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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

For four days, the Palm Springs Convention Center’s main exhibition hall will essentially become a $100 million pop-up gallery.

The third annual Palm Springs Fine Art Fair (PSFAF) will showcase the full gamut of modern and contemporary art from Thursday, Feb. 13, through Sunday, Feb. 16.

In just three years, the Palm Springs Fine Arts Fair has become a must-do event for art-lovers. From 2012 to 2013, attendance increased from 9,500 to 12,000. This year, Rick Friedman, the show’s organizer, projects attendance will exceed 14,000.

Every available inch of the Convention Center’s Exhibition Hall is reserved for art, presented by some 60 participating galleries. Only a quarter of the exhibitors are from Southern California; in fact, participants come from all over the United States and the world: This year, the Palm Springs Convention Center will become the temporary home to galleries from Great Britain, London, Brussels, France, South Korea, Canada, and Argentina.

The Fine Arts Fair celebrates artists both well-recognized and emerging. Artists in the spotlight this year include Karel Appel, Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger, Henry Jackson, Frank Stella, Raymond Jonson, Addison Rowe, Pablo Picasso, Kenneth Noland, Cecily Brown, Eric Orr, Claes Oldenburg, Melissa Chandon, Chul Hyun Ahn, David Middlebrook, Devorah Sperber and Mel Ramos.

One of the fair’s central pieces, literally and figuratively, will be Steve Maloney’s "Ride-em-Cowboy." This sculpture was created using a decommissioned Bell JetRanger helicopter and a longhorn steer skull. Maloney adorned both the inside and the outside with thousands of colored gemstones; it also includes a Swarovski crystal chandelier and old cowhide chairs. Finally, an iPad serves as a virtual flight simulator. (Of course it does!) Palm Desert’s Heather James Fine Art gets credit for bringing Maloney’s work to the fair.

Beyond allowing attendees to experience great art, the Fine Art Fair sponsors educational programs for everyone one from non-collectors and novices to the most seasoned collectors.

Some highlights on the schedule (which, of course, is subject to change; visit palmspringsfineartfair.com for an up-to-date schedule):

• Non-collectors and collectors alike can meet the four artists showcased in the fair’s public exhibition, DRY HEAT—4 Artists in the California Desert. On Saturday, Feb. 15, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., the exhibit’s curator, Steve Biller, will moderate a panel featuring the four artists: Kim Stringfellow, Phillip K. Smith III, Cristopher Cichocki and Scott B. Davis. These artists have been creating site-specific works focusing on the desert’s natural, social and cultural landscape.

• Beginning collectors can gain insights from the panel discussion Art of Collecting 101, slated from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15; meanwhile, other programs are geared toward particular interests of serious collectors. From 1 to 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14, a panel discussion, The Art of Giving, will discuss philanthropic aspects of giving fine art to a charitable organization or museum. And on Sunday, Feb. 16, from 1 to 2 p.m., Art as a Legacy will be a panel discussion geared toward those who recognize that their collection needs to be a meaningful and distinct part of their estate.

• Palm Springs resident and philanthropist Harold Matzner will be honored as 2014 Arts Patron of the Year. Matzner’s commitment to the arts here in the desert is unparalleled; he is chairman of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, chairman of the McCallum Theatre, and vice president on the board of trustees at Palm Springs Art Museum. Matzner will receive his award at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13, at a VIP event.

• At 5 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 14, Los Angeles-based photographer Greg Gorman will receive the 2014 Photographer of the Year award. From celebrity portraits and advertising campaigns to magazine layouts and fine art work, Gorman has developed and showcased his own unique style.

“I try to capture the essence of each individual,” Gorman says about his photography.

When looking at Gorman’s imagery, it becomes clear that his most successful photographs leave something to the imagination.

Gorman will be interviewed by Desert Outlook editor Will Dean, following an introduction by actor Udo Kier.

• Acclaimed artist Jennifer Bartlett will receive the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award at 11:30 a.m., Friday, Feb. 14. Throughout her 50-year career, this Long Beach artist, now 73, has remained a prominent and controversial force in the creative world. She keeps evolving as an artist: Her work consistently contains both paradoxes and contradictions. Irrespective of medium, size and subject, she creates imagery that requires viewers to take a second look.

