Artistic Tours of Highway 62 Return to High Desert to Mark 20th Anniversary

In 11 months, we had our 501 (c) (3) nonprofit. I imagined an annual event concept to bring together all artistic disciplines. I called it Morongo Basin Desert Arts Festival. It was to be a 10 day event featuring one end of the basin, Twentynine Palms one weekend and the following weekend the Yucca Valley region. Of course, I also wanted to include all the other small communities. That’s what started it. Huell Howser hosted the opening night at his home at Twentynine Palms. It was a big, big success.

What difficulties did you encounter when creating the first tour? Was there an obstacle that you overcame that was very important to the event?

I don’t remember there being any big hurdles because at the time, the Morongo Basin was, or at least the eastern end, experiencing a renaissance in the arts. By 2001, they had already painted 16 murals at Twentynine Palms. There was a lot of enthusiasm, as well as some national attention for this program.

How much planning was done before the project could take place for the first time?

I came up with the concept and spent two weekends taking notes and planning, planning and planning. I brought it back to the board and we had three months from conception to the event itself. I consider it a little miracle, actually.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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