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Tue11122019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

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.

Published in Visual Arts

The Artists Council is now fully independent from the Palm Springs Arts Museum—and its inaugural exhibition as an independent organization, rather appropriately, is based on the theme Metamorphosis.

The exhibition and sale will be celebrated with a catered opening-night reception on Thursday, March 28, from 6 to 8 p.m., and will be on display at the Artists Council’s new home—the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert—through Friday, April 12. The exhibition is free and open to the public, as is the opening-night reception, at which attendees will be able to meet the artists and vote for the People’s Choice Award.

For 50 years, the Artists Council was a part of the Palm Springs Art Museum. On Jan. 1, the Artists Council became a fully independent nonprofit organization. Its mission is to promote the art and artists of the Coachella Valley.

Metamorphosis was chosen as the first exhibit’s title by the new board of directors.

“We chose this theme for our inaugural event because it mirrors the process by which our new Artists Council is developing,” said exhibition chair Tony Radcliffe in a written statement. “Our goal is to demonstrate the high quality of artistic achievement by AC members and to bring a new audience to see their work in the beautiful art museum known as the Galen. This is also an opportunity for the public to visit (the Palm Springs Art Museum) in Palm Desert. All of the artwork is for sale, with proceeds split between the artists and the new Artists Council.”

I spoke with Radcliffe by phone about how the transition was going, as well as the Artists Council’s new home at the Galen, the Metamorphosis show, and the future vision for the Artists Council.

“Since becoming independent in January, there seems to be more energy, and it’s an exciting time for us,” he said. “The hardest part, the dirty work, was creating a new nonprofit organization. There are all the finances and budgets. When we were part of the museum, all of that was done for us. Sometimes, changes are hard.

“We are very happy to have our exhibition at the Galen. There’s 4,000 square feet of display space. This allows us to do much more interesting things and to show more local art. I think it will help invigorate the space and draw a different audience—people who may not attend museum shows. There’s a lot of talent in the local scene. Lots of artists live in this area.”

Radcliffe said it’s important to the artists to have their work shown in a museum setting.

Metamorphosis is a juried museum show. This sets the bar higher, and we are building on that high quality,” he said. “Our jurors are well-known and respected. You really have to improve your art to get into these shows.

“The Artists Council offers critiques for our members and classes to improve not only the art, but also improve the business side of what they do. The classes and critiques are run by experienced artists. This allows our members a chance to look at things differently.”

The Metamorphosis jurors are Alma Ruiz, a senior fellow at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Los Angeles, and curator of the 2020 Bienal de Arte Paiz in Guatemala City; and Mary Ingebrand-Pohlad, internationally known for her abstract landscape sculptures and member of the Palm Springs Art Museum board of directors.

The new Artists Council board has a bold vision for the council.

“We’re talking about an online gallery with the ability to purchase art online. This would give us a whole new audience,” Radcliffe said. “We’d like to try to have exhibits outside of our area and invite other Southern California artists and even artists from foreign countries to participate. We’d like more opportunities to show our work in other museums.”

Metamorphosis, an exhibit by the Artists Council, will be on display through Friday, April 12, at the Palm Springs Museum of Art in Palm Desert, 72567 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. For more information, visit artistscouncil.com.

Published in Visual Arts