Desert Art Collection

Extraordinary Fine Art

by Joanna Beresford

Clients and visitors from around the world step through Desert Art Collection’s magnificent bronze gates into the sculpture garden and feel as if they’ve stumbled upon a gathering of the most interesting guests in the world. Some of the sculptures seem to turn toward visitors almost open-armed, while others stand more aloof. The collection features an enormous variety, including representative figures like trees, horses, and suns, as well as mysterious abstracts. Somehow they all belong here in this exotic sunlit courtyard, and they make visitors feel as if they belong, too.

Since it was established in 1996, the gallery, located near El Paseo on San Luis Rey in Palm Desert, has expanded considerably. Formerly a historic motel and now a spacious, multifunctional complex, Desert Art Collection shows art in a series of rooms along one side of the garden. The ever-evolving collection reveals remarkable diversity. Descriptions of sculpture, painting, multidimensional, and mixed media can’t begin to capture the rich world of these galleries. Every corner, every wall, and floor space are inhabited by some evocative work, something almost animate with color, shape, energy, and range of materials.

But, the ambiance isn’t chaotic or confusing. Something subtle and cohesive breathes through the whole place, making it work. What perpetuates that continuity can be partially attributed to a certain like-minded aesthetic taste and curiosity shared by gallery director Jana Koroczynsky and owner Mike Fedderly. In fact, Desert Art Collection has developed a tremendous reputation for both high-end commissioned work and more traditional retail activity because of the collaborative nature between art gallery and design studio. But there’s a more delicate nuance, a sense of magic that animates the space and eludes definition.

The gallery represents an international roster of artists. A few of them, like award winning sculptress — and the art world’s newest "It" girl of form and beauty — Aiko Morioka sought out Desert Art Collection for representation. “We look for artwork that’s inspiring, intellectually challenging, and stimulating,” says Koroczynsky. “And the artists must be masters of their craft. The artists we represent are very accomplished, most of them fairly mature. Many have won important national and international awards.”

Michael Battaglia, for example, exhibits his ragged-edged, Venetian plaster mural paintings in a room designated specifically for his fascinating pieces. They are so much in demand among collectors that Koroczynsky struggles to keep pace with the Battaglia-addictions of her clients.

Charlotte Lees, another award-winning artist, was selected by the Hakone Open-Air Museum of Japan to be included in their 1991 Rodin Grand Prize Exhibition catalog as one of their outstanding models — a huge honor in the art world. Lees’ woodcarvings explore the bond between mind and material in energetic, figurative groupings, “most recognizable for their exuberant, lively qualities.”

This year, for the first time, the gallery will host two national, juried events: The Best of the West Invitational and The National Small Sculpture Invitational. Each show will run for a month, drawing from mostly established and some emerging artists.

The Sculpture Garden at Desert Art Collection remains free and open to the public year-round. Off season, gallery visitors should call for an appointment.

Desert Art Collection
45350 San Luis Rey Avenue, Palm Desert, California 92260
(Near El Paseo)

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