Desert X | Places to Go by Julia Walck

Inspirational day trips are one of my favorite weekend things to do. This past Sunday, we drove through Palm Springs looking at art installations from Desert X. These site-specific works are only up until April 30, and they're definitely worth the trip.

Desert X is a curated exhibition of work that focuses on the land as a canvas. The artists work with site-specific areas and in a sense, use them as the main medium for their art.

It spans from Whitewater all the way down to the Coachella Valley. Here's a helpful map that can give you a preview of the journey. You can also pick up a Desert X map/booklet at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. 

We saw 8/15 installations (pretty solid for one day). A few of them had been performance pieces in February only so we wouldn't have been able to see them anyways; and Richard Prince's exhibit was no longer open to the public due to theft of his art, (major bummer).

Here's the installations we did see, and the order in which we saw them:

1. "MIRAGE" BY DOUG AITKEN (33°50'59.6"N 116°33'57.5"W)


Mirage was our first stop, and is easily my favorite out of all the installations. We left LA at 6am and arrived at this mirrored house at 8am. Since it was fairly early we had free reign for a while. It was nice; gave us some time to reflect. (Pun intended).

After roaming around and catching all angles of this beauty, we headed to the Ace and picked up a map (and some pancakes).

2. "DONATION BOX" BY GABRIEL KURI (33°51'09.51"N 116°33'02.54"W)


The hours of "Donation Box" are displayed as Wed-Sun 10am-4pm. We showed up at 10 and the building was closed with no one there to open it, so I just snapped a shot through the window and we went on our way to the next exhibit. 


These pieces can be seen from your moving car as you drive along Gene Autry Trail. I thought these billboards were brilliant. (Bill-iant?)

They're so simple but send such a strong message. In a world where we're constantly bombarded by ads, it's nice to stop and recognize where we are and be present in nature. 

4. "HEARTH” BY LITA ALBUQUERQUE (33°46’50.37”N 116°24’ 34.67”W)

This life size resin cast female body has one ear down, listening to the Earth and the nature surrounding her. She was also the same ultramarine blue color as the hat I was wearing, which multiple people pointed out. 

"Hearth" is about hearing the Earth. Albuquerque even composed an audio track that plays softly on speakers surrounding the sculpture. 

5. "THE CIRCLE OF LAND AND SKY” BY PHILLIP K SMITH III (33°46'33.3"N 116°22'07.3"W)

We got to "The Circle of Land and Sky" around 1pm. AKA the perfect time for that 93° sunshine to beat down on us. It was worth it though. The shadows the sun cast in different directions acted as an extension of the sculpture and almost were mirrors themselves.

Similar to "Mirage", the mirrors blended with their surroundings and almost seemed invisible. The land met the sky and everything in between.

We actually saw this one twice that day. Sunset seemed like a great time to go back and catch those pastel reflections cascading on the mirrors. 

The artist Phillip K Smith III was also there at sunset, and I had the pleasure of meeting him. Smith told me it took about 2 weeks to complete this piece, and he's come back multiple times to shoot time lapses of the sunrises, sunsets and super moon. 

6. "HOLLOW EARTH” BY GLENN KAINO (33°44'42.89"N  116°12'03.34"W)

At "Hollow Earth", you pull up to what seems like a murdery shack in the middle of a barren field. For the entry code, you text "hollowearth" to 41411.

It's fueled by solar power so make sure you go when there's still light outside. 

Once inside, you're surrounded by darkness and the only light source is what seems to be an endless portal to another dimension. Standing on it looks like you're floating over an infinite abyss, and was actually a bit terrifying. 

7. "CURVES AND ZIG ZAGS” BY CLAUDIA COMTE (33°42'23.9"N 116°23'55.5"W)

The lines on this wall were crazy. Looking straight on it seems like it's one horizontal structure, but as you walk around exploring different angles to view this piece, that horizontal line takes shape.


That zig zag, curved motif striped on the wall plays off of the winding structure of the wall itself. To top it off, the shadow cast by the piece also creates a zig zag. 


Anyone else getting major Twin Peaks vibes from this?

