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30 Oct 2019

For Barbara and Jerry: The Newly Independent Artists Council's Annual Exhibition Pays Tribute to a Couple Who Means So Much to the Organization

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Jerry and Barbara Keller. Jerry and Barbara Keller. Michael Childers

When Barbara Keller passed away in April at the age of 75, her loss deeply rattled a number of local nonprofit organizations with which she was inextricably involved.

One of those organizations was the Artists Council. The organization was just a few months into uncharted territory: After being a part of the Palm Springs Art Museum for five decades, the council had recently gained its independence.

Tony Radcliffe, the former chair of the Artists Council board and the current exhibition chair, said Barbara Keller was a big part of that transition.

“She always had an interest in artists,” Radcliffe said. “She got involved with helping the Artists Council and then she became a board member (for the museum). She was the liaison to the Artists Council.

“When we would work with Barbara, she had a great sense of how to get things done. She also helped us learn how to raise funds, which we hadn’t been particularly good at before. Near the end of her life, she was there, working with (us) on a regular basis to help us transition from the museum to an independent organization. Jerry and her together have always catered a lot of our events and have been supportive of us all along.”

Because of this long-term record of service to the Artists Council—going all the way back to when Barbara Keller was a docent at the Palm Springs Art Museum—it was an easy decision for the organization to honor the Kellers during the Artists Council’s annual exhibition.

Artists Council Exhibition 2019 will open with a limited-space reception on Thursday, Nov. 7, and will be on display through Friday, Nov. 22, at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert. Radcliffe said that Barbara Keller’s favorite flowers—sunflowers—are woven through the exhibit as a theme.

The exhibit will feature 82 works, which were culled down from around 370 submissions by 152 Artists Council members. The jurors are Daniela Lieja Quintanar, a curator at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; and Phoebe Beasley, the only artist whose works have been awarded the Presidential Seal under two different U.S. presidents. All works will be for sale, with the proceeds split between the artist and the Artists Council.

Radcliffe said the art in the exhibition is impressive.

“I think we’re getting back to the way we did things a long time ago when we had some really high-quality jurors,” he said.

As the Artists Council approaches its one-year anniversary as an independent entity, Radcliffe said things are going well for the organization. The council’s inaugural exhibit, Metamorphosis, in the spring, was a success, and shortly after the Artists Council Exhibition 2019 closes, the council will hold its fifth annual exhibition at the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert campus. The council has already received its 501(c)(3) status—which is not an easy thing to do—and Radcliffe said he thinks the council is well on its way toward living up to the organization’s mission statement: “to present prestigious art programming that challenges and engages artists and the community while offering quality opportunities for education and development.”

This could not have been done without the work of the Kellers, said Artists Council Chair David Hatcher.

“Transitioning to an independent nonprofit, after a 50-year affiliation with Palm Springs Art Museum, has been exciting and, at times, overwhelming,” he said, according to a news release. “To have had the support of Barbara and Jerry Keller, with their deep knowledge of our history, is an invaluable component to our future success. We cannot thank them enough.”

Artists Council Exhibition 2019 will open with a limited-space reception from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 7, and will be on display through Friday, Nov. 22, at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 72567 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is free. For more information, visit artistscouncil.com. Below: “Morning Light on Dillon Road” by Sunny Patton.

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