Last month was painterly. Sunday will be poetic. by Dani Dodge

After an incredibly fun activation last month, we are super excited about Sunday! From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, July 14, 2019, we will have an art activation at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve in Lancaster, Calif.

During the activation, participants will create illustrated Haiku, that they can take home to frame or just put on the fridge. All ages are invited. All supplies will be provided.

But, before I go on and on, check out these photos from last month’s activation. Participants captured the desert with water-soluble crayons and pencils, and then used water to turn them into watercolor masterpieces. The art was amazing!

Mother's Day Art Activation: Love and beauty by Dani Dodge

At the last art activation on Mother’s Day at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve, dozens of people made colorful tiles. The next art activation is this Sunday (June 9, 2019) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants will make watercolors from crayon drawings!


But more about last month. Boy, did we have fun! And here’s one other thing: Two of the tiles made then will be part of an art display at the visitor’s center next year! And here’s the other cool thing: One or two pieces from each activation will be part of that show!


March in Lancaster: Moon Walks, blue antelope and temptations by Dani Dodge

Often people have the image of Lancaster as a sleepy little town where there’s nothing fun to do.

They could not be more wrong.

There are many exciting art and education-related events, presentations, activities at the Museum of Art and History and the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve every month. March is no exception.

Here is just a sampling of some of the fun:

Saturday, March 16

1 p.m.
Dinosaur Presentation
Prime Desert Woodland Preserve,
43201 35th Street West, Lancaster
Dinosaur expert Richard Wade offers an interactive demonstration on the “Last Days of the Dinosaurs” including a full-scale model of a T-Rex skull.
$3, ages 3 and under free
Details on Preserve website.

1-2 p.m.
Peace on Earth: Artist Panel Discussion
Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH)
665 W Lancaster Blvd, Lancaster
Hear from a few of the artists in the Peace on Earth exhibit at MOAH in this panel discussion led by museum curator Andi Campognone. Artists include Cynthia Minet, James Griffith, Catherine Coan and Luke Matjas.
Details on Facebook.

Art in Residence.jpg

1-4 p.m.
Art in Residence
Location: Antelope Acres, CA at the foot of the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.
34°43’39.0″N 118°22’12.7″W
Artists Nathaniel Ancheta and David Edward Martin have created an installation that includes four life size sculptures of a pronghorn antelope, made of rebar, found/discarded material and painted super saturated blue.
NOTE: There also will be a meet- and-greet for Art In Residence at MOAH: CEDAR from 5-8 p.m. Supplemental work on related to the current installation will be on display.
Details on Facebook.


3-6 p.m.
Temptations in Fairyland: Performance by Jason Jenn
44857 Cedar Ave, Lancaster
The visually delightful artworks installed in Leonard Greco Jr.’s “Fairyland” at MOAH: CEDAR are both the basis and setting for the live performances of “Temptations in Fairyland” by multimedia performance artist Jason Jenn at 3 and 5 p.m.
Details on Facebook

6-10 p.m.
MOAH: CEDAR Board Game Café
Cedar Center for the Arts Memorial Hall,
44851 Cedar Avenue, Lancaster
Gamerunner Amy Bruhl will curate a selection of tabletop games from her extensive collection of the latest independent board games as well as a few favorites.
Attendees must RSVP to 661-723-6250.
Details on Facebook

March 21 (Thursday)

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3-7 p.m.
Young Artist Workshop: Flapping Bird
Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH)
665 W Lancaster Blvd, Lancaster
Stop by between 3 and 7 p.m, for the Young Artist Workshop, where young artists will make their own Flapping Bird. All materials will be provided by MOAH.
More about young artist workshops:
Details on Facebook

March 23 (Saturday)

8-10 a.m.
Special Needs Community Day
Prime Desert Woodland Preserve,
43201 35th Street West, Lancaster
Park Rangers, in partnership with AV Seed and Grow/AV Cultivar y Crecer and Quality Behavior Solutions, provide walking tours and early access to the Interpretive Center.
Details on Preserve website.

