I’m sitting at my mod podged IKEA desk which is covered in vintage movie posters and 1950s Sci Fi novel illustrations. It is located in my light green and green striped watermelon office in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. I’m looking at the film of dust from the Death Valley Desert that still covers my boots, left over from the weekend’s adventure.
I spend a lot of my time dreaming or researching things to dream about. A few years ago I was researching Ray Bradbury and during that research I went to his IMDB page and found all of the movies and documentaries that he was in. I either rented these movies on Netflix or checked them out from the library. Ray was listed on several movies as himself, one was a documentary about a female artist who lived in Death Valley. It sounded interesting so I checked it out. The movie was called Amargosa, a film by Todd Robinson.
I didn’t know what to expect when I popped this DVD in, I didn’t know that it would change my life and the way I think about art and creativity forever, but it did.
I was introduced to artist/dancer Marta Becket through this film and when it was over, I watched it again and again and again. I’ll try to explain who Marta Becket is for those of you who have never heard of her (although I think you should watch this film and discover for yourself).
If greater, devine forces of whatever religion or state of mind that you subscribe to could ever send an angel or messenger to our realm to display the true heart and spirit of an artist and creativity, it would be Marta Becket. She seems to be a truly amazing woman who took every ounce of her energy from every molecule in her body and completely devoted her life to creativity, dance and the arts. I have nothing but respect and love for this woman. It would take me forever to name all of her achievements, so I’ll share what I found inspiring. In one word. Amargosa.
Amargosa was an abandoned hotel and opera house that Marta Becket stumbled upon in the late 1960’s when stranded in Death Valley Junction with a flat tire. She fell in love with the place, moved there and made her own imaginative world come alive. She restored the opera house and made it a whimsical destination to observe and perform in. She painted an audience on the walls. It was a project that she did all on her own and it took her several years to complete. She performed at the opera house, in her point shoes and tutu as an actress and a dancer clear up into her 80s. I am so excited and inspired by this. Once I learned of Marta it became clear to me that I wanted to devote my life to creativity and the arts with the same amount of passion and spirit as she did. That’s why I make sure I do something creative every day!
Like a dream come true I was given the chance to travel to Death Valley and see the Amargosa Opera House and experience the magic that Marta created there myself. I’m on the mailing list for the opera house and a few months back I got an invite there from a dance company located on the east coast called Spoke the Hub who was hosting a fundraising artist’s retreat at Amargosa. Myke and I worked our butts off to earn the money for the donation and plane tickets to fly out.
It was an amazing experience. The desert is beautiful, quiet and alive with creatures, including wild horses! We met so many lovely, talented people. The dancers from Spoke the Hub were creative, off the wall and super fun to watch. We also met this guy Omar Lopez who rides around the desert with a dark room on the back of his motorcycle making antique tin photos. I took a workshop on sand-painting located on a helicopter pad in the middle of nowhere. We had a yoga and meditation class. We discovered Mike and Christy, the Gypsy Time Travelers who roam the US on their mobile castle, a land yacht called “Florence”. Christy is a story teller and Mike is a blacksmith, two amazing artists and very interesting people. The Gypsy Time Travelers sent us home with an arrowhead necklace for our son Jasper and a scroll with a dragon story and the knight’s creed (Jasper took the knight’s creed very seriously and has been reciting it every day.)
But most of all I got to meet one of my personal heroes, Marta Becket. It’s not every day you come across someone like that. Amargosa, Marta Becket and my experience in Death Valley Junction will forever more have a very special place in my heart. I hope I can go back someday.