ECHO PARK DREAMING
Beatrice Valenzuela combines grit and glam in everything from her fashion line to her kitchen tiles. .
WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY AMELIA FLEETWOOD
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATRINA DICKSON
BEATRICE VALENZUELA WAS BORN IN THE U.S. but grew up in Mexico. Destined to travel, she spent her younger years styling hair and studying art in Paris until she settled nally in Los Angeles. As a small child she poured over fashion magazines, expressing herself through her sartorial decisions. “I started designing shoes in my early 20s, which came hand-in-hand with the styling I was doing,” Valenzuela shares. “Every time I could not nd what I wanted or the price point was too high it seemed easier to make it myself.” Her luxury line expanded to jewelry, women’s and children’s clothing and of course her iconic shoe line—all crafted in LA.
Stepping into the multi-talented Valenzuela’s eclectic 1920s Echo Park bungalow gives one the impression that this woman has truly cracked the code for better living. The airy, treehouse-like home—which Valenzuela shares with her husband Ramsey Conder, a furniture and hardware designer, and their two children—includes a wraparound deck, where much of the family’s time is spent. “Ramsey and I usually design from a place of need,” Valenzuela explains. “Whatever we can’t find, we make ourselves. This spills into the way we run our companies as well as our house, which is a collaboration.”
It took eight years for the detail-oriented couple to fix up their home. Conder began by making custom shelf brackets, hooks, lighting and furniture for the house, which is compact but maintains an air of expansiveness. A seasoned chef, Valenzuela is often found in the kitchen; she has a reputation for starting after-dinner dance parties amongst the room’s bright blue and orange tiles and the myriad kitchenware filling its shelves.
The house is adorned with a varied feast of treasures. Wall hangings, ceramics, textiles and objects commemorate the couple’s world travels, supplemented by special pieces from fellow artists and friends. “There’s a connection to everything we have around us,” explains Valenzuela. “We believe the objects we live with and surround ourselves with daily have an impact on how we live.”
As if Valenzuela somehow manages to squeeze more hours out of a day than a normal person, this spring she will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of LA’s beloved Echo Park Craft Fair, a biannual arts market she co-hosts with designer Rachel Craven. “The fair started because I had a lot of friends who were making beautiful things and no one seemed to have an outlet for them. I started a little gathering to have fun and to sell and trade and it was an immediate success,” she recalls. “I think a lot about giving women and artists a voice.” The now-beloved fair started with only 10 vendors and has grown to hosting 130 artists selling their wares.
Valenzuela’s designs, whether it be her shoe line, her jewelry or her bold floral-printed fabric and clothing, all harken back to her vibrant childhood in Mexico. “Most things I design are super colorful. In Mexico you are surrounded by textures and layered colors that you do not see anywhere else,” she smiles.
Valenzuela’s eponymous fashion line is designed to bring out the best in women, with celebratory fabrics and feminine forms. Her 2019 collection boasts hand-drawn and custom-printed fabrics inspired by the Opuntia blossom, the flower found on the Mexican flag, while her menswear-inspired suits and blouses in simple linens are cut to flatter a woman’s silhouette. Soon she will be expanding her shoe line to include a classic espadrille in leather, a platform, and a heel with elements designed by her husband Conder. “I love anything that fills the senses,” Valenzuela confides. “I make clothes for women so they can feel confident and really sexy. I want them to love dancing. I want them to feel good.”
Few deserts are as storied as the High Desert, which has drawn together a community of artists and creators, healers, helpers and those simply looking for some space.
WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY AMELI FLEETWOOD
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TEIRNEY GEARNON
The Integratron’s sound baths draw 100 people per day to tune in and drop out.
There’s something out of this world about the white wooden dome that looms on the horizon of the Mojave Desert. With a diameter of 55 feet, the Integratron has become a place of pilgrimage for wellness worshippers looking to cleanse negative energy through the vibration of quartz singing bowls. And if its founder, George Van Tassel, is to be believed, its acoustically perfect structure follows the architectural specifications delivered to him telepathically by extraterrestrials.
“It is a place to wake up and deepen artistic resonance on any level,” says Joanne Karl, who, together with her sisters Nancy and Patty, have owned the Integratron since 2000. As remote as it may be, the spare desert backdrop works double duty as ego deconstruction. “You have to get as wild as the desert to live here,” says Nancy. “People come to the desert to live out their dreams and to become their authentic selves. It strips you down and you have to surrender.”
Painter Caris Reid is soothing Downtown Los Angeles and beyond from her desert studio.
Grace and Grit is what painter Caris Reid named her powerful, 40-foot mural of a red-lipped woman covered in celestial symbols in Downtown Los Angeles, located near the Broad museum. The embodiment of both grace and grit, Reid, a long time New Yorker, moved to the high desert to commune with nature. “The desert just fits the vibration of my work,” Reid explains, “because life in the desert is more meditative and grounded.” Vibrations are integral to Reid’s practice.
The artist-cum-Reiki practitioner explores femininity and feminine archetypes through acrylics and wood panels, employing a flat, centralized figure who almost always makes bold eye contact and telegraphs hypnotic and soothing energy through symmetry of repetition. Take, for example, the gently undulating hair line of her DTLA icons. “I believe all objects carry an energetic frequency,” says Reid.
It’s a recent shift toward emotional and spiritual realms that is threaded through her work from inception to completion. “I have a meditative studio practice, and when I start a painting I like to be in a very centered place. I am conscious of what I am bringing to life.”
Music manager-turned-ceramicist Brian DeRan finds space to create.
Brian DeRan, whose long-time career in music management found him living in New York, Los Angeles and for a time, Baltimore, always had an art studio wherever life took him. Nowadays he can be found in Joshua Tree—mostly in his studio—painting and making ceramics. DeRan says, “In 2015, I made a shift toward making my art a larger part of my life, and the desert was a huge part of that. The inspiration of the landscape, the environment, and, of course, the lack of distractions… it’s hard not to create here, to be honest.”
