• Hannah Smentkowski

East Jesus: a habitable art instillation

Updated: Jan 8

If you dream of simply living free, making art all day, and being out in nature East Jesus is the place for you. While it's definitely not a glamorous or easy life out there, anyone looking to live off-grid and throw away their ties to civilization in a community of free thinkers is welcome. East Jesus is a hippy commune in the Sonoran Desert just past Slab City, where they make art and enjoy the simple life. In this post, I’d like to give you some background in this area and show you my experience in this desert community.

What is East Jesus?

This artist commune started with Charlie Russel, who moved everything he owned just past Slab City and started creating his art. Through his humble beginnings he created what is known as a habitable art instillation. Everything here is a piece of art. From the homes people live to the live music stage they built in the middle of town.

The name “East Jesus” came from the term “East of Jesus” as in, just past the middle of nowhere and keep going. This town is completely off grid, with no electricity, plumbing or modern amenities of any kind. With people of all kinds coming to live in a desert community full of artistic likeminded people who don’t buy in to consumerism or the 9-5.

What will you see there?

Driving into East Jesus you can already tell it has a different feel than Slab City. Instead of thrown together items to create makeshift shelters, they use every item in a creative way.

The biggest attraction here is the large sculpture garden at the end of the main street. Here you will see what this area is really made of. Most of the sculptures here have something to say, such as the wall of TVs facing light on how media obstructs our view of the world. There is also a mannequin with a chain around his neck being pulled into the ground by his mountain of stuff, showing how our need to consume drags us down. Some of the best parts of this place are the random sculptures, such as dinosaurs, boats, an actual commuter plane and so much more...

While this is a relatively short post, it does not mean that this place is not worth seeing. I just figured the pictures said a lot more than I ever could. Plus, they are constantly adding to this community and sculpture garden so you can always see new pieces every time you visit.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I also have a post on Slab City the off-grid neighbor to this place. Also, if you’re looking for more things to see in the area you can check out The Salton Sea, an abandoned resort location by a lonely desert sea.

Feel free to reach out with any questions and let me know if you have visited East Jesus or Slab City, as I would love to hear your experiences.

Until next time,

Happy Travels!


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