Kim Manfredi works on a piece. She recently moved into her own studio space off Perez Road in Cathedral City, which will be part of the Desert Open Studios Tour this weekend.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY DESERT OPEN STUDIOS

Your curiosity is about to be satisfied. The inaugural Desert Open Studios Tour will take you inside the creative minds of more than 60 artists in the Coachella Valley, April 10-11.

“We created a mission of uniting the east and west valley and giving visitors a sneak peek into the inner world of the artists,” says Kim Manfred, who along with artists Lynda Keeler and Anne Bedrick formed the trio to organize this free self-guided tour.

Visiting a studio “allows the artists to share their tools, their materials, their personal narrative” with the public, Manfredi says, adding the Desert Open Studios Tour is an opportunity to bring the artists and the public together for conversation, in addition to creating a common thread to connect the network of valley artists. Additionally, the tour includes free art demonstrations at the Create Center in Palm Desert both days.

Palm Springs Life spoke further with Manfredi about the upcoming event.

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Kim Manfredi calls Anne Bedrick the “nuts and bolts” person of the trio that created Desert Open Studios Tour.

When was the idea for this event first considered? What were the reasons to launch it?

Actually we had planned and conceived the event to start last year, in 2020. Then the pandemic hit. We have had this event on our mind for two years now, and it felt right. The three of us have worked equally tirelessly on it. The reasons for me to start an event like this were obvious. I’m still new-ish to Coachella Valley. What I perceived when I arrived four years ago was a disconnect between the east and west valley art scene. I noticed that there was not that much cross-pollination, and that there was kind of a vibrant language and community at each end of the valley, and in the middle, but there wasn’t that much mixing.

Why now and not later this year?

We have learned from the Friday Art Walks on Perez Road how these activities work outdoors. We felt that with the number of artists participating and with the amount of time that the studios will be open, the amount of people will be spread out. Beside that we hoped to connect with the people here for Modernism Week and Desert X.

How did you form a team with Lynda and Anne? Had you worked together on other projects before?

Lynda and I are in a group called the Highway 111 Arts Collective. Anne and I have just overlapped in the art world quite a bit. I think Anne takes walks with Lynda. That is how we three got together and connected through the arts and common interests. We all were aware of one another’s qualities and we felt that if we came together on a project, that it would be a good fit. We wanted to have a community-based project. Anne, she’s like the nuts and bolts person. Lynda has this big sky thinking and kind of connecting the whole world to the valley. And I do what I do. It worked out really well.

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William Schinsky, executive director of the Coachella Valley Art Center, which will host an exhibition on April 9 featuring one piece from each participating artist in the Desert Open Studios Tour.

How much did you know about the Coachella Valley art scene and were there any surprises in putting this event together?

I did a project with the Coachella Valley Art Center, a project that’s hanging outdoors right now. And so I was sort of an advocate for that organization, and was very connected to the Create Art Center, which is just re-opening in Palm Desert. Lynda is so interconnected to the Palm Springs art scene that we had this space where we had interacted extensively. It just sort of blossomed from there. I was not that familiar with the vast number of artists in Palm Springs. I don’t think Lynda had ever been to the Coachella Valley Art Center. We did make discoveries, even before the tour began. We started an Instagram account together and just through that we have united the east and the west ealley in a way we had hoped.

How much input did you receive from the participating artists in creating the event and all of its parts?

The artists have complete freedom with their space. We didn’t lay down any rules except for the hours. We felt the days and the hours had to be fairly consistent for visitors. The artists are participating and contributing immensely because they open their studio and provide demos of what they do. We had four artists Zoom meetings. The first one was just initial concerns about opening your studio during a pandemic and about the idea of the tour. The second one was teaching the artists about how to promote a community program like this. Then there was a meeting about the exhibition and the details of the exhibition. We had a final Zoom meeting that Anne ran on preparing your studio for an event like this. We tried to include some education for the artists so that they would come out of this experience more equipped than they went into it.

Why is it important to include people being able to come into an artist’s studio? What is important about that interaction?

Being able to see artists in their studios provides an opportunity for a visitor to experience what is behind the painting on the wall or the sculpture on the table. It allows people to see works in progress. It allows people to experience the struggles of a workspace, the nuts and bolts of a workspace. They can see the piles of materials that are lying around, the failures in the corner. So it just provides this opportunity for us as artists to kind of fill out the idea of what an artist is, to add more details and more reality in a sense.

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Artist Steve Hill is a board member of the Create Center for the Arts.

What measures have you taken that people have a safe experience visiting the different studios?

We have shared the CDC guidelines with each of the artists. We made some suggestions, like have hand sanitizers available, have masks available, things like that to provide a safe environment. We will have a map which is published on our website. It will contain all kinds of little notes, like whether the studio has stairs, whether it’s an outdoor venue, all those things that might influence a decision to go there or to another studio. We tried to create as much information as possible so that the public would know what they were getting into. And then we’re all sticking to the capacity, the suggested capacity, for the size of the venue.Many artists are setting work outside so that you have something to do out outside while people are visiting them
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Do you foresee this event becoming annual?
We want this to be an annual event and we’re really hoping that it becomes like Highway 62 has done for Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree. We’re hoping that it really capitalizes on the notoriety that Desert X has brought to the valley, but it’s inclusive /including (of) the local artists.

Visit the website: desertopenstudios.com
Download the tour handbook: desertopenstudios.com/about
Meet the artists: desertopenstudios.com/artists