Eyes on the Desert



Robert Dawson

Robert Dawson’s photograph, Edge of Sea and Sky, Salton Sea, could be a Salvador Dali painting, its
features elongated by their shadows in the water.

The surreal quality of the picture made it easy prey for Palm Springs Art Museum curators organizing Contemporary Desert Photography: The Other Side of Paradise.

The exhibition, which opens Dec. 17 and continues through March 12, includes work by 26 photographers, each offering his or her perspective, interpretation, and technique. They show the desert landscape in a way that few people will stop and see it on their own.

During the past 20 years, photography has gained a more prominent role in documenting the changing landscape. As desert communities become aware of population growth, accompanied by housing development and new commercial land use, a sense of urgency prevails among photographers to address the impact of these changes.
Organized into three themes — “Land and Sky,” “Environment,” and “Living” — Contemporary Desert Photography suggests a visual narrative. Early on, the curators introduce the leitmotif of the photographer’s vehicle — a means of transportation to provide access to the vast desert.

The exhibition surveys the artistic vision and expressions of altered landscapes and the impact of human presence on the land. For example, in the “Environment” segment, photographers reveal the dilemma of reconciling human use with environmental values. The Russian Thistle Crisis, a black-and-white image by Kathryn Miller and Michael Honer, considers a field of countless windmills, for example.

It’s a perfect segue into the “Living” segment, which examines isolated desert houses and abandoned structures, and raises the final question: Whose paradise is this and why? — Steven Biller
Edit Module
Art + Culture
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

David Brighton Brings Electrifying Glam Rock Act for Modernism Week Party

The world’s best David Bowie tribute artist, David Brighton, will bring back 1970s glam rock during 2015’s Modernism Week on Feb. 14 to benefit the Palm Springs Modern Committee.

AC/DC, Jack White, Rapper Drake Headline Coachella 2015

Metal rockers AC/DC, alt rock king Jack White, and smooth rapper Drake headline the released lineup for the 2015 Coachella Arts and Music Festival set over two consecutive April weekends in Indio.

Director Jeremy Garelick Draws His Own Buzz for "The Wedding Ringer"

Jeremy Garelick, whose words have provided the one-liners to some of the funniest comedy films in recent years including The Hangover, has caught the attention of Hollywood’s elite with his directorial debut of "The Wedding Ringer".

PSIFF: Your Insider’s Guide

Here’s all you need to know about this star-studded, high-profile Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Deap Vally Weaves its Way to Music Stardom

Currently working on its second album with Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Nick Zinner, Deap Valley will join Fool’s Gold and Crystal Skulls and play Ace Hotel & Swim Club’s 2015 New Years Eve bash on Dec. 31.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

Fashionista Friends

Fashionista Friends

Experience the glitz and glamour of Fashion Week El Paseo 2015.
2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Food + Wine Festival Grand Experience

Food + Wine Festival Grand Experience

Enter for a Chance to Win a Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert 2015 Grand Experience
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Edit ModuleShow Tags