7 p.m.
MOAH: CEDAR Concert Series
44857 Cedar Ave, Lancaster
The concert series that will be held at Cedar Hall. On the lineup is Phovea, Valley Echo, Others, Cozzmos and Cruel Reflections
Details on Facebook

7:30 p.m.
Moon Walk
Prime Desert Woodland Preserve
43201 35th Street West, Lancaster
Jeremy Amarant, Director of the Palmdale School District’s SAGE Planetarium leads a one-mile guided tour of the Preserve to discuss the night sky.
$2 donation welcome
Details on Preserve website

March 24 (Sunday)


4:45 to 7 p.m.
Live Figure Drawing with Artist Leonard Greco
44857 Cedar Ave, Lancaster
This live figure drawing session will feature MOAH:CEDAR artist in residence Leonard Greco. Seating is limited so be sure to arrive early.
Details on Facebook 

March 30 (Saturday)

2 p.m.
Leonard Greco: Artist Talk
44857 Cedar Ave, Lancaster
Artist in residency Leonard Greco will talk about his current exhibition at MOAH:CEDAR, “Fairyland,” which touches on the weighty tableau of the Temptation of St. Anthony of the Desert and the perilous trials of Herakles.
Details on Facebook

Learn more about other events this months, and in moths to come, at or


Art Activations begin at the Preserve on Sunday! by Dani Dodge

This Sunday. Art activations begin in the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve!

These are special times—11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the second Sunday of each month in 2019—to come out to the preserve and honor it with your art, or by thinking about the desert in a more artful way.

The activations begin this Sunday with an opportunity to see nature in a different way by making a golden ratio finder.  The golden ratio, or Fibonacci sequence, is an ancient way of finding the beauty of nature and art. We will create the golden ratio finders, and then look around the desert to find where it applies!

Fibonacci spiral, also known as the golden ratio

Fibonacci spiral, also known as the golden ratio

 One of my favorite ways to explain the golden ratio is to let Donald Duck do it in this 1959 cartoon “Donald in Mathmagic Land.” Want more?  Check out  “Fibonacci Sequence Documentary - Golden Section Explained.”

 So come out and make a golden section finder with me, and put the every second Sunday of the month on your calendar! All supplies are provided. All ages and experience levels are welcome.


Here’s what we have in store for 2019:

March 10 – Make a Golden Section finder.
See the desert like an artist. Make a golden section finder, and find how nature creates perfect proportions in the desert, and take then it home with you to find perfect proportions everywhere!

April 14 – Make a photograph without a camera.
Since the mid-1800s, naturalists have used the photographic process of cyanotype to record plants they found throughout the world. Now artists use it to make beautiful images. Make your own cyanotype using items found on the desert floor and take home a beautiful image of the desert.

May 12 – Paint a tile inspired by the desert floor.
Make a tile for you or your mom. Using the desert floor as our inspiration, we will create beautiful abstract tiles. These are perfect as Mother’s Day gifts!

June 9 – Painting the desert in watercolor washes.
We will experiment with wet-on-wet watercolor techniques to depict the dry desert.

July 14 - Finding words and images.
What comes first, the idea or the image? In this art activation, participants will first write a haiku about the desert on lovely watercolor paper, and then illustrate it with markers!

August 11 – Make a rain stick.
It’s been a very, very long time since we’ve had rain. Doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten the sound of it. Come out to the Prime Desert Woodland and make your own rain stick!

September 8 – Paint a desert scene with crayons. Watercolor crayons!
Draw a picture of the desert with crayons, and then use a paintbrush and water to turn it into a watercolor masterpiece!

October 13 – Making masks inspired by desert animals.
Go to Halloween as your favorite desert animal. Will you be a jackrabbit, raven, or a bobcat?

November 10 – Drawing desert bugs.
Sometimes it seems as if there is nothing alive in the desert. But that’s just not so. We will look for bugs, then examine them with magnifying glasses, and then draw them.

December 8 – Perfecting Polaroids.
Come to the Prime Desert Woodlands and have your picture taken with the desert as your backdrop. And then, use our paint and unusual framing supplies to make that image into a personal piece of art!

See you Sunday!

Nuri Amanatullah: Drawing us into the interactions with wildlife by Dani Dodge

When you wander into the Elyze Clifford Interpretive Center at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve, you will see something new, vibrant and captivating on the walls: the art work of Nuri Amanatullah.

The prints are inspired by random, chance interactions the artist has had with wildlife in and around the Antelope Valley.

