Jim Toenjes: The Path of a Migratory Desert Painter

Longtime Palm Springs resident Jim Toenjes took off in his trailer four years ago, with his paints and his German Shepherd Greta by his side. His itinerant lifestyle resembles that of the early desert artists who made a seasonal circuit from Palm Springs to the Arizona Navajo country and then up to the Sierra in summer. It’s a life many of us envy, and in this Q&A Jim tells us what it’s like being a painter At Large in the World, as he calls himself. —Many people would be hesitant to go nomadic for fear of being too cold, too…

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John Hilton and the Smoketree Gang

Editor’s note–In anticipation of Kathi Hilton’s visit to Palm Desert March 17-20, 2017, we’re featuring Dan Rohlfing’s article about Kathi’s dad, John Hilton, and his own Wild Bunch of friends. John Hilton, who died in 1983, ran with a circle that included Agnes Pelton, Clyde Forsythe, Maynard Dixon, Bill Bender, Nicolai Fechin, Desert Magazine editor…

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Still Life: Eric Merrell Looks at the Orange and Agave

In the hierarchy of genres taught in art history class, desert landscapes would be low on the list. But they positively rule compared to the lowly still life. Fortunately, the lowest-rated form has a new champion in Eric Merrell. The Pasadena artist has a style and intensity that attracts followers for whatever he’s doing, whether…

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Barbara Gothard: Surrealism and the Desert of Dreams

When I heard there was a surrealist living off of South Palm Canyon Drive, near my favorite Indian Canyons haunts, I felt like a botanist who’d discovered a rare desert lily. In Palm Springs we have installation artists, landscape painters, post-modernists and tiki artists–but surrealists? Those are from Paris and New York. Well, not all…

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Vaughan Davies: New Light on Tahquitz

I would have told you I know Tahquitz Canyon well. I’ve studied the jagged mouth from my backyard for 21 years. I’ve watched the shadow of the witch glide across the canyon in the mornings and have even trekked to the third waterfall to visit a former hermit-in-residence. So I thought I knew this place–as…

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