CVIndependent

Tue11122019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What has a dog and historic significance—and required a whole lot of hours to create?

The answer is Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero. It’s one of the 10 feature films that will be presented as part of the 2018 Palm Springs International Animation Festival and Expo, taking place Wednesday, Aug. 22, through Sunday, Aug. 26.

Sgt. Stubby is based on real events that took place during World War I. It is a beautiful story about a stray dog who finds himself with the American 102nd infantry Regiment. Stubby served for 18 months and participated in 17 battles on the Western front. Because he could smell better than his human counterparts, he prevented them from walking into attacks; he also found and comforted wounded soldiers. He’s even the subject of an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution.

If you’re more of a cat-lover, there is also a film for you: “Marnie’s World is a fantastic story about a spoiled house cat. All of the sudden, Marnie gets caught in an adventure with these dogs and wild animals. They steal a car then go on the run.”

That’s how Brian Neil Hoff, the festival’s director, described the film as he gave me the rundown of the festival’s offerings, which will include both features and short films.

Hoff said he and his crew received more than 3,000 submissions this year.

“We get submissions from around the world. This year, we have many films that are by Oscar winners and talents,” he said. “(Beyond) the 10 features, there will be 230 shorts available for viewing. They range in time from two minutes to 25 minutes, with all various styles and plot points.

“Not only (will the festival be the) U.S.A. premiere for a lot of these films; the films’ home countries range from Russia, Germany and Indonesia to Australia. This adds to the diversity, too.

“We are going to have special themed screenings, like for Sgt. Stubby. … We are inviting veterans and their families for the screening at the Palm Springs Air Museum.”

Another feature about which Hoff is excited is Wall. The 82-minute animated documentary features two-time Oscar nominee David Hare as he examines the impact of the wall between Israel and Palestine.

“This is a topical film for the environment today,” Hoff said.

He has steered the festival from rather humble beginnings into the world-class festival it is today.

“The festival started in my backyard nine years ago. That was the name of it: the Backyard Film Festival,” he said. “In fact, it may be the first festival to have started like that. I really didn’t know what I was doing. We had a few hundred people show up. This year, we’re looking at 25,000-30,000.”

Hoff is in the film industry himself, and he’s been able to tap into his network of animation filmmakers and artists.

“Animation just really stuck with me,” he said. “I am really impressed with the art form. People work on these projects for, like, five years. Oftentimes, this is their premiere for their hard work.”

The 2018 Palm Springs International Animation Festival and Expo, being held in partnership with Comic Con Palm Springs, takes place Wednesday, Aug. 22, through Sunday, Aug. 26, primarily at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Ticket prices vary; watch www.psiaf.org for a complete schedule and ticket information.

Published in Previews and Features

If you have not yet paid a visit to Heather James Fine Art in Palm Desert, go now—while you still have the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic Warhol exhibition that’s on display at the gallery into April.

Andy Warhol’s works may very well be the most-recognizable art in the world. His parents were immigrants from Slovakia, and he was born in Pittsburgh; of course, he would go on to become one of the most controversial pop artists of all-time before his death in 1987. He turned ordinary objects into iconic symbols—celebrating the mundane as art.

His art is a perfect fit for Heather James Fine Art, which shows art in various genres from around the globe, including a lot of blue-chip works. The exhibit Andy Warhol: Paintings and Prints has been on display at the gallery since November.

“It was an honor and a pleasure to bring dozens of Warhol pieces to the Coachella Valley,” said curator Chip Tom. “He is one of few contemporary artists recognized worldwide. China, Russia, Africa—everyone knows Warhol.”

Warhol celebrated celebrities—and in doing so, he became one himself, thanks in part to his clever marketing tactics. I used to live in New York City, and I remember when Warhol would arrange for groups of photographers to follow his every move in public.

Heather James is not just showing the works of Warhol; the gallery is also presenting an exhibition of abstract art by five artists, each with an expressive style. One of those artists is Luc Bernard, a Canadian artist now residing in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. He began as an encaustic painter who created lush landscapes, but his style eventually evolved into abstraction.

Another artist, Betty Gold, a familiar name to the desert, is best known as a sculptor whose works in steel are collected all over the U.S. and Europe. Two of her huge works reside in front of the gallery’s garden space. David Hare (1917-1992) was also primarily known for his sculpture, but he also worked in photography and painting. He was a founding member of the Subjects of the Artist School in New York in 1948, along with Mark Rothko, William Baziotes and Robert Motherwell. Nice company! Speaking of nice company, Hare’s friends included Jean-Paul Sartre, Balthus, Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso.

The exhibit also includes the works of abstract expressionist painter Arne Hiersoux (1938-1983), and Norman Zammit (1937-2007), a pioneer of Light and Space, one of the most important art movements born in Los Angeles in the 1960s.

Another American artist, Alexander Calder (1898-1976), gets a gallery wall at Heather James dedicated to several of his works. He was famous for both his abstract art and his mobile sculptures. His mastery of bright colors and striking designs offers a real treat to the senses.

Finally, Salvador Dali—the Spanish artist who became synonymous with surrealism, and who was the subject of a significant exhibit at the gallery last year—retains a presence at the gallery, which continues to show some of his works.

Dali was a mere 12 years old when he enjoyed his first exhibition of charcoal drawings. He entered art school in 1922, and in the late ’20s, he met and then worked with Picasso, Miro and Magritte. He was introduced to America in 1934 by art-dealer Julien Levy and was an instant sensation. Dali was known as much for his eccentric behavior and attention-grabbing public actions as he was for his art—just like Andy Warhol. Therefore, it’s fitting to see their works together under the same roof.

Heather James Fine Art is located at 45188 Portola Ave., in Palm Desert. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 760-346-8926, or visit www.heatherjames.com. Below: “Les Pyramides Grandes,” by Alexander Calder, color lithograph.

Published in Visual Arts