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This hidden ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains is hosting a summer of free music and art

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

The Mulholland Drive most of us know is a classic cruise along scenic lookout points and eat-your-heart-out Hollywood mansions. But venture far enough west, where the road turns to dirt and then back into the paved Mulholland Highway, and you'll find vast stretches of open space, wooded hillsides and idyllic ranches.

One such historic home, the Peter Strauss Ranch, hosts a slate of free programming each summer, from collaborative art installations to a "Tiny Porch Concerts" series.

The ranch's 2017 slate includes seven such art installations, including Ben Allanoff's participatory "Peace Factory" altar; Kim West's swimming-pool-sized fragmented poppy mural "Lake Enchanto"; and a hillside of 6,000 colorful marking whiskers as part of Olga Lah's "Bloom."

🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛 #lakeenchanto

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The sprouts are coming in nicely #laart #installationart

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Performances consist of a site-specific piece from the Heidi Duckler Dance Compay, the soulful Alchemist Ballet and a Tiny Porch Concerts lineup that includes Rose's Pawn Shop, Kuika, Moonsville Collective, Sam Outlaw and the Way Down Wanderers.


The Agoura Hills house, now part of the National Park Service, last belonged to '70s and '80s TV actor Peter Strauss. But the stone house and its abandoned aviary, labyrinth and swimming pool date back as early as the 1920s, along with a terrazzo tiled amphitheater that once boasted a performance from Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson in the '50s.

All performances at the Peter Strauss Ranch, which run from May 14 through September 9, are free, though some have reserved seating for an additional charge. You'll find the ranch at 30000 Mulholland Highway in Agoura Hills, just across the street from rustic favorite the Old Place.

Photograph: Courtesy NPS

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