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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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Carl Bray Sign, Mystery Artist, Rock Talk, Cactus Capers and More

Drivers passing through Indian Wells normally encounter a monotonous stretch of lawns, sidewalks and opulence. Now, though, travelers are sighting a colorful, quirky object on the horizon. It’s the old Carl Bray gallery sign, recently replanted by the City. The resurrection of the palette-shaped Smoke Tree Painter sign is a testament to the tenacity of the Indian Wells Historic Preservation Foundation. The group, led by Adele Ruxton, kept nudging the City for the last five years to see the project through. Preservationists all over the Valley lobbied to save Carl’s roadside gallery and home when it was threatened with demolition…

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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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Andy’s Sea, Agnes’ ‘Hood, “Wild” Movie and More

If anyone can save the Salton Sea, I’m betting on Andrew Dickson. The Cal State U. Fullerton art professor has been quietly, intently focused on painting the Sea for 15 years. Now you have a chance to study with him at his grandmother’s home in North Shore, February 27-March 1, 2015. To prove his desert worthiness, Andy recently powered through a summer AC outage–doing a series of charcoal drawings at Bombay Beach–with umbrella, ice cooler, sunscreen and lots of water. He hopes to host ongoing workshops at his grandmother’s house and introduce more artists to the area. “I love bringing…

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Tribute to Fran Elliott, Natural Desert Pigments, Salton Sea Sabbatical and More

Tribute to Fran Elliott, Natural Desert Pigments, Salton Sea Sabbatical and More

Forgotten desert artists lost a champion when Fran Elliott, of Sedona, Arizona, died on April 22, 2014. Fran and her husband Ed unearthed the stories of dozens of neglected Arizona women artists. Their collection sparked the 2012 exhibit Arizona’s Pioneering Women Artists at the Museum of Northern Arizona, along with an accompanying catalogue. I made Fran’s acquaintance thanks to Gary Fillmore, of the Blue Coyote Gallery, who saw similarities in Fran’s mission and my own. In our correspondence Fran said she longed to visit Palm Springs during the Modernism show “since I live in a 60’s-era ‘solar hemicycle’ house originally…

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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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Val Samuelson House, Ziemienski’s Sunset, Mystery Artist and More

The Cathedral City Cove continues to assert its place in desert art history. First there was the recognition of the Agnes Pelton home (thanks to Peter Palladino and Simeon Den) and now a restoration-minded couple has purchased the former Val Samuelson home. Samuelson was a modernist artist who also was art director of the stylish Villager Magazine, and staff artist at the Palm Springs Museum.  He lived in the Cove for 37 years before his death in 2000. The new owner, Jeff Palmer, grew up across the street from Samuelson. His mother, Pearl Palmer, kept up a playful over-the fence…

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Willard Pops Up in PS; Sonie’s Road; Helper, Utah Artists and More

Willard Pops Up in PS; Sonie’s Road; Helper, Utah Artists and More

This weekend (March 8 and 9th, 2014) brings a pop-up display of Stephen Willard’s desert paintings to Terry Masters’ Palm Springs gallery. Willard was best known for his work as a photographer in the Palm Springs area but he was also a landscape painter, and he also owned a studio and gallery in Mammoth Lakes. Portland art dealers Robert and Sue Joki recently reopened Willard’s former abode as The Gallery at Twin Lakes. The Jokis are frequent Palm Springs visitors, and on this year’s visit they brought along a haul of rarely-seen Willard desert paintings, to be displayed at Masters’…

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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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