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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Several monthly art walks take place in the Coachella Valley. They’re pleasant ways to spend cool (or perhaps not-so-cool) desert evenings.

The galleries involved all put on their best faces, and many of them schedule new exhibits to coincide with the events. You can wander at your own pace; talk with artists; and get a feeling for what is happening in our community. You’ll probably be offered light snacks and a glass of wine—and there’s often a performance thrown in as well.

I recently had the opportunity to attend two of them: One in Palm Springs, and the other in Cathedral City.

The Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs hosts its event on the first Wednesday of the month from 5 to 8 p.m. It’s located on Cherokee Way, discreetly hidden behind the Mercedes-Benz dealership off Highway 111. If you haven’t been before, you’ll feel a little bit like an explorer once you find it. It’s a collection of individual galleries and artist studios housed in a compact strip mall. There isn’t much else around, and it’s not visible from the highway.

I arrived just after sunset and found small groups of people wandering in and out of brightly lit storefront galleries. My first stop was Tom Ross Gallery, which features the exquisite abstracts of the artist Rosenberg (aka Ross). He uses a technique of back-painting on acrylic panels to create shimmering lace-like panels in metallic colors. The works have real depth to them because of the technique—and the finished pieces are often a surprise to the artist himself. He describes the paintings as “meditations.”

Around the corner is Galleria Marconi. I spoke with artist Marconi Calindas about his work. He’s originally from the Philippines and divides his time between San Francisco and Palm Springs. His paintings are brightly colored graphics reminiscent of early pop art. At one of his exhibits, he said, he was asked if he’d ever looked at the paintings through 3-D glasses. He was offered a pair—and was surprised to discover his paintings jump into three dimensions. Be sure to witness the transformation for yourself.

Poldi owner Julianna Poldi is a teacher at the Desert Art Center. The exhibit I saw featured her work and that of her students. I was impressed with the quality of her students’ work; I would have never guessed it was a student art exhibit.

At Maxson Art, Greg and Linda Maxson offer a delightful mixture of their own work and pieces by artists they represent. Linda does hand-painted ceramic tiles and paintings. She’s working on a new series that incorporates burlap fabric attached to the canvas, which is then over-painted to create subtle abstracts. Greg makes beautifully crafted wooden boxes that are also musical instruments. There’s a collection of stained-glass kaleidoscopes from another artist that is sure to inspire oohs and aahs with the glittery displays. I was also treated to a performance preview of storytelling by Los Angeles performer Larry Dean Harris.

The highlight of the evening was the exhibit at Stephen Baumbach Photography Studio and Gallery. It’s the first comprehensive show for artist Rebecca Dant. Rebecca teaches printmaking at the Create Center for the Arts; I met her during my volunteer work there. In the show, she presents not only her recent prints, but also paintings and tie-dye art that has not been previously shown. The paintings are a knock out; I could easily live with one or two of them. The abstracts contain multiple references to Miro and to Matisse’s cut-out period. It’s a rare opportunity to see stunning work.

For more information, visit www.backstreetartdistrict.com.


The Second Saturday Art Walk on Perez Road in Cathedral City has a decidedly different flavor. The industrial-retail complex setting is much more urban and gritty—but certainly just as interesting. This art walk is scheduled every second Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m.

Several businesses near the galleries are open for the event as well. A couple of midcentury furniture stores are on hand, and if you enjoy rummaging around estate sales (like I do), Mel’s Estate Sale is fantastic. The owner, Malina, will delight you with tidbits of wisdom and humor as you rummage through her incredible collection of just about everything.

Custom metal artist Jeffrey Spakes works in hand-ground aluminum; his space is a combination gallery and studio. The wall pieces have color applied at high temperatures that makes the works appear to change as you move in front of them. He also created the palm tree for the Cathedral City New Year’s Eve ball drop. The palm tree is now being repurposed into a fantastical giant statue of the Tin Man in the back of his studio.

If you’re looking for sculpture or ceramic art, Trenz Gallery is a great destination. The all-white space is a perfect setting for brilliantly colored glass, ceramic and metal sculptures. There are some exceptional paintings, too. It’s all about color in this jewel box of a gallery.

Irreverence in Art: The World of Robyn Goudy occupies the front space in the Colliding Worlds Fine Art Gallery. The dense collages immediately reminded me of outsider and tramp art; they are witty and irreverent. The artist himself is both of those things as well. I asked him where it came from. “It comes from my attitude,” he replied. Well, as they say, attitude is everything.

For more information, visit www.discovercathedralcity.com/event/2nd-saturdays-art-walk-perez-road-2017-10-14/2018-04-14/.

Published in Visual Arts

The Backstreet Art District, tucked away against the mountains off East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, may be hard to find, but once you make the discovery, you will encounter a diverse collection of galleries where you can meet artists, wander through working studios—and possibly find that perfect piece of art.

The various galleries on Cherokee Way have their own hours and showing times, but they all come together to hold an Art Walk on the first Wednesday of every month, from 6 to 9 p.m., bringing together artists, gallery owners and prospective patrons.

Kelly Truscott, from Artize Gallery, explained how this collective got started.

