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Visual Arts

18 Sep 2015
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To tweak (and possibly abuse) Dickens’ classic line: “It was the best of heels. It was the worst of heels.” This sentiment summarizes the Palm Springs Art Museum’s recently opened exhibit Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe. Organized by New York City’s Brooklyn Museum, the exhibition introduces visitors to the evolution of the high-heeled shoe. Inside each of the many free-standing plastic-glass cases are between 4 and 7 high-heeled shoes. Each case speaks to either a social/historical event that triggered a specific theme (like space exploration) or the transformation of a style over a period of time (over-the-knee boots, stiletto heels). In addition to the plastic-glass cases, the exhibit includes six short films. The curators see high heels as far more than footwear. The exhibit presents heels as an individual and/or societal interpretation of beauty, wealth, mystique and fantasy, as well as role, status and power. Essentially, each…
21 Aug 2015
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It all started with a crayon crisis. “I distinctly remember that at age 7, I had a major crisis—deciding which of two distinctly different shades of green Crayola crayons would be best for my ‘latest masterpiece,’” Laura Janes said. “And with that decision, I knew that art and painting were my future.” Much of the painter’s career has involved art—however, it was not her art. Although she strayed from making her own art, Janes’ creative process remained part of her unconscious, she said, at times driving her career choices. Upon graduating college, Janes became a high school teacher, where she taught teenagers about art and ways to access their own creative spirits. A few years later, Janes recognized there was a market for artists who could produce high-quality wall and ceiling murals. Capitalizing on her technical prowess as a painter, she founded Iconica, a San Diego company that was commissioned…
27 Jul 2015
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After years of exploring places around the globe as a flight attendant, Charlie Ciali traded in his wings for a more earthy exploration: ceramics. He was a ceramicist who produced collectable pieces before becoming a Midwest gallery owner. Upon his arrival in the desert, Ciali reinvented himself as an abstract portraiture painter before becoming a mixed-media artist and, later, a producer of fine-art prints and paintings. The artist goes beyond exploring the intersection and integration of painting and printmaking—art forms frequently considered distinct and different. Ciali also incorporates his expertise as a ceramicist to create a fusion of creative techniques and aesthetics. Specifically, he exploits the unique contributions of each medium to offer the viewer a heightened sense of dimensionality, varied textures and a layering of colors. “Right now, I find myself focusing on creating monotype prints, as well as encaustic (i.e. wax-based) paintings,” he said. Ciali, at times, also…
26 Jun 2015
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An imposing, highly polished, ebony concert grand piano confronts all visitors to Ruth Gonzales’ workshop. Consuming a third of the available space, the piano would make more sense in a music conservatory than an abstract painter’s studio space. However, a quick look at the remaining space shouts: An artist works here! Palette knives, brushes, mortars-and-pestles, paints and other tools of her craft populate the atelier. All of remaining spaces are lined with large, partly completed canvases. One yet-to-be stretched painting can be found flat on the floor, just a few steps from the front door. Gonzales was born, raised and trained as a classical figurative artist in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, three hours south of the Arizona/Mexico border. The artist worked as a missionary in Southern Mexico and spent time in Tijuana before moving to this desert in 1990. The artist’s classical training presents itself in her abstractions: forms are suggested,…
25 May 2015
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“The minority residents of Section 14 … homes were destroyed by a city-engineered holocaust,” wrote Loren Miller Jr. in a 1968 report to the state attorney general. Bordered by Alejo and Ramon roads, Indian Canyon Drive and Sunrise Way, Section 14 is one square mile. Today, it’s one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in all of the Coachella Valley. The current exhibit at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, Section 14: The Other Palm Springs, offers a compelling account of how one Native American tribe produced its future despite its past. The sequencing of blown-up maps and newspaper clippings (most with embedded pictures) creates a narrative. Quotes from government officials provide greater context. However, the depth and raw accounting of the Agua Caliente’s existence comes from period pictures, quotes from tribal members and council leaders’ oral histories. Featuring a series of oversized maps, the front room chronicles the…
04 May 2015
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An exhibit of the works of either Ansel Adams or Dorothea Lange is a “must see.” However, it approaches artistic nirvana when a museum hangs images by both icons in the same show. The La Quinta Museum is doing just that right now in the exhibit Iconic Light, on display through Aug. 15. The two greats were contemporaries; in fact, they both served as photography faculty at the California School of Fine Arts. Adams’ black-and-white photographs remain visionary and meticulous. His images more than communicate the beauty of the American landscape and wilderness; they speak to his lifelong commitment as a conservationist. His photos here, taken at the Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center near Palm Desert, do not disappoint. Adams’ image of a cholla cactus is beautifully eerie. In the foreground, a single tall cholla stands in front of what appears to be a boulder. The lighting creates an…