SHARON RYDER’S Dream House
interview KRISTIN WINTERS
Sharon Ryder is an artist, designer, curator, and community builder. Over the summer of 2016 Sharon hosted several monthly shows called Dream House in Joshua Tree, CA. The events were an eclectic mix of music, art, food and local vendors that drew audiences from all over the Coachella Valley and beyond. The Dream House overflowed with good vibes, energy and excitement until the wee hours while guests fell asleep outdoors under the stars. Sharon Ryder not only opened the Dream House doors to the community but it culminated with a benefit show for Standing Rock. Through the success and experience, Sharon Ryder continues to forge a bold, creative career onto her next endeaver: a solo exhibition titled “Art Pop.”
KRISTIN WINTERS: Can you give us a background about who you are, what your art is?
SHARON RYDER: I was born in Chile and lived there until I was 11. Then I moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to live with my father. When I turned 18, I had savings to buy a car and to leave the state. So, I moved across the country to California. I ended up in Palm Springs because it was close to LA. I love the desert. I lived in the desert when I was a young girl living in Chile, so something about it brings back my childhood, and it’s a place to develop as a human being and to, “Grow up.” Since then, I’ve experimented with jobs at art galleries, selling my work in galleries. I decided to become self-employed, to follow my dream, which it’s a really multifaceted dream, but the first step is to become an artist. I’m trying to master my own abstract style and delve into other forms of art.
WINTERS: Can you describe your artwork?
RYDER: My work is very much self-psychoanalysis. It’s kind of like a visual mapping of my psyche, of the human psyche, of the things I experience. I’ve been exploring my colors, to diversify my color palette, to play around with new compositions. Lately, I’ve been transitioning to oil painting. My body of work is a mixed media on canvas, mostly. But now, I’ve taken on this new project, which has to do with community building and putting together the many talented people in my life, to give them a proper platform, to let them show their work and a place that feels really safe and where you can be comfortable being yourself in your community.
WINTERS: What inspired you to hold events and collect artists and bands and bring them together?
RYDER: It all started when my friend, Laura, a.k.a. Fingerprince, told me that she wanted to book more house shows. We happened to be at my house and I looked around, and I looked at her, and I said, “Let’s do a house show here. I’ll get you a show.” I asked a couple friends who knew a couple friends, and we found a really strong first lineup. It worked out really, really well. The people in our community and from outside our community joined together to share ideas and to enjoy an eclectic mix or musicians and artists. It was so fulfilling for the people around me, that I felt like, I had to keep going.
WINTERS: Why is it called Dream House?
RYDER: The reason why Dream House is called, “Dream House,” is not because it’s my dream house at all. In fact, I was driven here by poverty and by struggling to sell my work, which I still sometimes do, especially during the summer. It’s called Dream House because, I found that there was so much potential here, and I felt very depressed living in a place where there was no one around me, and I just decided to reach out into the pool of people I met to help fulfill their lives along with my own. So, Dream House happens to be the platform for people’s dreams to come true.
WINTERS: It’s cool that you talk about the necessity of it. Can you tell me a little more about how you feel the desert brought this together? You mentioned isolated.
RYDER: I think everywhere in the world we have created this dynamic where, we have this need to separate because of our differences, and we have so many problems going on in our world that no one can really talk about, but the first step to fixing those problems is coming together somehow. It doesn’t really matter how at first, but just peacefully, and open to new experiences. I think this is an integral part of creating a healthy community as well… when you can go into a place where you feel accepted and loved and supported, everyone is creative, everyone’s weird, they accept who you are; you can just walk in and feel like you’re one of the group.
WINTERS: What do you think the desert and this environment provides for you? Do you think that it fills a void that was once there? Are those personal feelings at all related to the concept of the Dream House?
RYDER: It’s almost a social experiment.. and it’s a really beautiful way to learn how to plan events and how to create a living piece of art. This is one of my attempts at curating strong work from a… It’s almost like an art gallery. This is an art exposition with live music.
WINTERS: Can you talk about how you acquired the house and what were some of the aesthetic choices that you thought of?
RYDER: I actually didn’t acquire the house. I’m a very low budget artist, and this is a grass roots movement. I just happen to have a landlord who is completely lenient and understanding, and she really believes in me and what I’m doing, so she’s happy to see it done. Joshua Tree is a great place for the eccentric, for new ideas being brought into execution. Painting the house is my way of taking something that might otherwise be seen as old and unwanted and making it extremely valuable, different, shocking and attractive.
WINTERS: Especially around such a spare environment, it just pops out.
RYDER: Yeah. It stands out, especially off the highway.
WINTERS: How does the desert environment in Joshua Tree affect your mental space and your art practice?
RYDER: The desert atmosphere can sometimes be isolating. It can be stagnating, and that environment has almost forced me to push myself out of the rut. I love the desert. I have learned to love it. Before, I wasn’t too happy to be here. Now, I have changed as a person, and I’ve found a refreshed perspective. I can see so much more beauty in it, and I’ve been going into the national park, organizing Dream House and making my art.
WINTERS: What are your future ideas for the Dream House? Is there different types of events you would like to hold here.
RYDER: Yes. There’s a limit. This is more of a series, and I’m sure that a threshold will be reached, as the property only allows for an intimate setting, which is what I love about it, but if I were to continue hosting these events and they got larger, which they are, exponentially, we will probably find another venue or someone who would like to open up their land to do it.
WINTERS: Great, so this is your first step into community building. Would you say that?