Inaugural Salton Sea Art Exhibit Opens April 1

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Many early artists painted the ancient lake in the desert, and recently a new parade of painters and photographers is trekking to the Sea. It was about time someone staged an exhibition celebrating this vibrant scene. The Salton Sea Museum–in the recently renovated North Shore Yacht Club–is doing just that, April 1-30th.

Salton Sea Wash, Andrew Dickson

See the full press release below. Read all the way to the end for special events;  see the Museum website and the Desertscapes website for updates. The Salton Sea exhibit is a part of the month-long Desertscapes event hosted by the City of Palm Desert and organizations valley wide:


99-155 Sea View Drive

North Shore, CA 92254

T 760-393-9222

Museum Director: Jennie Kelly

Curator: Deborah Martin

Valley of the Ancient Lake: Works Inspired by the Salton Sea

Curated by Deborah Martin with historical works and memorabilia by Jennie Kelly

April 1, 2011 – April 30, 2011

Opening Reception Sunday April 3, 3 -7:00pm

Museum Open Daily 10am-4pm, Closed Wednesdays & Thursdays

The Salton Sea History Museum is pleased to present an inaugural exhibition including work by panoramic photographer Bill Leigh Brewer; new media artist Cristopher Cichocki; landscape artist Mary-Austin Klein; photographer and author of In Search of Eldorado: The Salton Sea Christopher Landis; American realist painter Deborah Martin; photographer of Salt Dreams Joan Myers; plein-air painters Andrew Dickson, Joe Forkan and Eric Merrell; photographer and author of Greetings From the Salton Sea, Kim Stringfellow.

Join us at the new Salton Sea History Museum located inside the historic North Shore Beach & Yacht Club. Sitting on the north shore of California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, this recently restored historic treasure was designed by famed mid-century architect Albert Frey.

About the Museum:

The Salton Sea History Museum is the new jewel of the Salton Sea, and is located inside the historic North Shore Beach & Yacht Club. During the renovation process at the yacht club, a historical designation was granted for the classic Albert Frey building. Although small, the museum offers rotating exhibits focusing on the history of the Salton Sea region and also has a visitor center.

The North Shore Yacht Club was funded by the Riverside County Redevelopment Agency. California redevelopment agencies are currently fighting to keep their funding and need your support. The North Shore Yacht Club serves as a community center and is available for events.

Salton Sea History Museum (SSHM) Mission Statement:

The Mission of the Salton Sea History Museum (SSHM) is two-fold. The museum will spotlight the physical, cultural and natural history of the Salton Sea and surrounding areas. In addition we will promote available options for restoration of the historic Salton Sea that ultimately maintains both the lake and salinity levels. The SSHM will collect, preserve, record and provide access to its historical collections. Through educational opportunities for both adults and our youth, we hope to instill a sense of pride in regional history with the ultimate goal of support for preservation. We believe this can be attained through exhibits, publications, media, programs and events.

About the Director:

Jennie Kelly, Director of the Salton Sea History Museum and Commissioner with the Riverside County Historical Commission, began her journey into ‘history’ with a heroic effort to save the threatened Rancho Dos Palmas in North Shore. During that intense two-year effort, Kelly requested and received cooperation from then Riverside County Supervisor, Roy Wilson.

Through this collaboration, space for a museum was offered to Kelly in the renovated Albert Frey-designed North Shore Beach & Yacht Club. Although Kelly received small grants from Supervisors Benoit & Ashley and the Imperial Irrigation District to get the museum open, it remains otherwise self-funded through memberships and sales.

About the Curator:

Deborah Martin is a Los Angeles based fine art photographer, contemporary realist painter and curator. Deborah received her BFA and BS Masters of Arts in Teaching, Art Education from The Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University.

Her book Home on the Strange: In Search of the Salton Sea was written by Amy Sather Smith and published by Catalysis Projects, in 2010. She is the former director and curator of the Spring Arts Collective Gallery (2006-2009) and the Deborah Martin Gallery (March 2009-2010) located on Gallery Row in Downtown Los Angeles. Martin currently lives and works in the Mojave desert. She is documenting an unincorporated town called Wonder Valley, which is approximately 100 miles from the Salton Sea.

About the artists:

Bill Leigh Brewer

Born in Los Angeles, Bill received his postgraduate degree in education from USC. He was an instructor in California’s public schools for over six years and taught commercial lighting and black and white photography at Long Beach City College, where he is a former member of their Photography Advisory Committee. He has been an assignment and fine art photographer for nearly thirty years.

Bill has been honored multiple times by the Palm Springs Art Museum, where his work has been exhibited in several exhibitions. He is a recipient of a Donaldson Trust Fellowship, and winner in the Nikon International Photography Contest and Photographer’s Forum annual competitions. He is the 2010 Epson International Pano Photographer of the year. Bill’s images may be found in many private and corporate collections.

Cristopher Cichocki

Cristopher Cichocki lives and works in the desert of Southern California’s Coachella Valley. The core of his influences spans diverse territories including: Earthworks, Minimalism, Fluxus, Arte Povera, DADA, guerrilla art, quantum physics, and experimental music.

