Joshua Otten was traveling throughout the West when a close friend suggested he check out the Coachella Valley. “I came out here and fell in love with the desert and the great weather,” he says. And now his good friend, Josh Paquette, is his partner in J. Willott Gallery, a dealer of contemporary art on El Paseo in Palm Desert.
They opened the gallery in 2007, introducing the work of established and mid-career artists and building a base of clients. “One of the more successful exhibitions we’ve had was with an artist named Michael Schultheis,” he says. “Michael was a mathematician for Microsoft and has become a highly regarded painter. He is an amazing public speaker. So when he comes to the gallery, he literally brings some of our clients to tears.”
Last year, “The Joshes,” as he and Paquette are known, expanded to a larger space with a 22-foot ceiling. “It gives us the ability to showcase the art in its appropriate setting,” says Otten, acknowledging his clients mostly live in golf clubs within near the gallery.
But their audience is changing. “I’ve noticed our clientele is getting younger and younger,” Otten says. “The homes have a really cutting-edge, contemporary feel to them. That’s attracted a much younger affluent clientele. More than half of our clients are still working and they’re here enjoying second homes and all the things that the valley has to offer.”
VIDEO: Joshua Otten speaks about the start of their art gallery.