The influence of the desert is easily spotted in DeRan’s ceramics; his use of textures created by desert elements, and how he employs sand and ash for casting and glazing, give the impression of really being “of the earth.” Twice yearly DeRan has an open studio, and his work can also be seen at thewesterndesert.com.
The Brothers French
Two Oregon hoteliers find the cowboy way at the Pioneer Motel.
The Pioneertown Motel draws travelers the world over to a stretch of the Yucca Valley for its rustic cowboy charm, a convincingly authentic aesthetic that owes as much to the motel’s origin story as it does to well-executed design. The Pioneertown Motel was built at the same time as Pioneertown by Hollywood heavyweights Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Russell Hayden, and the Sons of the Pioneers (for whom the town was named) in 1946. The inn was conceived as lodging for Western movie stars filming in the living movie set built as a reimagined 1870s frontier town, complete with façades, a working saloon and dirt-paved Mane Street.
When Oregon-raised brothers Matt and Mike French first came across the single-story property nine years ago, they were enamored; they bought it in 2014. “It’s not just the spirit of the desert but also the spirit of Pioneertown that we were specifically taken with,” says Matt. “We see it as a gem within the high desert.” The brothers assembled a team to restore the historical motel to serve the jet set and its own community, hiring local artists and local craftsmen work on their projects. “There was a wave of people moving out here decades ago and now people are coming out again for the space to create,” says Matt. “We wanted to pull up the ladder behind them.”
Space and Time
Artist Erlea Maneros Zabala experiments in making the most out of the least.
Artist Erlea Maneros Zabala is an essentialist. Exchanging her native Basque countryside for the California desert, the Spanish-born creative has trained her focus on monochromatic, two-dimensional work in mediums ranging from paint to photography, printmaking and drawing. That, and erecting a dream home out of mostly found materials for the past seven years with her partner, using their bare hands. “Sure, we had an electrician come in and some other specialists, but we built the whole thing ourselves,” Zabala says.
Old floorboards, with their enviable patina, were salvaged from a recent refurbishment of the Capital Records building in Hollywood. The steel exterior was sourced from leftovers at the Brewery Art Colony in Downtown Los Angeles. The wooden countertops in the kitchen were made from leftover fine art frame stock. The resulting structure is strikingly simple, outfitted with the kind of high ceilings and large windows designed for expansive horizon lines. “I like reductionism, so it makes sense that I only work in monochrome,” says Zabala, who shows with Redling Fine Art Gallery, in LA. The desert, she finds, allows for a release of pressures that build up in the city, leaving her with the mental space and serenity to create. Her most recent show was a commentary on her relocation. “I listened to a lot of local, right wing, Libertarian radio, and I realized that there is a whole American culture I knew nothing about.” For the exhibition, Zabala made a video of herself working in her studio with the radio droning on in the background. Now she has her sights set on her forthcoming show at the Carreras Múgica gallery in Bilbao later this year, and experimenting in abstract drawings. Using a projector and a timer, she challenges herself with less and less time to draw. Call it the art of reduction.
Jonathan Cross’s coveted sculptures capture the brutalism of the desert.
Jonathan Cross, the sculptor whose work can be found at The Future Perfect and Lawson-Fenning, started his career as a printmaker with a cactus obsession. Driven by the lack of suitable vessels for his beloved cacti, he began making his own. “I still make planters and vases, but my concern is no longer the use of the pieces,” says Cross. “It is purely an aesthetic pursuit.”
Preferring to work with clay heavily engorged with stones and chunks of iron, Cross creates textural, geometric vessels with polished edges and chiseled lines. He uses local wood, mainly from citrus and cottonwood trees to fire his work, imparting the ash surface that have become synonymous with his name. “It’s a blending of Brutalist architecture with a geological aspect,” he explains of the characteristic style he’s developed in his Twentynine Palms studio, where the desert finds its way into each piece.
“I feel such an affinity with the desert,” says Cross. “I am creating objects that emulate and reference the landscape.” The cactus brought him here, but the work keeps him.
Artist Phillip K. Smith III is bringing the desert to Milan Design Week.
“When you grow up in the desert it’s in your blood,” says artist Philip K. Smith III, who moved to Palm Springs from Los Angeles when he was seven years old. “It’s impossible to deny the power of living and breathing in this arid environment; it becomes part of you.” In the case of Smith, it also became part of his work.
When the Californian moved away to study art and architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, Smith says he desperately missed his “brown mountains.” So in a way, he recreated them. Much of his early work engaged light and shadow and the movement of the sun, paying homage to the mountain ranges that colored his youth. “I love how the mountains transform over the course of the day, from a highly-textured, three-dimensional surface to a monochromatic silhouette at dusk.”
Smith is known primarily for his outdoor installations, like the arresting mirror and wood-slatted shack he erected in the high desert in 2013 called Lucid Stead that had the trompe l’oeil effect of looking straight through the structure. “Something was right about that project,” he says. “The allure of the desert, combined with the quality of the light made it into a unique experience. It’s been more than 4 years since it was taken down, and we still have requests to see it!” But his multi-disciplinary oeuvre is rife with the essentialist elements of his landscape.
“My understanding of light as a medium is becoming more expanded and more focused,” says Smith, a specialization that is being rewarded by bigger, more prominent exhibitions. From April 17-22, his installation for fashion brand COS will be unveiled during the Salone del Mobile, where Smith’s architectural sculpture will stand in relief against the 16th-century courtyard and garden of Palazzo Isimbardi.
“It’s the first time I’m creating a large-scale, contemporary piece in an urban setting, and my first international project,” he says, brimming with enthusiasm. To contrast the buzzing metropolitan environment, he plans to give Milan a taste of a broadened horizon line. “The piece will be about pulling the sky down into the courtyard. The sky is everywhere! I hope when people leave they will go back with this renewed connection and understanding of the sky.”