Nuri Amanatullah Photo: Sam Allen

Nuri Amanatullah
Photo: Sam Allen

“I once saw a roadrunner in a Del Taco parking lot and it affected me profoundly,” Amanatullah said. “It was the first time I had seen a roadrunner in person and I was surprised how large it was. It was beautiful, almost regal. And then I thought, 'what is this regal bird doing scrounging for scraps at Del Taco?’ “

He has seen a grey fox digging through a trashcan at nearby Devil's Punchbowl, coyotes sulking down his street in Quartz Hill like stray dogs looking for food.

“Then I started thinking about these unique encounters and how the Antelope Valley is one of those special places where the desert wildlife persists in spite of our disrupting presence. I wanted to portray the flora and fauna of the Antelope Valley, bold and vibrant, but not isolated,” he explained. “Often with natural photography and other forms of artwork there is a concentrated effort to separate the traces of humans, to deliver this false notion of pristine, unmolested landscapes and wildlife. I wanted to do the opposite and show the intersections where humans and animals meet.”

Art by Nuri Amanatullah

Art by Nuri Amanatullah

Amanatullah has been drawing since an early age. He received a bachelor’s degree in art from University of California, Santa Cruz. He moved to the Antelope Valley in 2008 because his wife was from here. In addition to being an artist, he is the art director for the Housing Corporation of America, a nonprofit organization that provides enrichment programs including art, fitness, and scholarship to affordable-income housing across Southern California. 

Since moving to the Antelope Valley, his art has focused on the animal and plant life of the desert area. He has become enamored with the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve, which he considers one of the best places to experience the beauty of the natural world.

Art by Nuri Amanatullah

Art by Nuri Amanatullah

He said that he hopes that people who see his work at the interpretive center will walk away with a sense of curiosity and an eagerness to learn more.

“I hope that it's the same feeling I got when I was a child looking at animal specimens and dinosaur bones at the natural history museum,” Amanatullah said. “I'd like to restore awe in nature since it's so close to us now. At any given time of day you can spot a hawk sitting on a telephone pole off of Sierra Highway. Or ravens on top of buildings. Or coyotes scampering across vacant lots.”

He noted that humans have encroached on these animals’ environments, and they’ve learned to adapt.

“We're neighbors whether we like it or not,” he said. “So I'd prefer that the relationship between the residents of the Antelope Valley, especially the youth, and the creatures here is one of respect and wonder.”

To see more of Amanatullah’s work, check out his Instagram account or website.

Or, even better, stop by the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve to enjoy it in person, and then, go out on the trails to experience some of that natural beauty yourself.  

Art by Nuri Amanatullah

Art by Nuri Amanatullah

Nature inspiring art and art preserving nature by Dani Dodge

For many artists, nature is their muse. Places like the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve, tucked into the middle of Lancaster, can nurture the budding artist or inspire the professional.

 I talked to three of the artists featured in the “Peace on Earth” exhibit at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History to learn about how nature inspires their creativity and why preserving nature is so important.

Cynthia Minet

Cynthia Minet

 Cynthia Minet

I am inspired by nature and seek to raise awareness about environmental issues. I am also fascinated by animals, and study their structure and behavior for my work. I am always in awe of the sublime beauty of the natural world.

 Preserving nature is important because without it, we lose our very souls. We humans are nature, and we cannot separate ourselves from it. The farther we go into urbanization and technology, the more we pollute the planet, the more we sign our own death warrants, and the death warrants of all future generations, and all life. It is essential that we preserve and respect nature, and that we spend time in natural areas. 

Cynthia 2.JPG
Samuelle Richardson

Samuelle Richardson

 Samuelle Richardson

As a city person, I discovered the natural world by traveling to remote corners of the globe, and this gave me an appreciation for the immense power nature has over us and our ability to master that power. These impressions have inspired my work in the way they speak to the balance of power between man and the animal kingdom, which seems to be a never-ending struggle.

 The planet we live on thrives if nature is preserved, and our daily lives are diminished if we become disconnected from the natural world. In spite of my urban lifestyle, an important part of my routine involves hiking in parks. I would be at a loss without open spaces.

Samuelle 2.JPG


Devin Thor

Devin Thor

Devin Thor

Nature is, in fact, what our world actually is. Humans are just a part of nature.  With my art, I feel inspired to challenge the viewer to feel the natural spirit of inclusion. There is no corner of this planet that man does not live in, and no corner of which man has not caused change. We must be good stewards of this unique and wonderful planet Earth. Remember that extinction is forever.

