Carl Bray opened an art gallery that came to be known as the Smoke Tree School.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY INDIAN WELLS HISTORIC PRESERVATION FOUNDATION
A native of Oklahoma who worked as a brakeman for the Southern Pacific Railroad, Carl Bray opened an art gallery that came to be known as the Smoke Tree School in Indian Wells.
In the early 1950s, the painter built a home in the area that borders what is now Highway 111 and spent most of his career depicting the local scenery. Supportive of other area painters, Bray opened an art gallery that became a gathering spot for a group of artists who came to be known as the Smoke Tree School.
In 2014, three years after Bray’s death, Indian Wells city officials decided to pay tribute to the late artist and erected a monument at the location where his home and gallery once stood. (The property had fallen into foreclosure, and the structures were demolished in 2011.)
Drive east from Palm Springs on Highway 111, and you’ll encounter the Carl G. Bray Smoke Tree Painter memorial: six evocative panels embedded within a stone monument flanked by palms in a park-like setting. One of the panels is devoted exclusively to Bray, while the other five depict details of the city’s history.
stay for the evening
So, it’s late in the afternoon, and you’ve just checked out the monument. Now what? Grab a bite down the road at La Quinta Cliffhouse, perched atop a massive rock outcrop and accessible via a steep driveway. Locals love this watering hole for happy hour. Then head to The Nest for a nightcap, live music, and late-night dancing.
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