Posts Tagged ‘ Agnes Pelton ’

Funeral in the Rocks: A Tale of Cathedral City’s Early Artists

In honor of Cathedral City’s 35th anniversary celebration (November, 2016) we’re featuring vintage photos of the town, on display through December 18th at the City Hall Art Gallery. Accompanying the images is an excerpt from Painted Rocks by Josephine Morse True. This hard-to-find memoir depicts the village and the artists, as they were in 1935 when True lived there. Of all the Coachella Valley cities, Cathedral City claims the most beguiling art story: an early band of free spirits gathered around the artist Agnes Pelton and the teachings of Theosophy. Instead of remaining aloof from their neighbors (as bohemians tend…

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Cabot Yerxa: The Theosophist-Artist of Miracle Hill

One hundred years ago Cabot Yerxa scraped a dugout into a clay bank, claiming a 160-acre homestead on a patch of sand alive with wind and water spirits. (Today we call them energy vortexes.) He spent $10 on a burro, Merry Xmas, then later built a Hopi-style pueblo of 35 rooms, now one of the most beloved handmade houses in California. Desert-dwellers know this story. But you might not know that Cabot traveled with a sketchbook and paints strapped to his burro. You might not know that he was pals with Jimmy Swinnerton, Agnes Pelton and Carl Eytel, or that…

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Emerging from the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960

Fans of California art had heard rumors that the fine arts conservator and scholar Maurine St. Gaudens was working on a book about California women artists. Given Maurine’s reputation, it was bound to be big. Now that the four-volume set has been released, though, it’s clear that nothing could have prepared us for this visual thrill ride. Emerging from the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960 introduces 320 mostly-overlooked or forgotten women artists and reanimates them and their work. (Bios of three desert artists are below.) Maurine was not content to render the women as footnotes.…

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The Lost Colony of Sven-Ska: Christina Lillian and the Cathedral City Artists

Evan Lindquist heard stories about his Aunt Emma all his life. She was a beautiful blonde artist–a friend to Greta Garbo and D.H. Lawrence–and she ruled over an artists’ colony called Sven-Ska somewhere out in the California desert. To a boy growing up in small town Kansas, Sven-Ska seemed as exotic as Atlantis. This legendary aunt had inspired Lindquist to become an artist himself, yet he’d never met her.  Finally, in 1959, he and his wife, Sharon, were driving from Yuma to Palm Springs. They came around a curve and there was a sign on the highway that said Sven-Ska.…

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Bidding On Agnes: A Newbie Goes to An Art Auction

I fell in love with Agnes Pelton’s paintings when I attended the Channeling Agnes Pelton: Portraits, Landscapes and Readings exhibition at City Hall in Cathedral City last year. Ever since, I’ve been on a search to acquire one of her paintings. They aren’t easy to find. I finally located one that had been put up for auction. The only problem was that I had never been to an auction, much less purchased a painting at one. I envisioned the big expensive auction houses like Christies or Sotheby’s and I was afraid I’d be intimidated. Undaunted, I headed to the John…

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The Smoketree Artists’ Historic Home Tour

The Smoketree Artists’ Historic Home Tour

This article first appeared in Palm Springs Life, Winter/Spring 2013 Any Palm Springs visitor can board a bus and tour Liberace’s pad. With only a little more effort, you can see the view that inspired mystical visions from Agnes Pelton’s back porch or the Cathedral City home where R. Brownell McGrew came to love the desert so much he was later dubbed Rembrandt Under a Smoketree. Some of California’s greatest artists once lived in the Coachella Valley. More and more, art lovers are recognizing the power artists’ former homes and environs hold in telling the story of American art. As…

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Rare Agnes Pelton Abstract Saved From Junkheap

I was exiting the rotunda of Cathedral City Hall after a talk by Agnes Pelton scholar Michael Zakian. He had just finished saying that Pelton’s abstracts are rare and becoming more and more valuable. “We think we might have found a new one today,” he added. I was thinking about that comment when I spotted a tanned, athletic-looking woman carrying a cardboard box, about the dimensions of a painting. On a hunch I asked what was in the box. Glenda Rice opened the flaps and slowly extracted a pale, quivering beauty of a painting: The newly-found Pelton abstract. The story…

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Agnes Pelton Revival in Cathedral City

The first-annual Agnes Pelton Birthday Tea–on August 22, 2011–was hosted by Peter Palladino and Simeon Den, the new owners of Pelton’s former home in Cathedral City. Though Pelton died in 1961, her presence at the gathering was as strong as if she had just gone out for ice cubes. The event marks a hometown revival for the artist. For years the city paid little notice that one of the West’s most visionary artists spent her working days here. Recently there’s a growing awareness that Pelton is as important to Cathedral City as Georgia O’Keeffe to Abiquiu. A transcendental artist who…

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Cady Wells and the Desert Modern

I’m no longer surprised when I hear about a hot Southwestern artist and then find he or she had ties to the Coachella Valley. In fact, I’ve come to expect those connections. The newest discovery is Henry Cady Wells, a modernist Santa Fe artist who lived in Palm Springs at one time. Georgia O’Keeffe once remarked that she and her friend Wells were the two best artists from their region. And while Wells has been relatively obscure till now, his day has come largely due to the efforts of Lois P. Rudnick, editor of a satisfying new book from the…

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Swinnerton Stash, Eric Merrell, Hwy 62 Art Tours, Mary Weatherford on Agnes Pelton and More

Swinnerton Stash, Eric Merrell, Hwy 62 Art Tours, Mary Weatherford on Agnes Pelton and More

When Alan and Lois Stoneman built a home at Thunderbird Country Club in 1960, they asked Jimmy Swinnerton to paint them a smoke tree (a favorite of Alan’s.) Swinny borrowed the throw pillows from the couple’s sofa to make the painting match the decor. Over the years the Stonemans acquired more work by their friend, Swinnerton. Now their son, Alan Stoneman, is looking for a home for all seven of his parents’ sketches and paintings, including a prized scene of Monument Valley. This is a rare opportunity to purchase an entire Swinnerton collection that comes with a direct personal link to the…

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