Posts Tagged ‘ desert art center ’

When Chuckwallas Dream: The Cahuilla Hills Homestead of Susan Smith Evans

Lucky is the artist who bonds with a significant place. Georgia O’Keeffe had her Abiquiu, Agnes Pelton her Mt. San Jacinto, and Susan Smith Evans–who died in an accident on March 6, 2017–her Cahuilla Hills, a rustic hideaway just outside Palm Desert. Drive three miles up Highway 74 from 111 and you’ll find a neighborhood graced with natural landscaping and remnants of 1940s jackrabbit homesteads; it feels more like Joshua Tree and the high desert than the Coachella Valley. A printmaker, painter and photographer, Susan Smith Evans taught in the College of the Desert (COD) art department for more than…

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Vaughan Davies: New Light on Tahquitz

I would have told you I know Tahquitz Canyon well. I’ve studied the jagged mouth from my backyard for 21 years. I’ve watched the shadow of the witch glide across the canyon in the mornings and have even trekked to the third waterfall to visit a former hermit-in-residence. So I thought I knew this place–as emblematic of Palm Springs as Ayers Rock is of Australia. But then I saw a Tahquitz painting by Vaughan Davies. Here was a tilted slab rearing up as if about to speak. A spiky monolith, slightly foreboding. This was a Tahquitz new to me. In…

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Hermann Fischer, Karl May and the Desert of Imagination

It was Karl May’s pulp fiction that first prompted a boy growing up in Heilbronn, Germany, to long for the desert he’d never seen, and, eventually, to become a desert painter at age 70. For the German writer May (1842-1912)—as for many others–the desert represented freedom, adventure and beauty. May (pronounced “My”) captured this desert of the imagination in popular novels that continue to inspire Europeans to flock to the American West today. Now a Palm Desert resident, Hermann Fischer was incubated with his love of open distance when he was still a child. But his craving for Western spaces…

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Elaine Mathews: Master of Rock and Earth

Hours before daylight, Elaine Mathews wakes up thinking of a palm tree or piece of sky she wants to work on. “I want to get started and I don’t want to wait,” she says. So while her husband, Steve, sleeps, she sneaks off to the garage studio she shares with a golf cart, a Honda, a leaf blower and other garden tools. She sets a timer, then for the next few hours she paints tirelessly, occasionally spritzing herself with a water bottle (the wall A-C unit can’t keep up with the 115 degree temps.) When the timer rings she might…

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J. Smeaton Chase, Kim Stringfellow, Joshua Tree Mapmaker and More

For artists new to the desert and looking for a guide to its essence, track down a copy of J. Smeaton Chase’s 1919 volume California Desert Trails. The English-born Chase traveled with early Palm Springs artist Carl Eytel; his words have inspired contemporary desert painters Terry Masters, Eric Merrell and others. As an intro to Chase, Jim Develyn’s new blog highlights passages from his work. (Chase also wrote about Yosemite and the California Coast. ) Develyn says he wants to “put this wonderful writer’s words in front of more people”. Though I’ve spent hours with California Desert Trails in the…

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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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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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Desert Art Center 2012 Paint-Outs

The free monthly paint-outs of the Desert Art Center are reason enough to become a desert painter if you aren’t one already. You’ll go to beautiful places, stand around and draw smoketrees, palaver with others as much or as little as you’d like. The paint-out ritual embodies the elemental and timeless pleasures of landscape art. These are not art classes. Anyone is welcome. You don’t even have to be an artist to tag along. This year’s treks are led by the supremely popular teacher and artist Elaine Mathews. For more on the Desert Art Center, a Palm Springs institution since…

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Jolene Biss: Painter of Indian Baskets Dies

Jolene Biss: Painter of Indian Baskets Dies

Jolene Biss died suddenly on February 10th, 2011, after dropping off paintings at the Indio Date Festival, where she won three medals. Biss was a longtime member of the Desert Art Center in Palm Springs, an institution that has nurtured many important desert artists. Biss was living with her husband, Don, in the same Banning cottage where her parents raised her. Before returning to Banning recently, the couple had lived for years in the Klamath River region of Northern California, where Biss discovered the basketry of the Karuk Indians and started painting baskets and the basket-makers themselves. “She just kind…

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Smoketree Painter Sally Ward Dies

Smoketree Painter Sally Ward Dies

Sally Ward, an artist who lived for decades in Palm Springs, died in Tucson on November 16, 2010, at age 101. Fellow artists from Ward’s circle of friends who also passed away recently include Louise Tennyson and Edna Hollinger. All were part of a roving bunch of plein air painters from the Palm Springs Desert Art Center. They explored the canyons together and benefited from acquaintance with older, experienced landscape painters such as Wilton McCoy, Darwin Duncan and Karl Albert. Sally Ward was born in Montana and moved to Palm Springs in 1973. Like her friends, Sally was serious about…

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