7. "I AM” BY TAVARES STRACHAN (33°47'38.3"N 116°23'44.0"W)

"I am" was our final stop. Open hours for this exhibit are Wed-Sun 7pm-10pm as it needs to be fully dark to view.

290 craters lit with neon tubes create pools of light among the desert floor.

If viewed from above, the phrase "I am" bursts out from its surroundings. If you have a drone, this might be a great place to use it. 

Aerial shot  via  David Blank for Whitewall Magazine

Aerial shot via David Blank for Whitewall Magazine

Exhibits we didn't get to check out were Sherin Guirguis "One I Call", Jeffrey Gibson "Alive!", Will Boone "Monument" and Armando Lerma "La Fiesta en el Desierto".

Remember, these installations are only here until April 30. If you're thinking "oh sweet, they'll be up for Coachella!" Just remember hundreds of other people are thinking that exact same thing. If you want to see these pieces on a more intimate level I'd suggest going before then. 

Be sure to check specific hours of exhibits on the Desert X website and have fun exploring! 

Hiking Angeles National Forest by Julia Walck

On Sunday, we drove up to Angeles National Forest to go hiking. There are so many trails to choose from, so how do you pick where to go?! 

I found a site called The Modern Hiker where there was a post on Sturtevant Falls. It was super helpful on how to get to your hike, and they even give you a brief synopsis of what the trail is like. We only did the Sturtevant Falls portion of the trek; there and back (to where the parking lot is) amounted to about 6 miles. 

The mountains were engulfed in a fog, making for an even dreamier surrounding. We went so early (around 8:30) that the warmness of the day didn't even bother us - plus the trail has a lot of coverage from trees. 

The only other time I'd been in this forest was for a photoshoot over a year ago where we only stuck to the campground area. Diving deeper into the forest and exploring felt really good.

I'll definitely be going back again to hike some more trails in Angeles National Forest. It's SO pretty up there! 

PS: you can buy your adventure pass at the top of the mountain in the general store: $5 for the day, $30 for the year. 

Everything You Can Imagine | Color Crush by Julia Walck

Earlier this week I was up at Vasquez Rocks, and ending the day with this view made the 7:30am photoshoot call time 100% worth it. 

The colors in this sunset we're crazy vivid and inspiring. Here are some other things that inspired me this week. 

This amazing hand made collage by Matthieu Bourel.

This amazing hand made collage by Matthieu Bourel.

Photographs with layers. Just like real life Photoshop.

Photographs with layers. Just like real life Photoshop.

These fluffy clouds.

These fluffy clouds.

Workplace plants in the spotlight.

Workplace plants in the spotlight.

A series of photographs entitled "Burnouts"

A series of photographs entitled "Burnouts"

Designer VACA Recap by Julia Walck

You guys, Designer VACA was amazing. I met so many rad creative women this past week I'm overflowing with inspiration, ideas, and energy. The laid back atmosphere made it so easy to walk up and join in on conversations and introduce yourself. Everyone was on a level playing field, you know? Because we really are all the same. Creatives who just want to learn more, connect more, and are curious about everything... "curious about the stuff that matters", as speaker Bob Goff would say. A big shoutout to Promise Tangeman and Alyssa Yuhas for putting this on! 

The talks from Bob Goff, Elle Luna, and Jessica Hische brought so much insight and inspiration on being a creative, and life in general. 

Elle Luna said, "Work with things that deliberately scare you", and that quote resonated with me. You don't get anywhere in life by playing it safe. You need to step outside of your comfort zone to see if you like something. What's the worst thing that could happen? If it's not for you, just move on to the next project / thing / job / person, whatever it may be, it'll work out elsewhere.

Another good one from Elle was, "The closer you get to what you love, the more vulnerable you're going to feel... if you feel terrified, it's a pretty good indicator you're on to something good". How true is that? She spoke of "Should" and "Must". "Should" is choosing to live for someone other than ourselves, something society has told you from the beginning of time. "Must" is who you are and what you believe. Your passions, convictions, and feelings. Who you are and what you MUST do. Follow that must. 

