What is the Desert?

You cannot take hold of it, and you cannot get rid of it; it goes on its own way. You speak and it is silent; you remain silent, and it speaks.

Yoka Daishi, Song of Enlightenment


The Joshua Tree Experiential Arts and Writing Retreat invokes the imaginaries of place, contacting the environment as a primary site for new work and approaches to emerge. Interdisciplinary workshops emphasize experience as a means of encountering and knowing the desert’s influence on human activity, thought and creativity as we experience it together in a community of praxis.

2019 Retreat

Welcome artists and writers to the home of The Joshua Tree Experiential ARTS and WRITING retreat. We invite artists and writers to attend this annual interdisciplinary weekend retreat in Joshua Tree co-curated by Sean Negus & Ariel Fintushel, two friends whose desire for alternative artistic spaces and appreciation for radical openness has led them to the desert as a site of inquiry, creative praxis, and community engagement.

This year our retreat takes place November 15-17, 2019 at Mojave Stars Ranch in Wonder Valley. Registration is available now. Email retreatjoshuatree@gmail.com to correspond and gather more information.  We have recommendations on where to stay and will help you book a spot nearby.  Here is some modest desert decadence from our upcoming retreat space:

Our mission is simple: engage in workshops that provide new opportunities to experience the desert, generate new work, form community, experiment with process and intention, and afterwards, share what you have made in Bad Ken: A Journal of Place.

Former year’s participants allegedly declared:

If this was a cult, I’d join.

If only this was a few days longer.

This was the most magical weekend of my life.

2018’s retreat highlights included a group reading at Space Cowboy Books, workshops on the “Desert Gothic” and adaptations of the dérive method.  In 2017, a living room reading was delivered by desert poet L.I. Henley and a pink sunset at 49 Palms Oasis during the “Engaging the Web” and “Geologic Forms as Muse” workshops.