From left: Steelroots by Steve Tobin and Portal Icosahedrn by Anthony James.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRIS MILLER / IMAGINEIMAGERY.COM
If pandemic restrictions leave you feeling lonely, disconnected, and wondering what it all means — or if you just need a culture fix — you’ll feel better after a visit to the Melissa Morgan Fine Art sculpture garden in Palm Desert.
Sure, the large-scale artworks, situated on a neatly gravelscaped half-acre at El Paseo and San Luis Rey Avenue, offer stellar selfie opps, but linger longer (which is the whole point of sculpture gardens), and they also take you on a mind trip.
Few visitors resist Portal Icosahedron, for example. The awe-inspiring light work by the L.A.-based British artist Anthony James sets out to show you infinity as well as the divinity within yourself.
US OF LOVE by Freddy Bosche.
“It’s inspired by Plato’s experiment in unity where he demonstrated perfect symmetry in three dimensions,” he explains. “It’s composed of repeating equilateral triangles that create a 20-sided cage. It is the highest and most beautiful geometric shape of the five Platonic bodies, and it’s associated with water, which is all about flow, movement, and unity. The light inside [the sculpture] creates the portal; it is truly hypnotic and dramatic.”
Melissa Morgan Fine Art opened the sculpture garden, catty corner to its gallery, a year ago as an open-air showroom for collectors, as well as a public space for families and art lovers to enjoy from sunrise to sunset. “It’s a lovely way to experience sculpture,” says gallery owner Melissa Morgan. “It’s an incredible backdrop for sculpture and a great way to interact with art on your own time with family and friends.”
She points out the interactive qualities of artist Freddy Bosche’s installation, US OF LOVE, which invites you to pick up a piece of chalk and express your thoughts, feelings, and hopes in a message for all to see — including on social media with the hashtag #usoflove.
Counterparts by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir.
Illumetric: Rectangle by Shana Mabari, Steelroots by Steve Tobin, and Portal Icosahedron by Anthony James.
Public Display of Awareness by Olivia Steele.
Another artist, Olivia Steele — known for creating poignant text works in neon, including the temporary Save Me in (literally) the Salton Sea — attempts to unlock your consciousness, stir your feelings, and reveal an emotional truth with a succession of orange road signs that read “I am sorry,” “Please forgive me,” “Thank you,” and “I love you.”
Meanwhile, Counterparts, a pair of life-size human figures by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, and Ginnetoy, a posed figure rendered in stacked bluestone slabs by Boaz Vaadia, offer more contemplative moments, and Joseph McDonnell’s Locking Piece I presents yet another metaphor for connection.
An overview of the sculpture exhibit in Palm Desert.
Other standouts in the garden include colorful geometric abstractions by John Krawczyk and Shana Mabari, a Steelroots sculpture by Steve Tobin, and a pair of totemic “guardians” by Squire Broel. Each has its own way of bringing people together and offering perspective and a measure of clarity.
“The garden is an unfiltered and social media-friendly experience to connect, heal, and inspire,” Morgan says. “It’s also a safe place to go to interact, bring your dogs, and spend time getting to know the art.”
Sculpture is a significant part of the Melissa Morgan Fine Art program, and each of the works in the garden has an identification plaque containing a QR code linking to more information about the artist and the art.
Melissa Morgan Fine Art is located at 73660 El Paseo, and the sculpture garden is located 73785 El Paseo in Palm Desert.