Back home, he will continue to explore permutations of “reflection, color, light and shadow and time,” with a forthcoming immersive light installation in LA next spring. “I’m interested in joining all of my ideas together,” he says. The blurring of the seams, he explains, is exactly where the magic happens.“I strive for balance, giving enough information for people to access and understand the work, but also holding enough back that there’s space for discovery.”
Call Your Girlfriend
In the Yucca Valley, La Copine is what’s for dinner.
This refurbished old-time diner in Flamingo Heights serves locally-sourced menu ripe with Middle Eastern, deep South and clean Californian influence that earns its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Yucca Valley. Just a stone’s throw from Pioneer Town, the brainchild of East Coast transplants Nikki Hill and Claire Wadsworth garner hour long waits with their Jidori fried chicken and cauliflower “couscous.” La Copine doesn’t take reservations, but its happy, well-fed customers echo enthusiastic encouragement: “It’s worth it!”
Home and Hearth
Shop on the Mesa owners Thao Ngyuen and Anthony Angelicola are filling homes with the simple and the good.
Thao Nguyen and Anthony Angelicola, partners in both life and work, have long collaborated, designing and crafting deceptively simple furniture for the last seven years. Drawn to Joshua Tree’s casual, mid-century design, they left the east coast behind to set up in a 50s-style building of their own. Now, on an unassuming stretch of Twentynine Palms Highway their store, Shop on the Mesa, has become the Yucca Valley’s go to for aspirational desert living.
Inside, Ngyuen and Angelicola’s hand-hewn oak and walnut side tables and leather-slung safari chairs from their own line (Fire on the Mesa) nod to the best of mid-century ease in materials built for everyday durability. For every other corner, cabinet, closet and countertop in the home, the couple also offers an artisan apothecary, vintage clothing and ceramics and textiles sourced from around the world. “People come to the desert to get away and re-set,” says Nguyen. “When visitors walk into our store, they always stay a while; they just sit down, and hang out and take it all in.”
More often than not, they take it all home, too.
Writer Trinie Dalton and musician Keith Wood are making the desert work.
“We love the sun!” reads a text sent by prolific author Trinie Dalton from her home in Joshua Tree, where she lives with her musician husband, Keith Wood.
In spite of their distance from the city, both the couple maintains impressive ties to contemporary culture. Dalton has penned and published six works of fiction, with a seventh, “Destroy Bad Thoughts, Not Yourself,” out this spring. That, in addition to contributing regularly to Artforum, and writing a selection of art books.
The couple sources endless inspiration from the desert’s harsh climate and unforgiving topography. They are mesmerized by the way time in the desert seems to stretch out and by the atmosphere of survivalism that prevails. But more than anything, they revel in the large sky that dominates their environment. (Joshua Tree recently became designated as a ‘dark sky’ community; town codes now ensure that lighting at night is minimal.)
“Since moving out here, I’ve become more sonically aware,” says Wood. He boasts decades of solid touring as a singer-songwriter and guitarist under his belt, most recently with Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, with whom he formed the band Chelsea Light Moving. But these days, his primary focus is his personal band Hush Arbors, which he describes as rock ’n’ roll with a dash of folk and a psychedelic twist. And if you listen closely to Wood’s new album, slated to be released this summer, you just might hear the desert he adores. “I record outside sometimes. I just love the quality of the sound.”
Since 1988, Compton Junior Posse has been a safe haven for at-risk youth, and an unexpected breeding ground for a new generation of horse enthusiasts.
THIRTY YEARS AGO, WHEN Mayisha Akbar moved to an agriculturally zoned area of Compton called Richland Farms, her dream was to raise her kids with horses in their backyard. Soon her small ranch became a safe haven for children around the neighborhood, and in 1988 she founded the Compton Junior Posse. Akbar's mission was simple: Keep kids on horses and off the street. Her dream blossomed into a year-round equestrian program for inner-city and at-risk youth, instilling her riders with the confidence that comes from learning to work with and care for horses.
As a lifelong horse-lover, I was inspired by the work being done by the Compton Junior Posse when I was introduced to it in 2015 by Olympic gold medalist show jumper Will Simpson, who regularly volunteers there. I contacted friend and photographer Melodie McDaniel, who shared my enthusiasm, and together we have spent the last three years documenting the people that come together at this incredible organization. The resulting portfolio, “Daring to Claim the Sky,” debuting in part here, will be shown in full on April 20 at Hollywood’s Space 15 Twenty. “This is a unique and special story,” says McDaniel. “No one really knows about horse riding in Compton!”
Consider the secret out.
Ojai, California has long been a magical
escape for Angelenos, who flock to this
small valley town, encircled by orange
groves and mountains, to find solace and
inspiration. Lately, a number of creatives
have been planting permanent roots,
attracted to the region’s bucolic
surroundings and the tight-knit
community. Now, as residents are in the
process of rebuilding their beloved town
after the devastating Thomas Fire, we
shine a light on some of the locals
contributing to Ojai’s dynamic scene.
WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY AMELIA FLEETWOOD
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEWEY NICKS
INTO THE DEEP
Director Allen Hughes finds newfound inspiration— as well as his artistic voice—in his slice of paradise.
When you come from Detroit, California holds a certain mysticism. Hollywood—even the idea of Hollywood—can put stars in the eyes of any Midwesterner,” says writer, director and producer Allen Hughes. Raised by a single mother who started out on welfare, he and his twin bother, Albert, blossomed into the directing duo the Hughes Brothers, known for such hard-hitting dramas as Menace II Society, The Book of Eli, American Pimp and Dead Presidents. Now, after a four-year hiatus that included breaking away from his brother and moving to Ojai, Allen is making waves on his own
with The Defiant Ones, the critically-acclaimed four-part HBO docuseries about the lives of music legends Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine.
Looking back on his life, Hughes can’t help but be amazed. “My mother went from welfare to being an independent millionaire,” he says proudly of Aida, who left her native Iran when she was young, put herself through school and eventually opened a vocational rehabilitation firm in Pomona, just east of Los Angeles. “She’s the most visionary woman ever, a boss bitch who won’t be denied.” Because they were twins, it was decided that Allen and Albert might have a shot in the acting business. “We did the Oscar Mayer weiner and Coca-Cola commercials, but we were terrible! By 1980, we figured out that the brothers would not be the next Double Mint twins,” he says.