I got to have a casual conversation with Jessica Hische, who by the way was wearing the cutest Dunsen & Dunsen dress. UM AWESOME RIGHT? The conversation kind of ended up being about breast feeding once we started talking about how cute her baby, Ramona is. It's kind of great listening to a new mother be so excited about motherhood and just figuring it out as she goes along, you know? She's so down to earth and I'm SO glad I can say that. It's really cool that when people you admire are really great in real life rather than just on paper. 

The retreat was structured really well. There was a good amount of free time to hang by the pool, or explore Palm Springs: both really good options for getting to know some of the fellow designers.

Wednesday night was when I was first intimidated by how many people were in attendance. I mean, a room filled with 170 lady graphic designers. Whoa. How on earth do you meet people in this crowd? I quickly learned, "This is what going out to bars and dating is like". Something I haven't really dealt with. It was good to get uncomfortable and I started going up to people and introducing myself. Something that was a good icebreaker was this little photobooth corner. Emily and I were about to take a photo at the same time as some other ladies, and I said, "Hey, why not together?!" Awesome conversations sparked, Instagram handles were swapped, and business cards were given out like candy. It was great. 

On Thursday after the speaker, I took up the opportunity to tag along to Salvation Mountain with one of my roomies, Angela, and a couple girls who I had just met, Margie and Aisha. It was like a mini-road-trip inside of this awesome retreat. We stopped off at Bombay Beach, The International Banana Museum (which unfortunately was closed at the time), a statue of what looked like Paul Bunyon's cousin, and eventually Salvation Mountain. The rest of the day I hung by the pool until it was time for the communal dinner. The taco bar was fantastic, and so was Elle Luna, the speaker who I mentioned earlier. Tears were shed. Like a lot. I mean, you're in a room filled with hormonal women, what do you expect? Motivations were shared and it was really great just to see people coming together. 

Friday morning Jessica Hische did a Q+A on being a new mother and still a working professional. She gave some great insight that really just applies to being a working professional with or without a baby. For example, if a client isn't willing to work with your schedule, drop them; pass them onto someone else; it's probably not worth the stress. The main point of her talk was that it's 100% possible to be successful while having a baby. Not really my stage in life right now, but for other women in the room it seemed perfect. 

Then we had "Chalkboard Talks". These were design / life related topics open for discussion for 30 minute intervals. After walking around the room and scoping them out, you were to pick a board and join a group. I sat in on "Quitting Your Day Job", and "Creative Collaborations / Working Together". "Quitting Your Day Job" was mainly about going freelance. How to take the scary step and knowing no time is really the right time; things will never be perfect and if it's that time for your 'must', you have to do it. "Creative Collaborations / Working Together" was talking about the process of a collaboration, and how the meaning can differ a bit if it's through an agency, or a group of friends doing a project for fun. I asked about how to get people to understand the meanings of deadlines. I, myself am a very organized, structured, deadline-driven person and I work with a few people who don't understand deadlines. It was really great to hear feedback from fellow designers on how to go about talking to them and pitching the idea as something they would want to hear. I needed that. 

Some designers in attendance brought lil' goodies on top of business cards. I was lucky enough to snag a Ray Eames print by Kelsey Dake, and a face your fears sticker by Tina Snow Le.


Emily and I checked out of the Ace, said goodbye to our roommates Angela and Leila and then searched Palm Springs for another hotel. We felt like we just needed one more day of exploring. Luckily hotels are EVERYWHERE. We stayed at the Hard Rock hotel which was super close to the downtown area. We checked in, then grabbed lunch at a vegan spot and hit up some local antique stores. "Some" actually being about 5... antiquing in Palm Springs is one of the best spots to go.

On Saturday, we woke up at the crack of dawn and took the first Aerial Tramway up to the San Jacinto Mountains. It's a weird feeling to be in Palm Springs where it's around 102, then to go up into the mountains and need a jacket. We hiked a path called Desert Loop, about a mile and a half or two, and explored. The views were incredible and there were SO MANY little happy birds everywhere, which of course made me happy, too. Once we were fully exhausted, it was time to pack up and hit the road.

Now here I am back in LA and already am texting with some girls I met over the weekend. It was one of the most inspirational, uplifting times of my life and I can't wait to go back next year. 

Thursday's breakfast // ricotta pancakes

Friday's breakfast // Moroccan scramble