"Lago," by Sarah Stockstill.

At Stephen Archdeacon Gallery’s season-opening show, the gallery is shining the spotlight on five gallery artists: Joe Novak, Eric Nash, Sarah Stockstill, Paul Lorenz and Martin Duvander.

The works of Nash and Stockstill stand out. They both have strong ties to the desert, and they appear comfortable with the evolution of their art.

In his two paintings—“Western Horizon 1” and “Western Moon”—Nash creates mood through shading and the interplay of light and dark. His large oils on canvas (72 by 96 inches) afford him the opportunity to employ a limited palette while giving the viewer a tremendous sense of depth and perspective. Nash creates mood through his dark colors, limited use of white and off-white, exacting brushwork and subtle shading.

The “Western Moon,” the moon is off-center, partial and bright; it hangs over a dark, brown-black sky. There are also hints of deep purple. Nash creates the appearance of a nearby small community with a sliver of shimmering white paint over which one sees a cloudy blending of the lights and dark sky. Nash uses the community to delineate sky from ground, and completes the distinction with his slightly different blend of colors and brushstrokes.

Nash’s approach with his more-recent “Western Horizon 1” is similar—and far more effective. The brown-black sky on this equally large canvas descends upon what appears to be a distant metropolis, again defined by a thin line of shimmering white.

Significant differences exist between the two works, though. The white sliver still shimmers, but it is wider and is peppered with white droplets tinged with orange. Further, the shimmer travels across the entire canvas, suggesting not a small community, but a metropolis.

Angled in from the foreground are subtle, yet clear droplets and brushstrokes in blue, white, red and orange. It appears as if there are cars traveling down highways toward that large city. With the moon and cloud cover removed, what is left is a focused canvas with a definite point of view.

Sarah Stockstill’s two most-recent canvases are her most successful. In both, she paints a wide, well-defined, hard-edged band that spans the base of the canvas. It almost appears as if she is painting a clay-colored pedestal or shifting the center point for the canvas. Both acrylics are 52 inches wide and 48 inches tall.

In “Universal,” Stockstill juxtaposes the clay base with geometric shapes, primarily in soft oranges, magentas and purples. For contrast, she builds similar shapes in deep teal, ochre and slate, along with a pale pink and bright tangerine. The clay layer changes her canvases’ center of gravity fairly effectively.

There is a conversation among her layered colors. Some layers are opaque; others are not. This layering creates welcome depth.

You can immediately see that “Lago” was painted by the same artist. Here, the clay-colored band serves as a pedestal for precisely painted geometric forms. She continues the dialogue between forms, as well as her controlled use of layering. However, the palette for “Lago” differs significantly from that of “Universal.” She explores blues and greens, deep and rich, soft and almost translucent. “Lago” is much warmer, more subtle and nuanced. Even her contrasting colors (like white) seem more subdued.

Stephen Archdeacon Gallery generally rotates works every five or six weeks. The gallery is located at 865 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday through Monday. For more information, call 760-673-7520, or visit www.stephenarchdeacongallery.com. Below: “Western Horizon 1” by Eric Nash.