A mini-retrospective of Bartlett’s work, Jennifer Bartlett: 50 Years on the Grid, curated by exhibitor Imago Galleries (of Palm Desert), will be shown near the entrance to the fair.

The Palm Springs Fine Arts Fair takes place Thursday, Feb. 13, through Sunday, Feb. 16, at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros. Tickets range from $25 for a day pass to $250 for an all-access black card. For passes or more information, call 631-283-5505, or visit palmspringsfineartfair.com.

Based in Cathedral City, Victor Barocas is a photographer, author and educator/business coach. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Below: Greg Gorman's "Andy Warhol."

Published in Visual Arts

Twenty years ago, I covered my first Palm Springs International Film Festival.

The PSIFF was a much more modest event back then, and that year, the star of the festival was Sophia Loren. I remember it well—since she kissed me before a sea of cameras! She did it after I publicly asked her to send a message of peace to my country, the war-torn Yugoslavia.

Then and there, I fell in love with Sophia—and the festival, too.

In 2002, I was invited to a special event celebrating the 90th birthday of Loren’s husband, famed producer Carlo Ponti, with their son, Carlo Ponti Jr., conducting a symphony; their second son, director Edoardo Ponti, was also in attendance. I believe Spencer’s Restaurant owner Harold Matzner underwrote the event.

Matzner’s a Jersey fellow and a longtime PSIFF chairman. Following the event, I went to see him at his office, and we came up with an idea for the next PSIFF: Matzner was going to pay to bring an entire symphonic orchestra, with conductor Ponti Jr., to the fest! The orchestra was going to perform “Lara’s Theme,” from Dr. Zhivago, a movie produced by Ponti Sr. The idea was that Sophia Loren would give a lifetime achievement award to her hubby, and Edoardo Ponti would show his new movie at the fest.

It didn’t happen, because Ponti Sr. fell ill.

It takes a lot to run a film festival, including loads of money, and the PSIFF has long depended on the hefty help of its wealthy supporters. The Palm Springs International Film Society’s grand dame, the late Jackie Lee Houston, hosted so many events for the fest that it’s hard to count them all. The city of Palm Springs has pitched in, too; hey, the mayor, Steve Pougnet, has even been employed by the festival to assist in bringing in the dough!

Aside from money, the growing film fest needed star power—and, again, a lot of it. The fest’s most connected publicist, Ronni Chasen, steadily delivered the stars to the fest for a decade. Shockingly, Chasen was shot to death in 2010. According to the reports, Chasen was shot four times by a convicted felon while she drove her Mercedes on Sunset in Los Angeles. Later, the man who allegedly shot her killed himself during a standoff with the police. (There are many conspiracy theories about her tragic end, of course.) The festival offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the perpetrator. The PSIFF is run by a nonprofit organization, so Chairman Matzner, once again, footed the bill.

But, as they say, the show must go on. Nowadays, the PSIFF—going into its 25th year—appears to be a well-oiled machine, with exclusive sponsors and record attendance. Still, by film-festival standards, the Palm Springs fest is fairly young; after all, the Venice Film Festival just celebrated its 70th year.

Though the PSIFF often has some Best Foreign Language Film Oscar buzz attached to its image, when it comes to popularity, the PSIFF lags behind the Tribeca fest, founded by Robert De Niro, as well as Robert Redford’s Sundance fest. The fact is, the star-power of the movie icons serves their festivals well. Here, the PSIFF was founded by the late Sonny Bono, in order to bring movie glamor back to Palm Springs. I’ve covered film fests in destination cities such as Rio and Bangkok, and little Palm Springs can’t match them in terms of glamor and image.

The tradition and reputation of a film fest matters. The legacy of a film fest matters. But what matters most are the films: Despite the tycoons and the big stars, a film festival is really about the movies being presented—and the PSIFF always offers a top-notch selection of films. And those films are what attendees will remember the most.

That’s a wrap!

The Palm Springs International Film Festival takes place Jan. 3-13, 2014. Most films are $11 or $12. For more information, including pass information and a complete schedule, visit www.psfilmfest.org.

Published in Previews and Features