Since 2002, High Desert Test Sites—cofounded by Andrea Zittel, Andy Stillpass, John Connelly, Shaun Regen and Lisa Anne Auerbach—has hosted the work of more than 450 artists, 11 expansive site-specific programs, and 25 solo projects. Long directed by Andrea Zittel, HDTS leadership was recently handed over to Vanesa Zendejas, Zittel’s longtime administrator and program manager. HDTS has been a registered 501c3 nonprofit since 2013.
High Desert Test Sites is a nonprofit arts institution that supports and stewards experimental artwork in the Joshua Tree region. We support programs that intersect contemporary art with everyday life, creating intimate exchanges between individuals, artworks, landscape, and community, challenging art to be relevant both to a region and beyond.
Who We Are
PO Box 1058
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
Office hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 10am-5pm PST
Vanesa Zendejas - Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elena Yu - Assistant Director of Programming and Communications, 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
Elena Yu, Emily Endo, Emma Palm, Sydney Foreman and rotating A-Z West Work Trade Residents. Thanks to Elizabeth Carr and Zena Carr at the Sky Village Swap Meet! RIP Bob Carr.
WEBSITE AND DESIGN
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
David Knaus - Chair
Andrea Zittel - Director Emeritus/Treasurer
Brooke Hodge - Secretary
Aram Moshayedi - Member
Marilyn Loesberg - Member
Susan Lubeznik - 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 zero budget. The idea was to support artistic visions in practical terms—provide tools, help, a cot, guidance, 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 including our Artist Painted Rock Auction, Gem/Mineral Expo, pop-ups at art fairs and art museums, and producing limited edition prints for sale.
But these endeavors never quite add up to what we need—to pay our artists fairly, to pay for venue rentals, for staff, to feed our volunteers, pay for all-terrain forklift rentals, liability insurance, the bookkeeper, 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
Although many past HDTS projects have only been temporarily sited, 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. Our 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 new base of operations, A-Z West is Andrea’s lifelong project, where she lived and worked for 20 years before handing the keys to HDTS in 2022. Located a few minutes outside downtown Joshua Tree, this 85-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 every 2 weeks, alternating between 1-hour outdoor only tours, and 2-hour tours that include most interiors. Tickets for these tours can be purchased through the West Works store. All funds raised from tour ticket sales supports HDTS programming and general operating expenses.
HDTS office hours at A-Z West are Tuesday through Thursday from 10 am–5 pm. Our office is not open to the public but by appointment only. Please email Sydney if you are interested in making an appointment.
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 in the rocks on this 10 acre boulder strewn parcel adjacent to A-Z West are several works that may take a few hours of 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 100-acre parcel in the beautiful boulder and Joshua Tree-strewn wilderness north of Pioneertown off of Pipes Canyon Rd. Several works are permanently 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.
Purchased from a tax sale back in the early aughts, this 40 acre site is surrounded by BLM land. Located at the most eastern edge of Wonder Valley, in the Sheephole Valley Wilderness area, this site is a commitment to get out to, and feels like the end of the California high desert before being clearly on the way to Arizona. This flat, sandy, washy land 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 a little in order to find. Also accessible from sunup to sundown, 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.)
HQ at Sky Village Swap Meet
The HDTS HQ is a visitor’s center and creative hub where artists, craftsmen, visionaries, and friends engage with the high desert community through creative projects and performances. You can pick up a copy of our driving map to HDTS projects and other local sites of interest at the HQ every Saturday from 9 am–12 pm (closed July-August)—and please check our Instagram page regularly to see what special events we have on the calendar. More on the HDTS HQ here.
Directions: 7028 Theater Road (just off Hwy 247, right behind Barr Lumber), Yucca Valley, CA 92286; 760-365-2104
One of our favorite community partners is Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center, where we’ve hosted many past HDTS programs and events. CMMCC is located in North Joshua Tree, about 15 minutes north of A-Z West. On the property is an old firehouse that served the neighborhood in the 80s, and now HDTS rents for community programs, public exhibitions and events. Currently HDTS is working on siting our Desert Research Library at the Firehouse Outpost and later opening this resource to the public. Stay tuned for project updates!
