Wonder Center: Mojave Desert Arts

Join us in creating a workspace for art, to benefit artists of all stripes!

Silence. Community. Off-grid. Space. Art. Connection. If any of these are magic words to you, read on. 

The Place: The cabin holds three people, and a glamping platform nearby holds as many as six more, and nearly unlimited camping  surrounds them, making a compound for art. Another cabin is being built in the fall for four more. These surround a fireplace and platform for working and gazing at stars, for gathering together. 

Workshops: In the fall, our upcoming scheduled workshops include Writing Through Memory, Ceramics by Hand, Herbal Dying, Body Work, Finding Voice, and weaving off-loom. Each workshop runs three hours, on weekend days. Prices are structured to include a stay at the compound, or to accomodate a stay in town and visiting for workshop only. Workshops will be held in the cabin, which opens completely as a workspace to the outdoors, and on the extended sheltered patios, in an indoor/outdoor plan that takes advantage of the stunning views and inspiration. 

Each workshop will also, through your own fees to attend, offer one fellowship to an artist who can't otherwise afford this opportunity. An afternoon, or two over a weekend, with creative like-minded people, really listening to each other, with views in a landscape that heals, and field trips...we need this, and we can give it to each other in a supportive atmosphere by creating this space. 

Come take workshops, or present workshops yourself. Take a residency here for some time out, or attend the lectures of artists at work as they tell us about the paths from where they were to where they are now in their working lives and artistic disciplines. 

Residencies: Four residencies are offered a year: one each in writing, visual arts, research, and other needs. These are two-week residencies for one person, or a small group working together.

Lectures are scheduled for fall. Speakers include, so far, television writers, entrepeneurs, communty makers, established authors, and fine artists. These will be held on the grounds in the larger public space in the center of the compound.  

This is a small space, but large retreats can make use of it by staying nearby and using it as a meeting spot for privacy and concentration.

You'll also be able to stay at the Wonder Center on your own; enjoy the minimal and photogenic Wonder Center by staying for a night or two, or longer midweek, or for small events. Let us repeat: making a donation qualifies you for a stay, whether through discount or already fully paid; there is a direct return on this donation!

The spare, wonderful space is in an historic cinder block homesteader cabin on five acres. The beds are our wide benches, covered in vintage Army blankets and deep pillows. A small wood-burning stove crackles all evening. A long and inviting table is on rolling feet, able to be moved wherever the inspiration strikes, at the benches, for eating, or straight out into the great outdoors, where the view stretches unoccupied for miles to a distant snow-covered mountain. The kitchen is unobtrusively at the side, with water available, a shining propane burner with a lovely tea kettle waiting and beautiful handmade eating utensils; everything as basic as you need for simply living, but feeling perfect and intentional in its use. Few things, but the perfect things. 

The rest of the cabin is the same; a clean, modern off-grid toilet in a cement and oak bathroom, long low shelves for only the right things. Lanterns, good blankets, books, notebooks. Joshua Tree coffee. Local oils. Incense. 

(these 4 pictures are other fine artists at work in the area; it's our inspiration board)

Wonder Center is for making art and community. Local groups that the Mojave Desert Arts will contribute towards, through a portion of the funds raised through these workshops and residencies, are high school LGBTQ clubs, for whom we will raise a small college scholarship for those that serve as presidents of their clubs; the new Sanctuary House in Palm Springs which houses LGBTQ foster kids as they transition out of the system; young adults in the nearby Latino community for whom we'll throw a "legal fair" of experts to connect undocumented students with funds and resources for college; and the home-based services for PTSD clients in the area. Not to mention, the artists, people like us, who are perhaps without funds or access in the Morongo Basin and have begun to believe that making art is a luxury.

Our plans include:

The goal amount raised on gofundme allows the rebuild of the spot and the building out of the grounds for these workshops and events, as well as for your comfort when you want to stay. It'll also cover initial contact paperwork and time as we set up communty connections and invites, as well as the first few months of workshop artists themselves, for whom we would like to cover a small honorarium for expenses along with their residencies.

