Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Many of the Coachella Valley’s larger art galleries tend to hibernate during the summer heat. The (relative) exodus of tourists provides time for them to prepare new exhibitions for the fall.

But the need to experience art doesn’t go on vacation—and this time of year provides art-lovers with a great opportunity to shift focus and find art in public settings and smaller venues that promote local talent.

In Palm Springs, the “Lucy Ricardo” sculpture by Emmanuil Snitkovsky sits on a bench near the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at 211 S. Palm Canyon Drive, while the “Rainmaker” sculpture by David Morris inspires in Frances Stevens Park at 500 N. Palm Canyon Drive. There are also impressive works called “Monsieur Pompadour” and “Mademoiselle Coco” by Karen and Tony Barone greeting people at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, 4575 E. Mesquite Ave.

In Palm Desert, you can stroll through four acres of the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert (72567 Highway 111), while the Rancho Mirage Public Library often features exhibitions by local artists and photographers. The “Coachella Walls” mural resides on the side of a downtown building in Coachella and is accompanied by other murals on buildings opposite Dateland Park.

La Quinta has numerous works of art surrounding the Civic Center Campus. In Indio, you can find the “History of Water in the Coachella Valley,” a massive painting by Don Gray, on the south wall of the Indio Performing Arts Center, 45175 Fargo St. Each of these cities has maps that will guide you to the various works of art throughout their communities on their websites.

You can pop in and find original art in various hotel lobbies, like the knotted macramé rope curtain, woven from 1.5 miles of cotton rope by Michael Schmidt, at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs. “A Day in the Life at Saguaro,” by local artist Sarah Scheideman, features dioramas of Barbie dolls at The Saguaro.

Back in Palm Springs, retail favorite Just Fabulous, at 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, has works by numerous artists displayed on the walls. Smaller galleries like Gallery500, located inside The Five Hundred building, 500 S. Palm Canyon Drive, provide a showcase for emerging artists like Christopher Williams.

“I got into Gallery500 through the Desert AIDS Project. They have a program that helps to find venues and create opportunities,” Williams said. “Responses to my art have been good—a lot of positive feedback. Because of showing at Gallery500, I feel more positive about my work, and I even sold a couple of pieces there.”

The point: Art is everywhere in the Coachella Valley, and it often doesn’t require an admission ticket.

Not all of the big galleries and museums close their doors during the summer. The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission every Thursday throughout the summer from noon to 8 p.m. The museum’s Annenberg Theater will show a free film, Paris, Texas, at 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 17. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Published in Visual Arts

Christopher Perry loves old silent movies—so much, in fact, that he has developed a new and intriguing way of presenting them.

See for yourself at the Silent Movie Comedy Festival, taking place at the Rancho Mirage Library at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 30.

The films that will be presented are pure comedy gold, featuring legends like Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Charley Chase and Snub Pollard. However, the special treat is not just watching the silent movies—but seeing and hearing the Photoplay Ensemble present an authentic score along with the movies.

Yucca Valley musicians and film buffs Christopher Perry and Henry Lozano constitute the Photoplay Ensemble. Perry, aka “Doctor 3D,” has been fascinated by silent films since he sat in a silent-movie theatre in Hollywood as a third-grader in the 1960s. Fast-forward a couple of years later, when he was the proud owner of the legendary book Pictorial History of the Silent Screen, which fueled a deeper passion into this lost cinematic art. In high school, living in Minnesota, he was already a professional musician accompanying silent movies.

Perry works with an authentic library of music made for silent movies called “cues.”

“There were sailor themes, the ‘Hurry!’ suspense theme, a cue for the action scene, the battle and love scene, as well as cues for the more pensive and thoughtful scenes, where the actor is thinking really hard,” he explained.

Perry uses these as guides to create film scores.

During the silent-film era, musicians would be on set “creating a mood for the actors, thus aiding the actors. Directors called out the directions while filming,” he said. Of course, the audience would never be privy to this, as there was no sound.

Henry Lozano, aka the “Mad Doctor of Sounds Effects,” has been a percussionist since his early teens; he missed the era of old-time radio, but he later became a big fan of it nonetheless. He saw a newspaper ad, placed by Perry, calling out for a special-effects guy in 1999. The rest is, as they say, history.

When Perry was first starting out, he got a surprise call from Hollywood great Ray Erlenborn (1915-2007). “Ray called one day and asked whether I needed any sound effects, and I said, ‘Sure, I always wanted sound effects.’”

They soon became friends. “(Erlenborn) had a career in silent film as a child actor; in the ’40s, he was a radio-effects guy. He worked in vaudeville; he worked alongside Bob Hope and Buster Keaton in the 1950s; he played Spike in the “Winnie Winkle” series, and if ever there was a close-up of Harold Lloyd’s hand, Ray Erlenborn’s hand was the stand-in.”

Lozano was introduced to Erlenborn at the audition to become the special-effects guy for Perry. After the Harold Lloyd silent film, Erlenborn, as the story goes, stood up in the dark audience and said loud and clear: “This man is an absolute treasure; don’t lose this man.”

Perry and Lozano have been collaborating ever since. Catch the magic they create with silent films on Wednesday night.

The Silent Movie Comedy Festival, with accompaniment by the Photoplay Ensemble, takes place at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 30, at the Rancho Mirage Public Library, 71100 Highway 111. Admission is free, and the show is appropriate for all ages. For more information, visit

Published in Previews and Features

Hundreds of attendees came out to peruse the offerings of dozens of local authors at the Palm Springs Writers Guild's annual Desert Writers Expo.

The event—held at the Rancho Mirage Public Library on Wednesday, March 20—included about 42 authors who have penned books on topics ranging from "cyber thriller" to travel to past-life regression. 

The Independent stopped by and took a few snapshots of the event. Enjoy.

Published in Snapshot