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 John Sanders, and to paint.
In his blog he reports on his visit to Tahquitz Canyon: “Downtown Palm Springs is flanked by the massive Mt. San Jacinto. At the base, clearly visible from anywhere in the city, a canyon opens into the mountain like a mouth. It beckons to anyone curious. When I was a Californian I really wanted in there, but it was owned by the Agua Caliente Cahuilla tribe and was off limits. Around 2000 they built a visitor center and opened it up. I found this out planning my little trip. It was the first place we went and I knew quickly it was worth the wait.
“The twisting sycamore trees along the creek were ghostly white with last autumn’s red leaves still attached and they were spectacular! Now California is in a serious drought so when we reached the falls, the flow was more of a trickle which gave emphasis to the fragility of this landscape and made it a tender scene. It also allowed for close observation of the cliffs which were sculpted and smooth from centuries of runoff. It was cool, dark, quiet and breathtakingly beautiful. Western Oregon is full of amazing waterfalls, I love them. This was altogether different, this was like a temple.”
For more see: http://www.randalldavidtipton.com/
Go Ask Agnes
While Tahquitz is certainly a temple, another shrine here in the Coachella Valley would have to be the home of mystical artist Agnes Pelton. The owners of Pelton’s former home, Peter Palladino and Simeon Den, invite you to commune with Agnes on a walking tour of historic homes and artists’ studios February 23rd, 2014, from 11-3 pm. Drop by Agnes’ living room and see what else is going on in Cathedral City, a scrappy, active hub of desert art.
Tickets are $15. For more info: (760) 459-3564 or www.AgnesPeltonSociety.com
Ronald Backer Paints the Legends of Indio
Narrative art (paintings that tell a story) are enjoying a resurgence nationally, as the appeal of stories simply cannot be repressed–even by persuasive art critics. Here in the Coachella Valley we have our own dedicated practitioner of the art, Ronald Backer. He got his start painting the Black Hills of South Dakota, and is now delving deep into Coachella Valley places and accompanying legends. In a new exhibit at the Coachella Valley History Museum, Ron zeros in on Indio. Meet the artist at a reception March 2, 2014, from 1-4 pm. http://www.cvhm.org/
Ron Backer’s website: http://www.sdartists.net/members/rbacker/
Art and Adventure in Utah’s Red Rocks
Try your hand at expedition art with masters of the genre, Gregory Frux and Janet Morgan, on an April trip to Utah’s red rock country. Base camp is the seldom-visited far end of the famous Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Guided hikes and art instruction will ensue in Harris Wash, Big Horn Slot Canyon, Cedar Wash Arch, Devils Garden and other spectacular areas. On the curriculum: geology, plants, desert wildlife, local history, oil painting, watercolor and field sketching.
For more on Janet Morgan and Gregory Frux, see: www.artandadventures.com
The Riverside Legacy: California Plein Air Paintings Past and Present
Through April 17, see plein air paintings from the collection of the Riverside Art Museum, along with contemporary work by the Plein Air Artists of Riverside.
With work dating from the 1930s, the show provides a lot of overlap with the desert artists and includes familiar names such as Rex Brandt, Robert E. Wood, Milford Zornes, Ralph Love and Millard Sheets. As this exhibit plainly shows, the impulse to take a pen or brush and walk out in an arroyo was as urgent in 1930 as it is today. Curator Devi Noor is a curatorial assistant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Plein Air Artists of Riverside: http://www.pleinairartistsofriverside.com/
Michael Gordon Takes You to Death Valley Artists’ Haunts
Death Valley is a place of intense importance to artists and photographers but—at 3.3 million acres and with few services– it can be intimidating to get to know.
To help you get started, fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon has posted a You Tube video of his Death Valley photographs. If you want more guidance, consider signing up for one of Michael’s upcoming photo workshops in Death Valley.
Molly Lipsher at the Desert Art Center
Also busy this season—along with the snakes and the painters—is the venerable Desert Art Center, a cornerstone of the desert art scene since 1950.
On March 8, the Center continues its extensive arts programming with a free demonstration in pastels with Molly Lipsher. The following day Molly teaches a half-day outdoor workshop. Active in the La Jolla art scene and with the California Art Club, Lipsher has a distinct, expressive style and a deep relationship to places–which for her have soul and voice. Learning to see and feel the landscape as Molly does is a great grounding for anyone, not just painters.