Painter John Simpkins

This vastness, the silence. No humans anywhere near me. Anywhere.

It sounds like the beginning of a sci-fi movie, but it’s how John Simpkins describes his daily life in Oregon’s Alvord Desert. He and his dog Phoebe are the sole residents of Andrews, a ghost town at the base of the Steens Mountain.

Simpkins is a painter and his work reflects the world around him. Now that he lives in the desert, that means plenty of bright, earthy colors and lots of wildlife.


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“I’m surrounded by animals; they’re my neighbors,” he says. “We are together on this planet so to me they’re like family.”  

Simpkins says he never feels lonely, surrounded as he is by the mountains and desert landscape. Sure, the logistics can be a bit tricky when you live in a ghost town, but the peace it brings him makes it worth the effort. 

“If I want to go to Safeway, it’s a 300-mile round trip,” he says. “Sometimes I don’t see people for weeks at a time. So it is me, my dog, and the earth.” 

To see more of Simpkins’ work, visit his website.