To keep them occupied, Aida bought Allen and Albert a video camera when they were 12 years old, and they never looked back. They dropped out of high school and began directing music videos. By 20, the Hughes Brothers made their first feature film, 1993’s Menace II Society, which launched their careers. Focused on black, disenfranchised youth, the groundbreaking film included then up-andcomers Jada Pinkett Smith and Samuel L. Jackson, and was made on a minuscule budget of $3.5 million.
“The first time I traveled to Ojai, I went to an art festival with my mother. She’s a painter,” Hughes recalled. “I had just finished Menace II Society. I had a two-year-old son, and I was very uncomfortable with the attention that I was getting and the way I was being spoiled, as a director with some success. When I discovered Ojai and Lake Casitas, I found I could just go fishing and find peace. I felt safe there; it was like being held to a bosom.”
For years, though, it never occurred to the director that he could actually live in Ojai, as he didn’t know anyone there. “When I was shooting The Book of Eli, actor Malcolm McDowell had a role in the film, and he was a long-time Ojai resident,” Hughes says. “Malcolm and his wife took me under their wing and I was welcomed into the community. I realized that I could have a real life here in Ojai.” He made the decision to permanently move this past spring.
The peaceful town has served as an idyllic place for Hughes to reflect on The Defiant Ones, which took him three-and-a-half years to complete and was released to much fanfare in July. The documentary follows the separate career trajectories of legendary record producer Iovine—the son of a Brooklyn longshoreman—and rap icon Dre—who grew up on the streets of Compton, California. It shows how their lives eventually came together from such vastly different worlds, changing the cultural landscape in the process, and culminating with the brokerage of one of the biggest deals in music history: the sale of Beats by Dre to Apple. “One of my editors, early on, said to me, “If you do a documentary right, it can change you as a person forever,” Hughes shares. “This project really did change me; it was an evolution, a discovery process and a very emotional journey. I am changed for life—for one reason, being so intimate with Dre and Jimmy—because those guys are intense. This work pushed out bad habits that I had. I’d made a film about obsessive artists and I am obsessive.” The fast-paced film is full of candid interviews with Iovine, Dre, Bono, David Geffen, Eminem, Ice Cube, Gwen Stefani, Jon Landau, Snoop Dogg, Bruce Springsteen, and the late Tom Petty includes never-before-seen footage from a multitude of recording and writing sessions. “Additionally, I realized I had never fully processed Eazy-E’s and Tupac’s deaths—they were close friends of mine,” he says. “ Making this film made me
see the whole picture; how the world works. I realized that I needed to get my shit together and settle it with the insecure demons that allow a person to wallow in mediocrity.”
The series has already garnered Hughes multiple accolades, including the prize for Best Limited Series at the December IDA Documentary Awards and a Grammy nomination for Best Music Film. “I never thought I could do a project that I could be happy with,” he says. “I finally got my voice back, which I had lost being part of the Hughes Brothers. I got my life back and then finally moved to Ojai.”
MIX AND MATCH
Anna and Kirk Nozaki inject Ojai’s craft scene with a modern dose of fun.
By definition, Cattywampus implies something not arranged correctly, but walk into Anna and Kirk Nozaki’s craft store in Ojai and you’ll find a neatly arranged, curated almost to a fault, cave of wonderment.
Filled with rich visual and tactile treats, Cattywampus Crafts is what happens when take you a pair of creatives from Silver Lake and transport them to California’s Shangri-La. “It is our collective goal to inspire,” says Anna, whose background is in graphic design. “It is as simple as that.” It’s their shared desire to tap into everyone’s latent, artistic feelings and talents, no matter how deep, in some instances, they may be buried.
The couple made the move to Ojai in 2013, mainly to raise their daughter away from the city. When they arrived, they wanted to contribute to their new community. Their way of giving back was to establish a craft store that not only sells beautiful wares and materials for makers, but also serves as somewhat of a creative community center. They hold classes in all sorts of crafting modalities—especially popular is the Wednesday knight knit group. The Nozakis also host many sessions taught by local artists, such as macramé maker Sally England and fiber virtuosa Carol Shaw Sutton.
Everything in Cattywampus is influenced and inspired by Ojai. The ample space is dotted with huge, vintage macramé pieces by Murray Rodkin, as well as jewelry by Tammi Reinhardt. Also on display are works by ceramicist Mark Churchill and Fanny Penny, who makes wall hangings and jewelry with rope and clay. The Nozakis have even begun their own women’s clothing line, as well as one for children, both of which they soon plan to sell in-store.
Kirk, who is a restorer of houses and spent 20 years as a streetwear designer, decorated the interior of Cattywampus, which features soaring ceilings and expansive windows. He designed butcher block furniture for the shop and walls of shelves featuring basketweave patterns for yarn and other storage, which keenly help to keep the interior light and contemporary. “We wanted to keep the space feeling as open and uplifting as possible,” Anna says.
Their desire has been met. The store they have created is a welcoming one, full of warmth and laughter. “Most of our customers are people who are new to crafts,” says Anna, in a moment of quiet reflection. “We did not anticipate the emotional response people have when they learn new things, and tap into their creative spirit.”
Artist Cassandra C. Jones digitizes nature, presenting a complex world far beyond what is immediately noticeable to the naked eye.
When asked how she would describe herself, artist Cassandra C. Jones takes a moment. “Okay, I was just working on this earlier today,” she laughs. “Here it is: I am a
photography-based digital artist, focusing on large-scale collage.” It’s a mouthful, but
just scratches at the surface of the experience of being up close to Jones’s work. Her
compositions of meticulously arranged collages illustrate woven patterns, reimagined wildlife, floral arrangements and geometric shapes which have an uncanny way of drawing the viewer into a completely different world.
