The Coachella Valley has never experienced a shortage of art—and one of the places that best encourages local artistic expression today is Flat Black Art Supplies, in Palm Desert.
Not only does the shop sell art supplies; it serves as a venue for artists to show off their talents through painting and music. On Saturday, April 17, the shop will hold an opening reception for The 90’s, an art show featuring works from 17 local artists. The reception, from 5 to 9 p.m., will feature live music by DJ ODC.
Pete Salcido, the CEO of Flat Black Art Supplies, said he likes group art shows, because they give artists a chance to share their art with and meet other artists.
“In January, I did an artists’ call for a group art show—and we had about 75 people submit,” he said. “I wanted to give more artists a chance; I know a lot of artists wanted to get out and start showing artwork again and get back to normalcy. I split three art shows into two months, and had three group art shows between January and February. That was in the beginning of the year—but this show is a little bit different in the sense that this whole COVID thing is starting to kind of die out, and people are feeling more comfortable. I expect a lot more people at this one. It’s kind of like a welcome back.”
The 90’s is sponsored by Alpha 6 Corporation.
“They sell acrylic and enamel paints,” Salcido said. “This company sent us paint for every artist. Who does that? It’s so amazing! That’s like having a (music) show, and someone sends you a guitar.”
The idea for the show came from Salcido’s Instagram followers.
“I actually put out a post on Instagram, reaching out to people to give me ideas for the next art show,” he said. “I thought I would include the community a little bit. Someone mentioned the ’90s, and I’m like, ‘Yo, man, that’s actually pretty fucking cool.’ I’m a ’90s kid, so I ran with it.”
Beyond the personal connection, Salcido said he views the ’90s as the decade in which urban art culture became popular.
“The ’90s is when I learned how to do everything that I’ve done,” Salcido said. “The style of the ’90s was very colorful, in urban art especially, which is what we primarily focus on. Besides the New York subway-art era, in California, it was where we were kind of finding our own culture.
“A lot of the urban street art started in the ’90s, and it was kind of exciting, because we didn’t necessarily know what we were doing. We were just messing around with ideas, and it grew into what it is now, essentially. I started as a graffiti writer in the ’90s. My love for the art form just led me to start my own business with this art form. It’s something that I’m passionate about; it’s something that I know very well; and it’s something that I could actually speak about and be very knowledgeable about. What better way to start a business than with something that you’re passionate about?”
As for his business, Salcido said he sees these art shows as a positive for both him and the community.
“My business is ultimately just selling scraping and art supplies,” Salcido said. “It’s not the most lucrative business, but I do this because I’m passionate about it. A big portion of our income comes from hosting these shows, doing art classes and things of that nature. I like to think that we’re one with the community, and that’s essentially what keeps us going, so we like to give back by having these shows and bringing people together.”
Salcido expressed gratitude to the community for supporting Flat Black Art Supplies throughout the pandemic.
“During the shutdown, I was only open twice a week. My whole business model was put on to curbside pickup, but people still came,” he said. “They kept us in business, and it’s because of them that we’re still here. It’s just been a true blessing that people still respond to art and want to be artistic.”
Salcido offered assurances that he and his team would provide a COVID-safe environment for The 90’s show and opening reception.
“We’re still being very cautious and following the guidelines and things like that,” said Salcido. “It’s going to be both inside and outside, as our shop has a patio area. People are more than welcome to hang out there. Because it’s at the mall, and the parking lot outside is not crazy-busy in the evening, people are able to be outside and feel free to just kind of hang out. We want to make sure everybody’s safe. I want people to come and feel comfortable—and we want to have people just have fun and enjoy themselves.”
The 90’s will be on display starting Saturday, April 17, at Flat Black Art Supplies, located at the Westfield Palm Desert, 72840 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. The show will be on display for about two weeks. Flat Black is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m., Sunday. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/flatblackartsupplies.