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Mon06242019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The tale told by Jennifer Karady: In Country, Soldiers’ Stories From Iraq and Afghanistan, a powerful photography exhibit now on display at the Palm Springs Art Museum, has three parts; however, gallery visitors get to see only two.

We see the prologue, which lets us know what occurs prior to soldiers being deployed. We see the epilogue, in which we meet members of the military after they return to their homes.

What happens in between—the events and their experiences during their tours of duty—is left to the viewer’s imagination. This forces us to create our own narrative; it creates a palpable tension.

The exhibition appropriately takes up most of the gallery space on the museum’s lower floor. Karady begins her narrative in the long, narrow Jorgensen Gallery—a confined space that forces visitors to view each image on its own terms. The 17 smaller images, plus some Polaroid pictures, presented in the Jorgensen Gallery were taken in Joshua Tree and at the 29 Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. The military uses the Joshua Tree area because it resembles the terrain of both Afghanistan and Iraq.

A staged picture of a soldier standing against the harsh Joshua Tree terrain suggests a sense of aloneness and hope. The image of a 29 Palms Marine Corps graduating class affirms commitment.

After experiencing the works in the Jorgensen Gallery, visitors enter the open, well-lit and comparatively expansive Marks Graphics Center. It is here where Karady presents the epilogue, via 16 oversized photographs.

The abrupt change in focus is jarring: What was a factual documentary quickly becomes highly individualized, psychological portraits. Karady’s process includes in-depth interviews with each soldier photographed.

The photographer acknowledges that each picture is staged to produce a personal, insightful and individualized image; a statement derived from each interview accompanies each picture. Every pairing conveys unique sentiments—isolation, hope, desolation, reconciliation, camaraderie and transition.

The portrait of Lance Cpl. West Chase, walking hand in hand with his fiancée, Emily Peden, captures a sense of isolation and going against the flow. After leaving the military, Chase began pursuing an advanced degree at a Midwestern university. The couple, positioned in the center of the picture, walks toward the viewer. On either side is a line of individuals who are walking in the opposite direction. Each of these young adults is wearing a yellow T-shirt. In the top left part of the image are four standing adults who look like they may be originally from the Middle East.

John Holman shows us his anger and his struggle to work through it; he is a Bay Area resident completing a doctorate in clinical psychology and preparing for the California State Bar. Holman consumes the front left quadrant. Two friends of Holman, facing in opposite directions, stand in the dark background, seemly oblivious to the former military man. With Holman holding a clinical psychology book and a law textbook, the artist presents a combination of anger, hope and potential healing. But … the former soldier’s right hand, which is holding the books, is in the shape of the gun. Is the photographer suggesting that his anger is always below the surface? Is she simply tempering the optimism? Or is she letting him work through his past?

The German word “weltschmetz,” meaning heightened and extreme angst, is at the core of Karady’s picture of Sgt. Jose Adames. The image, taken in a Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood, positions the former soldier in a crouching, almost-fetal position. Large, full black trash bags and a discarded mattress sitting on its side serve as a barrier between Adames and an approaching garbage truck. Adames, in his interview, notes that loud noises, like cars backfiring and garbage trucks, bring his mind back to the Middle East.

One of the most hopeful pictures is of Capt. Elizabeth Condon, with her daughter, Kate, and mother, Elizabeth. Karady’s precise staging produces a highly lyrical and flowing composition; it has a religious quality. The captain, in a squatting position, faces her daughter, while her mother, like a guardian angel, watches over both. A green bush with orange-red flowers seems to create a halo over the captain’s head. Because of Karady’s annotation, the photographer’s inclusion of a Muslim woman—with a highly visible Caesarean scar—neither disturbs nor detracts from the mood. In fact, it adds to the optimistic tone.

Karady’s messages are clear: The human costs of serving in the Middle East are significant; these veterans are our neighbors; and each returning veteran has unique needs to ensure a smooth transition to civilian life.

It’s a powerful exhibit worth your time.

Jennifer Karady: In Country, Soldiers’ Stories From Iraq and Afghanistan is on display through Sunday, March 29, at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, in Palm Springs. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday through Sunday; and noon to 8 p.m., Thursday. Admission fees vary. For more information, call 760-322-4800, or visit www.psmuseum.org.

Published in Visual Arts

Film

The Palm Springs International Film Festival

One of the largest film festivals in North America welcomes 135,000 attendees for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The festival is also known for its annual Black Tie Awards Gala, honoring the best achievements of the filmic year by a celebrated list of talents who, in recent years, have included Ben Affleck, Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron and Kate Winslet. This 25th anniversary edition features an exciting lineup of the best of international cinema. Various times and prices from Friday, Jan. 2, through Monday, Jan. 12. 760-322-2930; www.psfilmfest.org.

