A Community ‘Affaire’ to Remember

Wine, color, and sound tease all the senses at Whitewater Park

Rancho Mirage Art Affaire takes place Nov. 12-13 at Whitewater Park.

Few things beat a day in the park. Add hot art, cool jazz, and flowing wine (and beer) and you have the ingredients for Rancho Mirage Art Affaire (Nov. 12-13). The Rancho Mirage Parks and Recreation Commission invites you to celebrate a weekend of creativity and community free of charge and embrace the intimacy that separates it from larger art festivals.

“Anybody attending Rancho Mirage Art Affaire can feel it is ‘their’ event, rather than the feeling they might get from an arts festival that charges admission,” says Festival Director Britt Wilson.

The “affaire” attracts juried artists, top-notch jazz musicians, local restaurants, civic organizations, and appreciative crowds. More than 8,000 attendees walk the tranquil grounds of Whitewater Park over the course of the weekend. From 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., art lovers gather under brilliant November skies, absorbing the talent of more than 80 new and returning artists. The kaleidoscope of artwork includes ceramics, sculpture, textiles, glasswork, watercolor and oil painting, metalwork, photography, mixed media, jewelry, and more.

“The Art Affaire offers a broad array of mediums,” Wilson explains. “Mixed media is always popular, but individual tastes of our visitors vary as much as the work on display.”

Unlike many other art festivals, the city does not demand commission. Artists retain 100 percent of their sales, which keeps prices down for consumers. The festival’s artistic excellence evokes like quality in the accompanying music and cuisine. “We’ve always felt that music should be part of the Art Affaire,” Wilson explains. “Some people may attend just for the music and others just for the art, but most enjoy both.”

Saxophonist Paul “Shilts” Weimar and jazz guitarist Matt Marshak make appearances at this year’s affair. Weimar, who hails from London, has been playing the saxophone since he was a mere lad. Until recently, he fronted the British urban jazz funk band Down To The Bone, delighting fans the world over with his mastery of jazz, soul, and pop.  

Marshak grew up on Long Island, New York. He cut his teeth on rock ’n’ roll, which provides the right amount of edge to his guitar riffs. Together, the artists offer a weekend of jazz, soul, pop, and rock sure to satisfy most musical tastes. Both musicians take the stage at 1 p.m.: Marshak on Saturday and Weimar on Sunday.

Rancho Mirage Art Affaire seduces foodies as well. An assortment of the desert’s finest restaurants offer affordable sampling opportunities. Participants this year include Wally’s Desert Turtle, Brandini Toffee, Fisherman’s Market & Grill, and Hot Dogs on the Run. Those who enjoy imbibing a time or two will no doubt find their way to the beer and wine garden on premises. For information junkies, the City of Rancho Mirage will display a booth with giveaways and information on city services and programs, as well as information on the Rancho Mirage Public Library. The Emergency Preparedness Commission will have information available on disaster preparedness. The Historic Preservation Commission will have information on historically significant buildings and will answer questions about the Ranchito Chiquito Historic Home. Local sheriff and fire departments will have displays of their vehicles with photo ops for kids. Additionally, the The Rad Hatter will teach kids (and adults) about recycled art.

The focus on family and community culminates with a donation to this year’s chosen beneficiary with an arts-related program. The 2011 selected nonprofit is Joslyn Center (www.joslyncenter.org) in Palm Desert. Founded in 1981, Joslyn Center provides programs, services, and activities for adults 50 and better in Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage, and Palm Desert. The Joslyn Center has a healing arts program that incorporates classes in music and painting.

Whitewater Park is located at 71560 San Jacinto Drive in Rancho Mirage. 

For information, call 1-760-324-4511 or visit www.ranchomirageca.gov.

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