Joshua Tree is a new edition of photographs from Lincoln Schatz. Taken during the winter of 2022 these photographs capture the complex desert landscapes of southern California. Joshua Tree National Park is located about three hours east of Los Angeles. Just outside of Palm Springs. North of the Salton Sea and on the southern tip of the Mojave Desert the park sits alongside the San Andreas Fault. Hundreds of fault lines fill Joshua Tree’s arid landscape. Six mountain ranges rise up from the ground and include the Little San Bernardino along with the Cottonwood, Pinto, Hexie, Eagle and Coxcomb.
There is a mystical nature to the desert. At once empty and abundant. A place where time; past, present and future exist simultaneously. Standing far out in the desert it is just you, the land and the sky. All cloaked in silence.
There is nothing to soften or obscure the intersection between the land and air. The light saturates everything evenly. It can be unrelenting.
From Lincoln Schatz:
The first day in Joshua Tree National Park was cold. The winter wind stripped the warmth from the sun. It was difficult to imagine in that moment that this is a place that could experience temperatures up to 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The February light was disorienting. Subtle and seductive, and possessing a dream-like quality.
I am accustomed to reading a landscape in part through the trees that populate it. Their size, age, density and type inform how I understand the terrain. However, to understand Joshua Tree requires a new language and a timeline spanning billions of years. The sense of scale alone in a place like this, with wide open expanses that stretch for as far as you can see, can disorient and confuse quickly. Stopping in Pinto Basin I gazed out as far as I could see. Studying the intersection of the Mojave and Colorado deserts. Dry flat land with mountains in the distance.
Seismic activity defines this landscape as well. Rock formations jut from the earth. Touching the sky. Standing like sentinels. Observing. Piles of large boulders are strewn about. Having been belched from the earth. Water and wind carve this rock. Exposing a deep geological time in the contours that is hard to comprehend when standing before it.
A winter storm appeared out of nowhere. An unexpected arrival to the desert. Bringing with it strong winds and snow. We tried to outrun it by heading south, but it was no use – the snow followed us. The speed at which it overtook me emphasized how difficult it would be to survive in these conditions if you weren’t prepared here. It is a place of extremes.
Stopping again in Pinto Basin on this trip was much different than before. The snow obscuring the far away mountains. Traveling from a Midwestern winter the storm felt like an old friend. Familiar and comforting.
The wind blew unobstructed through the low valley. Then suddenly it began to relent. Intermittent sun quickly warmed the air. Minutes later little to no evidence of the snow remained. Visibility rapidly increased. Suddenly the mountains and valleys appeared again. In a way it was miraculous, biblical in nature.
It would have been a very different place even just four to eight thousand years ago. Lakes, swamps and rivers would have covered this region. Lush grasslands covered the plains. Supporting animals that included mammoths, mastodons, horses, camels, and bison. Today it couldn’t be more different. It was inhabited by the Pinto culture.
Joshua Tree is a collection of limited edition photographs now available to purchase. For more information on the collection, including edition size, framing, and pricing please click here. If you are interested in purchasing these works, please be in touch.