High Art in Low Places

Joseph Beyer
5 min readMar 21, 2017


(Or How I Got Lucky With Shepard Fairey)

This is the true story of a tiny dream come true. On New Year’s Eve, sitting in front of a roaring fire with my dear friend and artist Jen Kays, I looked at the light skipping across the 102 year old walls and windows of my humble cabin and it suddenly occurred to me that I should have a pop-up art gallery right there in that space. It would be my little contribution to celebrating creativity in 2017. It would be my personal resolution and fight back. It would be an experiment (and that much has proven remarkably accurate).


The very next day on the hike out, Jen and her boyfriend Rich and I exchanged ideas, and by the time we reached the top of the hill I felt we had enthusiasm for three guiding concepts:

1) the project should be for good (I knew right away I wanted it to benefit the Big Santa Anita Canyon Permittees Association, which helps steward and protect the historic canyon my cabin sits in).

2) the project should involve only a small leave-no-trace group of guests. It should include great food, drinks, live-music and maybe some oratory of some kind. It should literally celebrate the passage of time and the four seasons to even get there, it should happen rain or shine.

3) the project should aspire to be intentional from an artistic point of view, it should have purpose and be authentic. It should have creative limits. It should be For Reals.

As I drove down the road from Chantry Flats toward home, I rounded a spot where the distant downtown of Los Angeles suddenly appears. It’s a shock being in the canyon and surrounded by so much nature (last summer we caught a mountain lion on the trail cam outside our cabin door and too many bears and bobcats to mention) followed by seeing DTLA from the top of that hill; it makes it easy to forget that just 6 air miles away is one of the largest cities in the world.


I’m always fascinated at this specific curve by the proximity between the city and the wild, but this time, I had another sudden thought I had to obey.


An artist uniquely hard and soft, punk rabble-rouser and father, familiar and always surprising, anti-establishment and political … all at the same time. I thought of his early street work and his effect on pop-culture, his friendships and collaborations and crossover with so many other mediums and types of creativity. I thought of his association with Los Angeles, the very city I was staring down at from the mountains, and how authentic his love and fascination of it (which I share).

It was at that moment I decided two very important things: one, I would find some way to have a Shepard Fairey piece in the cabin gallery project and two, I would hang it in the outhouse. It all made perfect sense to me (and you can see my actual pitch to him here). I put him on the invitation and planning materials, attempting to will it to happen.


Two weeks ago, I heard back from a cheerful and sincere man by email … yes, he’d do it. No, he can’t come. Yes, let’s pick out a print for the show (and very grateful to Theresa and Dan at the studio for their help).

My simple guiding principles have led me on a fascinating journey of friendships and favors and fate, and today (78 days after concept and on the eve of the year’s first Equinox) I’m finally holding a piece loaned from the artist himself in my hands. And it’s really gorgeous and awesome. All of this because of one singularly kind person, Ondi Timoner, who made it happen (and on my ridiculous deadline no less). She and Fairey are both people I’m really in awe of and inspired by. Thank you so, so much.

So — if you RSVP and hike down to the Cabin №56 Gallery Fundraiser on Saturday March 25, you can see “Natural Springs 2, Edition 5/6, Silkscreen on Wood Panel” on generous loan … hanging in my cabin outhouse. I hope for three more future new works for Summer, Fall and Winter but won’t push my luck.

L.A. dreams come true on a daily basis. I love the dual parts of our space equally: the city’s energies we live in, and the mountains that create our shadows and counterpoint. I’m so happy to share both for a great cause. We’ve just got to take care of them and rejoice in their unique beauties.

— First Day of Spring | 03.20.2017

From the Artist:

“The woman in the Natural Springs art piece represents an idealistic younger person exhibiting righteous frustration over the environmental destruction perpetuated by fossil fuels. The title Natural Springs is a humorous play on the names of organizations like Americans for Prosperity that have pleasant-sounding names but cause harm to most and only benefit the elite. The propaganda campaigns by fossil fuel corporations to downplay their degradation of the environment and quality of life for average people require remarkable linguistic creativity.”




Joseph Beyer