It was just a dream, a fuzzy vision in early 2011, one that I shared with Linda Slater, who was the Chief, Resource Interpretation & Outreach for Mojave National Preserve at the time. We talked about how great it would be to have a permanent residence for artists while executing their Artists in Residence grants and the many things we could do to support the sales of their art and to create a much broader awareness about the peace and solitude of Mojave National Preserve and its magical light.
It was a slow go, one filled with starts and stops.
For me cancer came and fortunately was cured, the recession required more business focus robbing me of project time, and donor regulations changed. Linda endured a government shut down or two, budget cuts, and in the end a transfer to Death Valley National Park where she serves in the same role today.
Five years later and the dream of developing a Friends Group to finance a permanent home for our artists has come to life. Today I can say:
“Welcome to Mojave National Preserve Artists Foundation, an official National Park Service Friends Group dedicated to the Artists in Residence program, The Desert Light Gallery, and the restoration of Kousch Homestead, soon to be our permanent home.”
We have accomplished much in this last year; completed a National Park Service Friends Group contract, the IRS not-for-profit application, and established our web site which celebrates the art, artists, and helps raise funds for restoration construction and other projects. There is a lot of work to do and many dollars to be raised, but we have an amazing board of directors and a wide circle of friends that can help achieve our $300,000 goal for restoration.
I’m also proud of the fact that this is an incredible public private partnership between the National Park Service, Mojave Artists and all of our friends and supporters. We do not use taxpayer dollars and we are not involved in grant programs. It is a true army of citizen volunteers spending their time and money on the work and place they love with supportive professionals in the National Park Service and at Mojave National Preserve in particular. In my view that is how our government and its citizens should partner and perhaps we are setting an example for others.
In 2016 we will move forward with a major Kousch Restoration fundraising effort and expand the number of artists who can exhibit at the Desert Light Gallery. We seek emerging growth and accomplished career artists who can bring new visions, enjoyment and education to the public when they visit the Desert Light Gallery in person or online. Our work plan calls for gallery improvements and to reach out to exceptional curators who can help elevate the work of our artists.
And of course there is much more and you will learn about those activities on this blog, through email communications, and from great articles in the Desert Light Magazine which debuts in January. Moreover, this is a guest blog and opportunity to read and learn from our artists, National Park Service Leaders, and other experts in the arts and public lands management.
Until then, visit the web site in total and subscribe to The Desert Light Magazine. And if you can help with a tax deductible donation, I thank you in advance on behalf of our board, artists, other supporters, and the National Park Service.