If this goal amount is exceeded even a little bit, solar power and septic will be installed as well. 

Let's make this dream space. We can't wait to show it to you, and the site is chosen. But there's work to be done, and we'll post the whole thing: updates on building, videos of the spot, the teepees and the skylights and the porches and the firepit, the paperwork and planning for the artists, interviews with the community groups we'd like to bring to fellowships...we want this community to begin immediately, transparently, for all of us to feel the power of being part of this uplifting, space-making project. 

Please also note: this gofundme is a great place for us to communicate, and work up our inspiration. Please suggest workshops, and let us know if you'd like to offer one yourself. This is a communty: join it. 

(Model cabin by working artists in the area. Ours will be similar.)

If you'd like to leave your email address, there will be work-art parties in the build time, with us camping on the grounds, and you won't want to miss that.

(A bit about the primary programs director, in case we haven't met: "I'm a writer, Liz Stephens (you can Google me :), with my PhD in nonfiction forms. I have three books out, one a memoir (The Days Are Gods, University of Nebraska Press) and two anthologies (Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction, Norton, and Dirt: A Love Story, New England University Press), along with many other publications. I teach writing at UCLA and also through workshops and retreats. I've volunteered through 826LA, Girls Write, Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, Western Literature Association, and at powwows, community centers, and local high schools. My abundance of enthusiasm has garnered me connections to lots of creative people who want to do good for each other and others; some of you are reading this right now. I want to use the organizational skills I've learned, the energy I've got, and the creative training I paid so dearly for to do something for all of us.")

Donations and Reward Levels, rewarded when the goal amount is met, are below. Know that it's also fine if you would like to donate to the arts in this way, and feel no obligation for further commitment.
(donation levels start at right, and then continue below)

$1000: You receive unlimited workshops for a year and two overnight stays. 

$1500: The porch! Ah, the porch. How happy will you be to sit under the porch looking out at the desert sun and know you built that porch? We'll all thank you for the porch. Also, the walkway, but there was less to say about that. Unlimited workshops for a year, and two nights stay, plus 2 T-shirts. 

$2000: Please come out and get involved in all sorts of ways. You're invited to everything. 

$2500 and up: You are making this place happen. You know, and we know, we need this place. We need the arts. We need each other. We want to spread the good stuff. 
You get all the perks above obviously, but at this point, we think you are in it for the good of mankind. Honestly. Thank you. 

Donations above $3000, please also leave your email if you'd like, so that we can send you further information and updates. We'd like to involve you in many ways. We'll be holding two meetings a year in which we hash out ideas with our donors about workshops, accessibility, and visibility.  

Donations of greater amounts, please contact us for information about our partnering with Alliance of Artist Communities, for tax-free donations through our fiscal sponsorship arrangement. 

More info:
If we get so lucky as to reach anywhere near this estimated goal, the gofundme fee and disbursement fee will be up to $2000. That's not a typo.  The fees for receiving the money will be around 2000. And then we will be taxed on it later. This is a very close, well-researched estimate of simple start-up costs, no frills.

We'll include more figures as we update the site once the process begins, so that you all can get a sense of where the money, effort, and time are going. And as mentioned above, there will be work-art parties in the build time, with us camping on the grounds, and you won't want to miss that.

Thank you. Your inspiration inspires us too. We'd like to share that inspiration with those who need it most.

Donations (0)

  • Gerry Duggan 
    • $50 
    • 12 mos
  • Liza Lou 
    • $200 
    • 12 mos
  • Ashley Reis  
    • $50 
    • 12 mos
  • Kim Kirkpatrick 
    • $300 
    • 14 mos
  • lorraine wochna 
    • $200 
    • 28 mos
See all


Liz Stephens 
Joshua Tree, CA
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