“When I was a child, we had wallpaper in the bathroom that I would stare at, and I could see things that others didn’t,” explains Jones. “Part of my work is wanting others to see the things that I see.”
Jones started out as a photographer. It was not until she was writing her graduate school thesis, while on holiday in Greece with her grandmother, that her focus changed. “It was not the Greece one might imagine,” she says. “It was not the beautiful, white-washed buildings with blue trim. We were staying on an island no one had ever heard of in a dilapidated village, with no young people, where no one spoke English. I was repeatedly sent to the beach.”
Jones admittedly does not idle well; she was going out of her mind with the mounting
stress of having to complete her thesis. She had brought her photography equipment but was resolute that everything on the island had been photographed before. “I was not going to take photographs of old doors for two months!” she laughs.
Unable to find inspiration, or anything that might be conceptually interesting, Jones had
put her cameras under the bed. However, one day lightning struck. “I was suddenly inspired by a line in a Susan Sontag book about how cheesy photographs of sunsets were,” Jones says. “I decided I was going to collect everyone’s sunset photos.”
Her “aha” moment sent Jones on a mission through the village, collecting every villagers’ images of sunsets. Later on, she made a video of the sun setting via the 1,400 photos that she had collected. That video not only became Jones’s thesis, but also became the pre-curser to her present work.
Much of Jones’s recent creations have been about life in Ojai, where she lives with her
musician husband, Mikael Jorgensen, pianist and keyboardist for the band Wilco, and their two small children. Jones’s own mother and father settled on Ojai in 1999, after touring the states in an RV in a quest to find Shangri-La—today it’s not uncommon for them to babysit for their daughter and son-in-law, who moved together to the idyllic town in December 2013.
“My work would be different if I was back in L.A. It would be more about being in the
herd, in the crowd. I couldn’t live in L.A. ever again. It just seems too huge, dealing with
crowds, and of course, the fight to get into the Whole Foods parking lot,” Jones laughs. “The Ojai environment is relaxing, and I love having the quiet.”
Recently, Jones made her largest piece to date—31 feet wide by 18 feet high—a collage
with no repeating pattern, using more than 7,000 photos. It was a commission from the
Wichita Art Museum in Kansas, which wanted a way to display its collection of Steuben glass. Jones photographed the pieces, and brought them into the digital realm.
And in January, Jones will have a wallpaper installation at the new Hotel Revival in
Baltimore. “I was commissioned to make a wallpaper for their open stairwell, based on
Baltimore album quilts. It’s made up of hundreds of digital photographs,” she explains. “I am giving it a contemporary feel by using present-day imagery. Each part of my design tells a story about my life as an artist, traveler, mother and member of the global community.”
Longtime Los Angeles resident Anna Getty seeks out a peaceful way of life for herself and her young family.
For philanthropist, cookbook author and film producer Anna Getty and her husband, former pro-skateboarder and DJ Scott Oster, the move to Ojai from Los Angeles was a gradual one.The couple, who were married in Big Sur in 2015, and who have two children together—15-month-old Bodhi and three-year-old Roman, in addition to Getty’s two older children from her previous marriage—initially bought a beautiful home in Upper Ojai nestled amongst 50 acres of orchards to serve as a retreat from their city lives. They were in search of a sense of community and a simpler life for their family. “We would come up to Ojai to hike,” Getty says.“We used to come for weekends. But as of last August, we call Ojai home.”
Her love affair with Ojai began nine years ago, amid her travels around California, and grew every time she visited the picturesque valley town. It was during this time that she was invited to a screening of the 2008 documentary, Fuel, an exploration of fuel alternatives by husband-andwife team Josh and Rebecca Tickell, who lived and worked in Ojai. “The film was great,” recalls Getty, who has long been an ambassador for environmental and social change and had previously served as executive producer for the PBS film Food Forward. “I walked right up to them and told them I wanted to be involved in future projects.” Getty got her wish when she took on the executive producer mantle for the couples’ recently released documentary, Kiss the Ground, about how healthy soil can help balance the climate, which is also accompanied by a book of the same title. “Every time I would come up to give my notes on the latest edit, Josh and Rebecca would encourage us to take the plunge and move here,” she says.
The modern Mediterranean house that Getty eventually purchased was built by local
architect Catherine Moore, and furnished by Oster, who filled the open layout with rustic natural materials, hearty woods, light colored rugs and soft sheepskin, all in a calming neutral palette. Sometimes, she has learned, it takes a move to the country to appreciate city life. “Now the irony is that I am enjoying L.A .so much more than before,” laughs Getty, who was born in Berlin and moved to Los Angeles as a young child. “Even traffic even has a charm.”
However, it doesn’t seem like Getty will be rushing back to Los Angeles anytime soon. After the devastating Thomas wildfire that took place in Ojai, Getty’s house miraculously still stands, and the disaster has drawn the family even closer to the adopted community that they love, support and now call home. “We have been collecting clothing from our kids’ schools, and reached out to clothing stores, local designers, our own closets and friends,” she says. “We are donating masks, diapers, air purifiers and other needs on a day-to-day basis. But it is a long-term situation. As a family we will support rebuilding our community with love, time, energy and resources.”
Justin Bastien has found the ideal place to refuel and recharge in between his constant trips around the world.
Trying to keep up with sportsman, adventurer, director and photographer Justin Bastien might actually be humanly impossible; even reaching him by phone could be considered a sport. “I just wrapped a job that I was shooting in Santiago and took a week off to come up to the Atacama to climb and shoot some pictures for myself,” Bastien says of his current post in San Pedro de Atacama, a small town in Chile’s Atacama Desert, when we finally do connect. “I’m beat.” Somehow I don’t quite believe him, as he talks to me while swinging in a hammock. He sounds extremely energized, not like someone who just scaled am 18,000-foot volcano in 24 hours of straight climbing.
