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Visual Arts

28 Mar 2016
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I’ve spent more than 45 years learning about art and artists—and I remain in awe of Marc Chagall. The unlikely artist was one of nine children born into an extremely poor, highly religious Jewish family. Chagall grew up in a shtetl (a small, ghetto-like village) in Vitebsk, Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire. He married his muse Bella Rosenfeld in 1909; he moved to Paris in 1910. Chagall’s personal style and creativity flourished after moving to a Parisian art colony, where he received exposure to the early 20th century avant garde creative-art movements. This highly prolific artist’s successes extend well beyond traditional media, like painting, drawing and printmaking: He also championed frequently overlooked art forms, including stained glass, fiber arts and mosaics. Throughout his life, Chagall created art that frequently contained a narrative reflecting his youth in Vitebsk. While some might think—incorrectly—that much of his art was too narrowly…
01 Mar 2016
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While Indian Wells will be the focus of the tennis world for much of March thanks to the BNP Paribas Open, art will share the spotlight from Thursday, March 17, to Sunday, March 20, thanks to the first Spectrum Indian Wells, a juried contemporary art show. During a recent interview with Eric Smith, the Spectrum Indian Wells founder and Redwood Media Group CEO, he explained his local ties. After spending 13 years in Cleveland, Smith now makes his home here in the Coachella Valley. “We don’t really do art festivals—we do art shows,” Smith said. “It’s hard walls about 10 feet high with truss lighting systems, and it’s more of a gallery atmosphere. We do six across the country: San Diego; we do two in Miami; New York; Santa Fe; and one here in Indian Wells. I was the original founder of the Palm Springs International Art Fair in 1999.…
01 Feb 2016
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The Palm Springs Fine Art Fair takes place Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 11 through 14, at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros. It costs $20 for a day pass; a VIP pass for all days is $75. For more information, visit www.palmspringsfineartfair.com. 1. Go See Photographer of the Year Ralph Gibson (pictured; photo by Andrea Blanche) Ralph Gibson studied photography in the U.S. Navy in the 1950s; he also spent two years at the San Francisco Institute of Art. He worked as an assistant to photographer Dorothea Lange and later with filmmaker Robert Frank. His photographic art is known for incorporating fragments of eroticism along with undertones of the mysterious, giving narrative meaning though context and surreal juxtaposition. He will receive his award at noon, Friday, Feb. 12; a discussion of his work will follow. See his photo “MJ, Sardinia,” at the top. Above: Billie Holiday, New…
01 Feb 2016
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You may have never heard of Nat Reed—but you’ve almost certainly seen his work before. The midcentury modern artist did the poster/cover for last year’s Palm Springs Pride, and he’s been written about in various publications. At the Palm Springs International Airport, Reed is collaborating with Virgin America to create an interactive modernism exhibit at the airline’s gate that will be on display during Modernism Week, which this year is taking place Feb. 11-21. During a recent interview, Reed discussed his art, which has an animated feel that includes various midcentury modernism elements: architecture, automobiles and even tiki. “It’s all referencing the period and things from that period,” Reed said. “Polynesian exotica and the whole tiki thing was popular in the ’50s and ’60s. … With the tikis, my grandfather was a Polynesian decorator and tiki carver, so I grew up with those all around. Those are really natural things…
25 Dec 2015
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In the arts world, Debra Ann Mumm—president and founder of the family-owned business Venus Studios Art Supply, in Palm Desert—is an oxymoron. She’s a successful artist. And she’s a successful entrepreneur. In the industry, many art galleries and supply shops close within months of opening. However, Venus Studios is celebrating its fifth anniversary with an art expo in January—and the business has not stagnated; in fact, it has expanded. Venus’ expansion about three years ago led to a significantly larger gallery space, an increased number and variety of courses, private areas individual artists can rent, and an art-supply store that carries the latest materials and is the only store in the desert where some products can be purchased. Unfortunately, artistic purists and entrepreneurial purists alike bash Mumm. The artistic purists claim that Mumm sold out and is now a lesser artist. The entrepreneurs impugn her efforts because she lacks the…
20 Nov 2015
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Temperamental artists took to the Internet after the Palm Springs Art Museum announced the works that would be included in the Artists Council Exhibition 2015. Normally, the complaining ends within a week of the announcement; however, this year, the comments seemed especially fractious. While most selected artists took pride in their inclusion, many Artists Council members who were not included criticized every aspect of the selection process, from the number of jurors to the number of submissions per artist. (Full disclosure: I submitted art to the show which was not selected.) Some suggested that the museum create a show featuring the rejects. Regrettably, a small contingency made the conversation personal, impugning the integrity and competency of Artists Council peers. The results of the selection process are now on display for everyone to see. Unfortunately, I found a fair number of the pieces to be derivative, in a way that does…