Tribute to Fran Elliott, Natural Desert Pigments, Salton Sea Sabbatical and More

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Forgotten desert artists lost a champion when Fran Elliott, of Sedona, Arizona, died on April 22, 2014.

Fran Elliott

Fran and her husband Ed unearthed the stories of dozens of neglected Arizona women artists. Their collection sparked the 2012 exhibit Arizona’s Pioneering Women Artists at the Museum of Northern Arizona, along with an accompanying catalogue. I made Fran’s acquaintance thanks to Gary Fillmore, of the Blue Coyote Gallery, who saw similarities in Fran’s mission and my own. In our correspondence Fran said she longed to visit Palm Springs during the Modernism show “since I live in a 60’s-era ‘solar hemicycle’ house originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1946…it would ‘feel quite at home’ in Palm Springs.”

She was quick to share resources and connections to California desert artists, and noted that local museums (listen up Palm Springs Art Museum!) often overlook their backyard artists: “Funny how we neglect the talents closest to home.” In addition to her pioneering work on Arizona artists, Fran was founder of the Hairy Angel Foundation, a group that trains service dogs for autistic children.

Lynne Bolwell Explores Pigment

Lynne Bolwell, an alumnus of Jim Trolinger’s recent paint-out in Joshua Tree, talks about the use of natural pigments in desert painting in an article in The New York resident found her “East Coast palette” didn’t work so well in Death Valley. A frequent visitor to the desert, Bolwell plans to paint in Joshua Tree and Anza-Borrego again this spring.

Eric Merrell’s Desert Dreams Go Global

Eric Merrell’s article Seeing Color in the Desert–first seen on this website–was reprinted in the August/September 2014 issue of International Artist magazine. It’s proof that the joys and challenges of desert painting appeal to painters worldwide. See Eric’s blog for upcoming workshops.

Andrew Dickson’s Sabbatical at the Sea

Salton Sea painter Andrew Dickson (featured in the 2011 exhibit “Valley of the Ancient Lake”) is taking a sabbatical from his job teaching painting at Cal State Fullerton to concentrate on painting the Sea. This is excellent news for fans of Andy’s work and the Sea itself. Art may be the thing to save the Sea, after all.

Andrew Dickson, Yellow Sunset

Andrew Dickson, Yellow Sunset

Dickson is the rare artist with ancestral ties to the Sea. His grandmother’s home on the North Shore is still in the family. He writes: “I hope I will be able to keep my Grandmother’s home on the Sea and make it a permanent studio space and residence to host artists in their exploration of the region. I am very excited about the potential to work there for years to come. I have already invited several artists out for the fall (traditional and non-traditional painters from Los Angeles) and am looking forward to introducing them to the area and seeing what inspires them. I love bringing people to the desert.”

Happy Birthday to Phil Kovinick

Phil Kovinick, esteemed art scholar and author, turned 90 in July. He is author of a book on John Frost, an early Palm Springs painter; with his wife, Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, he wrote the definitive encyclopedia of women artists of the West. He’s the only person I know who actually met Desert Inn Gallery director Harriet Day—in her Cathedral City home, next door to Agnes Pelton.

Phil Kovinick at his birthday party.

Phil Kovinick at his birthday party.

Try to stump him with a question about a desert artist and he’ll vanish into his archives and emerge with an entire file on the person in question. Happy Birthday and thanks for all the clues, Phil.

Patricia Schaefer Opens a Gallery in Mt. Shasta

Patricia Schaefer–formerly featured on CDA and a former artist-in-residence at Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs–has opened a gallery in Dunsmuir, in the shadow of Mt. Shasta. The current exhibit at Nomad Gallery features photographs of rarely-seen Lake Michigan ice caves by Patricia’s sister, Caroline Schaefer-Hills.

Nomad GalleryStop by the gallery if you’re in northern California. We expect to see much more from these sister-explorers of desert and ice.

The Tiny Homesteads of Anna-Marie Veloz

I’m always happy to hear of an artist from underserved (artistically) desert regions such as Victorville.

Anna-Marie Veloz, Randsburg Residence (a miniature)

Anna-Marie Veloz, Randsburg Residence (a miniature construction)

Anna-Marie Veloz, an art professor at Victor Valley College, has an exhibit at Mojave National Preserve’s Kelso Depot Visitor Center through September 20th, 2014. Inhabitance: Sculptures in Minute Scale showcases tiny replicas of abandoned structures Veloz found on her desert travels. While many artists play around with old homestead shacks in the desert, these shrunken structures take the genre to a new, oddly moving level.

A Carl Bray Steal in Valparaiso

Here’s some inspiration for all of you thrift store art collectors. Sandy Stasierowski was shopping in the Goodwill store in Valparaiso, Indiana recently when she was captivated by a painting of the Thermal fish traps. It turned out to be a classic Carl Bray Coachella Valley scene. “It’s absolutely beautiful,” Sandy says. The price for Sandy’s prize: $7.Carl Bray Fish Traps


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