“Backstreet was born by accident in the year 2000, when three artists had left their door unlocked one day, which resulted in people coming into their space,” she said. After meeting the artists and getting the backstory behind the art, these intruders bought some pieces. This chance occurrence launched the location as an art district—a place where a diverse collection of art and artists can be found off the beaten path. The available spaces are leased only as artists’ work spaces and galleries. If a gallery or art business leaves, another art gallery will take its place.

Annette Marie, a painter and jewelry designer at Studio 13, has been at Backstreet for 11 years. “There is constant change here rather than growth,” she said. “It started out and remains an intimate group of artists.”

Melanie Brenner is a gallerist at the newest member of Backstreet, Rebel Art Space. She emphasizes the diversity and evolution that is at the heart of the district.

“The art changes here every month,” she said. “We’re not curators; we are here to sell art.”

Rebel Art Space is a collaboration between Brenner and two friends who share a Southern heritage and a desire for emerging artists to be exposed to the “burgeoning art world of the Coachella Valley.”

At the Tom Ross Gallery, you’ll find works by the artist known as Rosenberg, who moved to Palm Springs in September 2016 after 25 years in Santa Fe, N.M. Rosenberg works with large-scale paintings on clear acrylic panels, using a process known as reverse painting.

“With this technique, there is always an element of surprise,” said Rosenberg, aka Tom Ross. The work is a visual adventure, often surprising the artist himself with the direction of the final piece.

Fusion Art was started by award-winning artist Chris Hoffman to “promote and connect emerging and established artists with collectors and art enthusiasts.” Originally started as an online gallery, it opened as a physical gallery at the Backstreet Art District in May 2016. “We are fully committed to exposing new artists to Palm Springs on a regular basis,” he said. “We’ll be here doing this every first Wednesday—even in July and August”.

Other worthy galleries include the David A. Clark Studio, featuring a namesake who teaches encaustic printmaking across the United States and in Europe; and Maxson Art Studio and Gallery, featuring the paintings and ceramic art of Palm Desert artist Linda Maxson.

One notable thing about the Backstreet Art District is the wide range of prices—including a lot of great, affordable, original art. Many galleries connect the artist to the buyer in a way that is both personal and immediate.

The Backstreet Art District is located on Cherokee Way behind the Mercedes Benz dealership. The city has even provided a directional road sign now, so there is no longer an excuse not to stop by and open an unlocked door.

The next Backstreet Art District Art Walk will take place from 6 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, June 7. For more information, visit www.backstreetartdistrict.com.

Published in Visual Arts

Marconi Calindas shows the works of many different artists in his gallery, but for now, he’s shining the spotlight on some of his own colorful work.

Calindas is excited to share Welga (Huelga): A Tribute to the Great Grape Strike with the desert art scene. The works, featuring beautiful, vibrant colors typical of Calindas’ original home in the Philippines, were originally shown in Northern California.

“It was showcased at the EastSide Cultural Center in Oakland during the 50th anniversary of the strike,” Calindas said. ”The exhibition ran for at least a month in the center, and then the organizers brought it with them to other venues in Northern California.”

Calindas—whose list of art exhibitions and awards is beyond impressive—said he was honored to be chosen to create works representing the historic 1965 strike of Filipino grape-pickers. He explained how he came to create the Welga series. (“Welga” is the Tagalog word for strike, while “huelga” is the Spanish word.)

“An organization led by a Filipino professor for Asian American studies from UC Davis (Robyn Rodriguez) knew about my success as a Filipino artist in San Francisco and invited me to participate in their commemoration of the Delano Grape Strike,” Calindas said.

As a Filipino immigrant himself, Calindas said he felt a personal connection to the history of the strike.

Marconi’s expressive and colorful pieces are made from acrylic and ink on canvas, as well as mixed media such as papier-mâché masks. One of the most striking works in the show is “Faces of Difference,” which features nine brightly colored masks—seemingly the same in every way but their vibrant colors.

“This is generally a depiction of my take on people of different colors trying to make a stand and a mark in this country and the world,” he said. “We are different but still the same.”

“A Plant at a Time” (below) depicts a hand placing a plant in the green ground.

“To harvest a better future, we need to plant good deeds and visions one day at a time,” he said about the work.

Galleria Marconi is an upbeat place with positive vibes and spirited art. Calindas considers his gallery a place of social relevance and commentary.

“I grew up in the Philippines and was part of this progressive visual and theater group, Teatro Umalohokan, back in my university years, and being part of the group has molded me to be the artist that I am right now,” he said. “(I want) to convey messages about what’s going on around our community. For me, as an art ambassador, we should also be ambassadors for peace, equality and the change we need for a better life.”

On March 1—during the Backstreet Art District’s First Wednesday Art Walk from 6 to 9 p.m.—Calindas will present a special one-night showing of the works of students participating in local nonprofit arts organization Tools for Tomorrow.

“Kids’ artworks will be mounted on our walls for a night of showcase and celebration for these kids’ talents,” he said.

Welga (Huelga): A Tribute to the Great Grape Strike is on display through Friday, March 31, at Galleria Marconi Palm Springs, 2668 S. Cherokee Way, in Palm Springs. For more information, call 415-418-9546, or visit www.galleriamarconips.com.

Published in Visual Arts

On one hand, Mark Harm Niemeyer creates fantastic creatures. On the other hand, he is a skillful landscape painter who specializes in desert scenes and Joshua Tree ambiance.

