Art for the Collective Eye

From sculptures, statues, and murals to paintings and neoglyphs, art in public places enhances the desert’s cultural landscape

Mona de Crinis Arts & Entertainment


Lauded for its modern design and midcentury mystique, Palm Springs abounds with public art, much of it deviating from modernism’s more abstract style.

Visit the patinated bronze Agua Caliente Women (Tahquitz Canyon Way and Indian Canyon Drive, pictured at right)) and absorb the rich culture of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the desert’s stalwart stewards. Nearby at Spa Resort Casino, the similarly sculpted Moon Maiden accompanies the Women in honoring tribal history.

Go to the Palm Springs Convention Center (Avenida Caballeros and Amado Road), where you’ll discover a Crouching Cougar and The Entertainer. Other works off the beaten path include The Batter and Wave Rhythms in Sunrise Park (Sunrise Way and Ramon Road) and Help Is on the Way in front of the Palm Springs police station.



When you’re ready to let loose, drive to Cathedral City and experience the whimsical, energetic Fountain of Life. A few blocks away on Cathedral Canyon Drive near Commercial Road, visit Old Firehouse — a vibrant mural depicting the original fire station — for a colorful snapshot of the city’s history.



In Rancho Mirage, take a walk through the poignant sculpture garden at the Cancer Survivors Park (Frank Sinatra Drive and Highway 111).



photo courtesy of the city of Palm desert

The 12-foot sculpted steel Cahuilla In Praise of Cahuilla Baskets.

When in Palm Desert, download art maps and grab your GPS — the city’s impressive collection boasts more than 150 works in all mediums, from murals and sculptures to coyote benches and a colorful obelisk. Civic Center Park features 72 acres of art enjoyment and presents more than 20 pieces of public art. Meet The Dreamer, a 14-foot-long partially submerged bronze, and frolic in the Mother and Child Sculpture Garden inspired by a second-grader’s touching essay. The Fred Waring Corridor boasts pieces about the area’s original people, including the 12-foot sculpted steel Cahuilla In Praise of Cahuilla Baskets, near Parkview Drive and Highway 111, and The Reed Gatherer, made of bronze. Absorb the beauty of Music at the McCallum Theatre on Fred Waring Drive, a 10-foot abstract sculpture suggestive of the bass clef of a cello.



photo courtesy of city of la quinta

Romance in La Quinta.

Enjoy quiet introspection in La Quinta, with Solitude 1 (La Quinta Senior Center). Seek out accidental hero Don Quixote riding his horse at Rancho La Quinta (Calle Tampico and Desert Club Drive). For animal lovers, Fish Trap With Bear (Bear Creek Bike Path), Eagles (Lowe’s on Highway 111), and a massive roadrunner, on loan from Goldenvoice, which stands sentry at the Jefferson Street/Avenue 52 traffic circle. Maps illustrating La Quinta’s vast public art landscape are available online.



Indio provides a glimpse into the area’s past and present through a series of vivid murals. From the History of Water in the Coachella Valley (Indio Performing Arts Center on Fargo Street) and the History of Transportation (Clark’s Travel Center on Indio Boulevard) to Desert Cahuilla Village (corner of Indio Boulevard and Towne Street), Mary Ann’s Bakery (Clark’s Travel Center facing Indio Boulevard), Rebirth (Quick & Easy Store on Miles Avenue), and Moving Toward the Future (Smurr Street), the city pulsates with artistic interpretations of local history and culture.



palm springs archive

Mural art in Coachella.

Awaken your social consciousness in fertile Coachella, where murals honoring the city’s agricultural heritage abound. The Pueblo Viejo District on Vine Street provides the canvas for artists honoring the anonymous farm worker with compelling works such as El Mac, Sego y Ovbal, Nunca, and The Date Farmers, which kicked off the project with an elaborate mural at El Centro del Trabajador (Center for the Worker), where activist Cesar Chavez organized farm workers.