palm springs

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! 

Blown Away by Julia Walck

I'm OBSESSED with wind turbines. Don't ask me why; I just think they're super rad. 

So post-Coachella we took a windmill tour. It was a bummer we didn't get to go inside of one, but I learned a lot of things about them that I didn't know before.

Did you know the base of a windmill is big enough to drive a car through? (Granted, if there was a door big enough). Or that on most turbines, the wind has to be blowing at 8mph for a certain amount of time for the turbine to start up? It's powered by solar power to get going, but once it's full speed it creates power instead of using it. 

Quite possibly the fact that took the cake was there's a job entitled "Wind Gypsy". Wind Gypsies are defined as: people who travel the US cleaning wind turbines. 

Coachella 2016 by Julia Walck

I told myself I wasn't going to Coachella this year. "Last year was the last time", I said. "It's getting too trendy", I said. "There's so many other better festivals out there," I said...

Then LCD Soundsystem was announced as a headliner and I changed my mind instantly. They had broken up before I ever had the chance to catch a show. This was redemption.

Jackson, Emily and I lucked out and all got Weekend 1 tickets off of friends and magically found a condo to stay in. 

Here's how the weekend went down:


We rolled up just in time to catch a bit of Lapsley in the Mojave tent, then stayed there for HEALTH. Who you'll probably either love or hate. I have moments with them... sometimes they get a bit too screamy (like that time I saw them at the Echoplex and had a headache for like 4 days straight). 

Then we headed over to the Coachella stage where we obviously stayed until LCD came on so we could stake out our front row spots.

Years & Years sort of kept forgetting his lyrics? Which felt weird... I'm guessing it had something to do with stage fright / shock that he was actually performing at Coachella. Other than that though he put on a good show. 

Foals was awesome. The lead guy, Yannis Philippakis, ALWAYS crowdsurfs at his shows. So if you're into that I'd suggest getting front and center. (We chilled to the side a bit on this set before working our way in - the rail strategy is proven to work!)

Of Monsters and Men felt like one big sing-a-long and I loved it. M83's set was a total dream. I'm not super into her music, but Ellie Goulding REALLY knows how to work a stage. 

Now for the good part.


All in all, we waited 8 hours to be front row.

Some girl in a group next to us legitimately peed into a bottle since there was no physical way she could make it out of the crowd and back to her same spot. That's commitment. But then she left to go see Jack U instead! On second thought, maybe it wasn't commitment... it was probably just drugs. 

I'm sort of sad I missed The Last Shadow Puppets and Sufjan Stevens, but sacrifices had to be made for James Murphy. 

The sacrifices were worth it because we got to front row for this glorious show. Look for me in this LCD Soundsystem Fans video that Coachella made: I'm the girl with the glitter smeared all over my face, obv. 

He played "Losing my Edge" and it felt way too real hearing muffled sounds from Jack U's show as James sang the lyrics "The kids are coming up from behind." The festival was sort of split with people who were either there for LCD Soundsystem, or Jack U which was pretty surprising to me.


I aspire to have this giant disco ball in my life. I also really missed out on the opportunity to rock my disco ball make-up for this show. 

Other song highlights were Dance Yrself Clean, Tribulations, Daft Punk is Playing at my House and New York I Love You. 

I expected Daft Punk to actually show up for that song, but it was still great without that happening.

It was a legendary show; I can't wait to dance myself clean again at FYF


On Saturday, we didn't get to the festival until 3ish. We had a nice, relaxing morning with a good amount of mimosa time. 

We started off with Gary Clark Jr. who absolutely shredded it. There's SO much soul in that guy; it made it worth the fact we were standing in around 90 degree weather with no shade to see him!

Here's a video I took of a massive jam sesh moment.

The Arcs and Unknown Mortal Orchestra were definitely my favorite performances of the day.

Dan Auerbach, (of Black Keys / lead guy in The Arcs), always delivers. He also had a couple of guest appearances: Joe Walsh of The Eagles, and 78 year old Glenn Schwartz formerly from Pacific Gas and Electric. 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra is a more mellow band, but they seriously step it up for a live show! Talk about a dance party. 

In the midst of all the music, we also had to find time to grab some food and drinks. Below are two very opposite things: coconut water and a gin craft cocktail. Both are necessities to surviving Coachella. 

If you're going weekend 2, you can find these cocktails in the Craft Beer Garden. They're $15 (yikes!) but might be a better deal than some of the beers. Pick your poison.

Here's me pre-festival (post-mimosas) with my Bando pineapple sunnies on. 


The final day!

De Lux was the first show of the day; this is a band from LA with guys who look like they're fresh outta high school. I discovered them through KCRW last summer and even got to catch a free show at the Hammer Museum. They've got a Talking Heads disco-y vibe to their music and they're great! 

