Friday, July 13, 2018

Wonder Valley August Artist of the Month | Joe Barrett

Joe Barrett is a local photographer and videographer who has loaned his expertise to the developing interest in Hazel I. Stiles’ Volcanic Gardens | Sermons in Stone.

Sermons in Stone is a text-based art project created by Wonder Valley homesteader Hazel I Stiles sometime in the 1980's. The text references both religion and patriotism, but is complicated by her vast personal readings and oblique references to Shakespeare and religious poets like Charles Barlow. The text was laid out meticulously -- stone by stone -- and can really only be read from above. The project covers an area of land about 300’ - 150’. Hazel’s personal story is interesting in itself and mirrors the disappointments that drive so many people out to this harsh land.

Ten photographs of the project, and 10 minutes of stunning drone footage, will be featured at the Wonder Valley Community Center, through August.

Joe Barrett will speak about his work on this project, drone photography, and videography, starting at 11 a.m., on Saturday, August 4th, at the Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526-½ Amboy Road, in Wonder Valley. Ken Sitz, his project partner, will also speak on Sermons in Stone, and the process that has taken place in bringing this homestead art to the public eye.

Everyone is welcome to come, enjoy the artwork, join the discussion, and ask questions.


After serving in the US Air Force, Joe Barrett worked in the film industry in Los Angeles in several positions, including Production Design, Camera Operator, and Director. Active and involved in multiple artistic projects, Joe was sidelined in 2015 by the rare and debilitating disease, transverse myelitis. Retreating to the Morongo Basin, his long-time home away from home, Joe worked on his recovery, and turned to photography and video. He eventually bought land in Wonder Valley and transformed the remains of a derelict homestead cabin into one of the area’s most popular and unique HipCamps -- the Edge of the Wilderness.

In time, and with a lot of work, Joe got back on his feet - literally, and began shooting videos for local musicians and bands. Through these he became familiar with our harsh terrains, which he embraced, and optimized to emphasize human form and talent, making expert, and stunning, use of drone photography.

Joe met Ken Sitz at the local watering hole -- The Palms, and the two became friends. When Ken became interested in exploring Hazel Stiles’ homestead art project, long neglected and mostly forgotten, Ken turned to Joe for assistance in framing the project in a way that was more accessible to the public. Joe and his team spent many days on site photographing and filming this challenging project, which is best seen from above.

Joe’s latest video for Spectra Records recording artists, Firebug may be seen at the link below. The song is “Follower”, and was filmed almost entirely in Wonder Valley.