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Visual Arts

03 Jan 2014
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Many works included in Figuratively Speaking—the art show now on display at the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert campus—could very easily be found in a higher-end gallery on El Paseo or Palm Canyon Drive. The show’s curator, Ryan “Motel” Campbell—whose own works in the show are notably strong—expertly selected drawings, paintings and sculpture that depict how artists capture the human condition. The show consists of some 30 works; it extends from the first-floor atrium/gallery space to the second floor. Unfortunately, a number of the larger pieces presented on the second floor are difficult to appreciate fully; they are too large for the space, and the lighting is poor. Russell Jacques’ bronze, “She,” elegantly and simply presents his subject. While not as simplified and streamlined as, say, the sculptures of Constantin Brâncusi, “She” shows Jacques aiming to find the essence of the female form. The not-highly-polished sculpture creates a midcentury…
20 Dec 2013
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If you’ve driven down Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs recently, you may have seen a mural being painted on a wall of an animal hospital run by Save-a-Pet. The mural features a mountain view—the type you’d expect see in Desert Hot Springs. There are windmills on the left side, and if you look closely on the right, near some palm trees, you’ll see the street sign for the “Spa Zone” of Desert Hot Springs—along with a roadrunner. Toward the front of it all is a German shepherd, a turtle (modeled after Dozer, a turtle that lives at the Save-a-Pet shelter), and an orange tabby cat. The painter is mural artist John Coleman. Coleman moved to the Coachella Valley about two years ago from Reno, Nev., and this is his first local mural. He said he’s looking to do more. Coleman said that he has painted around 150 murals, most…
12 Dec 2013
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The human form has been celebrated since individuals first began to draw. Melissa Morgan Fine Art—in the first offering of the new season—is now revisiting this timeless subject with a 21st-century perspective. Form and Figure explores the human body in various mediums and levels of abstraction. While some artists explore psychology, others idealize the human form. Melissa Morgan Fine Arts is featuring sculptors including Vancouver, British Columbia-based David Robinson, and Wanxin Zhang, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Robinson works primarily in bronze and mixed media, and he’s undeniably the star of the show. The gallery is showing 10 of his works, including one in the outdoor sculpture garden. Robinson’s pieces depicting the human figure in an idealized form are most powerful. Robinson articulates—especially with his smaller figures—external musculature and bone structure masterfully. His clear and clean attention to detail shows his understanding of the human body, and…
09 Dec 2013
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Driving north on Highway 86 one sunny fall afternoon, I almost crashed when I came across the sight of beautiful ladies and snakes hugging the walls of a market in Desert Shores. “Shesha Sand Storm,” the mural that so surprised me, is a show-stopper. It’s monochrome, dramatic, loud and obviously the work of someone skilled and talented. It offers an urban contrast to the desert skies, yet somehow suits the backdrop of the market and surrounding area. As it turns out, not one, but two artists created this mural: Finnbar Dac (aka FinDac) and Angelina Christina. They’re the same people who created the beautiful and controversial mural at Bar in downtown Palm Springs. FinDac hails all the way from London, England; Angelina is from the Los Angeles area. They were traveling across the U.S., leaving their larger-than-life painted women and snakes all over the country, in places including Los Angeles,…
06 Dec 2013
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Thursday, Nov. 21, was a big day for local artist Elena Bulatova: She celebrated the opening of her second gallery, this one in downtown Palm Springs, with a ribbon-cutting featuring Mayor Steve Pougnet. The celebration continues from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, when Elena Bulatova Fine Art will hold a reception to celebrate the opening. I first met Elena Bulatova at her Backstreet Art District gallery, at 2652 S. Cherokee Way. I was impressed by her work, her international lifestyle and her world-class education. The first gallery has been a success for Bulatova; she’s now in her third season in Palm Springs. Not bad for a relatively new arrival in the desert. Bulatova credited her parents for exposing her to various art museums during their travels. She honed her skills with seven years in art school; she painted, danced and even played the violin in the chamber…
25 Nov 2013
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“Any work that is going to be a classic,” to paraphrase a quote attributed to Picasso, “must be different from the classics before.” Well, the late Richard Diebenkorn was a 20th-century artist who created many classic works. A show at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, 1953-1966, focuses upon Diebenkorn’s years in the San Francisco Bay Area, when the artist integrated abstract expressionism with representational art to produce a new visual vocabulary. Diebenkorn (1922-1993) once transitioned from a unique abstract-expressionist style to become a member of the Bay Area Figurative Movement. Upon his move to Southern California in the mid-1960s, though, Diebenkorn returned to abstraction, building upon his successes both as an abstract artist and a representational artist. One of the first things you notice about Diebenkorn’s works: His large canvases demand attention. He uses striations, aka bands, for multiple purposes. He almost always uses striations…