Bastien’s start in photography was directly connected to his love of adventure. An avid rock climber, he was living out of his pickup truck for about 10 years, traveling around the country and occasionally returning to his home just south of Los Angeles to do odd jobs. “I was living this climbing lifestyle, and I’d meet photographers all the time,” he says. “I started going with them on photo shoots and climbed stuff for them. I started traveling the world to help out with these photo shoots and I ended up doing a lot of work with Patagonia.” The photo editor of Patagonia suggested Bastien buy his own camera and document his travels for the outdoor clothing company. These days, his portfolio includes some pretty far-ranging projects—from shooting eagle hunters in Mongolia to documenting NASA astronauts training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to free diving with environmentalist Kimi Werner off the coast of Hawaii—and his list of big-budget clients includes Red Bull, Microsoft and Coors Light.
A recent move to Ojai was fueled by Bastien’s need to find open space and also by the good food he’s discovered at the local farmers market. He and his girlfriend recently bought a house where he can go running, climbing and swimming directly from his front door. “My work is pretty intense so it’s nice to come home and be in nature,” says Bastien, who jokes that his city life these days consists of driving to LAX. “I love the hippie vibe and the small community.”
THE BEAT GOES ON
Musician Orpheo McCord is making new sounds from his Ojai home studio.
Drummer Orpheo McCord is best known for his integral role as the high-energy percussionist and drummer with Grammy Award-winning indie darlings Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. However, his first solo album, Recovery Inhale, which will be released in late January, finds McCord departing from his usual role— providing a rhythm section—and instead opting for a change of pace. “After being on the road for over a decade, performing and recording with Edward Sharpe, it felt cathartic to make an album that was totally free of rhythm and the traditional verse/chorus song structure,” says McCord of his meditative, instrumental album based around the marimba, a xylophone-type percussion instrument from West and Central Africa.
For years, McCord called East Los Angles his home, and was a part of the Echo Park cultural renaissance of the early aughts. “So much artistic collaboration was happening there, with people creating all sorts of art,” says McCord. “There was a real sense of community happening, and magic was in the air. It was such an exciting time for me.”
One can venture that McCord continues to harness the same energy in Ojai, where he decamped with his family in 2011. It was a necessary change of scenery after leading an exciting tour life and traveling the world, or as McCord puts it, being a “full-on road dog.”
McCord recorded Recovery Inhale at his home studio in Ojai (co-produced and mixed by another local, Scott Hirsch). This album feels like an ode to the quieter side of life, mirroring McCord’s environment. “Living in Ojai, I began to give myself permission to free associate, and experiment with sound,” McCord shares. “I naturally needed to calm my own nervous system, so this album was all about creating these luscious tonalities that allow the listener to let go of the daily chatter that inundates us all.”
Interior designer Paul Fortune and Chris Brock have quickly become Ojai’s most dynamic duo.
Since launching his L.A.-based studio in 1982, British-born interior designer Paul
Fortune has become known as one of the city’s go-to talents, with notable clients
that include Marc Jacobs, Sofia Coppola, Dasha Zhukova, Nate Ruess, Charlotte
Ronson and the Sunset Tower Hotel in Hollywood. Fortune’s welcoming and easy-tolive-
in environments, imbued with his signature style and elegance, spills over into his
personal life, too. That inviting feeling is immediately apparent in the house Fortune
shares with his ceramist husband, Chris Brock, and their adored elderly tabby cat, Nelly, in Upper Ojai. With breathtaking views of the famous Topatopa Mountains, their home is not just a place of comfort but a visual feast. Everything is easy on the eye, and not so precious that you are afraid to sit down. In fact all you will want to do is sit down and talk about the world with Ojai’s most fascinating couple.
Brock is calm, soft-spoken and impeccably dressed, and as striking a figure as his
husband. As he welcomes me into his studio—a gutted and transformed vintage
trailer—the cat lazes in a sunny spot in the open doorway, while classical music plays,
giving a sense of calm in this intensely creative space. Brock is enjoying huge success
with his ceramics—oversized, deco-inspired pots finished with gently mottled glazes,
some of which are reminiscent of Ojai’s famed “pink moment,” set against the blue sky.
He sold all pieces in his inaugural show last September at fashion designer Rick Owens’s store in Los Angeles, humbly chalking it up to beginner’s luck. However, it’s obvious there is a lot more involved.
“Being an artist is my lifelong desire, one I would have never reached without my
husband,” Brock says, touting Fortune as his biggest influence. “He is the force behind
the power, and he is tough, but he is very honest and he has a great eye and an
impossible standard. I really listened to him and here we are, after only two or three
years.” When Brock first moved to Ojai, he had trained for reiki and wanted to work as
a healer. “But when I got here, I soon realized this town is full of healers and one more
was literally the last thing Ojai needed,” he jokes. “What we need is a Neiman Marcus,”
Fortune accidentally discovered Ojai many years ago on his way to Santa Barbara;
he ended up at the Ojai Valley Inn and jumped in the pool. He remembers looking up
at the then-undeveloped mountains when Ojai was just a small, sleepy town, and it
stuck in his head. “It never occurred to me that one day I would be living here,” he
says. “But then we bought land and had a trailer there for weekends. I would come and
stay and I loved it.” Down the street from the land was a house, which the couple
acquired in 2013. A few years later, they received an offer to buy their longtime Laurel
Canyon abode, and made the decision to officially move.
“I had lived in that house in Laurel Canyon for about 30 years, and it took about
a year to recover from a nervous breakdown,” Fortune recalls. “We met people in Ojai
and it was fine. Chris never goes back to L.A., but I still have an apartment there for
work, so I kind of keep my toe in the water.” Working in this modern age makes life
easier for Fortune, who laughs about once, when he was sick, doing an installation in
NYC from his bed in Ojai via FaceTime. “I can do everything with my iPhone,” he
says. “In the old days, of course, you couldn’t do that.” Next up, Fortune is working on
a book for Rizzoli, tentatively titled Notes on Décor, Etc. 1978–2018—“I should just
call it Forty Fuckin’ Years of Work,” he jokes— while Brock is creating a new series of
pots inspired by Brutalist architecture.