Tei Shi was the only time we made it to the Gobi tent (the one with the ceiling covered in chandeliers). When the lead singer first came out, she looked teary eyed when saying "The band was just backstage laughing nervously that there would only be like 3 people in the audience. Thank you SO much for coming out". There was definitely A LOT more than 3 people out there. 

Watching Matt and Kim from inside the beer garden was really fun. Their giant beach balls even made their way over at one point! Did you know they're together? And VERY open about their relationship? 

Cold War Kids! I'd never seen them before and have always wanted to, so this was a good moment. Here's me jumping around with our totem, Cornelius the Cactus to "Hang me up to Dry".

Sia's performance was absolutely stunning. It felt as if a music video was happening right before our eyes. She had special guest appearances from Tig Notaro, Kristen Wiig and Paul Dano (ft. in this neverending gif below).

And of course, Maddie Ziegler, the little girl from all of her music videos was there too. 

Miike Snow closed out our Coachella for us with a bang. I got to hear Animal, which is all I really need in life.

It felt like the weekend went by incredibly fast, and I definitely didn't want it to end. 

Depending on the lineup... I'd go to Coachella again.

Something I'm really looking forward to is end of August / beginning of September. Reason being is I'm going to have 6 days filled with music! FYF is on Aug. 27 and 28 and then I'm going to Wales for a 4 day festival called Festival No. 6.  The best part is Hot Chip is headlining both of them! AND it's during my birthday weekend. 

'Til then I'll be going to shows here and there to tie me over; like Blackbird Blackbird tonight!  

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

C☺ACHELLA 2015 by Julia Walck

Coachella Weekend 1. Whoa. You're so much better than weekend 2 it's crazy! (heat-wise that is). 75-90 degree weather, you were wonderful. Thanks for that. 

Jack White killed it. So fucking good. 🙌  He dedicated his show to the transgender community, and reminded us that music is sacred and we should spend time to be thankful for that every day. 100%. 

Below is his setlist from that night. I basically got to see The White Stripes (sorry Meg, you're not really needed), and he even played a Raconteurs song. I was waiting for some Dead Weather to show up in the mix too, but that didn't happen. 

  1. Icky Thump
  2. High Ball Stepper
  3. Lazaretto
  4. Hotel Yorba (White Stripes)
  5. Temporary Ground
  6. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (White Stripes)
  7. Cannon (White Stripes)
  8. Just One Drink
  9. Love Interruption
  10. We're Going to Be Friends (White Stripes)
  11. I've Been Loving You Too Long (Cover)
  12. Weep Themselves to Sleep
  13. Hello Operator (White Stripes)
  14. Steady As She Goes (Raconteurs)
  15. I'm Slowly Turning Into You (White Stripes)
  16. Ball and Biscuit (White Stripes)
  17. Sixteen Saltines
  18. That Black Bat Licorice
  19. Would You Fight for My Love?
  20. Seven Nation Army (White Stripes) 

Polaroid of windmills

Polaroid of the butterfly

Polaroid of Jack White

Polaroid of Jack White

Polaroid of myself

Polaroid of myself

So obviously Jack White was my favorite, but we did see a ton of other awesome artists as well. We saw 24 shows in total. Wow. That's a lot for one weekend, and it's probably why my body is angry at me and I'm sick at the moment.

Friday // Sylvan Esso (amazing set), The War on Drugs, Alabama Shakes, Interpol, Todd Terje and the Olsens, Tame Impala, and AC/DC.

Saturday // Jamestown Revival, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Toro y Moi, Jungle, Yelle, Glass Animals, alt-J, Jack White, and the Weeknd.

Sunday // Mac DeMarco, RAC, St. Lucia, Jenny Lewis (she played some Rilo Kiley!), Kaskade, St. Vincent, Fitz & the Tantrums, and Drake. 

I basically got to see two bands last weekend who were broken up and I never thought I'd get to see: The White Stripes and Rilo Kiley. To be honest, there were a couple moments where I almost cried. So, so happy. 

Jack White

Jack White

Feelin' the music in the H&M tent

Feelin' the music in the H&M tent



Shot glasses I found antiquing

Shot glasses I found antiquing

The caterpillar turned into a butterfly

The caterpillar turned into a butterfly

Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis

Toro Y Moi

We stayed in a condo at a country club this time around, which is crazy different than the car camping experiences I've had in the past. My first Coachella experience was 110 degree weather, a forgotten EZ-Up, and no showers. Let's just say it was interesting. 

The house was nice; it almost made it feel like a lazy weekend when it wasn't at all. 

All this music, warm weather and good times with friends is getting me excited about Sasquatch! Which is a month away! Hello road trip to Washington to see Hot Chip, Spoon, Little Dragon, and James Blake. 4 of my all time favorites! You can see the full lineup here. I have a feeling it's going to be even better than Coachella. 

Closeup of an art installation

Closeup of an art installation

Jack and I in front of the lights

Jack and I in front of the lights

Todd Terje

Todd Terje

Breakfast nook where we stayed

Breakfast nook where we stayed