“There are two sides to my work,” says Niemeyer. “There is the landscape side and the dream-bird side. Whichever way the pendulum swings and the hand points, like an inner voice, is how I paint. Now the pendulum is in the middle. I am painting at a frantic pace—big, new pieces at 4 1/2 by 4 1/2 feet in less than two weeks.”

Artize Gallery owner Kelly Truscott has been representing Niemeyer’s work for almost a decade—and will be spotlighting it during a January show. Truscott has a strict policy to only exhibit artists she herself collects.

“I have represented Mark for approximately seven years now,” Truscott said. “I grabbed his card in an art store and was going to call him, but before that could happen, he came into my (previous) gallery in Sacramento.”

In Niemeyer’s dreamscapes, his human-like creatures have striped heads; some appear so real and natural that it almost looks like he had live models.

“I think the main inspiration was from Aboriginal and Maori warriors who tattoo their faces,” Niemeyer said. “… I also liked how a stripe on a figure could help define a contour, with highlights on one side and deep shadow on the other; that really helped with the 3-D modeling. I also like the added color the stripes bring. One of the things I try to do is to make each new figure or face uniquely different, and the stripes help with that.”

His other magical creatures are dream birds.

“The dream birds are mainly from my imagination—a small blend of bird and human, with their human feet and human eyes,” Niemeyer said. “I try to make them unique, but it is hard to outdo Mother Nature when it comes to coloring birds. The stripes help give them that dream quality.”

His other skillset involves painting the beautiful landscapes of Joshua Tree.

“I like to paint landscapes that I have experienced, and that I have walked around in and that I have photographed,” Niemeyer said. “I went to Joshua Tree expecting to paint the trees there; nobody told me about the wonderful rock formations!”

Now his magical creatures are entering these landscapes—opening up a new world of artistic adventure.

“I have always felt like my art swung like a pendulum between landscapes and dreamscapes,” he said. “It is only recently that the pendulum has stopped in the middle, and the dream creatures are starting to walk into the landscapes. You can see this in my latest series, Creatures on the Path.”

Niemeyer’s work has been at galleries since the 1980s, starting at a co-op in Omaha, Neb. Friends advised him that his work had more of a California style; later, in Sacramento he showed at two galleries, one of which was owned by Truscott. Niemeyer was one of her best-selling artists, so Truscott kept him when she relocated to Palm Springs.

“When she opened a new gallery in Palm Springs, I was happy that she wanted to show my work there,” he said. “I currently live in Omaha. … All my work gets shipped out to the Artize Gallery in Palm Springs!”

A printmaker in college, Niemeyer utilizes “swirling strokes and the building up of overlapping color.” In all of his work, the “swirling stroke” is prominent.

“I think I have found a way of laying down color that is uniquely my own,” Niemeyer said.

The show at Artize Gallery will encompass decades of Niemeyer’s work.

“I came up with the name Circular Polarity because of Mark’s distinctive circle/swirl style and the interesting (love/hate) way people react to his subject matter,” Truscott said.

Circularity Polarity, featuring works by Mark Harm Niemeyer, will open at Artize Gallery, 2600 S. Cherokee Way, Palm Springs, with an artist’s reception during the Backstreet Art District Art Walk, from 6 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4. The exhibit will be on display through Sunday, Jan. 29. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. For more information, call 760-459-5344, or visit www.artizegallery.com.

Published in Visual Arts

“Pixels to bricks” is the tag line for Fusion Art, a gallery that opened in May in Palm Springs’ Backstreet Art District, at 2658 S. Cherokee Way.

At that point, Fusion Art had already developed a presence online; today, the gallery seamlessly melds both its online and physical forms. For example, the winners of an online juried competition will be featured in an upcoming group show at the Palm Springs gallery.

Chris and Valerie Hoffman, owners of Fusion Art, chose Backstreet for its brick-and-mortar home for good reason: Chris Hoffman, an artist himself, had previously shown in other galleries in the hidden-away arts district.

Fusion Art currently represents five artists: Evie Zimmer, a neo-op artist with energetic psychedelic patterns; Michael Goldzweig, a surreal/galactic abstractionist; Jeanie Gebhart, a palette-knife painter who specializes in coalescing abstract, still-life and landscape genres; Alicia Savio, an Argentinian classical and ballet dancer who paints and sculpts dancers who express a lot of movement; and Chris Hoffman himself, who paints texture abstractions as well as a watercolor celebrity series.

“There are so many different styles that are similar in energy and movement,” Chris Hoffman says about the represented artists. “They complement each other.”

The abstract paintings by Hoffman have a thick texture—the surface appears rocky, like our desert mountains.

“I use medium with acrylic layers to texture different colors. There could be 25 different layers before 25 coats of paint,” Hoffman says.

His Legends and Landmarks watercolor series features humorous satires of Golden Age stars taking iPhone “selfies” in front of a modern Palm Springs monument—like Marilyn Monroe in front of the Marilyn sculpture. More of these watercolors will be up for Modernism Week celebrations in October and February. Also in February, Michael Goldzweig’s art will be shown in the prominent front area; the “energy and mood” in Goldzweig’s art appeals to Chris Hoffman, while Valerie Hoffman notes that Goldzweig’s paintings remind her of the expressive works by Mexican artist Leonardo Nierman.

