Museum Exhibits

New Sven-Ska Photos, Helen Lundeberg, Agnes Martin, William Bartko and more

New Sven-Ska Photos, Helen Lundeberg, Agnes Martin, William Bartko and more

Two major retrospectives of women who drew inspiration from the desert are on view currently in Southern California. Agnes Martin came to New Mexico in the late 1960s and lived alone in an adobe hut on a mesa. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is now displaying the first large-scale retrospective of her minimalist work, April 24-Sept 11, 2016. Martin’s biographer, Nancy Princenthal, cautioned in a recent LA Times interview that we shouldn’t think of Martin as a clichéd desert mystic. Yet she clearly had a love for austerity and open space.  Anyone who has exulted in desert distances…

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A Quartzsite Christmas, Visionary Bill Ogden, Tahquitz Discovery and More

Artist and archaeologist Jim Toenjes sends holiday greetings “from way out Quartzsite way”. The former Palm Springs resident is now a nomadic artist,  traveling the deserts (with winters in Washington state) in a camper with his paints and his dog, Greta. Go see him if you pass through the gem and mineral hub–Quartzsite, Arizona–this winter. Jim writes: “Getting some painting done in prep for the annual Quartzsite Art League show in January, 2016. Attached is my card this year, with a painting from last week. It is 28 x 48 on plywood. Had to hike nearly a mile to the…

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Desert Americana, Western Abstraction, Coyote Fur and Rams’ Horns

Desert Americana, Western Abstraction, Coyote Fur and Rams’ Horns

The Cathedral City Historical Society hosts the master of desert Americana, Ron Backer, at a luncheon Thursday, November 5, 2015. Backer, a transplant from South Dakota, zones in on a neighborhood and soon unearths stories even the locals don’t know; then he paints the tales so they are forever preserved. Art historian Marilyn Cooper will talk about Backer’s narrative approach, as guests enjoy a lunch by Cathedral City’s own Chef Hector. Come and meet Ron Backer and support the Cathedral City Historical Society. http://www.cathedralcityhistoricalsociety.org/special-events.html Andy’s Sea in Long Beach Salton Sea painter Andrew Dickson shows new images of the Sea…

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Billie’s Taxi, Tribute to Edan Hughes, Adobe Dweller Frances Nugent and More

Fans of Cathedral City artist Agnes Pelton have long awaited the book by the City’s first mayor–and a friend to the early artists–Robert Hillery. At last Cathedral City: the Early Years 1925 to 1981 is in print. You can meet the author at a celebration June 14, 2015, at Bonta Restaurant in Cathedral City. While the book mostly covers small town life, of special interest is Hillery’s personal relationship with Agnes Pelton (she painted his mother’s portrait) as well as painter and art teacher Matille Prigge Seaman. The short section on Matille, known as Billie, is worth the price of…

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Joshua Trees in The OC, Agnes’ Spirit Guide, New Morongo Gallery and More

Joshua Trees in The OC, Agnes’ Spirit Guide, New Morongo Gallery and More

In the spirit of the early desert painters, Jim Trolinger and a band of talented friends are taking on the California deserts one by one. They’ve twice journeyed to Death Valley, and they descended on Joshua Tree in March. You can see the results of their three day JT paint-out this Saturday at Location 1980 gallery in Costa Mesa. The desert show is up through the end of the month. Trolinger’s sojourns are marked by cooperation and experimentation. “This is not a class,” he tells participants. “There are no requirements, no tests, and you can paint whatever and wherever excites…

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Randall Tipton Returns to Tahquitz and More

With the desert strangely warm this season, the snakes have awakened early and artists from colder places are busy in the canyons. One such visitor, Randall David Tipton, is a spellbinding landscape painter well-known in Portland and the Northwest–but he tells us he grew up painting the desert. “Once I could drive I spent a lot of time in Yucca Valley, the Morongo Valley and the Indian Canyons,” says the former San Bernardino resident. He returned recently to see the Richard Diebenkorn show at the Palm Springs Art Museum  (he studied with Diebenkorn in Santa Fe), celebrate his marriage to…

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Shari Elf Film, Toenjes in Quartzsite, Desertscapes Canceled and More

Shari Elf Film, Toenjes in Quartzsite, Desertscapes Canceled and More

Shari Elf, a well known member of the Joshua Tree art community, presents a short film about Western artist Don Shreves (1918-1997). Shari is working with Shreve’s 97-year-old brother, Rollie, to document Shreves’ life and work. Paralyzed due to a botched spinal tap when he was in the military, Shreves didn’t like to sell his art so it just piled up in his home. For years after the artist’s death, his paintings languished in his brother’s basement and are only now being excavated. The artist was buddies with Burt Procter, another desert painter recently featured on California Desert Art.  Check…

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Charles Lummis, Louisa McElwain, Banning Centennial and More

Charles Lummis, Louisa McElwain, Banning Centennial and More

When you’re driving in from LA and hit Banning and the woolly San Gorgonio Pass, you’ve officially entered smoketree country. As Banning celebrates its 100th birthday this year, this atmospheric desert edge town is ramping up as a center for Western and desert art. The Banning Art Center Gallery, representing many fine Pass artists, recently moved into the Haven Sandwich Shop at Ramsey Street and San Gorgonio. See more here: https://www.facebook.com/BanningGallery And, on June 1st and 2nd, 2013, the Banning Centennial festivities feature a Cowboy Art Show at the Gilman Historic Ranch and Wagon Museum. The Gilman Ranch (where Willie…

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Early Desert Stash in Borrego, Terry Masters’ Grand Opening, California Watercolors in Pasadena

Early Desert Stash in Borrego, Terry Masters’ Grand Opening, California Watercolors in Pasadena

Bunnie Hamilton had operated her small gallery in Borrego Springs—the Galleria at the Palms at Indian Head–for less than a year when a jaw-dropping collection of desert art fell in her lap. An unnamed collector gave her his comprehensive collection—65 ocotillos, yuccas, smoke trees and dunescapes– by big name desert artists to be sold at auction prices. The all-star team includes John Hilton, Jimmy Swinnerton, Fred Chisnall, Wilton McCoy, Charles Fries, Paul Grimm, Sam Hyde Harris, Darwin Duncan, George Bickerstaff, William Darling, Joane Cromwell and others. A few contemporary artists are included, and there are some seascapes amidst the many…

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Women Artists in Flagstaff, Mystery Painting, Paul Landacre, Desertscapes

Women Artists in Flagstaff, Mystery Painting, Paul Landacre, Desertscapes

Arizona’s Pioneering Women Artists To explore the edges of California desert art, you sometimes have to leave the state. After all, the artists who painted Mt. San Jacinto didn’t pay much allegiance to state lines and many wandered over into Arizona. Arizona’s Pioneering Women Artists at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff (now through May 12, 2013) introduces ten women who roamed the West from 1905-1940. Among them: Lillian Wilhelm Smith, illustrator of Zane Grey novels, and our own stagecoach artist Marjorie Reed. Exhibit collaborators Lonnie Pierson Dunbier, Betsy Fahlman and Fran Elliott have done tireless detective work to…

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