Music and More

Betty Buckley—The Vixens Of Broadway

Betty Buckley has been called “the voice of Broadway,” and is one of theater’s most respected leading ladies. She is an actress/singer whose career spans theater, film, television and concert halls around the world, and she was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2012. 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 17. $60 to $75. Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-4490; www.psmuseum.org.

Cabaret 88: Kevin Earley

Kevin Earley recently finished performing in Secondhand Lions in Seattle and Daddy Long Legs in Florida. A Drama Desk Award nominee for the title role in Death Takes a Holiday, his Broadway credits include Les Miserables, Thoroughly Modern Millie and A Tale of Two Cities. 6 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 13 and 14. $88. Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-4490; www.psmuseum.org.

Copa Events

Last Comic Standing star Iliza Shlesinger takes the stage at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Jan. 9 and 10. $30 to $40. Former Mouseketeer Lindsey Alley brings her blend of show tunes and comedy to the Copa at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Jan. 16 and 17. $25 to $35. American Idol and The Voice diva Frenchie Davis performs at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 18. $25 to $35. Former X-Factor finalist Jason Brock performs at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Jan. 23 and 24. $25 to $35. All shows are 21 and older, with a two-drink minimum. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs. 760-322-3554; www.coparoomtickets.com.

The USO Variety Show

The USO has been entertaining troops worldwide in times of peace and war for more 70 years. Now, the Bob Hope USO needs you to laugh, enjoy and have some fun remembering the good ol’ times. Join us for a live nostalgic tribute to Bob Hope and his band of Hollywood celebs; enjoy free tours of the museum pre- or post-show time. 2 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 22. $55 to $75. Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs. 760-778-6262; palmspringsvacationtravel.com.

Special Events

Dance for Life Palm Springs

A showcase of spectacular performances by renowned dance companies, all joining forces to help those in need. Now in its fourth year in Palm Springs, this event celebrates the art of dance to benefit AIDS Assistance Program. 6 p.m., Friday, Jan. 16. $95 performance; $200 with VIP reception. Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-8481; aidsassistance.org.

Gourmet Food Truck Event

Try food trucks for lunch featuring burgers, barbecue, tacos, California cuisine, sushi and dessert. Outdoor seating is available, or bring a blanket. Dabble in the local farmers’ market; listen to music provided by The Coachella Valley Art Scene; enjoy a beer garden with some of the best craft beers from La Quinta Brewing Company and Coachella Valley Brewing Company. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the first Sunday of the month. Free. Cathedral City Civic Center Plaza, 68700 Avenue Lalo Guerrero, Cathedral City. Thecoachellavalleyartscene.com.

Hearts for Art Gala

Don’t miss the red carpet, celebrity sightings, cabaret show, exciting live and silent auctions, Hollywood glitz and glamour galore, and fun, fun, fun. Your attendance supports the nonprofit Old Town Artisan Studio’s mission to bring clay and glass art experiences to the underserved. 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 17. $150. La Quinta Resort and Club, 49499 Eisenhower Drive, La Quinta. 760-777-1444; www.oldtownartisanstudio.org.

Looking for Lost Ophir

This lecture by author/historian Nick Clapp is part of the Old School House Lecture Series, which started in 1999 and is run in partnership with the Twentynine Palms Historical Society. 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 9. $5 at the door. Old Schoolhouse Museum, 6760 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms. 760-367-5535.

Visual Arts

Art Under the Umbrellas

The event presents a diverse collection of 80 talented artists exhibiting their original creations along Old Town La Quinta’s picturesque Main Street. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 10 and 17. Free. Old Town La Quinta, Main Street, La Quinta. 760-564-1244; lqaf.com.

Desert Art Festival

This event features numerous artists presenting their original work in all mediums of two- and three-dimensional fine art, including paintings in acrylic, oils and watercolors, photography, etchings, sculpture in clay, glass, metal, stone and wood. Each artist will be present to meet with the public and discuss their work. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 17 and 18. Free. Frances Stevens Park, 538 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 818-813-4478; westcoastartists.com.

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 Adventurebrings 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 closes Sunday, Jan. 4. 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.

