When creating The People of Calzona I wanted to capture the idea of what Calzona itself was; a small community out in the desert on a plot of land that had been made too small for any substantial use, and was abandoned. However, nearby there were still a few real inhabitants of the Calzona area.
I was inspired by the International Airport Montello project. In particular the way that the artists from eteam came in and created the art space and let the community of Montello be a part of the performance. I felt like this, in a few ways, was something that Calzona lacked. To play off of this lack of community in a space where there was already a small population of people, I wanted to create a space where there could be a fabricated community of people to interact and engage with the incoming projects and the existing ones. This community would act as a commentary of our own work and also the ideas and history of Calzona as a whole, being an area similar to those that were part of other more publicized land frauds, where the lands potential was inflated by fantasy stories of life out in the beautiful countrysides or having our own slice of heaven. The users of the People of Calzona website were to act in a similar way to these advertisements, creating a sense of an engaging community where there was nothing.
On another level, the people of Calzona speaks to a brighter idea of Calzona. These fake inhabitants show what it could have been like out in the desert, what if a community had formed, and we were entering into that already existing space. Later in the project I opened the site so that people working in Calzona could make their own posts about their work and be commented on Calzonas fake community: Calvin Zonavsky, Carl Nozacs, and Nora Classon. I wanted to bring the made up community and the real artists together, like eteam did at International Airport Montello, making them all people of Calzona.
My name is Alvin Pascua. I am an archaeologist who has been sent into the Colorado Desert by the archaeology professors of the University of California, San Diego. Here, we studied various objects from fossils to stone engravings on walls. In my research across the Colorado Desert, I happen to stubble upon an area known as the Calzona desert. I am in awe from not the structures in the area, but the roads in it. I am here to report my findings about the lines that I have discovered in Calzona.
Somewhere in the Colorado Desert, there exists the Blythe Geoglyphs. These geoglyphs both take a form of a human and a mountain lion. The possibility of those who created them were most likely Native Americans on a pilgrimage.
While examining the area, I’ve come across the desert known as Calzona. This desert is located just east of the Big River valley in the San Bernardino County. The area itself is located just outside the border of California and Arizona, a possible origin of the area.
Upon looking at the surrounding area, I began to notice lines made into the ground that forms these rectangular shapes. The origins of these lines date back to the late 20th to early 21st century. A specific date has yet to be discovered. These lines are notably wide enough to that they are able to be driven onto. In fact, the shapes they make correlate to that of streets found in suburban areas. From what is being gathered, these lines were made to hold the residents of the area. While the Blythe Geoglyphs were hypothesized to be for a pilgrimage, the ones found in Calzona were for that of refuge.
Looking at the roads themselves, it is interesting to note the way that they are being named. The northeastern street names are noted to be named after other deserts around the world. The length of these “avenues” are scaled to be roughly about 120 feet long, a similar length of a small suburban street. To hypothesize why these are named avenues, they could be looked as a symbolic way of long journeys these travelers made before settling in. Another interesting naming scheme is the use of both A Street and 3rd Street. Funny enough they are longer than the avenues, but they are not named after deserts. I would further hypothesize that these inhabitants traveled across these deserts, but they have not traveled enough to name all the roads after them.
The true nature and why these lines were created are still left to be discovered. While others have theorized that these lines were made for a pilgrimage, others believed that they were made as a form of settlement. These answers are still left to be answered.
A Night at The Calzona Museum looks at what it means to be able to rent out space. AirBnB is a website that allows it’s users to lease out parts of their own property to others for temporary stays. However, is this still possible in a land where infrastructure doesn’t exist? Can you create a market for space where there is none? The answer is, surprisingly or unsurprisingly, depending on who you ask, yes.
You can book your stay today at the Calzona Museum and experience all that Calzona has to offer! Even just by creating this space, people have messaged me their interest in renting it out despite having no pictures of the actual location.
“Enjoy your stay at the newly renovated Calzona Art Museum! Right outside we have an Animal House for your pets to stay in if it feels to crowded. An Uber station is also walking distance away, making it convenient for you to travel to neighboring cities! A couple blocks down is also Calzona’s very own China Town! Experience the spirit and culture of China in your back yard! Remember to bring your own water as we don’t have running water out here at Calzona!”
The American West has a difficult to define appeal, with something in the space drawing people to it since the arrival of colonizers in the area. In the early years of the United States, men headed west in search of new land, and adventure. Something about this wide open space has called to people for generations, driving people to pack their bags and travel west, some with more respect for the land and its inhabitants than others.
“Greetings from Calzona” is a project that seeks to imagine Calzona as the destination of one of these journeys westward. In the beginning of the 1900’s people began taking vacations to the American West thanks to the establishment of major highways such as Route 66. Residents of the western United States saw this as a business opportunity, and began opening hotels, rest stops, restaurants, and more, catering to the influx of travelers. Tourist material viewed the west with this same rose colored lens that earlier travelers had, making the area seem like an ideal destination with an effervescent appeal. However, the tourist boom paid little respect to the people who already lived there. Native American culture was commodified to sell for profit to tourists. Land was turned into consumer areas with little regard to who owned it.
My project attempts to take this piece of essentially empty land in the desert and imagine it as a tourist destination by creating tourism materials. I decided to model my postcard after the vintage greeting cards because Calzona, like much of the desert feels to me like it is stuck in time. When driving through the west you can see the remnants of the tourist boom and the heyday of Route 66. The idea of taking a piece of land and turning it into a destination feels very similar to what occurred in the history of this portion of the country. The decision to use real pictures of the mostly empty Calzona area rather than creating a imagery filled with objects speak to the unknown appeal of the west, that even though much of it is empty space something still draws people in.
