CVIndependent

Wed11132019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

When you see Cristopher Cichocki's art installations, you senses will experience contradiction. He’s an organic artist, yet his works are illuminated by his signature neon paint, and often black lighting, creating an edgy yet natural composition. He brings attention to his underlying theme: the collision of man and nature.

Cichocki is the Palm Springs Art Museum’s 2013 Artist-in-Residence. His large-scale installation Desert Abyss: Cycle in Cycle opens Friday, Aug. 16, and will be on display through Saturday, Sept. 28. (Editor's note: The exhibit has been extended to run through Oct. 27.)

He often uses materials found in nature—such as on the desert floor. His works of art merge photography, painting, sculpture, video, sound and installation, creating a multi-sensory experience. Art-lovers raved about his Epicenter exhibition, at the Pacific Design Center's See Line Gallery in West Hollywood, earlier this year.

The Illinois native and Coachella Valley resident has been inspired by nature and the ever-present threat to an environment that is vulnerable due to man's actions and inactions. Water is a constant in his works; he often focuses on the Salton Sea and its problems, which threaten to affect everyone in Southern California.

Neon-painted dead fish and videos of water and life that coexist along the desert's edge are found in his works. There’s even a hint of nuclear catastrophe, perhaps, at his intersection of art, science and nature. Topography, art and geological forces are beautifully represented in his art forms, which include audio and visual stimulation.

Desert Abyss: Cycle in Cycle pays homage to the ancient body of water that once covered the Coachella Valley, and the remnants of that sea’s life, which are found along the mountains as fossilized fish and plants. Water was also his subject at his exhibits at ROJO Nova Museum in Rio de Janeiro and in São Paolo's Rojo Nova Museum of Image and Sound. Using locally drawn materials from the Amazon River and surrounding forests, Cichocki reflected the conflicts between civilization and nature—yes, it’s a worldwide theme.

I have watched Cichocki evolve throughout the years, and it’s exciting how he has been able to find a voice for the many issues that we face. This exhibit is a must-see; Cichocki has found inspiration in the desert and is making a difference by educating the public while also entertaining people with his eclectic art, showing both environmental beauty and the perils we face as a society.

I asked Cristopher where he sees himself in five years, and he replied that he wanted to be traveling the world with his curated exhibitions from museum to museum—kind of a nomadic artist at large.

See his work at the Palm Springs Art Museum while you can.

Cristopher Cichocki’s Desert Abyss: Cycle in Cycle will be on display at the Palm Springs Arts Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs, from Friday, Aug. 16, through Sunday, Oct. 27. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, and Friday through Sunday; and noon to 8 p.m., Thursday. Admission is $12.50 for adults; $10.50 for seniors; $5 for students; and free to military members, museum members and children 12 and younger. Admission is free to all from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, and the second Sunday of the month. For more information, call 760-322-4800, or visit PSMuseum.org. An artists’ talk will be held on Thursday, Aug. 22, and a symposium on the future of the Salton Sea will be held from 3 to 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 22.

For more on Cichocki, visit cristophersea.com.

Richard Almada is the CEO and president of Artistic Relations and heads up Desert Art Tours. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Below: "Deep Breath" by Cristopher Cichocki.

Published in Visual Arts

Meet Richard Almada. Several months ago, he launched Desert Art Tours, a new business that offers … well, just what the name says: tours, organized and hosted by Almada, that offer attendees a chance to take in a variety of art in the desert and beyond.

Almada has experience in the arts, cosmetics and real estate worlds over his 30-plus year career. As someone who does not know a whole lot about gallery/visual arts, I decided to talk to Almada about the valley’s arts scene, and where Desert Art Tours fits in.

Consider yourself warned (in a good way): If you ask Almada a question about art, you are going to get a quick-paced, passionate, information-heavy answer. Here are some highlights from our chat.

Why Desert Art Tours? Why now?

Almada said he started the company because he recognized that there are a growing number of folks, both locals and tourists, like me—people who want to learn more about art. For example, the Smithsonian museums have been seeing record crowds. “Attendance at art venues, in the country and around the world, has grown, even as the recession hit us,” he said.

However, it can be difficult for gallery and museum attendees to get proper information if they’re there to truly learn, and not just browse. “Docents aren’t always available,” Almada said. “That can discourage a lot of people from attending.”

It can also be a challenge to see a variety of art in the ever-sprawling Coachella Valley, both for tourists without vehicles, and for locals who may not know where to go. Therefore, Almada handles all of the transportation—and even arranges for a meal on some tours.

Since nobody else in the Coachella Valley that he knew of was offering such art tours, Almada said, starting Desert Art Tours to fill that niche made sense.

What tours are offered?

Almada currently lists six different tours on his site: a tour of the Palm Springs Art Museum; a journey of art, both public and private, across the valley; a valley gallery tour; an El Paseo shopping/gallery jaunt; a private collections tour; and a Southern California day trip tour. Almada is also happy to tailor tours to attendees’ specific desires.

What are some favorite places to take tour-goers?

Almada mentioned a variety of places, all of which happen to be in Palm Desert: The J. Willott Gallery on El Paseo (“They appeal to a vast audience,” he said); the new Dawson Cole Fine Art location, also on El Paseo, which showcases the “world-class sculptures” of Richard MacDonald; the Imago Galleries on Highway 74 (“The architecture is so grand, and the art is so contemporary. They have world-class glass creations.”); Heather James Fine Art, on Portola Avenue, which Almada likes both for its “blue chip” art and its periodic exhibitions, including a fine Picasso show a few years back; and, finally, the four-acre Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert.

OK, so how much does it cost?

That depends on the tour, the length and whether a meal is involved, but it starts at $125 per person, with a group of at least four, he said.

For more information or to contact Desert Art Tours, visit desert-arttours.com.

Published in Visual Arts