Five Years

I moved from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree coming on five years ago now, and a lot has changed. Pull up a chair; I have a lot to say about this.

Not only has Joshua Tree changed, but Los Angeles has, too. The art scene changed in both places. Changes in me have happened. Lots of changes. My art went through changes, and much has happened over these last five years. So very much. Like a worldwide pandemic, for one thing.

I changed my name and came out as nonbinary, and my partner changed her name, too. She publicly came out as trans. In her 60s, no less. We both lost friends and family because of this. My name change also set my art career back somewhat. Nobody knows who Ayin Es is, so why would they come to my exhibitions? This has been extremely tricky to work around. But I made that choice because my old name had always made me cringe, so I have to roll with the punches.

The landscape of Joshua Tree has been changing since Covid, too. While more artists are here, so are more transplants from LA and all over the country. The population has grown exponentially, and the housing market here is out of control. You can’t rent anything anymore (not long-term, that is), and tons of folks have been displaced. That’s mostly thanks to the constant building and renovations of new Airbnbs. They keep coming and coming and disturbing the peace!

Meanwhile, since I’ve been gone, most of the Los Angeles galleries are completely unfamiliar to me now. I am officially out of the loop. At first, I was able to keep up from afar via the internet. I could keep track of which new galleries were moving in and where. Then, the next time went to town, I’d stop in and check out whatever show was happening there. Once in a while, I’d try to introduce myself, but that got to be for naught. I lost my nerve. If I wasn’t going to come in regularly, what did it matter? I just looked like a nut.

But galleries kept popping up or relocating—Downtown, East Hollywood, Mid-city, Western Heights, Hollywood, Thai Town, Larchmont, Hancock Park, Miracle Mile, Mt. Washington, Los Feliz, Cypress Park, Glendale…Everywhere! I couldn’t keep track anymore. There is no longer an art center. No longer a gallery row.

Once more, I decided to take a long break from Instagram. It was giving me depression, so I didn’t even look at it for a few months. When I came back to it, I realized I felt better without it in my life, and now I hardly participate. This, however, took me even more out of the loop. I am not on top of what’s happening in Los Angeles, and when I am, I can’t just hop in my car and attend openings. I feel like people have forgotten about me for the most part, but that’s what happens when you move away. What are people supposed to do? Stop their lives for you? No. You’re not that important. Get over yourself.

Being an introvert, a homebody, and a crank, I don’t even reach out into my own art community much. I do a little. I do what I can. And I have met the greatest people here and can call many of them my True friends (<–see the capital T?). They accept me for who I am, which is more I can say for half the acquaintances I’ve had throughout my life in LA. No real judgment here, which is refreshing and stress-free. I moved out here to relieve stress and thought I would be receiving that through the beautiful surroundings of the desert, but I get it from the people here as well. Bonus points!

While I still have a gallery in Santa Monica, I’m also working with a non-profit gallery here that is more supportive than I could have ever imagined. It’s like a dream—a “blessing,” as some would say. I’m very fortunate. I lucked out. And I’m so, so grateful for them. I’m very excited about my upcoming show in November.

The artists here in the desert are all so unique, hard-working, supportive, active, helpful, willing, communicative, humble, and they have built a thriving community. Still, sometimes, similar to Los Angeles, I feel like I’m on the outside looking in, and sometimes, while I’m minding my own business, I look up and realize I’m in it. I’m part of it, and it feels great.

I realize that your community is what you make of it, though some of us have some social barriers (Hello!). I deal with a lot of anxiety, which is why I need so much therapy. But I think I’m always getting a little better. I’m always willing to/willing to try/willing to try to do better.

And we can only do the best we can.

“The best you can is good enough.” –my favorite Radiohead lyric.

One thought on “Five Years

  1. Hannah Phillips May 9, 2024 / 2:14 pm

    Your best is way better than “good enough,” my love. Like 800 miles better. 10,000 miles better!

    Is distance a measure of quality? I get the feeling it’s not, and I’ve made a terrible mess of this. Forgive me.

    But you know what I’m saying.

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