Valerie Hoffman works as a producer in Hollywood, for major films including Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Even while running the gallery, she is currently one of the producers of a documentary film on the making of the song “We Shall Overcome.” That means she’s doing some commuting: Chris and Valerie moved to the desert six years ago, and they say the transition to running a brick-and-mortar gallery has made for an exciting time.

“The most fun is being able to see all the talent out there,” Valerie says. “This is our first season, and we are well prepared with all the artists. We have an Art for Animals charity event in December with five animal organizations.”

The charity show also has an online component. Submission fees will be donated to the animal organizations, as will proceeds from the gallery’s portion of the sales.

The Hoffmans say they like to mix and match things, like art and charity, at the appropriately named gallery.

“We’re fusing different styles—like classical realistic and different abstract styles … (so they) complement each other,” says Valerie Hoffman.

As an example, witness the movement-infused works of Alicia Savio and Michael Goldzweig. The realistic sculptures of dancers by Savio have elongated limbs, making them appear to move and dance off the base, while the galactic abstractions of Goldzweig—like stars meeting in a black hole—send us off into his surreal space.

Fusion Art is located at 2658 S. Cherokee Way, in Palm Springs. For more information, call 760-832-7568, or visit fusionartps.com.

Published in Visual Arts

Film

Cinema Diverse: The Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

A varied combination of feature films, documentaries and short films created by and/or about thematic issues related to the LGBT community is shown Thursday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 21. Individual screenings $13; all-access $149. Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-6565; cinemadiverse.org.

Comedy

Comedy Night Palm Springs

Shelagh Ratner, of Lifetime TV’s Prank My Mom, and Matthew Moore, of Caroline’s on Broadway in New York, perform at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20. $20. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

George Lopez

The multi-talented entertainer whose career encompasses television, film, standup comedy and late-night television performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6. $39 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Michael Walters as Dame Edna

Get ready, possums! Back by popular demand, celebrity impersonator Michael Walters as Dame Edna returns to the Purple Room. Barry Humphries, the original creator of Dame Edna, calls Walter’s show “spectacular.” 5:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Sept. 5 and 6; 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 7; 5:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12; and 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 14. $25. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Music

Burger Records Presents Burger Oasis

Burger Records heads to the desert for Burger Oasis, a full weekend of sundrenched vibrations and garage-rock sounds with live sets by the pool and in the Amigo Room. Music starts at 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Sept. 5 and 6, in the Amigo Room; and goes from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 6 and 7, poolside. Free; pool parties open to hotel guests only. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com.

Fantasy Springs Rock Yard Concert Series

At 7:30 p.m., full-throttle rock music fires up with a cover band to get audience members out of their seats. At 9 p.m., the tribute band takes over and plays audience favorites. At 10:30 p.m., the cover band comes back out and continues the live music until midnight. Friday, Sept. 6: Tribute to AC/DC. Friday, Sept. 13: Tribute to Led Zeppelin. Friday, Sept. 20: Tribute to Pink Floyd. Friday, Sept. 27: Tribute to Journey. Free. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Friday Night Tribute Concerts

Spotlight 29 Casino invites everyone to come out and enjoy Friday-night tribute concerts. Guests must be 21 years and older. 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19: Van Halen. Friday, Sept. 26: Journey. Free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

God Save the Queen: A Celebration of Queen

The legendary band is given tribute at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6. $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Janelle Monae

The soul/R&B singer performs at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12. $45 to $75. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com/TheShow.

Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano

The Grammy Award-winning ensemble performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13. $25 to $45. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com/TheShow.

Peter Frampton

The 1970s legend performs at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19. $50 to $70. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com/TheShow.

Ramon Ayala

The norteño legend takes the stage at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13. $35 to $55. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Special Events

Beer Culture: Craft Beer Weekend

The third annual Beer Culture: Craft Beer Weekend celebrates the microbrewers, hop heads, cask masters and maltsters who make the world a better place for beer-lovers. Friday night includes a five-course feast with beer pairings. Saturday afternoon is a pool party and barbecue with craft beer tastings and live music. Dinner at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12 ($50); pool party from noon to 10 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13 ($15, or $30 with beer-tasting). Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com.

Club Fore Kids Golf Tournament

This fourth annual golf tournament, sponsored by the Palm Springs Hospitality Association, benefits the Boys and Girls Club of Palm Springs. Lunch and raffle prizes included. 8 a.m., Monday, Sept. 15. $195. Escena Golf Club, 1100 Clubhouse View Drive, Palm Springs. $195. Palmspringshospitality.org/events.htm.

Desert Haiku Writing in Joshua Tree National Park

Be inspired by the power and beauty of the desert setting to learn how to write haiku and other types of poetry in this writing-intensive field seminar. Participants will take brief walks and be introduced to the ecologic and cultural/historical richness of the desert. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13. $70 regular; $60 Joshua Tree National Park Association members. Joshua Tree Visitor Center, 6554 Park Blvd., Joshua Tree. 760-367-5525; www.joshuatree.org.

