agnes pelton artist

A Burst of Local Color

The Palm Springs Art Museum plans to reopen this fall with an exhibition by Agnes Pelton to highlight a season that includes a virtual gala and drive-in art auction.

Steven Biller Arts & Entertainment, Current Digital

agnes pelton artist
Agnes Pelton said living in Cathedral City had a significant impact on her work.

A new exhibition by legendary Cathedral City artist Agnes Pelton and continuing shows featuring locally based artists Jim Isermann and Gerald Clarke will welcome visitors back to Palm Springs Art Museum in the fall, the institution’s director, Louis Grachos, announced in a letter to members.

Since closing in March, the museum has been creating virtual exhibitions and other digital content and activities focused on its permanent collection.

“The museum plans to gradually reopen in the fall with modified hours, timed ticketing, and protocols such as masks, social distancing, and the continual disinfecting of door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, and restrooms to provide a safe and stress-reduced environment for members, visitors, volunteers, and staff,” Grachos says.

Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist, organized by the Phoenix Art Museum, traveled to New Mexico Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York before landing in Palm Springs. Pelton, a visual symbolist, drew from her language of curvilinear and biomorphic forms and translucent veils of light to represent the world beyond the physical. Living in Cathedral City had a significant impact on her work. She once wrote, “The vibration of this light, the spaciousness of these skies enthralled me. I knew there was a spirit in nature as in everything else, but here in the desert it was an especially bright spirit.”

A companion exhibition will feature Pelton’s landscape paintings drawn from the museum’s collection and local collectors.


Agnes Pelton, Future (1941), oil on canvas. Palm Springs Art Museum/Gift of Gerald E. Buck in memory of Bente Buck.

Two exhibitions that were cut short due to the closure will continue for a limited time: Gerald Clarke: Falling Rock at the main museum, and Jim Isermann. Copy. Pattern. Repeat. at the Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion. And a new show, Pure, Simple, and Beautiful Forms: Glass from the Collection, will be on view in the Kaplan-Ostergaard Glass Center at the main museum, where the permanent collection galleries are also being refreshed.

Museum members will receive priority access to new Virtual Insiders View programming, including interviews with artists and collectors and studio and home tours. “Although virtual experiences aren’t quite the same as in-person events,” Grachos says, “our digital initiatives help us stay connected at this time when we can all use the power of art to inspire and engage.”

Instead of a live gala, the museum has scheduled its Virtual Art Party for Dec. 4. Likewise, Artrageous: A Drive-in Auction is scheduled for March 9, 2021.

For information about museum programs, visit