“We are city people in the country and for us, that is the answer,” Brock says of the
couple’s love for their adopted hometown. “We only really go to the opera and when
we go, we make a big fuss about it and dress up and have our go-to-town moment, but
mostly, we don’t leave Ojai.”
“You don’t need any drugs in Ojai,” Fortune adds with a smile. “Ojai is a drug.”
With her signature minimalistic aesthetic and laid-back style, designer Jesse Kamm is quietly becoming L.A.’s reigning queen of slow fashion.
BY AMELIA FLEETWOOD PORTRAIT BY KATRINA DICKSON
CLOTHING DESIGNER JESSE KAMM stands proudly at the doorway of a 1930s Highland Park house, which she recently converted into her studio, and welcomes me in. The space is uplifting in its simplicity, flooded with light and curated with perfectly placed found objects—stacked rocks from distant shores, a snake skull, hats collected during her frequent travels—and wood furnishings built by her husband, Lucas Brower, who serves as the chief of operations at her fashion label. “This is the first time ever that the Jesse Kamm headquarters are not in our home,” she explains excitedly. “It feels like we are real grownups now driving down the hill to work.”
Kamm got her start in the fashion world in front of the lens, but never felt totally comfortable there. “When I was modeling, I always wanted to be the one picking out the clothes, instead,” says the blond-haired, fair-eyed natural beauty. Eventually, she got her wish. Kamm was living in Los Angeles, juggling three jobs (nanny, waitress and retail) when she decided to learn how to sew. She quickly excelled, and soon stylists were borrowing her creations, simple silhouettes with hand-printed drawings of desert flora and fauna.
Kamm launched her eponymous clothing line in 2005 with a little help from her friends: stylist Patrik Milani, who secured Kamm’s first order from prestigious Parisian store, Collette, and fellow designer Jeremy Scott, who gave Kamm practical advice about who to hire as a patternmaker and a sewer to help her to expand. “I worked 16 hours a day for the first two years,” she explains. “It was a lot, but creating gave me such a deep sense of calm and purpose.”
A Midwestern work ethic (she grew up in rural Illinois) and an inspired childhood are what Kamm credits for her success. “I did not come from a fashion background, but the creative part was easy because I grew up with artistic parents who raised me to work with my hands, creating and thinking about things in an aesthetic manner,” she says.
As things fell into place, Kamm designed what would become her cult classic: Kamm Pants, high-waisted, wide-legged trousers made from a fine cotton canvas, introduced in 2013 and worn by everyone from Rihanna to Michelle Williams. “My clothes make me feel good about myself,” Kamm explains. “I create them to be long-lasting and utilitarian. I need to be able to go to work, get dirty, but then brush off and look presentable too.”
Kamm rejects the idea of fast fashion and changing trends. “Everyone in the modern era builds a quit date into their product, but I have no planned obsolescence,” she says. “Jesse Kamm is built to last.” Still, the designer continues to evolve. Kamm’s spring collection hits stores in mid-February and is an ode to the Midwestern working man and woman. “I have huge compassion for the people of my homeland, my friends and family,” she says. “They’re honest, kind, hard-working people. I wanted to honor them.”
Inspired by Kamm’s grandfather, who owned a filling station and “always wore a union blue shirt with his name tag on it,” the latest collection is built around Japanese crushed cottons, linens, rayons, organic cotton/Tencel blends and canvases offered in a range of colors, such as union blues, salt white, tobacco, indigo and clay. Kamm is most excited about the overalls, which were guided by the farmers she remembers from her childhood. Utilitarian-style work shirts and the Ranger Pant, a new variation of the Kamm Pant with a slim leg, round out the offerings.
A big believer in keeping her work life manageable, Kamm’s ethos, “Freedom is wealth,” ensures that she keeps her business small. She is only sold in about 25 high-end boutiques around the world, including Mohawk General Store in L.A. and In the Field in Ojai, while her online store remains stocked with things people can get year-round. She also shuts down her company for three months every year. Her husband and her son escape to their home in Panama where they surf and embrace nature, allowing Kamm to clear the canvas in quiet reflection, so new inspiration can find her.
When East Meets West
Designer David Netto reveals his secrets for dealing with L.A. traffic and his penchant for Louis XVI furniture.
PRODUCED AND WRITTEN BY AMELIA FLEETWOOD
PORTRAIT BY KATRINA DICKSON
“BETTE DAVIS ONCE SHARED SOME invaluable advice with aspiring starlets regarding the best way to make it to Hollywood,” says author, designer and transplanted New Yorker David Netto, laughing about Los Angeles’s infamous traffic. “‘Darling, take Fountain!’ she said. Similarly, my advice to any burgeoning young decorator is, ‘Darling, take 6th Street.’ Or better yet, get an office on 6th so you can avoid the traffic on
Wilshire. And by the way, Fountain doesn’t work anymore.”
Every morning after driving his kids to school, Netto picks his way across the east side of L.A. to Koreatown on his motorbike, a customized Ducati, to get to his office in
the Talmadge, a historic brick building named after, and originally owned by, the silent film actress Norma Talmadge. Netto’s studio, a reflection of his well-educated palate, is crammed full of eclectic pieces. There are modern sculptures, old masters’ drawings and Louis XVI furniture (for which the designer claims to have a borderline erotic
fetish). He is clearly no stranger to an auction house.
Raised in the affluent Upper East Side of New York City, Netto grew up immersed in the design world, learning the nuances of collecting and the history of furniture and
decorative arts from people in his family’s circle, and especially from his father, who owned the fabric house Cowtan & Tout. The 48-year-old claims he was a designer
before he became one. “At 14, I did my own bedroom while architect Peter Marino was working on my parent’s apartment,” he recalls. “Insane, but true!” Netto was also
privy to the dysfunctional personalities at the top end of design at the time, which forced his hand to pursue architecture instead of becoming a decorator.
