"Vibrant" by Tom Boatright.

Local artist Tom Boatright has been selected as one of the featured artists at the March edition of the La Quinta Art Celebration, taking place at the city’s civic Center Campus from Thursday, March 2, through Sunday, March 5.

Ranked as the top arts event in the nation by Greg Lawler’s Art Fair/Sourcebook, the Art Celebration has strict criteria for applying artists: They must have exhibited previously in galleries, and they must be able to create their own outdoor gallery. Submissions are judged by independent jury members. About 200 artists are selected among more than 1,100 applications.

Event director Kathleen Hughes said Boatright’s paintings need to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. Event T-shirts will feature wild horses painted by Boatright in his abstract-impressionistic style.

“Tom’s art images in the digital application were not as breathtaking as his large-scale paintings are in person,” said event director Kathleen Hughes. “When I met him at another art event, I immediately knew that our art patrons would connect with Tom.”

While Boatright’s works are highly regarded by critics and private collectors, with his paintings on display in hundreds of homes and commercial spaces, Boatright didn’t plan on being an artist.

“It happened on a whim. I picked up a brush, and just started painting on canvas,” Boatright said. The experience led him to an awakening—and the world around him became more vivid and intense.

“It opened my vision; I saw a deeper world, more vibrancy of colors, deeper personal emotions, a stronger connection to nature and to the things around me,” he said. “It was scary, because I couldn’t pull myself out of it; it was all-consuming.”

This transformation happened in 2008, when the Palm Springs-born Boatright was working in corporate IT.

“After only two weeks, my friends were surprised to find all my paintings lined up in my garage,” he said.

Boatright said he’s had no formal art training, and that he seeks inspiration in local landscapes.

“I love the desert—the sunlight, the way the light changes throughout the days and evenings, the Santa Rosa Mountains and the barrenness of it,” he said. “Such beauty.”

“Regal” by Tom Boatright.

Hughes lauded Boatright for his ability to create art intended for a specific place. Most of Boatright’s works are commissions rather than direct sales.

“Tom has the ability to look at a wall in your home and create a piece of art that speaks to you, and is perfect for that specific place,” Hughes said. “His contemporary paintings have energy, and I am impressed at how he mixes metals and iridescence to the raw oils and acrylics to create such vivid colors.”

When he receives a commission from a client, Boatright takes a unique approach: He creates three paintings, he said. Two are based on the client’s vision, with the third based on his own vision. The client then picks among the three paintings.

“It is a very collaborative process,” he said, explaining that he provides each painting with a certificate of authenticity that discusses the energy, intention, color palette and vision. “Typically, I get ‘artist’s license’ on the three to create what I vision in the project.”

Where do these visions come from?

“My visioning comes from working with the client, hearing their story, seeing the space the piece goes in, (and) taking all that in, with the emotion and energy, and creating the three (paintings) that way,” he said.

Art consultant Phyllis Johnson said Boatright’s paintings “express the music of his soul.”

“His exhilarating passion for his work brings the beauty of love and peace into our world,” Johnson said. “His colors and images are vibratory, imbued with divine light, and express a deeper meaning for our lives.”

The La Quinta Art Celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, March 2, through Sunday, March 5, at the La Quinta Civic Center, 78495 Calle Tampico. Tickets, valid for all four days, are $25. For tickets or more information, visit www.laquintaartcelebration.org.

Cat Makino

Catherine Makino is a multimedia journalist who was based in Tokyo for 22 years. She wrote for media sources including Thomson Reuters, the San Francisco Chronicle, Inter Press Service, the Los Angeles...