Fine Art Photography in Joshua Tree National Park

Immerse yourself in the wonders of Joshua Tree National Park and connect with the enchantment to be found there. The content of this workshop will focus not only on the mechanics of photography, but also on personal interpretation and expression. Bring camera equipment, camping equipment and enthusiasm. Friday, Sept. 19, through Sunday, Sept. 21. $170 regular; $160 for Joshua Tree National Park Association members. Oasis Visitor Center, 74485 National Park Drive, Joshua Tree. 760-367-5525; www.joshuatree.org.

Palm Springs Cultural Art, Food and Wine Festival

The event provides cultural art, exotic foods, eclectic jewelry, music and wine. 10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 13 and 14. Call for admission information; VIP tickets $25. Renaissance Palm Springs, 888 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way. 760-413-1125.

Synchronicity: Matter and Psyche Symposium

A landmark celebration with visionary leaders whose work has pioneered our understanding of the unity of psyche and matter. Embrace a heart-shaped world through science, art, psychology and embodied practice. The weekend features Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock. Friday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 14. $327 to $347. Joshua Tree Retreat Center, 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. Matterpsyche.net.

Visual Arts

A Grand Adventure: American Art in the West

The epic 19th-century landscape paintings of Yosemite and Yellowstone by Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran introduced the American public to the grandeur of the West. By the turn of the century, a new genre of Western art had developed. A Grand Adventure brings together 40 significant classic and traditional artworks from private collections. The artworks span nearly 100 years, dating from the latter half of the 19th century through the early decades of the 20th century. The exhibit opens Saturday, Sept. 27, and will remain on display through Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015. Included with regular admission prices. Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, 72567 Highway 111, Palm Desert. 760-346-5600; www.psmuseum.org/palm-desert.

Backstreet Art District Art Walk

Galleries and studios featuring modern and contemporary fine art are open the first Wednesday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m. Experience the thrill of interacting with working artists. Find paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, photography and more, in one location. Free. Backstreet Art District, Cherokee Way and Matthew Drive, Palm Springs. 760-202-1208; www.backstreetartdistrict.com.

Submit your free arts listings at calendar.artsoasis.org. The listings presented above were all posted on the ArtsOasis calendar, and formatted/edited by Coachella Valley Independent staff. The Independent recommends calling to confirm all events information presented here.

Published in Local Fun

Film

Dive-in Movie at Wet ’N’ Wild: Grown-Ups 2

The Dive-in Movie is included with park admission. Play during the day, and stay late to enjoy the film poolside. Grown-Ups 2 will start after dusk on Friday, Aug. 1, and the park will be open until 10 p.m., weather permitting. Admission prices vary. Wet ’n’ Wild Palm Springs, 1500 S. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs. 760-327-0499; www.wetnwildpalmsprings.com.

Kids’ Summer Movie Series at Ultrastar

Family-friendly films are shown at 9:30 a.m. every Monday through Friday, through Friday, Aug. 22. July 28-Aug. 1: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Aug. 4-8: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Aug. 11-15: Despicable Me 2. Aug. 18-22: The Lego Movie. $5 for a 10-movie package; $1 at the door. UltraStar Mary Pickford Cinemas, 36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City. 760-328-0484; www.ultrastarmovies.com.

Lit Flicks: Philomena

See how great books can turn into film classics. Prior to the film, enjoy popcorn and kick back for a short conversation by film and literary experts. This will be facilitated by Tod Goldberg, director of the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert’s low-residency MFA program. After the film, there will be a brief discussion. 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 27. Free. University of California, Riverside—Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert. 760-834-0800; palmdesert.ucr.edu/programs/Lit_Flicks.html.

Moonlight Movies at Fritz Burns Park

Bring your blankets, low-back sand chairs, snacks and the whole family for fun and movies under the stars. Sunset, Friday, Aug. 8: Man of Steel. Sunset, Friday, Aug. 22: The Amazing Spider-Man. Free. Fritz Burns Park Pool, 78107 Avenue 52, La Quinta. 760-777-7090; www.la-quinta.org.

Music

American Idol Live!

Fans of the hit series can see this season's talented Top 10 finalists live. 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 16. $49 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Fantasy Springs Rock Yard Concert Series

At 7:30 p.m., full-throttle rock music fires up with a cover band to get audience members out of their seats. At 9 p.m., the tribute band takes over and plays audience favorites. At 10:30 p.m., the cover band comes back out and continues the live music until midnight. Friday, Aug. 1: Tribute to No Doubt. Saturday, Aug. 2: Tribute to Aerosmith. Friday, Aug. 8: Tribute to Tom Petty. Saturday, Aug. 9: Tribute to Billy Idol. Saturday, Aug. 16. Tribute to Guns n’ Roses. Aug. 23: Tribute to Van Halen. Aug. 30: Tribute to Prince. Free. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Friday Night Tribute Concert

Spotlight 29 Casino invites everyone to come out and enjoy Friday-night tribute concerts. Guests must be 21 years and older. 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 22: Tribute to Pink Floyd. Free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Friends of Friends Weekend

The Ace’s friends at Los Angeles-based record label Friends of Friends are coming back for another weekend of live music and DJs by the pool and in the Amigo Room. 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Aug. 1 and 2, in the Amigo Room; noon to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 2 and 3, poolside. Amigo Room events are free (21+); poolside events are open only to hotel guests. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/calendar/palmsprings.

Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines

The swingin’ sounds of straight-ahead jazz, blues, Latin and rock will greet you and your friends as you stroll past the three venues featuring more than two dozen musical groups during the weekend. Wander leisurely along the pine- and cedar-lined paths of the Festival Marketplace, where more than 50 selected artisans will present their work. Sample the varieties of delicious foods offered at the Dine in the Pines food court. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 16 and 17. $60 one day; $110 both days. Idyllwild Arts Campus, 52500 Temecula Road, Idyllwild-Pine Cove. Idyllwildjazz.com.

The Melvyn’s Artists’ Showcase

Join Mikael Healey, musical director, each Wednesday at 8 p.m. for open-mic night, featuring singers, poets, instrumentalists and artists of all types. Free. Melvyn’s Restaurant at the Ingleside Inn, 200 W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-2323; inglesideinn.com.

Prince Royce

American singer-songwriter Prince Royce has an unforgettable name and sound. At an early age, Royce took an interest in music, and in his teenage years, he began experimenting with music and writing poetry. By age 19, he had arrived on the Latin music scene. 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 8. $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Second Annual Splash House Pool Party, Vol. II

Splash House is back for its second edition this summer. The pool and music weekend features some of the biggest names within the dance-music scene at three separate pools: the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, the Hard Rock Palm Springs, and The Saguaro. Friday, Aug. 8, through Sunday, Aug. 10. Prices vary. Splashhouse.com.

Subsuelo

Subsuelo, one of Los Angeles’ illest underground parties, has garnered the reputation as the melting pot of cumbia, electro, tropical funk, moombahton, trap, hip hop and all points in between. Some of Subsuelo’s hottest DJs bring their music to Ace Hotel by the pool and in the Amigo Room. Noon, Saturday, Aug. 16. Amigo Room events are free (21+); poolside events are open only to hotel guests. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/calendar/palmsprings.

Special Events

Labor Day Hawaiian Weekend

Experience a full, fun weekend with an authentic Hawaiian luau and show that includes Polynesian dance, music, blazing fireknives and more. Visit the website for the full schedule of events. Friday, Aug. 29, through Monday, Sept. 1. Prices vary. The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa, 71333 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage. 760-328-5955; www.westinmissionhills.com/labordayweekendevents.

Visual Arts

Backstreet Art District Art Walk

Galleries and studios featuring modern and contemporary fine art are open the first Wednesday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m. Experience the thrill of interacting with working artists. Find paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, photography and more, in one location. Free. Backstreet Art District, Cherokee Way and Matthew Drive, Palm Springs. 760-202-1208; www.backstreetartdistrict.com.

Submit your free arts listings at calendar.artsoasis.org. The listings presented above were all posted on the ArtsOasis calendar, and formatted/edited by Coachella Valley Independent staff. The Independent recommends calling to confirm all events information presented here.

Published in Local Fun

Comedy

Coachella Comedy/Improv Festival

A weekend celebration of improv and comedy! See improv teams and comics perform and compete! Visit the website for a complete schedule. 4 to 9:30 p.m., Friday, July 11, through Sunday, July 13. $20 to $85. Indio Performing Arts Center, 45175 Fargo Street, Indio. Coachellaimprovfest.weebly.com.

Film

Dive-in Movies at Wet ’N’ Wild

Dive-in Movies are included with park admission. Play during the day on Fridays, and stay late to enjoy a film poolside. The movies are intended to be family-friendly, but please use discretion. Movies will start after dusk, and the park will be open until 10 p.m., weather permitting. July 11: Frozen. July 18: The Amazing Spider-Man. July 25: The Lego Movie. Aug. 1: Grown-Ups 2. Admission prices vary. Wet ’n’ Wild Palm Springs, 1500 S. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs. 760-327-0499; www.wetnwildpalmsprings.com.

Kids’ Summer Movie Series at Ultrastar

A selection of family-friendly films are shown at 9:30 a.m. every Monday through Friday, through Friday, Aug. 22. June 30 through July 4: Turbo. July 7-11: Walking With Dinosaurs. July 14-18: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. July 21-25: Ice Age: Continental Drift. July 28-Aug. 1: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. $5 for a 10-movie package; $1 at the door. UltraStar Mary Pickford Cinemas, 36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City. 760-328-0484; www.ultrastarmovies.com.

Lit Flicks: All the President’s Men

See how great books can turn into film classics! Prior to the film, enjoy popcorn and kick back for a short conversation by film and literary experts. This will be facilitated by Tod Goldberg, director of the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert’s low-residency MFA program. After the film, there will be a brief discussion. 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 23. Free. University of California, Riverside—Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert. 760-834-0800; palmdesert.ucr.edu/programs/Lit_Flicks.html

Moonlight Movies—Captain America: The First Avenger

Bring your blankets, low-back sand chairs, snacks and the whole family for fun and movies under the stars. Sunset, Friday, July 11. Free; call for other Moonlight Movies events. Fritz Burns Park Pool, 78107 Avenue 52, La Quinta. 760-777-7090; www.la-quinta.org.

Music

Copa Events

Ross Mathews presents Jackie Beat, the world-famous drag superstar and comedy writer, at 8 p.m., Friday, July 4. $20 to $40. Amy and Freddy, headliners for 13 consecutive years with RSVP Vacations, perform at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, July 18 and 19. $25 to $40. Copa. 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs. 760-322-3554; coparoomtickets.com.

Fantasy Springs Rock Yard Concert Series

At 7:30 p.m., full-throttle rock music fires up with a cover band to get audience members out of their seats. At 9 p.m., the tribute band takes over and plays audience favorites. At 10:30 p.m., the cover band comes back out and continues the live music until midnight. Saturday, July 5: Tribute to Queen. Saturday, July 12: Tribute to Bon Jovi. Call for information on other concerts. Free. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Friday Night Tribute Concert: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Spotlight 29 Casino invites everyone to come out and enjoy the Friday-night tribute concerts. Guests must be 21 years and older. July 4: Lynyrd Skynyrd. Call for information on other dates. Free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

The Melvyn’s Artists’ Showcase

Join Mikael Healey, musical director, each Wednesday at 8 p.m. for open-mic night, featuring singers, poets, instrumentalists and artists of all types. Free. Melvyn’s Restaurant at the Ingleside Inn, 200 W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-2323; inglesideinn.com.

Special Events

Independence Day Celebration Benefiting AAP

Join supporters of the AIDS Assistance Program at the legendary O’Donnell House for a dazzling celebration. The evening includes cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. Valet parking provided. 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 4. $100; advancaae purchase required. The O'Donnell House, 412 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs. 760-325-8481; aidsassistance.org.

Lyfted Productions Presents Independence Fe5tival + UFC

The party features DJ LF and DJ Sean; and a carnival theme on the patio with a dunk tank, bungee pull, vodka snow cones and more. Come early to hang with the beautiful Kilt girls and watch the UFC fight on more than 40 big screens. 10 p.m., Saturday, July 5. $5 to $8. Tilted Kilt, 72191 Highway 111, Palm Desert. 760-773-5458; www.showclix.com/event/3855645.

Palm Springs Tattoo Convention

More than 75 top artists are tattooing all weekend. Live music and DJs plus drink specials are included, as are tattoo contests. Friday, July 11, through Sunday, July 13. $20 weekend pass. Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9676; palmtreesandtattoos.com.

Seventh Annual Mid-Summer Dance Party

To celebrate the Desert AIDS Project’s 30th birthday, they’re throwing a party. The event features DJ sets by All Night Shoes and Femme A, and a special performance by Cameron Neilson from The X Factor. 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday, July 25. $20 to $75. The Commune at Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-992-0440; www.desertaidsproject.org.

Summer School: Poolside Art Workshops and Music

The Ace hosts its annual weekend of artist workshops, plus DJs and bands curated by School Night Los Angeles (KCRW’s Chris Douridas and MFG’s Matt Goldman). Friday, July 18, through Sunday, July 20. Prices vary. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/calendar/palmsprings.

Visual Arts

Backstreet Art District Art Walk

Galleries and studios featuring modern and contemporary fine art are open the first Wednesday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m. Experience the thrill of interacting with working artists. Find paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, photography and more, in one location. Free. Backstreet Art District, Cherokee Way and Matthew Drive, Palm Springs. 760-202-1208; www.backstreetartdistrict.com.

California Dreamin’: Thirty Years of Collecting

The exhibit includes art works purchased by the Palm Springs Art Museum with funds provided by the Contemporary Art Council and other contributors since 1984. The acquisitions were created by contemporary artists who worked in California or were influenced by spending some time in California during their artistic careers. This is the first time these artworks have been on exhibition together. The exhibit is a celebration of the commitment of the Contemporary Art Council to growing the museum’s collection of significant contemporary artists, and is a survey of art in California since the 1980s. On display through Thursday, July 31. Included with museum admission (free to $12.50). Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4800; www.psmuseum.org.

Submit your free arts listings at calendar.artsoasis.org. The listings presented above were all posted on the ArtsOasis calendar, and formatted/edited by Coachella Valley Independent staff. The Independent recommends calling to confirm all events information presented here.

Published in Local Fun

Thursday, Nov. 21, was a big day for local artist Elena Bulatova: She celebrated the opening of her second gallery, this one in downtown Palm Springs, with a ribbon-cutting featuring Mayor Steve Pougnet.

The celebration continues from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, when Elena Bulatova Fine Art will hold a reception to celebrate the opening.

I first met Elena Bulatova at her Backstreet Art District gallery, at 2652 S. Cherokee Way. I was impressed by her work, her international lifestyle and her world-class education. The first gallery has been a success for Bulatova; she’s now in her third season in Palm Springs. Not bad for a relatively new arrival in the desert.

Bulatova credited her parents for exposing her to various art museums during their travels. She honed her skills with seven years in art school; she painted, danced and even played the violin in the chamber orchestra at Moscow State University. She then came to the United States to study economics at Yale.

“To be a successful artist, it is not just knowing how to paint,” she told me during an email conversation. “Running the galleries is separate business that includes managing people, client relations, marketing, social media, contacts with press, accounting, financial planning, etc. Success doesn’t come overnight, and many years of studies … helped me to grow in my career as an artist.”

Her art is bright and vivid, often featuring perfect compositions. While she works mostly with primary colors, she also has a series of muted, darker mixed-media works with an iridescent metallic quality. The new Palm Canyon Drive gallery boasts new hand-blown glass pieces, adding a dramatic element to the high ceilings and open space in this unique building across from the Hyatt.

