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Sarah Vanderlip’s installation consisted of two welded aluminum truck heads on a rock formation outside Joshua Tree National Park.

Testing, Testing…

Creative types converge and experiment on the High Desert

At High Desert Test Sites, quality of experience trumps quantity. Linger at a few site-specific art installations and forget trying to see all the others.

In its eighth year, HDTS — the brainchild of Joshua Tree- and New York-based artist Andrea Zittel and a small group of other artists and gallerists — invited about 30 artists, architects, and designers to experiment and comment on the land, providing sites for a weekend of self-funded installations from Yucca Valley to Wonder Valley.

At a Joshua Tree site called “Behind the Bail Bonds” (located on a 10-acre, boulder-strewn parcel behind a big yellow bail bonds sign), we found Claude Collins-Stracensky’s Collective Field, a pair of glass obelisk sculptures functioning as solar water distiller/fountains. We were first distracted by what looked like a mirror situated high in a rock formation — a curious, untitled installation (shown above) by Sarah Vanderlip consisting of two welded aluminum truck heads.

Meanwhile, Art Queen, a Joshua Tree gallery founded by Shari Elf and Randy Polumbo, hosted The World Famous Crochet Museum Presents: Gospel Revival; Coyote Dry Lake in Twentynine Palms saw ROLU and WELCOMEPROJECTS’ installation Here There, There Here, two miles of fabric rolled across its surface; and at Iron Age Road in Wonder Valley, Ball-Nogues Studio installed Yucca Crater, whose aquatic basin gives a nod to the abandoned suburban swimming pools scattered across the Mojave.

Learn about HDTS at


Creating an Economy

Initiative seeks to quantify and promote arts

Recognizing what arts leaders have hailed for years, the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership has partnered with the nonprofit group ArtsOasis to study the “creative cluster” and develop a plan to help it grow and diversify the desert economy.

It will be the region’s first formal study to build a knowledge base, reveal strengths and opportunities, and identify collaborators.

“From artists and performers to workers and suppliers, the creative value chain is larger than anybody had imagined,” says ArtsOasis President Robert Stearns.

Learn about ArtsOasis at


Santa Fe Shulman Aluminum sun screenMuseum Expands, Rebrands

Satellite venues to open in Palm Desert and Palm Springs

Palm springs art museum this spring opens its Palm Desert satellite on the northwest end of El Paseo (at Highway 111). The space will offer exhibitions, community events, tours, classes and lectures, and one of the finest sculpture gardens in Southern California.

Meanwhile, the museum bought and has begun restoring the 1960 E. Stewart Williams-designed Santa Fe Federal Savings and Loan building (shown) in downtown Palm Springs. “This building will be devoted to architecture and design and provide excellent exhibition, program, and archive study space,” says Executive Director Steven Nash. “The main museum building, also designed by E. Stewart Williams, has long needed additional space to support the growing architecture and design collections and archives.”

The museum also introduced three bright-orange logos — one for each of its buildings — to freshen its brand.

Learn about the museum at

IMAGE: Santa Fe Shulman Aluminum sun screen.jpg



Bust of Dieogo on Stele III (1958) Alberto GiacomettiSunnylands for Fine Art

Public can view Annenberg treasures

The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands — the pink-gated Rancho Mirage estate of the late Walter and Leonore Annenberg — opens to the public in March, offering a venue for high-level meetings of business and political leaders, as well as a glimpse at collections of fine art, Steuben glass, Chinese antiquities, and silver gilt.

The Annenbergs’ collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works went to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. What remains at Sunnylands is an impressive array of modern sculpture — ranging from Auguste Rodin’s Eternal Spring and Alberto Giacometti’s Bust of Diego on Stele III to kinetic works by Yaacov Agam and Harry Bertoia — as well as canvases and works on paper by 19th and 20th century artists, including Andrew Wyeth, who in 1978 painted a portrait of Walter Annenberg.

Other significant pieces include Pablo Picasso’s 1959 Picador on Horseback, the 1977 paper collage Roots by Romare Bearden, and the 1952 abstract painting L’Enfant au Biberon (Infant with Baby Bottle) by Jacques Villon.

The works donated to the Met were replaced in the residence with digital reproductions in frames that replicate the originals.

Learn about Sunnylands at

IMAGE: Bust of Diego on Stele III (1958) by Alberto Giacometti



Mel Ramos' Coco Cookie (2011)A New Fair for Palm Springs

Promoter banks on quality art and programming

Fifty Galleries will exhibit about $200 million worth of art at the inaugural Palm Springs Fine Art Fair, which unfolds Feb. 17-19, 2012, at Palm Springs Convention Center.

The fair packs in world-class programming, including a moderated conversation with Judy Chicago and The Big Picture: Paintings from Southern California, 1960-1980, an exhibition curated by author/critic Peter Frank in conjunction with the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time.

“This will be a historic event for Palm Springs,” says organizer Rick Friedman. “In terms of quality, it will be up there with the best shows in the country.”

At press time, three local galleries — Imago Galleries, Heather James Fine Art, and Michael H. Lord Gallery — had signed on as exhibitors. Others include L.A.’s Ace Gallery; Riva Yares Gallery, David Richard Contemporary, and Gerald Peters Gallery of Santa Fe, N.M.; and William Shearburn Gallery of St. Louis, Mo.

Learn about the fair at

IMAGE: Mel Ramos’ Coco Cookie (2011)



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