When “State of Wonder” visited Bend last summer, several people pulled us aside to say, “Have you heard about the man in Andrews? You have to go see him.” In a ghost town in Oregon’s Alvord Desert, John Simpkins is spending his days in solitude, making huge, soulful paintings.
This place is Harney County, in the southeast corner of the state. It is not just the least populous part of Oregon. It’s also one of the most remote places in the West. So what brings a guy out there to paint?
The landscape, Simpkins says. “It’s a desert. It gets dramatic weather from the Steens. It gets incredible wind here. Magic Light. Magic Shadows. It’s a wonderful place to paint. It’s a wonderful place for photography. It’s a magic place.”
Take a look at some of Simpkins work in the slideshow above, and tune into Oregon Art Beat Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. to watch OAB’s feature on Simpkins.
And listen to John Simpkins tell us about making art in isolation on the edge of the Alvord Desert: