I’m sitting at Gramma’s restaurant in Banning, California, with the 92-year-old artist Carl Bray across the table from me. The legendary “smoketree painter” of Indian Wells, Carl is one of the last of the early desert artists. With his huge railroadman’s hands, he pushes aside the plates and unfolds a map of New Mexico to show me where he first steered “Brownie”–the esteemed Western painter R. Brownell McGrew–into Navajo country. (Brownie lived in Cathedral City in the 1950s and then in La Quinta—read more about him here soon.)
In another loss, the desert archaeologist and artist Jay von Werlhof of Ocotillo died on December 10, 2009.