The new gallery will also show carved paintings on panel and bronze sculptures by Delos Van Earl; Larry Weitz’s abstract paintings; and “screw art” by Efraim Mashiah. Starting in January, the gallery will also host monthly exhibitions.

I asked her who was collecting her art.

“My paintings can be found in many private collections, locally in California and all over U.S., but we see a lot of international tourists coming from different countries to Palm Springs,” she said via email. “I shipped paintings to Canada, Mexico, Australia and Europe.”

Why did this woman who grew up in Russia choose the desert as the place to make and sell her art? Why not a place like, say, Miami? (In fact, she’s taking part in the Red Dot Art Fair in Miami right now, in conjunction with Miami Beach’s world-famous Art Basel show.)

“I think the desert art scene has a lot of potential,” she told me, later adding that Miami has too many distractions compared to the relative serenity of the desert. “Palm Springs is very close to Los Angeles, and there are a lot of people visiting. Miami once became a hub for contemporary artists with the coming of Art Basel to the city, which grew in 10 years and attracted numerous satellite fairs and artists to relocate there. We (have) the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair, and its third season is coming. There are already a lot of creative people here—and more coming.”

Bulatova said she opened the second gallery because of the growth in the art industry and because of the potential of Palm Springs. She found the new location, took a month to remodel it, and presto: The new gallery came to be.

There is no doubt in my mind that the new gallery will bring much success to Bulatova—and allow more people to experience her wonderful art.

Elena Bulatova Fine Art’s new downtown Palm Springs location is located at 232 N. Palm Canyon Drive. The gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with extended hours on Thursdays during Palm Springs VillageFest. An opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13. For more information, call 760-600-0417, or visit www.ElenaBulatovaFineArt.com.

Published in Visual Arts

The Backstreet Art District is nestled at the foot of the mountains, predominantly in a midcentury dwelling that includes various galleries and decorative-arts businesses. The structure alone is worth a visit to see a segment of the modern architecture with which Palm Springs has become synonymous.

Located on Cherokee Drive (behind Mercedes-Benz of Palm Springs on East Palm Canyon Drive), the Backstreet Art District, despite some tough times, continues to flourish and evolve. This hidden gem features arts and crafts by genuine local artists—and on the first Wednesday of every month, the galleries host an art walk that is open to all.

The ugly recession led to tough times at this vibrant, colorful destination. Some previous anchor galleries have moved to locations that offer more foot traffic—but exciting new tenants have set up shop in this special enclave. The new occupants offer an international flair, as well as world-class portfolios.

One such person is Elena Bulatova, of Elena Bulatova Studios. Originally from Russia, she has an impressive résumé in both art and music (as a violinist). She graduated from Moscow State University and continued her studies in the United States; she received a doctorate degree from MSU and Yale. She splits her time between Palm Springs and Miami.

Another newcomer is Francisco Totó Vargas. Originally from Chile, Francisco creates translucent acrylic paintings on canvas in his studio gallery. He relocated to Palm Springs from New York, where he studied art at the Art Institute of New York City; he later became a member of the faculty there. Francisco’s talents include producing film documentaries, too.

His gallery, Wind of Art, showcases his works, as well as the creations of two artists that he represents. One is acclaimed glass-painter Ulla Darni, whose bright, vivid glass paintings bring a unique art form to the airy, well-lit space. The other, Bill Matlock, creates intricate renditions of ordinary objects, giving them an elated, romantic stance.

Another renovated space rivals any of the tony studios located in the chic Culver City Art District: Jackson Gallery. Owner/artist Al Jackson creates appealing imagery with clean lines and self-assured strokes. He can often be found painting while visitors enjoy his works, which hang against pristine white walls rising from newly polished concrete floors.

The collection at the well-coordinated Haya Gil Gallery is modern, unique and colorful. Haya Gil-Lubin carries art that is reminiscent of famous works seen in big-city modern and abstract collections. Haya is a dedicated gallerist who seems to be the “mayor” of Backstreet Art District; she resides in Palm Springs and Las Vegas. Her gallery is an anchor for the center, and she herself has a strong following thanks to her “Photograms.”

Artize is another new presence, located where Heath Gallery once existed. Owner Kelly Truscott maintains the modern space with original works by artists that she represents exclusively. The selections are varied, with contemporary works as well as works in other genres, including miniature paintings of our famous local vistas.

The newcomers have joined established galleries such as Studio D, where artist-owner Downs has been creating art works on canvas. His methodology is unique: He often applies 400 to 500 layers of paint, encompassing various thickness and transparencies, bringing energy and a sense of action to his paintings.

Then there’s Bill Anson Gallery, where decorative art and sculptures reign in a space that takes visitors back to another epoch within the Coachella Valley. The works are rustic with a Southwestern vibe.

In this same gallery, another painter showcases her talented strokes on canvas. Jessica Schiffman specializes in creating well-crafted images of textural landscapes and abstract interpretations of natural outdoor scenes. She is a product of the San Francisco Art Institute and has illustrated 16 childrens’ books for various publishers. Her paintings are collected by an international audience.

Palm Springs has become a destination for world class art personalities—and the Backstreet Art District is one of the best places in the valley to meet some of them.

Richard Almada is the CEO and president of Artistic Relations, and heads up Desert Art Tours. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Visual Arts