Friday, September 6, 2013

The Next Step: an expedition to Llano Del Rio

On Saturday September 21, Craftswoman House partners with Hinterculture to embark on a journey and exploration of the site of the former Llano Del Rio colony, a socialist co-operative located in the California desert from 1914-1918. We seek artists, dancers, engineers, musicians, scientists, writers, scholars, architects, performers, designers, urban planners, archaeologists, socialists, and activists to join us on our journey. We desire all forms of collaboration to produce works for the 100th anniversary celebration in May 2014.

The Craftswoman House caravan will depart from the Glendale Metrolink Station 400 W. Cerritos Ave. Glendale, CA 91204 at 2pm on Saturday, September 21 and travel 70 miles to Llano Del Rio site east of Palmdale in the Antelope Valley for The Next Step expedition. While in route, travelers can listen to a podcast about and inspired by the Llano colony. The podcast will feature historical information, sound art, and interviews about the former socialist community. The podcast will be available for download at by September 18th. Those who do not wish to join the caravan may travel on their own to the Llano site. There will be scheduled tours and performances at the site from 4-6pm, details TBA.

Llano Del Rio was incorporated in 1914 by Job Harriman, the socialist nominee for mayor of Los Angeles in 1911. The site is located at approximately 165th Street East along Highway 138 otherwise known as Pearblossom Highway. Despite numerous internal hurdles and external criticisms, the colony made its mark as an innovative social experiment. Llano’s progressive social services-including low-cost housing, Social Security, minimum-wage pay, and universal health care, were decades ahead of their time. The colony, one of the most successful socialist colonies in America, relocated to New Llano Louisiana in 1917, after internal political dissent and troubled logistics in their water rights agreement.

The title of the expedition The Next Step, references Alice Constance Austin’s 1935 book The Next Step: How to Plan for Beauty, Comfort, and Peace with Great Savings Effected by the Reduction of Waste which promoted visionary plans for feminist life within a socialist city. Inspired by Ebenezer Howard’s garden city and the ideas of feminist thinker, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Austin’s innovative design for Llano featured kitchenless houses, areas for communal daycare, and built-in furniture to reduce the demands of domestic labor. Although the plans for Llano were never fully actualized, Austin’s vision and ideals entered the vernacular of history and have influenced architecture, city planning, urban development, and discourses on feminism and socialism. As W. L. George stated in 1913, “The Feminist flat is revolutionary, strikes at the root of the economic system, may involve vast readjustments of land-tenure, communal building and taxation. But we are not afraid of revolution, for we are the pioneers of a sex-revolution.”

Safety tips for travel in the desert:

Bring food and water-just in case.

Wear walking (hiking/closed toe) shoes and pants that cover your legs.

Have a small jacket with you. It's been hot, but the wind picks up in the evening and it can get very chilly.

Keep an eye out for snakes and wildlife.

Ants in your pants if you stand on their colony. 

There are no restrooms. The nearest facilities are at Longview to the west in Littlerock (It's on the map below)

Sunscreen is your friend.

Please dispose of any litter properly, and respect the land. 

Cigarettes can cause major wildfires because of the dry brush.

We aren’t expecting rain, but if it does rain, there is a high chance it will flood and we'll have to divert around the wash. Water acts differently in the desert, and even 1 inch of rain can flood the wash.

If you plan to visit the Hotel ruins on the North side of Pearblossom Highway, please don't walk across the road. Highway 138 is called Deathtrap Highway for a reason.

Llano Expedition Google Map

Craftswoman House Temporary Residence is a project dedicated to fostering a dialogue on feminist issues through projects and exhibitions. Inspired by collective efforts such as Womanhouse, the project pays homage to the rich legacy of feminist art in Southern California. Temporary Residence partners with artists and organizations to present innovative site-specific works in found domestic and public spaces in and around Los Angeles.

Hinterculture is an arts collaboration that explores the intersections of cultural inquiry and creative potentiality by means of experimental exhibitions. Projects reveal the outlying history, art, technology and business of the desert hinterlands by mining sites for their social, cultural and aesthetic meaning. Documenting hidden and overlooked stories, both natural and manufactured, Hinterculture expands the perception and understanding of art and space—sharing these discoveries and revealing a new public image of the Mojave.

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