(Greater Palm Springs, CA) - September 28, 2015 - Greater Palm Springs may be best known for its glossy Hollywood past, laidback lifestyle, chichi hotels and championship golf courses, yet it also embraces a rich tradition of art. In the early 1900s, the desert’s mesmerizing beauty and mercurial light lured plein air painters to the region to capture the panoramic setting on canvas. Later, iconic mid-20th century designers—Albert Frey, John Lautner, Krisel and Palmer and E. Stewart Williams among them—left in their wake one of the finest collections of midcentury modern architecture in the world.
Today, the Coachella Valley’s diverse creative landscape flourishes, drawing fledging collectors, A-list patrons and art-obsessed visitors to a wide variety of galleries, art fairs, film festivals and museums. Read on for some of the top arts and cultural attractions in this spectacular Southern California oasis.
Awesome Art Festivals
The end of January brings the 30th Annual Southwest Arts Festival (Jan. 29-31, 2016) to the scenic, sun-drenched grounds of the Empire Polo Club. Enjoy refreshments and relaxing background jazz while absorbing the wide array of works on display from than 250 talented artists. www.southwestartsfest.com
Nearly 60,000 design enthusiasts attended the 2015 Modernism Week (Feb. 11-21, 2015), an 11-day whirl of design-oriented festivities that pay homage to Palm Springs’ midcentury modern art, architecture and culture. Highlights include the Modernism Show & Sale at the Palm Springs Convention Center, architectural double decker bus and bike tours, festive theme parties at midcentury modern estates, expert lectures, live music events and much more. www.modernismweek.com
Also returning to the Palm Springs Convention Center: The annual Art Palm Springs (Feb. 11-14, 2016) over President’s Day weekend. This marquee event for acquisition-oriented art lovers curates museum quality post-war and contemporary art from 70 galleries around the world. www.art-palmsprings.com
Art Fair SourceBook continues to rank the La Quinta Arts Festival (March 3-6, 2016) the #1 Fine Art Festival in the nation. Every year, thousands of fans descend on La Quinta, California for this premier juried arts event. Situated in an idyllic 17-acre park amid a lake, fountains and waterfalls and spectacular Santa Rosa Mountain views, more than 200 award-winning artists showcase works ranging from painting, drawing, photography and sculpture to glass and wood, ceramics, jewelry and textiles. www.lqaf.com
Greater Palm Springs’ vibrant cultural scene attracts major art events every year. In 2016, SPECTRUM Indian Wells Art Show (March 17-20, 2016) makes its debut at Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa. Presented by the group behind Artexpo New York and SPECTRUM Miami, this juried contemporary art show promises an exciting slate of top national and international artists and galleries.
Now in its 14th season, the Indian Wells Arts Festival (April 1-3, 2016) transforms the Indian Wells Tennis Garden’s expansive plaza into a picturesque artisan village. Witness mastery in action while artists demonstrate their skills onsite. The family-friendly fair also features interactive creative projects for kids and a popular “Eggs and Champagne in the Garden” Sunday brunch. www.Indianwellsartsfestival.com
The Art Districts
Palm Springs offers a multifaceted art scene primarily concentrated in three distinct quarters. If your taste runs to the neoteric/retro, be sure to visit the Uptown Design District. Hip galleries, modern boutiques, kitschy vintage shops, trendy restaurants and outdoor cafes line this northern stretch of Palm Canyon Drive. Seeking quintessential California resort style in clothing and design? Stop by the renowned Trina Turk and Wil Stiles boutiques, Raymond Lawrence’s eclectic emporium of pop-up shops and artist Shag’s flagship store and gallery.
You’ll also find several art galleries, antique stores and home décor shops in the Downtown Village area. The Desert Art Center founded in 1950 features a wide spectrum of art classes and coop gallery while the city’s weekly Thursday night Palm Springs VillageFest presents a variety of arts, crafts and refreshments in a kaleidoscopic street fair setting.
About five miles south of downtown, the Backstreet Art District, or “SoDo,” houses a fascinating collective of artist-owned galleries showcasing painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry and other artistic pursuits. The district hosts an evening Art Walk on first Wednesdays of the month from 6-9 p.m. www.backstreetartdistrict.com
In Palm Desert, you’ll find more than 20 museum-quality galleries to pique your interest in and around fashionable El Paseo Boulevard. Rub shoulders with renowned local and visiting artists during the El Paseo Art Walk receptions held first Friday nights November through May. www.elpaseoartwalk.com
Hidden in a nondescript business park off Hovley Lane in Palm Desert, The Art Place, a favorite haunt for interior designers, encompasses a treasure trove of decorative arts, textiles and furnishings. Check the website for upcoming artist receptions and events. www.theartplacepd.com
Palm Springs Art Museum
Nestled at the base of Mount San Jacinto, the E. Stewart Williams designed Palm Springs Art Museum houses one of the most outstanding art collections in the nation with 19th through 21st century works covering a broad range of artistic expression. In 2012, the museum unveiled a satellite location in Palm Desert, The Galen, an 8,400-square-foot LEED-certified building surrounded by a magnificent sculpture garden. In November of 2014, the new Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion opened in a historic 1961 building also designed by E. Stewart Williams. www.psmuseum.org
Famous Film Festivals
Given Hollywood’s longtime love affair with the Greater Palm Springs area, it’s not surprising that the valley has evolved into a showcase for another major artform—film. Now entering its 27th year, the star-studded Palm Springs International Film Festival (January 1-11, 2016) has emerged as one of the most prestigious film festivals in North America. Film buffs should also check out Cinema Diverse LGBT Film Festival (Sept. 17-20, 2015), American Documentary Film Festival (March 31-April 4, 2016), Native FilmFest (March), the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival (May) and Palm Springs International Shortfest (June).
About Greater Palm Springs
Greater Palm Springs is Southern California’s premier resort, entertainment, golf and tennis destination. This modern oasis of nine distinct cities – Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella – lures Hollywood celebrities, major music headliners, top sports personalities, world-renowned dignitaries and visitors from around the world. Our “chill culture” experience encompasses adventure, recreation, relaxation, and array of spectacular special events including the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Modernism Week, BNP Paribas Open and Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. For more information, go to www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com.