Southwest Arts Festival

This festival sponsored by the Indio Chamber of Commerce, the City of Indio and the Indio Visitors Bureau features traditional, contemporary and abstract fine works of art by more than 250 acclaimed artists, and is celebrating its 29th year. The festival includes clay, drawing, glass, jewelry, metal works, painting, photography, sculpture and textile. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, Jan. 23, through Sunday, Jan. 25. $9 general; $8 seniors; $12 three-day pass; free children 14 and younger. Empire Polo Club, 81800 Avenue 51, Indio. 760-347-0676; www.discoverindio.com/Southwest-Arts-Festival.

Town Square Art Affaire

The Town Square Art Affaire will feature numerous artists presenting their original work in all mediums of two- and three-dimensional fine art. Each artist will be present, and all work is available for purchase. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 10 and 11. Free. Cathedral City Town Square, 8700 Avenida Lalo Guerrero, Cathedral City. 818-813-4478; westcoastartists.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

Welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2014-2015!

Here’s how these results came to be: Between Aug. 29 and Oct. 3, Coachella Valley Independent readers voted at CVIndependent.com in an open ballot in the categories listed below.

No finalists were selected in advance; readers had to write in their selections.

We then took the top three to five finishers in each category and put them on a final-round ballot, which ran at CVIndependent.com from Oct. 8 to Nov. 7. 

Readers had to provide an email address, and were allowed to submit only one ballot in each round. We sent an email to each voter; if the email bounced, we did not count the ballot associated with that email address.

Here are the results of this first-ever Coachella Valley Independent readers’ poll.

Enjoy!


Arts

Best Art Gallery

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. Gallery 446

3. Heather James Fine Art

4. Archangel Gallery

5. Stewart Gallery

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Show at Agua Caliente

4. The Hood Bar and Pizza

5. The Date Shed

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. TIE

Coachella Valley Art Scene

Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

5. Backstreet Arts District

 

Best Local Band

Queens of the Stone Age

 

Runners up:

2. Machin’

3. The Rebel Noise

4. TIE

CIVX

Slipping Into Darkness

 

Best Local DJ

Alf Alpha

 

Runners up:

2. All Night Shoes

3. House Whores

4. TIE

CoffeeBlvck

Femme A

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika von Rabbit

 

Runners up:

2. Mark Gregg

3. Giselle Woo

4. Charles Herrera

5. Gene Evaro Jr.

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Elena Bulatova

 

Runners up:

2. Ryan “Motel” Campbell

3. Michael Weems

4. Jennifer Stern

5. Lon Michels

 

Best Movie Theater

Camelot Theatres

 

Runners up:

2. Cinemas Palme d’Or

3. UltraStar Mary Pickford

4. Regal Palm Springs

5. Century Theatres at The River

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley History Museum

3. Children’s Discovery Museum

4. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

5. Palm Springs Art Museum Palm Desert

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Empire Polo Club

3. Pappy and Harriet’s

4. Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs

5. The Palms Restaurant


Life in the Valley

Best Alternative Health Center

Stroke Recovery Center

 

Runners up:

2. Nature’s Health Food and Café

3. All-Desert Wellness Centers

4. Live Well Clinic

5. Palm Springs Healing Center

 

Best Farmers’ Market

Palm Springs VillageFest

 

Runners up:

2. Camelot Theatres

3. Old Town La Quinta

4. Palm Desert (Chamber of Commerce)

5. Joshua Tree Certified

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

4. Shelter From the Storm

5. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

 

Best Gym

Gold’s Gym Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. World Gym Palm Springs

3. World Gym Palm Desert

4. Palm Springs Fitness Center

5. 24 Hour Fitness

 

Best Public Servant

Congressman Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. Mayor Steve Pougnet

3. County Commissioner John Benoit

4. Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez

5. Assemblyman Brian Nestande

 

Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga University Village

 

Runners up:

2. Urban Yoga

3. TIE

Coachella Valley Art Scene

Power Yoga

5. Evolve Yoga

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Lanes at Fantasy Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes at Morongo

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Not So Innocent

 

Runners up:

2. Skitzo Kitty

3. Q Trading Company`

4. Gay Mart

5. Red Panties Boutique

 

Best Auto Repair

Desert Classic Cars

 

Runners up:

2. Performance Plus Automotive

3. TIE

Chuck’s Automotive

European Auto Service

Palm Springs Tire and Automotive

 

Best Car Wash

TIE

Airport Quick Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash (pictured)

 

Runners up:

3. Desert 100 Percent Hand Car Wash

4. Executive Car Wash

5. Red Carpet USA Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

Moller’s Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Vintage Nursery

3. Bob Williams Nursery

4. Cactus Mart

5. Moorten Botanical Gardens

 

Best Pet Supplies

PetSmart

 

Runners up:

2. Petco

3. Bones ’n’ Scones

4. Cold Nose Warm Heart

5. Exotic Birds

 