The Firehouse Outpost is currently open to the public only during public events. Please email Elena if you have questions about the space or are interested in Firehouse Outpost programming.
Directions: 65336 Winters Rd, Joshua Tree, CA 92252; Driving west on Hwy 62 into downtown Joshua Tree, pass Park and make a left on Sunburst. Right on Golden, left on Border, past Aberdeen and make a right on Winters. Take Winters past where it turns to dirt road, CMMCC is on the left.
Ball Nogues Studio
As an engineered oasis and climbing structure, Yucca Crater will stand 24 feet tall, towering above the desert plane. Positioned along the slopes of its interior shell, rock-climbing holds will make their way into and out of 8 feet of water. Heated with solar power and pumped through a wind powered turbine, the cavernous pool awaits climbers and weary desert travelers.
This elevated crater and its aquatic basin are a nod to the abandoned suburban swimming pools scattered across the Mojave. While the piece is decidedly man-made, it recalls the works of the land art movement by using materials at hand to construct the final product. By this, we mean that the massive structural formwork of Yucca Crateris the by-product of another Ball Nogues work: Talus Dome. Situated along the embankment of a freeway in Edmonton, Alberta, Talus Domeis an enormous mound constructed of stainless steel spheres. The elaborate formwork we will use to assemble Talus Domeis a feat of design and engineering in its own right. Our plan is to repurpose the formwork for High Desert Test Sites to become Yucca Crater.
This unique approach utilizes our artistic waste stream to create a public artwork in its own right. It is an important aspect of the project as it addresses a critical point in our understanding of the environment today— the need to eliminate waste and encourage re-use.
Upon completion of the Talus Domein Edmonton this summer, the formwork will be transported to California’s high desert. There, we will invert the structure and transform it into Yucca Crater, an artificial aquatic land mass both incongruous to and reminiscent of the Mojave Desert.
Yucca Crater materializes the surreal — echoing and contrasting the earth through architecture. Its dramatic silhouette reconfigures the landscape while welcoming physical interaction from viewers. Rather than passively observe the art, visitors will be encouraged to climb and descend the walls of Yucca Crater for a moment of respite in the cool, tranquil pool below. As a contributor to High Desert Test Sites, Ball Nogues Studio is eager to illuminate the California desert.
OCTOBER 15, 2011 - OCTOBER 16, 2011
High Desert Test Sites returns this fall for a weekend of new experimental art, architecture, and design projects sited in the Southern California high desert communities of Joshua Tree, Pioneertown, Wonder Valley, Yucca Valley, and 29 Palms. HDTS 2011, curated by the McCarthy Family, Robert Stone, and Brooks Hudson Thomas, will feature new works by an exciting group of emerging and established artists, architects, and designers.
The weekendʼs festivities will include a dinner (first-come-first-served) and performances by E-Rock, Lisa Schonberg, Tara Jane ONeil, and Tyler Held with Von Tundra, The Sibleys, and Jamuel Saxon at the Palms Restaurant and Saloon in Wonder Valley.
A zine-style publication, designed by David Dodge, with original contributions by the Llano del Rio Collective, will accompany the event.
HDTS 2011 SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
All sites will be open for viewing Saturday and Sunday 10 AM - 5PM*
Saturday, October 15, 2011
8 AM - 1 PM
Dawn Kasper, Nomadic Studio Practice Experiment: The Swap Meet, Sky Village Swap Meet
2 PM - 3 PM
Shari Elf, The World Famous Crochet Museum Presents: Gospel Revival, Art Queen
3 PM - 3:30 PM
Dawn Kasper, Nomadic Studio Practice Experiment: The Palms, The Palms
4 PM - 6 PM
Tyler Matthew Oyer, Hello, Dolly!, Iron Age Road
6 PM - 10 PM
Dinner (first-come-first-served) and performances by E*Rock, Lisa Schonberg, Tara Jane ONeil, and Tyler Held with Von Tundra, The Sibleys, and Jamuel Saxon, The Palms
Sunday, October 16, 2011
1 PM - 1:30 PM
bodycity, BODY DESERT: END TRAILS, Coyote Dry Lake
*The Sky Valley Swap Meet is open Saturday and Sunday 6 AM - 2 PM. The Palms opens at 3 PM.