Blue Antelope

Art in Residence, founded by artists Nathaniel Ancheta and David Edward Martin, is an open-air alternative exhibition space for site-specific installations.

Free to the public, it is located in Antelope Acres at the foot of the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, with coordinates of 34°43’39.0”N 118°22’12.7”W.

Making its start about two years ago, Art in Residence was brainstormed to showcase work that explores what it means to be “in residence.” Using the high desert as a backdrop, the artists challenge viewers to consider the social, political, historical and phenomenological aspects of the surroundings.

A year ago, Ancheta bought the land on which the first installation sits, called “Then Now a Dream” and features four bright blue, life-size pronghorn antelope sculptures made from scrap metal.

“We wanted to put the antelopes back into the Antelope Valley,” he said, remembering his inspiration for the piece.

Made from common construction materials, as well as found materials scavenged from the site, painted an uncanny shade of super-saturated blue, the antelope sculptures represent the landscape’s past and look with perennial hope to the blooming of the poppies on the hills and fields beyond.

“The antelopes represent several layers of tension between belonging and unbelonging,” Ancheta said. “Forms from the past, materials form the present — the dreams of yesterday haunt the present like a specter.”

The self-funded project launched March 1 and the installation only took about two hours. The structures took a couple months to form out of rebar steel welded together for a DIY-look that could withstand the natural elements.

“The goal was to create something wonderful and mundane that encapsulates nature,” Ancheta said.

He has about five years experience as an artist, creating work that catalyzes engagement with the individual, public and its environment. He lives and works in Los Angeles, graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree from Dominican University of California in 2009 and his master of fine arts in 2016 from Art Center College of Design.

“I love being able to put something out there in the world,” Ancheta said. “The struggle of creating something is also fun for me.”

His partner Martin has been drawing and painting since he was young. He went to school to study graphic design, but then changed paths to be a filmmaker and is now a teacher.

Using multiple modalities, Martin  creates work engaging with systems of how meaning is made, unmade and re-made in everyday contexts as a classically trained filmmaker, engaging in a multi-media practice framed by the traditional genres of landscape, still life, figurative and abstraction.

“Art is a way of making sense of the world that is visual, conceptual and experiential,” Martin  said.

The two artists plan to install solo exhibitions in the next couple years, with the third year bringing in a new artist to conceptualize his or her idea.

One longterm goal is to become a nonprofit and build a studio to help grow the art community here in the Antelope Valley — teaching classes and getting involved with public programs and artist talks. Another goal is to eventually take on different locations and further down the line, even become a global phenomenon around the idea of being “in residence.”

“Why not dream big?” Ancheta said.

Art in Residence will have its formal opening from 1-4 p.m. Saturday with a reception to follow.

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