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Visual Arts

25 Dec 2015
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In the arts world, Debra Ann Mumm—president and founder of the family-owned business Venus Studios Art Supply, in Palm Desert—is an oxymoron. She’s a successful artist. And she’s a successful entrepreneur. In the industry, many art galleries and supply shops close within months of opening. However, Venus Studios is celebrating its fifth anniversary with an art expo in January—and the business has not stagnated; in fact, it has expanded. Venus’ expansion about three years ago led to a significantly larger gallery space, an increased number and variety of courses, private areas individual artists can rent, and an art-supply store that carries the latest materials and is the only store in the desert where some products can be purchased. Unfortunately, artistic purists and entrepreneurial purists alike bash Mumm. The artistic purists claim that Mumm sold out and is now a lesser artist. The entrepreneurs impugn her efforts because she lacks the…
20 Nov 2015
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Temperamental artists took to the Internet after the Palm Springs Art Museum announced the works that would be included in the Artists Council Exhibition 2015. Normally, the complaining ends within a week of the announcement; however, this year, the comments seemed especially fractious. While most selected artists took pride in their inclusion, many Artists Council members who were not included criticized every aspect of the selection process, from the number of jurors to the number of submissions per artist. (Full disclosure: I submitted art to the show which was not selected.) Some suggested that the museum create a show featuring the rejects. Regrettably, a small contingency made the conversation personal, impugning the integrity and competency of Artists Council peers. The results of the selection process are now on display for everyone to see. Unfortunately, I found a fair number of the pieces to be derivative, in a way that does…
05 Nov 2015
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Lee Balan is well-known as the town crier, of sorts, for the area’s arts. He gathers information about receptions, events, performances and exhibits throughout the Coachella Valley and High Desert, and sends it to anyone who wants it. However, many people don’t know about Balan’s talents as a visual artist. Some of his newer works will be on exhibit at Woodman/Shimko Gallery in a Gay Pride-themed show, starting with a reception on Friday, Nov. 6. Before moving to the desert from the San Francisco Bay Area more than a decade ago, Balan frequently integrated his art with his other professional responsibilities. For example, Balan, as the director of a San Francisco mental-health program called The Clubhouse, demonstrated how creative efforts can be effective tools when working with the mentally ill. Some might consider Balan’s current arts emphasis—the digital manipulation of visual images—quite different from the assemblages and sculptures he created…
18 Sep 2015
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To tweak (and possibly abuse) Dickens’ classic line: “It was the best of heels. It was the worst of heels.” This sentiment summarizes the Palm Springs Art Museum’s recently opened exhibit Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe. Organized by New York City’s Brooklyn Museum, the exhibition introduces visitors to the evolution of the high-heeled shoe. Inside each of the many free-standing plastic-glass cases are between 4 and 7 high-heeled shoes. Each case speaks to either a social/historical event that triggered a specific theme (like space exploration) or the transformation of a style over a period of time (over-the-knee boots, stiletto heels). In addition to the plastic-glass cases, the exhibit includes six short films. The curators see high heels as far more than footwear. The exhibit presents heels as an individual and/or societal interpretation of beauty, wealth, mystique and fantasy, as well as role, status and power. Essentially, each…
21 Aug 2015
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It all started with a crayon crisis. “I distinctly remember that at age 7, I had a major crisis—deciding which of two distinctly different shades of green Crayola crayons would be best for my ‘latest masterpiece,’” Laura Janes said. “And with that decision, I knew that art and painting were my future.” Much of the painter’s career has involved art—however, it was not her art. Although she strayed from making her own art, Janes’ creative process remained part of her unconscious, she said, at times driving her career choices. Upon graduating college, Janes became a high school teacher, where she taught teenagers about art and ways to access their own creative spirits. A few years later, Janes recognized there was a market for artists who could produce high-quality wall and ceiling murals. Capitalizing on her technical prowess as a painter, she founded Iconica, a San Diego company that was commissioned…
27 Jul 2015
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After years of exploring places around the globe as a flight attendant, Charlie Ciali traded in his wings for a more earthy exploration: ceramics. He was a ceramicist who produced collectable pieces before becoming a Midwest gallery owner. Upon his arrival in the desert, Ciali reinvented himself as an abstract portraiture painter before becoming a mixed-media artist and, later, a producer of fine-art prints and paintings. The artist goes beyond exploring the intersection and integration of painting and printmaking—art forms frequently considered distinct and different. Ciali also incorporates his expertise as a ceramicist to create a fusion of creative techniques and aesthetics. Specifically, he exploits the unique contributions of each medium to offer the viewer a heightened sense of dimensionality, varied textures and a layering of colors. “Right now, I find myself focusing on creating monotype prints, as well as encaustic (i.e. wax-based) paintings,” he said. Ciali, at times, also…