Coinciding with the inaugural Desert X, Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion presents “On the Grid: a look at settlement patterns in the high desert,” an exhibition focused around “Lay of My Land,” a major sculptural work by the Joshua Tree based artist Andrea Zittel. “On the Grid” is on view from March 11 to May 22, 2017.
Much like a topographic site model, “Lay of My Land” represents 35 of the more than 50 acres that compose A-Z West, Zittel’s ongoing site-specific project, a testing ground for living, in the Mojave Desert. Zittel’s installation addresses the history of western expansion, which is also a history of land, landscape, and real estate. First divided by the Jeffersonian grid in 1785, the land in the high desert was further divided by the 1938 Small Tract, or “baby” Homestead Act that promised a five-acre parcel free to anyone who would erect a small structure. “Lay of My Land” not only features Zittel’s own structures that form the A-Z West project, it also includes the original homesteader cabins still on the property.

Also included is one of Zittel’s billboard paintings and a “Wall Sprawl” from her wallpaper series. “Each ‘Wall Sprawl’ consists of a repeating pattern of real photographs depicting fringe areas where wide-open desert meets large-scale urban development,” says Zittel. “This is the West I grew up in—a place where my parents built a house in an isolated rural area that sixteen years later became a fully developed suburban matrix complete with shopping mall. Witnessing this rapid takeover of the natural made me view human progress as a sort of parasitic or viral expansion. Similar to actual growth, the ‘Wall Sprawls’ have the capacity to repeat infinitely, folding a single image over into an infinite sprawl.”
To complement Zittel’s installation, historical materials—including maps, photographs, accounts by early homesteaders, and sales brochures from original purveyors of homestead cabin models—are used to further tell the story of land settlement in the high desert.
"The occasion of Desert X is the perfect opportunity to showcase this compelling project of Andrea Zittel’s and to tell just a little bit of the fascinating story of homesteading in the high desert,” said Brooke Hodge, Palm Springs Art Museum’s Director of Architecture and Design. “The desert has long fascinated and inspired artists, writers, musicians, and others seeking solitude, space, and a sense freedom. We invite everyone to come see “On the Grid” and share their own stories of life in the desert.”
“On the Grid” is made possible by Exhibition Season Sponsors: Carol & Jim Egan, David Kaplan & Glenn Ostergaard, Dorothy C. Meyerman, Marion & Bob Rosenthal, and the Herman and Faye Sarkowsky Charitable Foundation. Additional generous support provided by David Knaus.
The Eisenhower Medical Center season at the Architecture and Design Center is presented by Rapport International Furniture. Official sponsors include Provident Bank and Renova Solar.
Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center is located at 300 S. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. Admission is free. For hours and additional information click here or call (760) 322-4800.