Warner V. Graves III grew up hearing stories about his grandmother’s adventures in the desert with her friend, Susie Smith. His grandparents owned an ocotillo-fenced home near Corn Springs and Warner visited the oasis as a child. As an adult Warner became a decorative artist in the Bay Area–painting interior murals in private residences and commercial spaces–but has today returned to the land of his grandmother. As a desert landscape painter, he revisits the places his grandmother photographed nearly 100 years ago. Many of Warner Graves’ paintings have their origin in the story of Susie and Lula and their idyllic years in the desert.
Ann Japenga is a Palm Springs-based writer specializing in stories about the California desert and the West. As a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times she roamed the West and discovered a love of stories tied to the land. Her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Utne, Sierra, Palm Springs Life and the Los Angeles Times Magazine, as well as anthologies such as True Tales of the Mojave. She is the founder of the online magazine www.CaliforniaDesertArt.com.