Art in Death Valley

A cultural happening makes for the mysterious Amargosa Hotel.

ART AND SETTING: Where does art happen? It's a question art school seminars are built around. The (too) easy answers might include a gallery or a studio or a museum or a school, but street artists and performance artists and those who would engage in the occasional thematic flash mob and the creatively inspired who take to parks and streets to dance or make speeches might say differently. But even those offbeat locales tend to be city-centered, or at least close to where people gather. What of taking your show or your works to what might be deemed, cheekily, "the middle of nowhere"? The Coachella Music & Art Festival doesn't exactly count, though it certainly possesses that urge to make and show stuff in a non-citified setting. Nope, we're truly talking the middle of nowhere, as in Death Valley, which is now and has been happily empty of most stuff that could be labeled as "stuff" since the dawn of time. Could an art happening work by incorporating human creativity and the natural world?

SURE IT CAN: And it will on Saturday, Jan. 19 and Sunday, Jan. 20. Spoke the Hub Dancing and FlyGirl Productions will make for Marta Becket's mysterious Amargosa Opera House and Hotel in Death Valley Junction (okay, so there is a business there, making the location not 100% middle-of-nowhere-ish, but close). "(W)ild west performance, art, and wilderness" will merge in an entertainment that described as being appropriate for the whole family. Nice, and it is extra nice beyond that, since Ms. Becket, a ballerina, no longer performs in her famous, mural-filled theater (she will celebrate 90 next year). We're cheered to see artists making for her tumbleweed-sweet hotel and performance space to keep the place lively with art. That itself is a work of art, even.

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