Galleries

Hazel’s Garden: Outsider Art Discovered in Wonder Valley

Despite its current popularity with fashion photographers, Wonder Valley can feel godforsaken on a hot summer day. It was just such a day when Joe Barrett huddled beneath a shade canopy and sent his drone into the sky to take photos of an abandoned five-acre homestead. The original shack was busted up; no one had lived there for decades. But a neighbor had noticed–while browsing Google Earth–that there appeared to be rows of stones arranged to form words. Big words. They were hard to make out from the ground so Barrett and his drone were enlisted to see what was…

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Desert Devotional: The Anza-Borrego Paintings of Jane Culp

Desert Devotional: The Anza-Borrego Paintings of Jane Culp

Editor’s note: Many people paint the desert but only a few embody the ur-qualities of the early desert artists. Jane Culp is one. She lives in an off-grid straw bale cabin perched above the Anza-Borrego desert. From this solitary outlook, she observes–and participates in–the natural forces that pulverize granite and push tectonic plates.    Her life is a veritable how-to manual for desert artists and mystics, linking her to greats like Agnes Pelton and Carl Eytel, who lived a monastic life in the rocks above today’s Palm Springs Tennis Club. We’ll have more on Culp and her upcoming exhibit–Predator Country–at…

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Collecting Arizona: How Gary Fillmore and David Picerne Tracked Down the State’s Greatest Paintings

David Picerne, a real estate developer, and Gary Fillmore, an art appraiser and owner of the Blue Coyote Gallery, went on a hunt to find the state’s very best landscape art, seeking out offerings from the Taos artists, Santa Fe railroad artists, California Impressionists and our own Smoketree Painters. Currently on view in Wickenburg (through March 4, 2018) is their comprehensive display of landscape art from around Arizona. There is plenty of overlap between the California desert and Arizona artists. To understand the Mecca Mud Hills…you have to be versed in the Superstitions, as well. Gary Fillmore knows both. He has…

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Radical Cartography: Obi Kaufmann and The California Field Atlas

There’s a new name in the pantheon of mapmaker artists. Joining a distinguished line-up that includes Desert magazine’s Norton Allen, Obi Kaufmann is a poet-artist-adventurer who set out to inhale the entire state of California by hiking, camping, dreaming, painting and drawing maps. His mammoth compendium, The California Field Atlas (released this month from Heyday books), combines more than 300 hand-painted maps with watercolor paintings of mountains and wildlife. Obi will be signing books at the Borrego Art Institute on September 14th, 2017. His artwork from the chapter Of Life, Death and the Desert will be on display at the gallery…

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Marcia Geiger: The Secret Lives of Vintage Trailers

The Tin Goose was just an old school bus parked outside the Joshua Tree Saloon until Marcia Geiger decided to make it the subject of a painting. In Geiger’s version, the Goose looks at you head-on and unflinching. It seems to be reciting the dreams and defeats of every seeker who ever lived aboard. The piece won the Preston Ormsby Award for Excellence at the 2016 Palm Springs Artists Council Exhibit (ACE Show), and the image became an instant High Desert classic. The Nebraska-born artist has made a years-long study of the “infinite procession” of transformed buses and campers she’s…

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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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Barbara Gothard: Surrealism and the Desert of Dreams

When I heard there was a surrealist living off of South Palm Canyon Drive, near my favorite Indian Canyons haunts, I felt like a botanist who’d discovered a rare desert lily. In Palm Springs we have installation artists, landscape painters, post-modernists and tiki artists–but surrealists? Those are from Paris and New York. Well, not all of them. There were some noted surrealists inspired by the California desert, including Dorr Bothwell–who lived in Joshua Tree in the 1960s–and Helen Lundeberg, who spent time in Palm Springs and Death Valley. I’d always admired these bold painters and never thought I’d encounter their…

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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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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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Gary Fillmore on Appraising Desert Art

Gary Fillmore on Appraising Desert Art

Ed. intro: “I have a Conrad Buff that belonged to my stepdad’s mother…” “I found a Val Samuelson in my brother’s condo…” People write to this website all the time with questions about found art. The inquiries break down into two categories: “Can you tell me more about the artist?” And “What is it worth?” I love the first category because it often leads to the discovery of neglected desert artists. The juiciest queries have a seed of a story attached: “I have a painting that was given to my great aunt who lived in Mecca since 1914 when her…

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