lives with his growing family.

Kip's Desert Book Club
The Void, the Grid, and the Sign - William L. Fox
december 1, 2014


At the December 1st book club meeting we will be discussing The Void, the Grid, and the Sign: Traversing the Great Basin by William L. Fox. Bill's creative and passionate contacts in the desert allow one to take the ultimate desert camping trip without leaving the comfort of your own home!  Bernard Leibov of BoxoHOUSE has generously offered to host the meeting. His address is 62732 Sullivan Road, Joshua Tree - but don't bother to GPS yourself there, it will end in tears. Simply turn south on Whitefeather Road off of Highway 62, drive past the hospital, and turn right on the second dirt road when you see the Boxo sign. Bernard's house will be the first one on the left, with the Book Club sign in front. Bring a folding chair if you have one so we are sure to have enough seating. See you there, and don't forget to bring the delicious snacks and drinks!

Monday, December 1, 2014, 7PM
62732 Sullivan Road
Joshua Tree, CA

This is the third meeting of Kip's Desert Book Club.  Learn more about this monthly gathering.

Taking the Waters - Important Information
november 8-9, 2014

November 8-9, 2014
Sites: Zzyzx, China Ranch Date Farm, Tecopa Hot Springs, Devils Hole

Artists & Presenters: Korakrit Arunanondchai, Matthew Coolidge (The Center for Land Use Interpretation), Alyse Emdur, Robert Fulton (CSU Desert Studies Center), Marc Ganzglass, Emilie Halpern, Sant Khalsa, Alice Könitz, Nancy Lupo, Erin Schneider, and Kim Stringfellow
Taking the Waters is this weekend!  This two-day program will involve driving around remote parts of the desert, getting intimate access to super interesting and culturally significant locations, sharing a communal potluck meal, spending the night camping or in a local lodge, going the weekend without cell phone service, and viewing a curated selection of talks, artworks, videos, and performances.  
If you are planning on attending the Taking the Waters event this weekend, please read this important information before you hit the road:

Taking the Waters
november 8-9, 2014

467 Zzyzx, 2012 (photo: Aurora Tang)

The desert, a place defined by its lack of water, has an especially rich and curious cultural relationship with it: for ritual, relief, renewal, and recreation.  In these arid lands, water has always been a premium - a sign of vitality and prosperity.  All water is healing water. 

Taking the Waters is a two-day search for water in the desert.  We will drive to and through some of the Mojave's finest oases, natural pools, hot springs, rivers, reservoirs, and retreat center and water park remains, and consider the cultural significance of water in the desert through a program of site-specific installations, performances, films, tours, and presentations. 

Sites include: China Ranch Date FarmDevils HoleTecopa Hot Springs, and Zzyzx (former site of Dr. Curtis Springer's mineral springs and current site of the CSU Desert Studies Center). 

Artists and presenters include: Korakrit ArunanondchaiMatthew Coolidge (The Center for Land Use Interpretation)Alyse EmdurRobert Fulton (CSU Desert Studies Center)Marc GanzglassEmilie HalpernSant KhalsaAlice KönitzNancy LupoErin Schneider, and Kim Stringfellow.

Taking the Waters is organized by HDTS managing director Aurora Tang.  Special thanks to Travis Brown.  This program is supported in part by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Kip's Desert Book Club
Burro Bill and Me - Edna Calkins Price
november 3, 2014


November's Book Club selection is Burro Bill and Me by Edna Calkins Price. It's the true story of a nurse who falls in love with a hobo during the Great Depression and follows him to Death Valley to start a life of freedom. When Death Valley becomes too crowded with tourists, they buy a pack of burros and head off for the Arizona strip district on a 3 year adventure. Our meeting place will be the Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center at 65336 Winters Rd. Twentynine Palms, CA. It is 4 miles East of Border Rd. on the left hand side. When driving north on Border, coming from Joshua Tree, look for the Winters sign on the left hand side of the road and a large white Copper Mountain Mesa sign on the right. Can't wait to hear what you think about this one!

Monday, November 3, 2014, 7PM
Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center
65336 Winters Road
Twentynine Palms, CA

This is the second meeting of Kip's Desert Book Club.  Learn more about this monthly gathering.