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, email@example.com
Elena Yu - Assistant Director of Programming and Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
Connor Schwab - Facilities and Grounds Manager, email@example.com
Sydney Foreman - Director’s Assistant and Visitor Services, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Disturbances in the Field
We’re excited to announce that selections from the HDTS archive are currently being presented to the public in the exhibition Disturbances in the Field: Art in the High Desert from Andrea Zittel’s A-Z West to High Desert Test Sites, on view at the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment from July 3, 2021 through February 6, 2022. The exhibition looks back on two decades of HDTS programming and is accompanied by a selection of videos from the archive, screening in the museum’s theater during open hours.
In October 2017 a selection of the HDTS archive was first exhibited in an exhibition curated by Sohrab Mohebbi and Aram Moshayedi, An Ephemeral History of High Desert Test Sites: 2002-2015. It was through this exhibition and collaboration with Mohebbi and Moshayedi that the HDTS archive was developed further and grew into a significant collection. Our deepest thanks to them for their contributions.
Disturbances in the Field: Art in the High Desert from Andrea Zittel’s A-Z West to High Desert Test Sites is guest curated by Brooke Hodge. Currently an independent curator and writer, Hodge has held curatorial positions at Palm Springs Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, as well as serving as Director of Exhibition and Publication Management at the Hammer Museum and Deputy Director at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Hodge has also been a member of the HDTS Board of Directors since 2019.
Artists whose HDTS projects are represented by archival material in Disturbances in the Field include:
Adrienne Adar, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Ellen Babcock, Katie Bachler, Julia Barbee, Bernd Behr, bodycity, Lea Cetera, Isalmi Ching, Kate Costello, Center for Tactical Magic, Greta Dana, dark:30 (Marisa Frantz, Jim Kanter, and Lisa Ward), Jeremy Deller, Brooks Dierdorff, Drew Dominick, Neil Doshi, Jim Drain, Shannon Ebner, Shari Elf, Stosh Fila, Christy Gast, Katie Grinnan, Wade Guyton, GWC, Investigators (Sean Patrick Carney, Daniel Glendening, and Michael Welsh), Ben Hagari, Mary Beth Heffernan, Naotaka Hiro, Bettina Hubby, Kristin Beinner James, Christopher James, Saskia Jorda, Mark Klassen, Joey Kotting, Aurora Kross, Joel Kyack, Fabrienne Lasserre, Marie Lorenz, Charlene Lui, Greg Martin, Aleksandra Mir, Joel Otterson, Michael Parker (with Alyse Emdur), Raymond Pettibon, Jack Pierson, Lisi Raskin, Ry Rocklen, Halsey Rodman, Andrew Rogers, Julia Scher, David Shrigley, Linda Sibio, Victor Sidy, Adam Silverman, Claude Collins Stracensky, Gabie Strong, Jesse Sugarmann, Matt Suplee, Austin Thomas, Mungo Thompson, Julie Tolentino, Kartz Ucci (with archival contributions from Abby Donovan), Roman Vasseur and Flora Wiegmann.
This exhibition celebrates the recent acquisition of the HDTS archive by the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment. Inclusion in this prestigious collection of materials is something we could not be more proud of. Their mission, “To be a global leader in supporting the practice, study, and awareness of creative interactions between people and their environments”, is one we feel perfectly aligned with. Our contextualization within the collection will provide a permanent metaphorical home for HDTS, in the company of so many other key archives. This was also an important opportunity to look back at our history and make it a cohesive and extensive one. Built on the archive exhibition curated by Sohrab Mohebbi and Aram Moshayedi presented as part of HDTS 2017, our collection of physical objects from the past twenty years—posters, zines, documentation, costumes, videos, sculptures, and other ephemera—represents the work of more than 150 artists and collectives, while our digital archive represents hundreds more. We are so grateful to all the artists who dug into their pasts to provide us with materials especially for this acquisition. So many magic HDTS moments could have been easily lost without this impetus to archive, and we’re thrilled they will be made available to researchers and the public for years to come.
Photos courtesy Nevada Museum of Art and Chris Holloman