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Agnes Pelton Way, Death Valley 49ers, Morongo Art Tours, etc.

Agnes Pelton Way, Death Valley 49ers, Morongo Art Tours, etc.

Branding experts make big bucks dreaming up campaigns to sell communities, yet one of the simplest ways to build an identity is to promote a beloved artist. It worked for Santa Fe, in the case of Georgia O’Keeffe, and it’s working for Cathedral City, as City leaders increasingly embrace hometown mystic Agnes Pelton. In the latest effort to bolster the brand, the City unveiled new street signage on F Street (the site of Pelton’s former home): Agnes Pelton Way. In contrast, the city of Indian Wells could write the “What Not to Do” book when it comes to promoting local…

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Toenjes on the Mojave, Eytel’s Canteen, Water Tank Art and More

Toenjes on the Mojave, Eytel’s Canteen, Water Tank Art and More

Palm Springs artist and archaeologist James Toenjes is acting as caretaker and resident painter at the historic OX Ranch in Lanfair Valley, as he works on archaeology jobs in the Mojave National Preserve. His adventure has already yielded fine paintings of the little-visited and historic Preserve. For a video introduction to Jim’s new digs, and to see his paintings of the bunk house, the New York Mountains and the Piute Mountains from his backdoor, visit: http://painthedesert.com/ For more on Jim, see: http://www.californiadesertart.com/?p=1405 You can also see Jim’s work at Terry Master’s Desert Painter Gallery in Palm Springs  Carl Eytel’s Canteen…

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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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Elsie’s Army, Clonard Thomas, Pelton Mystery and More

Elsie’s Army, Clonard Thomas, Pelton Mystery and More

For every desert painter found in books, hundreds more were faithful to the terrain–but are not so well-known as yet. Two such devoted desert painters passed away recently. Clonard Bunn Thomas of Palm Desert died February 10, 2013. With her artist husband Bruce she managed the Aerie Art Garden, a 20 acre retreat in the Cahuilla Hills. Thomas painted with the Coachella Valley Watercolor Society’s “Field Mice” and rendered the local landscape with intensity and openness to abstraction. For painting tips from Clonard and Bruce Thomas, see: http://www.aerieartgarden.com/artistcorner3.html Elsie Grace, 91, died on February 15, 2013.  She taught watercolor at…

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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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Visit Agnes Pelton Home, Become a Desert Painter, Appraisal Day in Palm Desert

Visit Agnes Pelton Home, Become a Desert Painter, Appraisal Day in Palm Desert

Get a look at Agnes Pelton’s former home this Sunday, February 10, 2013, on the Cathedral City Historical Society’s Home Tour of Working Artists. The tour spotlights the homes and studios of artists working in the Cathedral City Cove, including photographer Peter Palladino and choreographer and dancer Simeon Den, owners of the Pelton house. The couple is maintaining Pelton’s home—where she painted her most transcendent works–as a shrine to the desert painter. You can see the exterior, at least, on Sunday and see the rest of the home during a major Agnes Pelton celebration April 6th and 7th. Sunday’s home…

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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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Terry Masters’ New Gallery, Mark Kerckhoff Classes, Desert Art Center Lectures

UPDATE: This just in from Terry: “I’m now open Thur-Sun noon to 8pm at least and the doors are usually open when I’m working in the space. Please come by soon. The new studio # is 778-8855.” I’ve been lurking around the original Las Casuelas restaurant on South Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. Peeking in windows and pacing the sidewalk, I may look suspicious–but really it’s for a good reason. The desert’s elusive master painter, aptly named Terry Masters, is opening a new desert art gallery at 370 N. Palm Canyon, next door to the popular Mexican café. In…

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Morongo Art Tours, the Desert Van Gogh and more

October 27-28, 2012, Weekend Two of the Hwy 62 Art Tours, is your chance to visit the backroad studios of dozens of high-desert artists in the Morongo Valley, Joshua Tree and beyond. You’ll have to search out the landscape artists amidst all the potters, jewelers and performance artists, but the landscape here is always the main attraction—along with the earthy ambience that stands in refreshing contrast to everything Palm Springs. Look for the Wonder Valley studio of Robert Arnett (see an article on Arnett on California Desert Art soon), one of the early colonizers of the remote area; and don’t…

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San Diego Landscapes, Desert Art Center, Joshua Tree Classes, David Greene

The Smoketree School is indebted to San Diego for the landscape painters who wandered through Ramona and Julian all the way to the desert country.  Two current exhibits at the San Diego History Center offer a chance to get acquainted with our shared heritage. In Landscapes Rediscovered: Depression-era San Diego Paintings, work unseen for 70 years is now on display. While in the collection of the San Diego Unified School District, the paintings had been dinged and exposed to the elements. With all their blemishes, works by artists such as Charles Reiffel and Maurice Braun (both painted the desert) are…

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