A year ago, Jeff Frost was the toast of the desert. His time-lapse film California on Fire had screened at Palm Springs Art Museum, and he was lining up additional dates at other museums in Southern Californian and beyond. A trained firefighter, the artist spent five years documenting 70 fires, amassing 350,000 photographs and some 30 terabytes of data. He has called it a “contemplation on extinction.”

Frost says his media of choice are sound and time, but we experience his work in the documentation: painting, photography, video, and installation — most of which he combines into short films exploring themes on the spectrum of creation and destruction.

In his latest project, Ghosts of the Future, Frost has created an optical illusion painting on abandoned vehicles standing on end in the Salton Sea — a creative pursuit that earned the Desert Hot Springs–based artist a $500 grant to “Keep Art Alive” from the California Desert Arts Council (CDAC).

CDAC and affiliate La Quinta Arts Foundation established a $50,000 Keep Art Alive fund to award grants to Coachella Valley artists and arts organizations who create thoughtful, inspiring, and relevant works responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

The vehicles in Ghosts of the Future blend into the blue sky while Frost’s minimalist painting inverts the horizontal plane, thus suggesting a wave coming into a shoreline from above. “The rusted vehicles have been whitewashed, suggesting ice, a cover-up, or a picket fence soon to be underwater,” he says. “The burned-out vehicles evoke industry, covering up, and ways of thinking that belong to the past. As time moves forward, we hope to be in a position to look back on our many anachronisms, but the ghosts may not be what they seem.”

In addition to California on Fire, Frost was both a producer and subject of the Netflix docuseries Fire Chasers and a contributor to the National Geographic series One Strange Rock.

Visit Jeff Frost online at frostjeff.com