Splashes of vibrant colors bring Marconi Calindas' artwork to life, varying from pop icons to triumphs of the human spirit.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY MARCONI CALINDAS
Marconi Calindas has turned his passion as an artist into a way to advocate for causes he believes in.
That connection was never more evident than when Calindas entered a piece in an international art competition in New York City depicting themes of bullying and teen suicide. Afterward, he received an email from a 60-year-old man who had seen his work and thanked Calindas for bringing the subject matter into public view.
“I will never forget what he said,” says Calindas via email. He now resides in Palm Springs with his husband, Adam Lee Cafege. “He said he was bullied growing up and that my piece made him shed a tear. And for a major art competition to herald my entry as the winning piece was a major achievement in bringing those themes to the forefront of conversation and discussion. What he told me touched me and I told myself, I would never stop and continue my advocacy through art.”
Starting Sept. 10, Calindas will share more of his artwork as a kick-off to Cinema Diverse: The LGBTQ+ Film Festival, which runs Sept. 15-18 and Sept. 22-25. “Marconi Calindas: Life in Color” will decorate the walls of the Palm Springs Cultural Center’s VIP Lounge throughout the festival and remain in place through early November when the city celebrates Palm Springs Pride, Nov. 4-6.
The opening reception Sept. 10 also includes a screening of the 2014 short film, Prinsesa, which features Calindas’ art direction and earned an Audience Favorite award at Cinema Diverse. The art reception begins at 6 p.m. following by the screening at 7 p.m.
Calindas chatted further with Palm Springs Life about what you can expect to see at his exhibition and why he has been a strong advocate for public art in the Coachella Valley.
How did this connection between you and the Palm Springs Cultural Center happen?
I attended the inaugural exhibition at the center with Tysen Knight as its debut artist and I congratulated both the center and Tysen and realized PSCC’s Lauren Wolfer and I have met in the past. She’s known me as an artist and I mentioned to her our little film in the past and immediately sparked interest from her side. She eventually extended her invitation for me to display my art and screen the film at the center.
What does it mean to you to have your exhibition on display starting with Cinema Diverse and extending through Palm Springs Pride in early November?
It’s an honor to be part of the center’s celebration of the long running LGBTQ+ film festival in Palm Springs, and extend it all the way to my favorite event in the valley, the PS PRIDE, what else can I ask for? To represent our LGBTQ+ community as one of the creatives, a visual artist in particular, it’s overwhelmingly exciting indeed.
What can people expect to see at this exhibition, "Marconi Calindas: Life in Color"
Some might have known me and my art to be full of vibrant colors. The audience will see new and old art that is very true to the Marconi aesthetics. I will be showcasing works that I did for collectors in the Coachella Valley, and these masterpieces are about the LGBTQ+ icons we ‘ve fallen in love with.
I will also show some current and past pieces that have inspired me as a gay man. I have my Harvey Milk piece, Liza Minelli, and Judy Garland art that I have been displaying in my art studio, Galleria Marconi PS. Also, there will be an added feature to the experience in viewing these artworks. With the help of this app Artivive, viewers just have to download the free app on their phones, open the app, and point their phone camera to my art and either the art comes alive or a clip will pop out. So it will be exciting and different. Moreover, I will try to provide 3D paper glasses for those who have not seen my art in those magical glasses.
What feelings do you hope people come away with after seeing your art?
I have always been an artist that advocates for visibility, tolerance, acceptance and equality. I fervently hope that people will see the art beyond its physicality, but to obtain inspiration and courage to be who they are and who they want to be. I can’t explain it, but sometimes art can move us in a palpable way. Sometimes it motivates us and encourages us to do what is needed and to feel something that we should be having in a very long time.
Talk more about the colors in your pieces — has that always been your style or when did you begin to develop the style people will see at the Cultural Center?
I’ve always had this style, but to be honest it is still evolving. I’ve had this style since I was in the university, selling handpainted greeting cards to supplement my studies back then. I have been dubbed and compared to various artists I didnt know back then. I was once called the Britto of the Pacific, the Happy Artist of San Francisco, the Keith Haring of the Bay Area and so much more. I am thankful to those that deem me as such and with that I have evolved to have come up with my own distinct style.
We will have a chance to see the short film, Prinsesa, you were involved in. How did that happen?
I met some people from the Scary Cow Film Festival in San Francisco and one cinematographer recommended me to the filmmaker and producer Drew Stephens. He showed him my work and Drew immediately trusted me to have my art in his film.
You have very active in the public art scene in downtown Palm Springs. Why is public art important?
Good question. I’ve been traveling lately and have seen ancient or really old art done at historic public spaces and I realized, wow, these are old art and the fact that those are being preserved and highlighted, it means this public art was highly valued and important to the community, kingdom or whatever back then. I firmly believe that art has always been part of the people and the community, because it sparks joy within us.
What is the best part of being an artist?
Ahhhh, the best part of it is seeing people’s faces when they see my art. Either they shed a tear or crack a smile, my heart is filled with joy. Even some who just tell me what my art means to them, even if they don’t acquire my art, I believe my mission to creating that art has been achieved.
How long have you lived in Palm Springs? What do you like best about living here, and what do you think of the local art scene?
My husband Adam and I moved to Palm Springs in 2016 from San Francisco, and we never looked back. Palm Springs has given us a home with friends who have become a family.
Palm Springs, as I always tell others, is the Castro that I was yearning for when I lived in San Francisco. At first I was reluctant with regard to the art scene here, but boy was I mistaken! Palm Springs is more artsy than San Francisco. I love the community of artists here too, you think it’s a small town but there are tons of amazing artists in the valley. Oh, I am also part of the State of the Arts Coachella Valley and our ring leader Michael Angelo, another awesome artist, organizes group shows for us. Like I said, the valley is a pool of creatives.