East Jesus (Slab City, California) - Pop 1, Elev 75
an experimental, habitable, extensible artwork in progress




All their life was spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according to their own free will and pleasure. They rose out of their beds when they thought good; they did eat, drink, labour, sleep, when they had a mind to it and were disposed for it. None did awake them, none did offer to constrain them to eat, drink, nor to do any other thing; for so had Gargantua established it. In all their rule and strictest tie of their order there was but this one clause to be observed, Do What Thou Wilt; because men that are free, well-born, well-bred, and conversant in honest companies, have naturally an instinct and spur that prompteth them unto virtuous actions, and withdraws them from vice, which is called honour. Those same men, when by base subjection and constraint they are brought under and kept down, turn aside from that noble disposition by which they formerly were inclined to virtue, to shake off and break that bond of servitude wherein they are so tyrannously enslaved; for it is agreeable with the nature of man to long after things forbidden and to desire what is denied us.

François Rabelais,Gargantua and Pantagruel (16th C.)


Wedged between the Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range and the Salton Sea in southern California's exotic Imperial Valley, East Jesus is an experimental, comprehensive habitat and artwork comprising vernacular architecture, technophilia, common-sense environmentalism, desert survival and sculpture/assemblage using predominantly recycled, re-purposed or discarded materials, sublimating the unwanted and ugly into the purposefully beautiful. The main structure is built around a 27' fiberglass shipping container, extended by walls composed of junk (lockers, computers, refrigerators, microwave ovens, bookshelves, tool chests, shipping crates, TVs and other electronics) and recycled, re-used lumber and steel. A contiguous shade structure connects the main container to a two-level 24' trailer (found abandoned and stripped) through a row of desert ironwood trees, which themselves serve as structural elements. Begun February of 2007, the main habitat continues to grow and evolve. Adjoining the habitat is a sculpture garden whose constituents are made exclusively of junk from the immediate area, also growing and evolving. The large, open shaded area has become home to a surprising variety of wildlife - lizards, rabbits, quail, hummingbirds, woodpeckers and other avian species call East Jesus home.



The name East Jesus is whimsical, derived from the American idiomatic expression used to describe a remote, presumably uninteresting place. It is also a nod of admiration to the nearby folk art masterpiece, Salvation Mountain, but is not affiliated with it nor any other religious organization. East Jesus is the home of the Slab City Gun Club, the Slab City Zen Center, amateur radio station KI6RRX, and is an as-yet unofficial outpost of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus. A growing community of pioneering artists, engineers and ne'er-do-wells, some fond of strong drink, call East Jesus their home away from home, a retreat from their stressful jet-age lifestyle in a calm, inspiring and majestic desert landscape with a few "thrills of excitement" provided by military operations in the bombing range. Collaborative projects are encouraged, iconoclasts are invited, camping is always free and a few guest rooms are available. Carfeul where you point that thing, boy. Contact me for more information. Directions are here.



Events / Timeline:

March - April 2009
Artists-in-residence Ségolène Gautier (writing/editing screenplays) and Natasha Duchene (recording her upcoming album);
rumors of many kW of solar panels making their way to East Jesus, 1st Annual Art Car Spring Break, R.I.P. Tom Kennedy.
Construction of the Sunset Suite and yoga platform above the guest trailer, CNC steel fence.

February 2009
Rebirth of Amnesia Vivace (recording studio) - acquisition of 1928 Weber 6' grand piano, plus mics and misc equipment

December 2008 - January2009
Masonry projects: elevated garden bed and 14' serpentine bottle wall; bedspring fence. Depression.

November 2008
New sculptures in the garden, intensive musical collaboration with the estimable Natasha Duchene. Birth of the Music Room + piano.
Discovery of an article on East Jesus in an unnamed French travel magazine via orphaned page found in Salvation Mountain.

September 2008
Recovery from the brutality of summer. A visit from Mr. God, and the inception of the Temple. Gun porn photography with Claire Martin

August 2008
Film director Lise Swenson (Strange Culture, Mission Movie) releases promotional video for her movie in progress, Saltwater, featuring East Jesus as a key location.

July 2008
HF amateur base station KI6RRX established - more solar + MPPT + wind power. Days since gasoline generator used: 66

May 2008
1.8 KW photovoltaic array installed, making East Jesus nearly fossil-fuel-free. In the works: gasifier/pyrolysis conversion for generators; electric vehicles; additional pv and wind. The May/June '08 issue of the National Geographic Traveler contains an article on Slab City mentioning East Jesus.

April 2008
1950's vintage Corvette trailer added as guest house; garden additions; art gallery on western face of container.

November 2007
Rockette Bob's most recent creation, "Merry" aka "Rockette Bob's Pocket Rocket," temporarily becomes part of the East Jesus collection.

October 2007
ArtCar Fest, now in its 11th year, caravans from San Francisco to Art Car World in Douglas, AZ, with a de rigeur visit to East Jesus and Salvation Mountain along the way. Professional video crews are sighted with alarming frequency.

May 2007
Guest artist Genevieve Griesau spends the month picking through the rich junk supplies and generates her own brand of chaotic ingeniuity.

April 2007
Internet connectivity via Wild Blue satellite installed.

March 2007
Guest artist Royce "Mr. God" Carlson of Cosmic Steel sets up camp and makes stuff with the help of many guests, leading to the inception of the sculpture garden.

February 2007
Groundbreaking (dropping off of the 27' fiberglass container.)

December 2006
Chasterus moves to Slab City, spends the next few months working intensively with Leonard Knight on Slavation Mountain.

October 2006
Chasterus hits the road, scouting locations for the Next Big Whatevs. The ideal spot will be cheap, remote and extremely lenient in terms of building codes. Slab City appears optimal.



East Jesus through the eye of the outsider:

Nocturnal photography by Ségolène Gautier.

A page from an article in an as-yet unidentified French travel magazine.

Portrait photography by Stephen Chalmers.

A whimsical post card illustration by Ken Duffy.

A documentary video by Royce Carlson aka Mr. God:

Adventures in East Jesus from Zebulon on Vimeo.