Artists’ retreat center blossoms in Pinyon

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Lydia Kremer

Makers, from the left, Trevor O'Donnell, Jim Abele, Richard Hovel and Kurt Cyr apply finishing touches on Makerville facilities.
 

One of the results of the massive do-it-yourself trend that began in the early 1970s was the phenomenal success of DIY television of the 1990s. That spawned a frenzy by the general public in DIY home improvement projects. And the trend shows no sign of slowing down.

Similarly, artists, craftsmen, hobbyists and artisans of every stripe embraced a growing emphasis on making things by your own hand and eschewing mass-produced items, which has now grown into a cultural force called “the maker movement.” The premise was simple: using your own creativity and ingenuity to create something, anything — whether it is artwork, furniture, shoes, clothing, cheese, soap or a new gadget.

This movement has taken root in our midst. A group of Palm Springs area artists and creative thinkers have consolidated their creative visions into an exciting and unique concept called Makerville. It’s the brainchild of a group of six friends and cultural creatives, relative newcomers to the desert, who were drawn to Palm Springs’ creative Renaissance.

Sharing inspiration

Makerville is a creative retreat center in the mountains above the desert floor, minutes up Highway 74 in Pinyon Pines. Makerville was founded by this group of artists and creative professionals as a collaborative workshop, gathering space and a place to gain and share creative inspiration. 

The “Makers” are: Debra Hovel, an artisan shoe designer/maker; Richard Hovel; a sculptor/designer; Kurt Cyr, a designer of textile, furniture and interiors; Jim Abele, a ceramic artist/actor; Jay Zaltzman, a market researcher/chef; and Trevor O’Donnell, a tourism professional/producer. 

“Makerville is part of a burgeoning worldwide maker movement that focuses on handcraft, artistry, nature, creativity, community and measured escape from an increasingly commercial world,” says Hovel, who will present a lecture in early November about her shoemaking in conjunction with the Palm Springs Art Museum’s new exhibition, Killer Heels.

The group of Makers purchased a former Elks Lodge on 10 acres surrounded by San Bernardino National Forest. The grounds consist of natural pinyon pine-studded desert wilderness and are surrounded on all sides by protected federal land with 360 degree mountain views. Nearby are many popular hiking trails, including the Pinyon and Live Oak Canyon trails that connect to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.

While the grounds are ideal for creative inspiration, the structural facilities had been abandoned for many years and required months of rehabilitation and hard work by the group. The improved Makerville facilities now include a well-appointed kitchen/dining room attached to a rustic 2,600-square-foot open-plan workshop/event space. Also on the property are small cabins and campsites of varying degrees of rusticity for use by founders and invited visitors.

Event venue as well

Makerville is intended primarily as a workplace and retreat for Makerville founders, but it will also be used occasionally as an event venue, which will be made available for rental for photo shoots, weddings, art workshops, yoga retreats, meetings and a variety of events produced by others. 

It will also be home to “Makerville Presents,” a producer of live events including popular “Modernism with a Twist” and other events that have previously taken place in other Palm Springs locations.

To learn more about visiting Makerville or attending Makerville events: www.makervillestudio.com and facebook.com/makerville. To rent Makerville for events or location shoots: www.makervillestudio or debrahovel@gmail.com.

Lydia Kremer is a Palm Springs-based freelance writer and publicist. She can be reached at 8LydiaLane@gmail.com or LydiaVortexPR@gmail.com