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We’ve reached that time of year when it seems like there’s a big-deal event happening almost every weekend—a time of year which feverishly continues until the Stagecoach music festival closes out “season” in late April/early May.

Two of February’s biggest local events revolve around art: Modernism Week and the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair. Of course, we’re previewing both goings on. First, Brian Blueskye has penned a fantastic feature on modernist artist Nat Reed (whose art graces the cover of the February print version) as an entree into Modernism Week. Second, we use art—what else?—to preview the goings-on at the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair.

However, our new arts coverage doesn’t end there. The valley’s theater season is in full swing, and you can peruse reviews of two shows that are on the current boards: Desert Rose’s Angels in America and CV Rep’s A Class Act. For the more literary-minded, I’d like to direct you to a book excerpt from Independent contributor Alexis Hunter. Joi Lansing: A Body to Die For is a fantastic read.

I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention some goings-on in our Food and Drink section. I am sorry to report this is the final Sniff the Cap column by Deidre Pike, who has been writing about wine for the Independent since our launch. (That is, unless I can talk her into staying. Hey, I gotta try.) Deidre has been a friend and colleague of mine for two decades now, and her words added so much to this newspaper; she’ll be missed.

In related news: We’re looking for a wine columnist! If you think you have the proper knowledge and writing chops, drop me a line; my email address is below.

I’d also like to thank arts writer Victor Barocas for all of his work for the Independent over the last two-plus years. He, too, is leaving the ranks of Independent contributors. (In related news, we’re looking for new visual/fine arts contributors; again, email me if interested.)

As we say goodbye to Deidre and Victor, we’re saying hello a new contributor: Sean Planck. He is now writing a monthly column for the Independent focusing on the local happenings regarding medical marijuana; catch the debut edition of Cannabis in the CV here.

As always, your feedback and comments are appreciated.

Thanks, as always, for reading the Coachella Valley Independent, be it online, or in our print edition; the February issue is now in 370-plus locations across the valley and high desert. Enjoy.

Published in Editor's Note

The Palm Springs Fine Art Fair takes place Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 11 through 14, at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros. It costs $20 for a day pass; a VIP pass for all days is $75. For more information, visit

1. Go See Photographer of the Year Ralph Gibson (pictured; photo by Andrea Blanche)

Ralph Gibson studied photography in the U.S. Navy in the 1950s; he also spent two years at the San Francisco Institute of Art. He worked as an assistant to photographer Dorothea Lange and later with filmmaker Robert Frank. His photographic art is known for incorporating fragments of eroticism along with undertones of the mysterious, giving narrative meaning though context and surreal juxtaposition. He will receive his award at noon, Friday, Feb. 12; a discussion of his work will follow. See his photo “MJ, Sardinia,” at the top.

Above: Billie Holiday, New York City, 1949, gelatin silver print © Herman Leonard Photography, LLC, courtesy Etherton Gallery

2. Learn About Esteemed Jazz Photographer Herman Leonard

At noon, Saturday, Feb. 13, the Etherton Gallery booth (No. 304) will be the site of a talk and book-signing featuring regarding Herman Leonard (1923-2010) by his daughter Shana Leonard, and her husband, Steven Smith. Called the “the greatest jazz photographer in the history of the genre” by President Bill Clinton, Herman Leonard fell in love with photography at the age of 9 and earned a degree in photography from Ohio University before joining the Army during World War II. He worked with master portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh before moving to Greenwich Village, where he often traded stills for admission to the jazz clubs of ’50s. Following an exhibition in New Orleans in 1991, Leonard moved to the city and immersed himself in the city’s vibrant jazz scene. Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 8,000 gelatin prints by Leonard. He produced three books of his jazz photos, including his final book in 2006, Jazz, Giants and Journeys: The Photography of Herman Leonard. In the foreword to the book, Quincy Jones wrote, “When people think of jazz, their mental picture is likely one of Herman’s.”

3. Meet Artist of the Year Larry Bell

Larry Bell will receive his 2016 Palm Springs Fine Art Fair Artist of the Year award at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13. Bell is most often associated with the Light and Space group of artists, mostly from the West Coast, whose pieces are mainly perceptual experiences that stem from the interaction of the viewer and the art itself. While Bell’s early works were mostly Abstract Expressionist paintings, he began moving into the realm of more three-dimensional forms by incorporating shards of mirror and glass into angular geometric compositions, and later into shadow or “ghost boxes.” His most recognizable pieces are his cube sculptures on transparent pedestals that he began constructing in the 1960s.

Below: “AAAAA 108,” 2007, mixed media on paper 47 ¼ x 32 inches. Photo Courtesy Frank Lloyd Gallery FBL042.

