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Visual Arts

24 Jul 2018
The Hi-Desert Cultural Center is a mere 35 miles from downtown Palm Springs. It’s a place where artists from around the world have come to express themselves while being surrounded by nature. The center hosts a theater and a philharmonic. It’s been around since 1964. Red Skelton even performed there—and there’s a good chance you’ve never even heard of it. Therefore, you may want to consider one of the center’s most popular events, a twice-a-year evening that will return for its seventh edition on Saturday, Aug. 18. “Desert Stories is a one-night event that offers … local, high desert artists the chance to tell their stories,” said Michael McCall, the art curator for the brand-new Yucca Valley Visual and Performing Arts Center, an “annex” of the Hi-Desert Cultural Center. “It’s an interesting event. I went to the one in January. The event is amazing; you’ll have 10 to 12 people…
19 Jul 2018
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The desert isn’t just a place to create art for Cristopher Cichocki; the desert is also his muse—and at times, his art includes actual pieces of the desert. His works have showcased the beauty, the darkness and the catastrophes of the desert and its ecosystem. Cichocki’s work has been shown around the world, and he’s taking many of his pieces to the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster for an exhibition called Divisions of Land and Sea; it’s part of a larger exhibit called The Robot Show, which features eight artists, each with their own solo exhibition. It will be on display from Saturday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Sept. 30. During a recent phone interview with Cichocki while he was in Guadalajara, Mexico, he explained his exhibit. “It’ll be an installation of new paintings, video works, sculptures, photographic works and my audio work,” Cichocki said. “It relates to the…
14 Jun 2018
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Do you remember what it was like to play in the mud? Well, Silica Studios in Palm Springs has elevated this cherished childhood memory into an artistic experience. For 15 years, owners Daric Harvie, Dona Vanden Heuvel, and Tim McMullen have been providing professional studio space and supplies to Coachella Valley ceramic artists. It all started when longtime friends Harvie and McMullen came to the valley to take ceramic classes at College of the Desert. There, they met Vanden Heuvel—and the three of them determined there was a demand for a professional studio space where artists could have access to equipment and supplies that were otherwise available to only students in a ceramics program. They decided a membership program made the most financial sense and opened Silica Studios in 2003. Their decisions paid off: Silica Studios allows students, novices and professional artists to grow and develop their work outside of…
17 May 2018
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Juan-Manuel Alonso is a familiar figure at Palm Springs art events. He is tall and handsome, usually with shoulder-length silver hair and a beard. He dresses colorfully and is quick with an interesting story or witty remark. I spent some time with him recently observing his newest creation: a new outdoor mural at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert in Palm Springs. Juan was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1952. Although his family moved to New York City in 1960 after the Cuban Revolution, he retains vivid memories of his childhood in Cuba: The colors, sounds and tastes of those early years are evident in his paintings today. (He pointed out that the memories may only be a personal mythology, but that doesn’t take away from their relevance and power to inspire him.) Alonso was particularly drawn to the Afro-Cuban music and religious ceremonies in his neighborhood. His mother…
21 Apr 2018
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Sir Winston Churchill is an iconic giant. He was a renowned statesman, a two-time British prime minister, a Nobel Prize-winning author—and perhaps even a savior of Western civilization. However, most people don’t know he was also a painter—and few have had the chance to see his art. This makes The Paintings of Sir Winston Churchill, on display at Heather James Fine Art in Palm Desert through May 30, a rare treat. Churchill (Nov. 30, 1874-Jan. 24, 1965) was born into one of the great aristocratic families of Great Britain, the Spencers; another Spencer was Princess Diana. His father was a politician, and his mother was an American-born British socialite. Winston joined the British Army and was elected to Parliament in 1900. Churchill began painting in 1915, after stepping down as the political head of the British Navy. He was a self-taught artist, but because of his stature, he was able…
02 Apr 2018
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Several monthly art walks take place in the Coachella Valley. They’re pleasant ways to spend cool (or perhaps not-so-cool) desert evenings. The galleries involved all put on their best faces, and many of them schedule new exhibits to coincide with the events. You can wander at your own pace; talk with artists; and get a feeling for what is happening in our community. You’ll probably be offered light snacks and a glass of wine—and there’s often a performance thrown in as well. I recently had the opportunity to attend two of them: One in Palm Springs, and the other in Cathedral City. The Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs hosts its event on the first Wednesday of the month from 5 to 8 p.m. It’s located on Cherokee Way, discreetly hidden behind the Mercedes-Benz dealership off Highway 111. If you haven’t been before, you’ll feel a little bit like an…