And the potent desert miniatures by Los Angeles/Mojave oil painter Mary Austin Klein,klein.jpg provided indelible visuals of a landscape that is my second home. As small as the portable altars that accompanied wealthy Renaissance nobles on their travels, Klein‘s intricate braiding of glittering light and deep purple shadows offers choice bits of the geological grandeur of the Mojave, for take-away and at stunningly low prices.

The painting shown, of the Bullion Mountains overlooking Joshua Tree, is a mere 4 x 6 inches, the very smallness of which gives the work an almost magic realist quality. As much a tiny object as a painted representation, it has undeniable allure. Yet, like all work done almost exclusively from photographs, Klein’s paintings fail to convince us that they are pieces of a living domain. There is an absence of expressiveness in these works that contradicts their graphic virtuosity.

Nonetheless, they are handsomely curated in a charming gallery located on the one and only main drag between Palm Springs and Indio. Late October is a spectacular time to visit the Mojave, where a two-weekend Open Studio trek rewards adventurous art-lovers — if only to soak up the mineral air and jaw-dropping sunsets.
61740 29 Palms Hwy.
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
Tel: 760.366.2300
Fax: 760.366.2311