Best Annual Charity Event

Evening Under the Stars, by the AIDS Assistance Program

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Walk, by the Desert AIDS Project

3. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, by the Desert AIDS Project

4. Paint El Paseo Pink, by the Desert Cancer Foundation

5. Center Stage, by the LGBT Community Center of the Desert

 

Best Place to Gamble

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Spa Resort Casino

4. Spotlight 29

5. Augustine Casino

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. CBS Local 2

3. KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

 

Runners up:

2. Gino LaMont, KMIR Channel 6

3. John White, KESQ News Channel 3

4. Brooke Beare, CBS Local 2

5. Thalia Hayden, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Radio Station

Mix 100.5

 

Runners up:

2. Big 106 (KPLM)

3. KDES FM 98.5

4. TIE

KWXY FM 107.3

K-News 94.3

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Jeff Michaels, Big 106 (KPLM)

 

Runners up:

2. Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

3. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3

4. Joey English, K-News 94.3

5. Dan McGrath, EZ-103

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Just Fabulous

3. Revivals

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

2. Palm Springs Vinyl Records and Collectibles

3. Best Buy

4. Barnes and Noble

5. Video Depot

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Hoodoo

3. Barnes and Noble

 

Best Video Game Store

GameStop

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Video Depot

Walmart

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. Riviera Palm Springs

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. Saguaro

5. Renaissance Palm Springs


Fashion and Style

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Bobby G’s

 

Runners up:

2. Glossy Boutique

3. R&R Men’s Wear

4. Fine Art of Design

5. Wil Stiles

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

Revivals

 

Runners up:

2. Resale Therapy

3. Angel View

4. The POP Shop

5. Fine Art of Design

 

Best Furniture Store

Plummers

 

Runners up:

2. Ashley Furniture HomeStore

3. Marc Russell Interiors

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Erik’s Furniture

 

Best Antiques/Collectables Store

The Estate Sale Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Gypsyland

4. Pioneer Crossing Antiques

5. Sunny Dunes Antique Mall

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

El Paseo Jewelers

 

Runners up:

2. Smoke Tree Jewelers

3. Leeds and Son

4. Hephaestus Jewelry

5. ASC Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Heads Up Hair Designs

3. Brien O’Brien Salon

4. Turquoise A Salon

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Spa

DHS Spa Hotel

 

Runners up:

2. JW Marriott Desert Springs

3. Studio M

4. The Canyon Spa

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Florist

3. Rancho Mirage Florist

4. Jensen’s

5. Blooming Events

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

Strata Tattoo Lab

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

Bloodline Tattoo

TG Tattoo

5. Flagship Tattoo

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. TIE

Elegant Eye Optometry

Oh La La de Paris Eyeware

5. Desert EyeCare Center


Outside!

Best Urban Landscaping

El Paseo

 

Runners up:

2. Downtown Palm Springs (general)

3. College of the Desert

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. Moorten Botanical Gardens

4. Ruth Hardy Park

5. El Paseo

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Palm Springs (general)

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta (general)

3. Frank Sinatra Drive

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons

3. Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness (Top of the Tram)

4. Salton Sea State Recreation Area

5. Tahquitz Canyon

 

Best Hike

Bump and Grind Trail

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons

3. Mount San Jacinto

4. Tahquitz Canyon

5. Mission Creek Preserve

 

Best Park

Whitewater Park

 

Runners up:

2. Demuth Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Wellness Park

5. Dateland Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Big 5

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Off the Grid

4. Second Amendment Sports

5. Walmart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Cyclery

3. BikeMan

 

Best Sporting Goods Store

Big 5

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Sports Authority

4. Lumpy’s

5. Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

 

Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Creek

3. Indian Wells

4. Eagle Falls

5. Escena


For the Kids

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. Demuth Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. La Quinta Park

5. Whitewater Park

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Mr. G’s for Kids

 

Runners up:

2. Toys “R” Us

3. Target

4. Walmart

5. Goodwill

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Janie and Jack

4. Goodwill

5. Justice

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Ruby’s

4. Islands

5. Dickie O’Neal’s

 

Best Place for Family Fun

Wet ’n’ Wild

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. Boomers!

