Free spirits and imaginative individualists revel in the desert’s open spaces and minds. The qualities that draw artists also beckon those who appreciate their efforts. This combination of talent and taste sustains a thriving community of art galleries and a world-class museum.
As you explore the desert’s natural beauty, allow time to see artful treasures at Palm Springs Art Museum, located at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains on the western edge of downtown. The museum’s permanent collection cuts a wide swath — from Mesoamerican objects to contemporary painting, sculpture, and glass.
Running through Dec. 31 is Woven Together: Art and Design in Southwest Indian Textiles drawn from the permanent collection. Complementing the exhibition of rugs and blankets are basketry, pottery, and kachinas. Opening Nov. 10 and continuing through Feb. 24 is Antibodies: The Works of Fernando and Humberto Campana 1989-2009, showcasing more than 70 pieces of the Brazilian brothers’ furniture, as well as models, photographs, and films. From March 16 through June 23, 2013, see how Robert Rauschenberg pushed the boundaries of printmaking in Rauschenberg at Gemini.
The museum recently opened an 8,400-square-foot adjunct gallery in Palm Desert surrounded by 250,000 square feet of landscaping. A sculpture garden features works by modern masters such as Donald Judd, Betty Gold, and Fletcher Benton. The Palm Desert gallery’s opening exhibition, Rodin to Now: Modern Sculpture, includes works by masters like Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, and Alberto Giacometti, as well as contemporary artists such as Robert Therrien and Joel Shapiro.
Both museum locations will show a survey of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and videos by 58 artists from the Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation in an exhibition titled Beg, Borrow and Steal (Feb. 13-June 2, 2013, in Palm Springs, Feb. 2-June 2, 2013, in Palm Desert).
The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage also opened to the public last March. The Sunnylands Center & Gardens and tours of the former residence of Walter and Leonore Annenberg offer an opportunity to see artwork and other collections in the Annenberg estate. The opening exhibition showcases silver-gilt pieces and 20th century sculpture, including works by Giacometti and Rodin. Other highlights at the center include interactive media stations, a film about the historic estate, and a 1.25-mile walking path through gardens, which feature 50 species of desert plants.
Palm Springs has many art galleries along Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon drives. And a collection of galleries showing mostly work by local artists unfolds at the Backstreet Art District south of Highway 111. Art walks take place the first Wednesday of every month.
To the east, in Palm Desert, more than 25 galleries are concentrated on El Paseo and at The Art Place. El Paseo galleries participate in a popular art walk on the first Thursday of the month from October through May. The city also maintains an invitational exhibition of 18 large-scale sculptures on El Paseo’s median.
Don’t forget to look around you as you dine out. Many restaurants exhibit fine art, often by talented local artists and often for sale.
Yeibeichai ’s Female Rug With Dancers, part of the Woven Together: Art and Design in Southwest Indian Textiles exhibition, Oct. 20-Dec. 30, 2012, at Palm Springs Art Museum.
PALM SPRINGS ART MUSEUM