DOPT UPDATE: Del Rey, Slab City, Ajo

Hello Department of Public Transformation members!

Thanks for jumping on board Gus the Bus! This is the first of many updates that you will receive from the road for your incredibly generous contribution! My plan is to send an update every three days, but if you would like more regular updates, please join our Facebook Group or follow us on Instagram @publictransformation!

After a nerve-wracking saga of title transfers, auto insurance policies, and oil changes, (whew!) Gus, my dog Bodie, and I hit the road on January 4th from the San Francisco-area. Our first stop was at Mosumoto Family Farm where I interviewed Nikiko Masumoto - farmer, storyteller, performer - and had dinner with her wonderful family. You can read excerpts from our interview at the Public Transformation blog here:

We headed towards Slab City, CA. We camped about 30 miles north of Slab City, on the banks of the Salton Sea - this amazing salt water lake in the middle of the desert - where we met two wonderful artists from Taiwan, Liu Yu and Wu Sih Chin, who happened to be camping next to us, and who happened to be doing an amazing project on ghost towns in California! We spent a few hours by the fire chatting about art, life, cycles, change...

This morning, we hit the road to Slab City, just outside of Niland, CA. This former military-based turned commune-of-sorts has a large population of artists, and therefore, art is EVERYWHERE! And, the centerpiece is this incredibly sureal large-scale sculpture called Salvation Mountain. You can check out photos in the Public Transformation Photo Album here. And, more will be coming from Ali soon. Here we talked with the locals about how art is integrated into their community, how Slab City is similar and different from other small towns, their relationship with the neighboring communities, etc. It was very interesting and I will post more about it on the blog when I get another break in the action!

From here, I made my way to Ajo, AZ. My first meet up was with Kat Anderson, a local muralist. Her and her three year old son took me on a tour of Ajo, showing me the murals and other art projects around town. Then we went to Artist Alley, which is an awesome alleyway near the plaza that artists have transformed and every March they meet to create more murals. Following this visit, Kat invited me to visit her friend, Wolf, who is another artist in town. Past experience has proven that whenever you are invited to meet someone named Wolf - you go! We made our way over to his "compound" and spent the evening surrounded by found objects and deep conversation. I will post a video blog about this soon too! 

Now, it is 1AM and I am parked in my bus at the Sonoran Desert Conference Center with Bodie at my feet, about to close my eyes so I can wake up early for two more interviews in Ajo tomorrow morning! Then, off to Phoenix!

More updates from the road to follow, but for now, I wish you all the best in whatever journeys you are making and thank you for following along on mine!

Over and out! 

ash x