“For West is where we all plan to go some day. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you the letter saying: Flee, all is discovered. It is where you go where you look down at the blade in your hand and the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. It is where you go when you hear that thar’s gold in them-thar hills. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is simply where you go.” – Robert Penn Warren
Calzona, California is a city with blooming opportunity. Slowly Calzona has been growing into a promising town. The ‘Up and Coming Calzona’ booklet takes a prediction at all the businesses that will soon come into Calonza to aid in its rising and forming into a town.
The tourist gaze transforms locations around the world with expectations of various visitors, and in turn changing the location from what it was into a whole new site. This booklet is envisioned to be found within the town of Calzona as well as neighboring cities like Parker, Arizona. Whether it be in local shopping centers or next to the free paper, it should be relatively each to locate a copy.
Within the booklet the viewer can find various business ads that if really existed would allow Calzona to really come to life and attract new residents. Playing off the idea of make belief, there are business ads for Parker businesses as well which trick the viewer into thinking that Calzona is already in the works and prospering. Booklet’s goal is to showcase a Calzona that would have been already gentrified and established.
Hi friends! It’s CRuSHFaCe, dubstep/metal artist and host of Good Morning Calzona. Are you looking for timely and unbiased local news? Maybe you’d like to hear great original music hand-crafted by local artists. Tune in to Good Morning Calzona for quality news, local events, and great music weekdays from 8 to 9 AM, only at 88.9 FM. Can’t tune in? You can listen any time by tuning in to the station whenever you like. It’s the only show and will repeat for all of eternity- broadcasting live every time. In todays episode, we discuss the new projects being developed in Calzona, including a new Visitors Center and revolutionary modular hotel. Plus, two local musicians (one of them myself) debut brand new songs honoring our homeland.
CALZONA RADIO IS HIRING!
As the only employee of Calzona Radio, I implore anyone who is able to apply for a job at the radio station. I desperately need a cohost, as the station broadcasts 24/7 and so I am only able to sleep while the songs play and during long answers to interview questions. Please submit your resume and a brief letter explaining why you are interested in working at Calzona Radio to email@example.com.
TRITON ART GALLERY
Reception: 2PM-5PM Friday March 16th 2018, in the areas near VAF 228, UCSD
Coming Soon, Isaac Fehr 2019
Calzona Collective: Cultivating Desert Ideas is continuing research on the rebirth of a desert city, Calzona, CA. Calzona was stillborn in the in the early 1970s when the land was subdivided into “double wide” size lots near the Colorado River. Streets such as Main St, Calzona Ave, Gobi Ave, and Atacama Ave were bulldozed into the Colorado desert in a sort of accidental 70s land art reflection on poorly regulated urban planning. Calzona’s redevelopment began Spring 2016. For this project a team of architects and artists developed proposals for the site in the context of a history of commercial real estate fraud dating back to some of the United States’ first supreme court cases (The Marshall Trilogy), incidents such as the Pine Barrens and Yazoo land scandals that roiled large parts of the nation through much of the 19th century, the related Trail of Tears genocide, shady recreational land sales practices that gave us the term “Swampland in Florida”, the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007-8 that led to the Great Recession, as well as a wide swath of Southern California desert art including the Wonder Valley art scene, with which Calzona shares a zip code.
Construction begins in Spring 2020, I.F. Holdings Construction
Visitors Center at 1 Calzona Ave designed by Francisco Duran
The exhibition features works by:
Areli Margarita Alvarez
You Zhang & Ruisheng Wang
Yifei Xie & Jialiman Sun
Calzona Coming Soon asks tough questions about what happens when there are competing or misleading visions for a piece of land, which in this case is that of an antiquated subdivision.
When land is sold, based on false promises at best or fraudulently at worst, as in the case of Calzona, what is there to preserve? Should failures of U.S. real-estate law be preserved, curated, and presented critically as the Calzona Collective seeks to do? Or should the land fulfill the promises with which it was originally subdivided and sold?
Calzona Coming Soon takes the physical form of a banner advertising the development of buildings resembling a downtown strip mall, photoshopped and superimposed over a photograph of present-day Calzona. It plays on tropes of gentrification from examples such as Chicago and San Diego. The banner is meant to be displayed onsite to create a stark contrast between the real and envisioned versions of Calzona.
The photocollage on the banner is pieced together from several source images in a way that purposely uses common mistakes of photoeditting, namely multiple vanishing points and light sources, to communicate the distorted nature of the visions that are used to sell land. The image in context, along with the viewer’s perception that someone cares enough about Calzona to display a vision for it, draws attention to the original vision for the land, and how far it is from reality.
However, if one were to “revitalize” Calzona, it would be covering up a historic failure of U.S. policy, in a way gentrifying it. Calzona may a limited community of permanent residents in Calzona, but its fraudulent history is what makes it Calzona.
An essay reframing traditional spacemaking ideologies at the intersection of art and social engagement.
About five hours east of San Diego sits a town brimming with possibility. Amidst the scorching desert heat and a beautiful sense of isolation, the unincorporated territory of Calzona, California calls itself home to two men, a dog, and a quasi-imaginary marijuana dispensary. Long dirt roads leading nowhere seem to wind endlessly toward the horizon, and dry dust permeates the air. With nothing but arid desert for miles around, Calzona seems to have an atmosphere that invites a calm sense of isolation. It seems impossible that an abandoned and antiquated subdivision (with an estimated population of two) could epitomize the idea of a landscape full of possibility and hope. However, in rethinking the ideologies of “possibility” and “value” as they are attached to the capitalistic economic system, the empty town of Calzona reveals itself as a space with value that transcends that of the commercial. While land in Calzona is worth almost no money, its true worth lies types of possible futures that the land itself imagines for us.