In Greater Palm Springs there is no shortage of art. There’s an abundance of galleries that dot the art oasis, sides of buildings are brightened by murals, and medians are often homes to protruding sculptures.
During Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, take a tour of all the places where Hispanic art and the artists are displayed and learn more about their indelible talent, stories, and contributions to the world. Here are seven places in Greater Palm Springs to go to see and appreciate Hispanic art.
The Coachella Valley History Museum located in Indio has a permanent exhibit called Corazón de Mexico that includes original and authentic folk art. The museum received this collection of over 100 pieces from a donor who lived and traveled through Mexico. The collection includes textiles, pottery, toys, and masks - which in Mexico are traditionally used for dance, festivals, ceremonies, and theater. The vibrant and eye-catching collection of character masks is prominently on display in the main room of the 1926 Smiley-Tyler Adobe House above a fireplace mantle. In addition to the Mexican collection, the museum houses a variety of permanent and temporary collections that help share the history of Greater Palm Springs.
Information: 82616 Miles Avenue, Indio, CA 92201
If you walked around downtown Palm Springs at any point in 2022, you’ve probably seen the vertical car hovering in the air perpendicular to the ground outside the Palm Springs Art Museum. That is part of an exhibition by Mexican artist Gonzalo Lebrija that spills over into the museum with even more eye-flummoxing displays in a series he calls “Miracle of the Eternal Present.”
The 50-year-old uses a range of mediums like photography, video, sculpture, and painting to put his own skewed view on familiar objects or activities. The vertical car outside is a good example, but inside you’ll see an oversized lasso that seems to stand on its own. Optical illusions are galore. Hurry and check it out though as the exhibit ends on Oct. 22.
The museum also features something called Outburst Projects which are small-format exhibitions artists create following a month-long art residency at the museum. One such artist is Gabriela Ruiz from the Los Angeles area who was born to Mexican immigrants. They have an amazing exhibit on display through January 2023 that expresses the vibrancy of Mexican culture and artistic traditions. She uses everyday materials and diverse mediums like color, sound, and texture to make it an immersive experience for the viewer.
Information: 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262
This history of Mexico can be found carved on a 20-foot-tall columnal fountain that greets visitors outside the historic Sunnylands home of Walter and Leonore Annenberg.
The bronze fountain, created by José and Tomás Chavez of Guanajuato Mexico, is a half-scale replica of a fountain in Mexico City at the National Museum of Anthropology.
The Annenbergs were on vacation in Mexico City when they came across the original fountain and decided to have a smaller version created for their estate. Through carved figures and symbols, the fountain is divided into four vertical sections that portray the history of Mexico from its pre-Hispanic past through to modern times.
The striking fountain has water cascading from the top of the column into a circular bed of rocks in the middle of the circular driveway of the home.
Sunnylands guests can view the column during ticketed tours of the Annenberg house and grounds starting Sept. 14. The column is also viewable on the walking tours which start in November.
Information: 37977 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
This unique museum celebrates the life of explorer Cabot Yerxa who settled the land in the early 1900s and created the museum in the shape of a Hopi Indian pueblo on what has been dubbed Miracle Hill. Yerxa believed in creating an artistic community and to that end, the museum hosts special events that help celebrate art and culture.
On the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month - Oct. 15 - the Cabot’s Pueblo Museum will host a Day of the Dead event that will include elaborate and colorful altars full of memories to honor loved ones who have passed on.
Information: 67616 E Desert View Avenue, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
Coda Gallery opened in 1987 and has been a showcase spot for contemporary artists ever since. The art space currently boasts works from more than 70 creators from all over the globe including artists of Hispanic heritage like Francisco Bartus and Alfredo Candela of Spain, Santonio Garcia of Uruguay and Esteban of Mexico.
Bartus creates fascinating pieces with mixed media that look like you’re looking down from the clouds at thousands of little people positioned perfectly to create shapes and messages. Like most impressive art it’s hard to describe, but amazing to see in person.
Candela, by coincidence, does acrylic on canvas works that also give a hypothetical view from above of a beachscape with people enjoying the sand and waves. And despite being 63, he is still studying at the University of Valencia to improve his skill with a focus on tapping into the soul of younger art lovers.
Garcia’s use of oil or acrylic paint on canvas brings the mundane to life, glorifying an old pair of Converse sneakers in a stunning series. He also likes to use animals and wildlife by putting them in unnatural situations like a series that includes an elephant a parrot or a horse trying to get out of a cardboard box. Again, you just have to see it.
Esteban uses 15 to 20 layers of paint to create his abstract pieces that let the viewer's imagination run wild with vivid colors and depth. He encourages owners of his work to display his art from different sides and go with what feels right.
Information: 73400 El Paseo Suite B1, Palm Desert, CA 92260
Head to Coachella - not the annual music festival held in Indio - but the city of Coachella, and within a several-block radius downtown, you can see impressive, large-scale murals painted onto walls.
The murals, or “Coachella Walls" are done by street artists from around the world. There are more than a dozen murals spread across the city’s Pueblo Viejo neighborhood, a project intended to help beautify and bring people to the area.
You can start your walking tour at the corner of Vine Avenue and Sixth Street where there are several murals within eyesight. Then work your way out from there. No matter which direction you head, you’re bound to run into a mural.
The various murals depict life, love, struggles and perseverance of the marginalized.
Here are a few of the murals you can find in Coachella: “Ojo De Aguila” by Vyal Reyes of Los Angeles; “Sembremos Sueños y Cosechemos Esperanza” by collective Lapiztola of Oaxaca; “Anonymous Farm Worker” by El Mac, “Mujer del Desierto” by Adrian Takano of Puerto Vallarta and “La Fiesta en el Desierto” by Armando Lerma of Coachella.
As a bonus, after you’ve finished the tour of “Coachella Walls” head to Polk Street off Landfill Road, north or I-10 in Coachella and look for a massive 32-foot tall water tank. Lerma painted a mural called “Visit Us in the Shape of Clouds” on the outside of the tank with images of fish, seashells and a monkey. The painted water tank was one of 18 installations featured during the 2019 Desert X.
Information: 722 Vine Street, Coachella, CA 92236
The Coachella Valley Art Center is where artists of all backgrounds and levels come together to create, collaborate, share and explore.
The center hosts gallery exhibits, educational programs, and workshops and has resident artists with diverse backgrounds and disciplines.
One of the resident artists is Bill Schinsky who also serves as executive director and has been leading efforts at the CVAC since its beginnings. Under his alter-ego wm marquez, he creates a variety of site-specific installations and fiber work, drawing energy from his Mexican heritage. His work packs a punch with its background stories and visceral displays.
Information: 45140 Towne Street, Indio, CA 92201
Want to find more ways to honor and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in Greater Palm Springs, see this blog for inspiration.