Meet Richard Almada. Several months ago, he launched Desert Art Tours, a new business that offers … well, just what the name says: tours, organized and hosted by Almada, that offer attendees a chance to take in a variety of art in the desert and beyond.
Almada has experience in the arts, cosmetics and real estate worlds over his 30-plus year career. As someone who does not know a whole lot about gallery/visual arts, I decided to talk to Almada about the valley’s arts scene, and where Desert Art Tours fits in.
Consider yourself warned (in a good way): If you ask Almada a question about art, you are going to get a quick-paced, passionate, information-heavy answer. Here are some highlights from our chat.
Why Desert Art Tours? Why now?
Almada said he started the company because he recognized that there are a growing number of folks, both locals and tourists, like me—people who want to learn more about art. For example, the Smithsonian museums have been seeing record crowds. “Attendance at art venues, in the country and around the world, has grown, even as the recession hit us,” he said.
However, it can be difficult for gallery and museum attendees to get proper information if they’re there to truly learn, and not just browse. “Docents aren’t always available,” Almada said. “That can discourage a lot of people from attending.”
It can also be a challenge to see a variety of art in the ever-sprawling Coachella Valley, both for tourists without vehicles, and for locals who may not know where to go. Therefore, Almada handles all of the transportation—and even arranges for a meal on some tours.
Since nobody else in the Coachella Valley that he knew of was offering such art tours, Almada said, starting Desert Art Tours to fill that niche made sense.
What tours are offered?
Almada currently lists six different tours on his site: a tour of the Palm Springs Art Museum; a journey of art, both public and private, across the valley; a valley gallery tour; an El Paseo shopping/gallery jaunt; a private collections tour; and a Southern California day trip tour. Almada is also happy to tailor tours to attendees’ specific desires.
What are some favorite places to take tour-goers?
Almada mentioned a variety of places, all of which happen to be in Palm Desert: The J. Willott Gallery on El Paseo (“They appeal to a vast audience,” he said); the new Dawson Cole Fine Art location, also on El Paseo, which showcases the “world-class sculptures” of Richard MacDonald; the Imago Galleries on Highway 74 (“The architecture is so grand, and the art is so contemporary. They have world-class glass creations.”); Heather James Fine Art, on Portola Avenue, which Almada likes both for its “blue chip” art and its periodic exhibitions, including a fine Picasso show a few years back; and, finally, the four-acre Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert.
OK, so how much does it cost?
That depends on the tour, the length and whether a meal is involved, but it starts at $125 per person, with a group of at least four, he said.
For more information or to contact Desert Art Tours, visit desert-arttours.com.