 Our natural world evolved over long periods of geological time. As a geologist I have worked to understand natural processes and the huge time period our Earth's history represents. Thus, I understand that preserving nature is equal to preserving life, something we all hold very precious. There have been five extraordinary mass extinctions in Earth's geological history, as natural forces caused environmental changes that almost sterilized the planet. We are now in a sixth period of mass extinction, but this time the cause of environmental change is MAN. There is no debate; the facts are in and they are highly scientific.

 Our humanity is based in sharing the world with all other living things. Who does not smile upon seeing a blue sky with birds, a fawn nuzzling with its mom, or breathing fresh air and just feeling alive. Preserving nature is actually preserving our Mother Earth.


Peace on Earth continues at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History through April 21. An artist talk at 1 p.m. on March 16 will feature Cynthia Minet, Luke Matjas and Catherine Coan.

 Artists in the exhibition are David Adey, Tami Bahat, Clayton Campbell, Catherine Coan, Emily Ding, Nancy Evans, Jane Fisher, Matthew Floriani, Simone Gad, James Griffith, Laurie Hassold, Chie Hitotsuyama, Kim Kimbro, Debbie Korbel, Laura Larson, Spenser Little, Emily Maddigan, Luke Matjas, Zachary Mendoza, Jen Meyer, Lori Michelon, Cynthia Minet, Bobbie Moline-Kramer, Stephen O’Donnell , Lori Pond, Robb Putnam, Margo Ray, Samuelle Richardson, Laurie Sumiye, Devin Thor, Laurence ValliEres and Scott Yoell.

Curated and organized by Andi Campognone and Robert Benitez.

Peace on Earth at the Preserve ... and MOAH by Dani Dodge

This Saturday, “Peace on Earth” opens at the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster. The exhibition addresses concerns for the environment and the fragility of ecosystems that support animal life.

The Elyze Clifford Interpretive Center

The Elyze Clifford Interpretive Center

Thoughts about the upcoming art show inspired me to go to Prime Desert Woodland Preserve a few days ago to learn more about the animals that survive there. I began the exploration talking to a friendly park ranger in the Elyze Clifford Interpretive Center, which is open Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 She let me know that the animals that rangers had seen the most lately were cottontails, black-tailed jackrabbits, ravens, ground squirrels and quail. Coyote sightings also had been reported that day by visitors, she said.

Animal skull inside the interpretive center

Animal skull inside the interpretive center

 The Center is filled with wonderful ways to get to know the animals. Images of desert animals lined the walls with descriptions. There was even a table where I could touch an antler, a bird wing and an animal skull!

 I also learned from the informative displays that 100 years ago, spotting wild animals, such as bobcats, bears and rattlesnakes, was a daily occurrence in the area, and sometimes a source of danger for those living in the Antelope Valley. In 1917, packs of wolves were reported wandering in the El Mirage area.

Cottontail at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve

Cottontail at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve

 After spending so much time exploring the interpretive center, I didn’t have a lot of time to hike. But during the time I did spend on the trails, I saw more than a half dozen cottontail rabbits. They were adorable.

 And I’m pretty sure I’m going to see more rabbits—or at least artistic interpretations of them—Saturday at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History.

“Peace on Earth” art by Bobbie Moline-Kramer

“Peace on Earth” art by Bobbie Moline-Kramer

 “Peace on Earth” opens with a reception from 4 to 6 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019). The Museum of Art and History is located at 665 W Lancaster Blvd, Lancaster, California 93534.

 The exhibition will continue through April 20.

 Artists featured in “Peace on Earth” include: Bobbie Moline-Kramer, Catherine Coan, Chie Hitotsuyama, Clayton Campbell, Cynthia Minet, David Adey, Debbie Korbel, Devin Thor, Emily Ding, Emily Maddigan, James Griffith, Jane Fisher, Jen Meyer, Kim Kimbro, Laura Larson, Laurence Vallières, Laurie Hassold, Laurie Sumiye, Lori Michelon, Lori Pond, Luke Matjas, Margo Ray, Matthew Floriani, Nancy Evans, Robb Putnam, Samuelle Richardson, Scott Yoell, Simone Gad, Spenser Little, Stephen O’Donnell, Tami Bahat and Zachary Mendoza.

“Peace on Earth” art by James Griffith

“Peace on Earth” art by James Griffith