Inside Sculptor Dan John Anderson’s Handcrafted Desert Compound | Architectural Summary

Looking out the window of Dan John Anderson and Genevieve Dellinger’s home in Yucca Valley, California, you might think you’re the only human being for miles. In the wash—those untouched stretches of public, desert land—coyotes and hares roam; creosote, a stunted bush that perfumes the air after rain, grows wild; and sometimes on weekends, locals traverse sandy trails on quad bikes and dirt bikes. “That’s part of what drew me to the desert,” says Anderson, a sculptor. “This openness, this psychological space. You feel more free.

He first visited the area in 2010, when his Portland-based art collective was invited by artist Andrea Zittel to do an installation at his nearby resort, AZ West. He fell in love with the landscape. Zittel’s life experiences had become the core of his practice, and this idea resonated with him. He moved to the high desert in 2012, landing a job with sculptor Alma Allen soon after. Two years later and newly partnered with Dellinger, a photo producer, they purchased a 900 square foot home in Yucca Valley built in 1959.

The kitchen furniture and cabinets were designed by Anderson, who worked with Joseph Williams on the ceramic backsplash and with stray ceramics on the dinnerware.

As their family grew (Mars was born in 2016, followed by Uschi in 2019), they gradually transformed the house. Working with a local framer, they doubled the square footage of the house, stretching its original shape and opening it up with more windows to the east. They hollowed out and framed a groovy sunken living room, which wraps around a vintage fireplace. In the back, they poured a concrete conversation pit and installed a swimming pool.

At the edge of the wash house, Anderson has built an open-air workshop, where heaps of wood – pine, cedar, oak – are waiting to become stools, tables or sculptures. The process varies, but typically it roughs out a shape using a chainsaw, lathe and hand tools (grinders, chisels), making sure the wood is super dry before cutting. finish and seal with oil and wax. Sometimes a crack is repaired with a butterfly joint. Sometimes a “patch” is purely aesthetic. “The raw material brings its own thing to the table, and you can see what it does and react to it,” he explains of his intuitive process. The results, many of which are sold at The Future Perfect and Matter, are geometric yet organic, with soft curves you want to touch. Beyond the walls of the workshop, a few of them are installed like alien totems in the middle of the landscape.