agnes pelton

Explore Palm Springs: Agnes Pelton

She settled in Cathedral City in 1932 and painted desert landscapes and transcendental abstractions.

Tracy Conrad Current Digital, History

agnes pelton
Agnes Pelton settled in Cathedral City in 1932 when around 100 people lived in the area.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PALM SPRINGS VILLAGER

Like many artists and free thinkers, Agnes Pelton found the desert had a magical appeal.

Pelton 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.”

She settled in Cathedral City, population around 100, far from most of civilization, in 1932. On the fringe in many respects, including now geographically, Pelton was a believer in numerology, astrology, faith healing and meditation. Like many female intellectuals and artists of the time, her single status made for speculation about sexual preference, or disappointment in love, or just avid devotion to career in a society that expected only devotion to marriage and family of women.

See related story: Agnes Pelton: California’s O’Keeffe

Pelton painted both realistic desert landscapes as well as transcendental abstractions. Seemingly irreconcilable, the abstract paintings were personal and essential to her spirit and the landscape works celebrated the desert itself and earned her a modest living and a rich spiritual life, a combination imaginable only in the desert.

Her life and artistic talents will be celebrated during a one-woman play set for Nov. 11 at the historic home of Agnes Pelton in Cathedral City. For details, click HERE.

There is a multitude of ways to Explore Palm Springs, which turns 81 in 2019. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring Palm Springs history.
The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place often corresponds with today.

The Palm Springs Historical Society is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive.

Visit pshistoricalsociety.org for more information.