melissa morgan art

As Big as All Outdoors

Patrons can interact with contemporary art day or night at the Melissa Morgan Fine Art Gallery sculpture garden on El Paseo in Palm Desert.

JIM POWERS Arts & Entertainment, Current Digital

melissa morgan art

In Palm Desert, you can experience some of contemporary art's leading artistic talent at the Melissa Morgan Fine Art Gallery's open-air sculpture garden on El Paseo. Patrons can interact with art, reflect, and gain perspectives day or night during a time when they are contending with health concerns and historic moments of social change.

“When you experience art outdoors, it’s completely different than inside a gallery,” says Morgan, whose gallery has served the Coachella Valley art scene for more than 15 years. “You have time to sit with it. Conversations happen in that casual environment.”

“The stories from artists are really important,” Morgan adds. “This display really helps bring those stories alive because you connect to it with the desert landscape as a backdrop.”

Since January, the sculpture garden has featured a selection of dynamic artwork that changes in correlation with programming within the gallery and sometimes as part of a broader concept the gallery is focused on, Morgan says.

Artist Freddy Bosche, who has been creating a symbolic series of interactive street works, brings his “United States of Love” to Palm Desert. The piece encourages us to reconnect ourselves to who and what is important in our lives – a reminder of what we are grateful for.

Inspired by Bosch’s initiative, the gallery curated a series of works in which they imagined people would find hope.

Some of the artworks you will see include:

Freddy Bosche's “United States of Love”.

Steve Tobin

Initially known for his glass work, he began to construct sculptures using bronze, steel, and found objects. Tobin’s “Steel Roots” piece stands 16 feet tall and 14 feet wide. Tobin’s roots are an abstraction of tree roots from the Sycamore tree that saved St. Paul’s Cathedral from the destruction of 9/11, Morgan says. They represent the protection in our "roots."

Peter Busby

His "Grazing Horse" stands 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide. On his website, Busby says, “My aim is to create works of art that are elegant, yet simple, create a sense of place, leave a lasting impression upon viewers, and achieve a sense of timelessness.” Adds Morgan, “This piece casts a gorgeous shadow at night.”

Bill Catling

"The Way of Cinder and Ash", stands 91 inches tall by 60 inches wide. This piece is stoneware with mason stains and wood by the Southern California artist. In his artist statement from his website, Catling says, “The images are created to emit an archaic sensibility, a strong connection of the past to the present. The figures are inspired by the challenge of life experiences, sufferings and recurring themes from the search for wholeness.”

Boaz Vaadia

"Ginnetoy 2nd" is a bronze, bluestone, and boulder sculpture measuring 35 inches tall and 80 inches wide. The Israeli-American artist says on his website, "I work with nature as an equal partner. . . That's still the strongest thing I deal with today, that primal connection of man to earth. It's in the materials I use, the environments I make and the way I work."

Steinumm Thorarinsdottir

His "Counterparts" piece stands 71 inches tall by 19 3/4 inches wide. His figures discuss the need for human connection and sometimes isolation from each other, Morgan says.

Joseph McDonnell

"Locking Piece", 96 inches tall by 78 inches wide. The New York sculptor creates pieces from small to monumental in using bronze, granite, steel and glass.


Coming to the sculpture garden is a piece from Anthony James. His infinity/light works encourages us to explore the infinite possibilities within ourselves and our world, says Morgan. "We will unveil an 80-inch tall “icosahedron” in the sculpture garden in the coming weeks.”

Artists also featured in the self-guided tour include, John Krawczyk, Joseph Mcdonell, Olivia Steel, Richard Erdman, Eric Zener, Andy Moses, Rudolf Burda, Bruce Beasely, and  Jimi Gleason.

For more information about the art in the sculpture garden and gallery space, check out a self-guided walking tour (the web app can be linked to at The app will guide you from a self contained "living space” within an aluminum “pod” courtesy of Doosooz Design to artwork throughout the garden and to the windows of the gallery.