But by 2000, Netto was no longer able to avoid his inevitable calling. He dropped out of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and set up a studio in NYC, decorating
his friends’ apartments.
After creating, and later selling, a very well-received baby furniture line, Netto closed his studio in New York in 2009 and moved to L.A. with his wife and daughter to be
closer to his eldest daughter. They found a Neutra house in Silver Lake and started a new life on the West Coast.
“It’s very gratifying to be embraced by the land of your exile!” Netto explains. “L.A. taught me that there doesn’t need to be any rules. Case in point: an elegant 1920s Tudorrevival home that he recently completed, which—at the last minute—he embellished with a blue and yellow painted stripe, inspired by a Mexican jail detail, around the top of an otherwise traditional dining room. “My rooms have been
called very optimistic, and I love to challenge myself to work with color more than I have in the past,” Netto says. “I have gotten very bold using light blues and oranges and things that take courage for the kind of dignified architecture that I am often working in, especially in L.A.”
Netto believes that his traditional upbringing offers people in L.A. something unique. “I understand East Coast taste because frankly it’s who I am. It’s where I came from,
what I grew up with,” he says. “It is not preppy taste I am talking about, but something that is classic from the ’70s and ’80s that is related to Billy Baldwin and Albert Hadley that no one can do any more. It’s a lost thing from another culture.”
As for his own personal style, Netto describes it as “a permanent intellectual attitude about site in terms of the architecture, and creating a portrait of the inhabitants of
who they can be, of who they want to be and who they really are.” He says if a house looks like him, then he did not do a good job.
Although he is currently working on a residence in Malibu with master architect Robert A.M. Stern, Netto admits that California, with its unique architecture and light, is not his natural vocabulary. Nevertheless, he loves to surprise his West Coast clients with his New York sensibilities. “People in California are up for an adventure,” he says. “I never tone it down, because L.A. is a very exotic place.”
Amanda de Cadenet sets her gaze on a future that is female.
BY AMELIA FLEETWOOD
SELF PORTRAIT BY AMANDA DE CADENET
BOLD, BEAUTIFUL BRIT AMANDA DE Cadenet was dubbed “Wild Child” of London in the early ’90s where—as a popular television presenter by the age of 16—her teenage antics alongside Britain’s glitterati set created constant tabloid fodder. At 19 years old, de Cadenet married Duran Duran bassist John Taylor, and the couple eventually moved to Los Angeles with their daughter.
Now in her forties, de Cadenet is remarried to another musician—The Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi (with whom she has twins) - and is still living in L.A., although her wild child days are long behind her. Instead, de Cadenet has settled into a self-realized and impressive life, most notably as an advocate for women’s rights and equality for all.
She just wrote an autographical book, “It’s Messy: On Boys, Boobs and Badass Women” (Harper Wave), and is the CEO of Girl Gaze, a platform she founded in 2016 to highlight and find work for young female photographers.
In addition to being a wife and mother, de Cadenet is an accomplished photographer and creator and host of the talk show, The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet,
which she produced with her friend Demi Moore. “Oh, I almost forgot to mention; I just curated a book for Girl Gaze,” de Cadenet says with a laugh. “Listen,” she adds, “we all wear lots of hats.”
As for de Cadenet’s first stab at penmanship, “It’s Messy,” which came out in September, it touches on, in a refreshingly honest and open way, the highs and lows of her life journey. “I wrote it because so many young women who follow me on social media asked me to write about my experiences,” she shares, describing her hope of helping young women navigate the complicated modern world. “I could have been a statistic so many times. The fact that I lived through hell and back became the impetus to create and thrive.”
“It’s Messy” includes highlights from The Conversation, such as when she famously asked Jane Fonda, “What is your favorite sex position?” There’s also an interview with Hillary Clinton that took place shortly before the 2016 presidential election. As de Cadenet explains in the beginning of the book, her old friend, “selfdoubt” and copious amounts of perspiration were omnipresent during her interview with Clinton, yet she
nevertheless held her own.
As a celebrated photographer in her own right—her work has appeared in Elle, Vanity Fair and Vogue, among others—de Cadenet feels that women are underrepresented
in the industry. “I was frustrated that so few female photographers were being hired for jobs, and I plan to change that,” de Cadenet says. That is why she spearheaded Girl Gaze, to generate visibility and support for the next generation of women behind the camera. Last year de Cadenet asked girls of Generation Z (10-25 year olds), to share their talents by using the hashtag “#GirlGaze” when posting their work on social media—to date, there have been more than 2.8 million submissions on Instagram from all over the world. She also launched an exhibition at the Annenberg Space of Photography, which ran from October 2016 through February 2017, and is partnering with major brands such as The Gap, Warby Parker, and Shinola, to create job opportunities and give young women the ability to sustain a creative life. Next, there are plans for a magazine, as well as grants that will be established from the funds raised from all of the various efforts.
And this is only the beginning. “There are a lot of really talented young women out there,” de Cadenet declares. As a response, she’s started Girl Gaze Management, which now represents “five, very different photographers,” she says. Her clients range from Gia Coppola, the emerging film director and granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola, to Bree Holt, a 22-year-old undiscovered talent based in Atlanta, Georgia. Girl Gaze
is also launching an eponymous coffee table book, featuring the work of more than 200 young photographers, which will be published by Rizzoli on October 10.
“We were not able to include everything in that Annenberg exhibition because of censorship,” de Cadenet shares. “Breasts, especially nipples, and anything to do with
menstruation were excluded.” Always one to push the envelop, though, de Cadenet has organized an exhibition at Shepard Fairey’s gallery Subliminal Projects that will coincide with the book’s publication, running through October 28 and featuring all of the banned images from the original show.
“I became an advocate for women and girls once I learned to be an advocate for myself,” de Cadenet says. “Nothing makes me happier than helping to create job
opportunities for girls because I know how goddam hard it is. I am thrilled to be a part of facilitating gender equality and also to help someone realize their creative dream.
What could be better?”