Encompassing painting, photography, video, sculpture, sound, installation, and performance; Cichocki accents relationships of interconnection, constant flux, and sublime entropy.

Cristopher is a recipient of Lew and Edie Wasserman, the California Governor’s Award, the La Quinta Arts Foundation and the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship. Christopher studied at the California Institute of the Arts and Yale Summer School of the Arts.

Andrew Dickson

Andrew Dickson’s family’s roots are connected to the Salton Sea, where his family owns property near the Salton Sea History Museum. Andrew’s work has been featured in American Artist and has been exhibited nationally. He is an artist member of the California Art Club and has taught drawing and painting at California State University, Long Beach, The Palos Verdes Art Center, and Huntington University in Indiana. Andrew currently works as an Assistant Professor of Foundation Painting at California State University Fullerton.

Andrew completed his MFA at California State University Long Beach.

Joe Forkan

Joe Forkan is a figurative and landscape painter who lives and works in Southern California. He was born in Newburgh, New York, and grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where he received his BFA from the University of Arizona in 1989. He received an MFA in Painting from the University of Delaware in 2002 and is currently an Associate Professor of Art at California State University Fullerton.

His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented in several museum collections. In 2010, He was awarded a fellowship with the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle, Ireland, where was an artist in residence.

Mary-Austin Klein

Born in San Bernardino and raised on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Mary-Austin Klein currently lives and works in Los Angeles and the Southern CA Desert of Twentynine Palms. She has exhibited her work throughout Los Angeles, Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms, and Pasadena, CA. She has been featured in The Guide to the Wild Mojave publication sponsored by the California Wilderness Coalition for her artwork and advocacy efforts, and has appeared in The Desert Trail and LA Architect Magazine. Klein is a teacher of art, photography and woodworking. She studied painting at The Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design.

Christopher Landis

A photographer and historian, Christopher Landis combines art and historic documentation in his visual record of the Salton Sea, begun in 1990. Landis’ dramatic Iris prints focus not on the human presence at the Sea but on the human relics in this desert landscape. The marks left by humans bear testimony to their dreams, enterprise, folly, greed, and thatperennial battle for control of the environment. Christopher is the author and photographer of In Search for Eldorado: The Salton Sea published by the Palm Springs Desert Museum in 2007. He received his MFA in Art & MA in History from California State University Fullerton.

Deborah Martin

Deborah Martin is a Los Angeles based contemporary realist painter, fine art photographer and curator. A site-specific artist, her work eulogizes the abandoned habitats and domestic landscapes of small town America. Much of her practice emerges in collaborative conversation with writers and video artists, and takes form through exhibitions, installations and publications. She is recognized for several pivotal bodies of work: Narrow Lands (Provincetown, MA), Home on the Strange: In Search of the Salton Sea (Salton Sea, CA), and America (U.S.).

Deborah has exhibited in galleries and Museums in New York, Provincetown, Boston and Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in distinguished fine art magazines including the Fine Art Photography Publication of Light Leaks Magazine, and the Pacific Coast West Edition of New American Paintings Magazine.  Martin received her BFA and BS Masters of Arts in Teaching, Art Education from The Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University.

Joan Myers

Joan Myers’ photographs span the last quarter of the twentieth century and several locales. She is known for her platinum-palladium prints, a hand-coating process where the image becomes part of the drawing paper on which it is printed. Myers’ work is in the Museum of Modern Art, the Center for Creative Photography, the George Eastman House, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Myers is the photographer of Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-Down California, written by William deBuys Winner of the 1999 Western States Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and the William P. Clements Prize for the Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America.

Kim Stringfellow

Kim Stringfellow’s projects have been commissioned and funded by leading organizations including the California Council for the Humanities, Creative Work Fund, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Seattle Arts Commission. Her work has been exhibited at the International Center for Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions among others. Her photographs are included in the permanent collection at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno and the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse in Miami. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, SF Camerawork Quarterly, Sculpture, Photo Metro, Leonardo, and Artweek.

Her first book, Greetings from the Salton Sea: Folly and Intervention in the Southern California Landscape, 1905–2005 was published by the Center for American Places in 2005. The website for Greetings from the Salton Sea was featured in Ecotopia: The Second ICP Triennial of Photography and Video in New York City in 2006/07.

Special Events:

Sunday, April 3, 4-5 p.m.

Kim Stringfellow will read from her book, Greetings from the Salton Sea: Folly and Intervention in the Southern California Landscape, 1905—2005. She will also present a slide show of images from the book.

Saturday, April 23, 2011, 1-3 p.m.

Eric Merrell & Joe Forkan: “The Artist’s Eye: Landscape Painting in the Desert” Salton Sea History Museum

In conjunction with the exhibition “Valley of the Ancient Lake: Works Inspired by the Salton Sea” at the Salton Sea History Museum, participating artists Joe Forkan and Eric Merrell will present a talk on their work on Saturday, April 23, including their approaches to painting, on-location sketches, and materials used to work outdoors.


1 comment for “Inaugural Salton Sea Art Exhibit Opens April 1

  1. I have a painting by John Anthony Conner of “Desert at Salton Sea”. Do you know of anyone who may be interested in it? I inherited it from my 92 year old aunt who owns property at Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley. Thanks for your time.

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