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24 Aug 2017

Inspired by Nature: The Annual Joshua Tree National Park Art Exposition Shows Off Works Inspired by the Park's Amazing Beauty

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"Sunrise in the Rain" by Hunter Johnson. "Sunrise in the Rain" by Hunter Johnson.

The natural beauty of Joshua Tree National Park has inspired people from all over the world to transform their visions of the park into art—and the goal of the fifth annual Joshua Tree National Park Art Exposition is to show off some of this amazing work.

This year, six artists (actually, seven; two work as a pair) from the Coachella Valley are among the 63 chosen to have their work displayed throughout September as part of the exhibit at the 29 Palms Art Gallery. A panel had to choose among 290 pieces submitted by 120 artists from the United States and beyond. The rules required that the artwork depict or be inspired by Joshua Tree National Park. Only one piece from each of the 63 artists will be displayed, with winners being honored at an awards reception at the gallery on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 5 to 8 p.m. Works include oil and acrylic paintings, watercolors, mixed media, photography, ceramics, assemblage and metal sculptures.

Many of the artists will also participate in the Art Market on the lawn at the 29 Palms Inn during the Art Exposition weekend celebration, on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16 and 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature live music, food and beverages, art demonstrations, a mural project, ranger talks and nature walks. All events are free and open to the public.

“Each year, we are amazed at the quantity and quality of artwork submitted,” said Vickie Waite, the artist liaison and executive assistant for the Joshua Tree National Park Council for the Arts. “We are honored that these artists have chosen to share their vision and their artwork with us and to participate in this event celebrating our national park. It just keeps getting better every year.”

The participating artists from the Coachella Valley are as diverse as the works in the show itself.

Hunter Johnson, from Palm Springs, aims at preserving the past through photography. His photographs have been featured in galleries and museums across the country, including the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Robert Miramontes, from Desert Hot Springs, is a California native and has spent nearly his entire life photographing Joshua Tree National Park. He has accumulated more than 25 years of Joshua Tree National Park photography into seven books.

Andrea Raft and Aaron Sedway, from Indio, are a mother and son passionate about recording the natural world. Andrea is a Coachella Valley mixed-media artist, and Aaron is a sports and nature photographer. They combine their work of photography and mixed-media painting, and are currently showing their work at Coda Gallery in Palm Desert.

Doug Shoemaker, from Palm Springs, was selected as artist-in-residence at Joshua Tree National Park in 2014. “My interest and focus as a realist painter, using the medium of watercolor, is to explore various elements that can be seen as ‘ordinary and uneventful,’ but full of richness, complexity, and beauty,” he said.

Martha Villegas, from Cathedral City, grew up in Mexico and studied art in Casa de la Cultura in Mexicali, and continued art studies at the Universidad de Baja California. “The use of vibrant, saturated color on my paintings is a representation of what I consider life in its full expression.” She teaches and is a member of the Artists Council of Palm Springs Art Museum.

Ehrick Wright, from Rancho Mirage, does work that includes paintings, drawings and pastels inspired by the bizarre landscape of rocks, hills and canyons found in Joshua Tree National Park.

The Joshua Tree National Park Art Exposition is presented throughout September by the Joshua Tree National Park Council for the Arts, in partnership with the 29 Palms Art Gallery. For more information, visit www.jtnpARTS.org. Below: "During the Storm" by Doug Shoemaker.

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