Published in Visual Arts

The Fourth Annual Palm Springs Fine Art Fair, one of the season’s most anticipated fine-art events, is returning to the desert.

From Thursday evening, Feb. 12, through the late afternoon on Sunday, Feb. 15, the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair will take over the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Presidents Day weekend event has rapidly grown from a small set of exhibitors into a destination event for many in the art world. It’s a great venue to see a full range of modern and contemporary visual art.

“As someone who has been to the fair in past years, I’m looking forward to this year’s fair. It is always exciting to have the opportunity to show the artists I represent,” said Peter Blake, of Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna Beach. “Even if I didn’t have a booth, coming to this fair is a given: It is a great opportunity to see what is going on in the art world.”

More than 14,000 visitors are expected to attend to this year’s fair, where 60 galleries from all over the globe—including galleries from France, South Korea, Hungary, the United Kingdom and Argentina—will show off art.

Jean Brody, from Chicago’s Jean Albano Gallery, has attended the PSAF before. “This is the first time I am actually exhibiting. There is tremendous quality and diversity at this fair. I look forward to introducing attendees to artists, especially from the Midwest and East, who are rarely seen out here.”

Local galleries are getting in on the act, too; at least six Coachella Valley galleries will be participating.

“With so many people visiting the fair, we believe that our being here will introduce us to locals who don’t know about us, as well as (to) visitors to the desert,” said Michael Fiacco, the director of Archangel Gallery.

Jerry Hanson, a local artist who works in weaving and mixed media, said he enjoys gatherings such as the PSFAF because art is an experience that is meant to be talked about and shared—and not just by art experts.

“Since I received my degrees in art education, I become excited when people, especially children, comment about my work,” he said. “It is about the viewer taking it in. As no one is an expert, the conversation is about identifying why you like or dislike it, or how it makes you feel a certain way.”

William Wegman, who is being honored as the fair’s 2015 Photographer of the Year, is also passionate about introducing people to the arts. (His “About Four Thirty” is shown at the upper right.) 

“For years, my models have been my weimaraners (dogs); they have tremendously expressive faces and great dispositions,” said Wegman. “Since children tend to love to draw and look at animals, my photographs are accessible. I truly think that my pictures of dogs allow children—and their parents—to imagine and make up stories, and are a springboard to talk.”

At the fair, the Imago Gallery will be displaying a number of Wegman’s photographs.

Peter Blake Gallery will be featuring the work of Tony DeLap, a man who helped define California art in the 1960s. Now in his 80s, DeLap’s art remains strong and innovative.

“I love showing Tony’s work in Palm Springs.” Blake said. “He is a master artist whose works, even if you don’t necessarily get them at first, are inviting. You want to look at them again.”

Blake said he enjoys discussing various works of art work with attendees. “It is especially gratifying when I can help others understand artists like Peter Alexander.”

With cast resin as his medium, Alexander became known in the late 1960s. A major force in California’s “Light and Space” movement, this artist’s works evoke a personal experience through his use of transparency, illumination and color optics. Alexander’s inspirations are frequently California landscapes and the Pacific Ocean. Complementing his smaller works, Alexander has also created major installations, including one at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport. Alexander will be talking about his work at the Peter Blake booth at the fair.

Local painter Alex Koleszar said the ability for artists, gallery owners and attendees to chat and mingle makes events like the PSIFF truly special.

“Having opportunities to come face-to-face with art is what makes it a highly personal experience,” he said.

New to this year’s fair is the Print Pavilion, which will give attendees an opportunity to spend more time with this ever-evolving, visually appealing medium.

Jordan Schnitzer, who has amassed the largest private print collection in the United States, is called the “Prince of Prints.” He’s developed a lending program for educational institutions throughout the country, in an effort to introduce different artistic expressions to varied audiences. Schnitzer will be giving a talk on prints during the fair.

“I can’t talk about art without reinforcing the importance of it being a family thing,” he said. “By taking children to the fair, you create family time that prompts conversations. I don’t care if a child—or, for that matter, their parents—do not like a particular piece of art. They can talk about the ‘why.’ It opens conversations. I am interested in the conversations.”

Schnitzer also recommends prints as a great way for beginners to start collecting art.

“You can most always find pieces that are affordable, and most every dealer lets you pay it off on time,” Schnitzer said, “Please remember one thing: Don’t buy it for an investment; buy it because you want to live with it.”

The Palm Springs Fine Arts Fair takes place from Thursday, Feb. 12, through Sunday, Feb. 15, at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, in Palm Springs. Day passes start at $15; VIP passes start at $75. For passes or more information, visit Below: “Prince of Prints” Jordan Schnitzer.

Published in Visual Arts