Rock-N-Roll Mini Golf

4. Palm Desert Aquatic Center

5. Chuck E. Cheese

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

Children’s Discovery Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Chuck E. Cheese

3. Boomers!


Food and Restaurants

Best Casual Eats

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. Sherman’s

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Caterer

LuLu/Acqua Pazza

 

Runners up:

2. Lynn Hammond

3. Fusion Flair

4. Dash and a Handful

5. Savoury’s

 

Best Diner

Elmer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. Sunshine Café

4. Rick’s

5. John’s

 

Best Organic Food Store

Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Sprouts Farmers Market

Whole Foods

4. Nature’s Health Food and Café

5. Harvest Health Foods

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. Appetito

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Pastry Swan Bakery

3. Sherman’s

4. Exquisite Desserts

5. Jensen’s

 

Best Desserts

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Crave (now Plate | Glass)

5. French Corner Café

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Cold Stone Creamery

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Lappert’s Ice Cream

4. Lique at Fantasy Springs

5. Ben and Jerry’s

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Hadley Fruit Orchards

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Lappert’s Ice Cream

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

TIE

Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

Tutti Frutti

 

Runners up:

3. Beach House

4. Yogurt on Tap

5. Cactusberry + Frozen Treats

 

Best Bakery

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Aspen Mills

3. Frankie’s Old World Italian Bakery

4. Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café

5. TKB Bakery

 

Best Barbecue

Pappy and Harriet’s

 

Runners up:

2. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

3. Cowboy Way

4. Jackalope Ranch

5. Big Willie’s Catering

 

Best Burger

In-n-Out

 

Runners up:

2. Grill-A-Burger

3. Woody’s

4. Tyler’s

5. Smokin’ Burgers

 

Best Veggie Burger

Grill-A-Burger

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. Woody’s

Ruby’s Diner

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Sandwich

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. The Sandwich Spot

4. Aspen Mills

5. L’Atelier Café

 

Best Pizza

Bill’s Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza

3. Piero’s PizzaVino

4. Giuseppe’s

5. Ciro’s

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. LuLu California Bistro

4. Bar

5. Village Pub

 

Best Bagels

New York Bagel and Deli

 

Runners up:

2. Panera Bread

3. Sherman’s

4. Townie Bagels

5. Bagel Bistro

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Koffi

3. Juice It Up

4. Jamba Juice

5. Luscious Lorraine’s

 

Best Buffet

Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Grand Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

3 TIE

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Coffee Shop for Coffee

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

3. Old Town Coffee Company

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Starbucks

 

Runners up:

2. Koffi

3. Ernest Coffee

4. Ristretto

5. Espresso Cielo

 

Best Tea

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Teavana

3. Ristretto

4. Old Town Coffee Company

5. Espresso Cielo

 

Best Breakfast

Elmer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Cheeky’s

3. Sunshine Café

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Louise’s Pantry

 

Best California Cuisine

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO

3. Acqua Pazza California Bistro

4. Jake’s

5. POM—The Bistro at Fantasy Springs

 

Best Brunch

Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Pinocchio’s

4. Escena Lounge and Grill

5. Las Casuelas Nuevas

 

Best Chinese

Wang’s in the Desert

 

Runners up:

2. China Wok

3. JOY at Fantasy Springs

4. New Fortune

5. Supreme Dragon

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

3. Miro’s Restaurant

 

Best French

Le Vallauris

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café

Pomme Frite

4. La Brasserie

5. L’Atelier Café

 

Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine

 

Runners up:

2. India Oven

3. Naan House

 

Best Japanese

Shabu Shabu Zen

 

Runners up:

2. Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

3. Gyoro Gyoro

4. Otori Japanese Cuisine

5. No Da Te

 

Best Italian

Nicolino’s

 

Runners up:

2. Giuseppe’s

3. Il Corso

4. Johnny Costa’s Ristorante

5. Mimmo’s

 

Best Sushi

Wasabi

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro

3. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

4. Edoko Sushi

5. The Venue

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Ruben and Ozzy’s

3. Shanghai Reds

4. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

5. Oceans Seafood Restaurant

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Chop House

3. Mastro’s

4. The Bistro at Fantasy Springs

5. The Steakhouse at Spa Resort Casino

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Thai Smile Rancho Mirage

3. Peppers Thai

4. Le Basil

5. Thai Kitchen 1

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Pho 533

3. Bangkok Noodles

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Le Vallauris

4. Johannes

5. Figue Mediterranean Cuisine (no longer in business)

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Spencer’s

4. Las Casuelas Terraza

5. The Falls

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Village Pub

3. Bar

4. Alicante

5. King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel

 

Best Mexican

El Mirasol

 

Runners up:

2. El Gallito

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. La Tablita

5. Tlaquepaque

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Nuevas

 

Runners up:

2. Rincon Norteno

3. Maracas

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Margaritas

 

Best Burrito

El Gallito

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

La Tablita

Santana’s

4. El Taco Asado

5. Jalisco Restaurant


Spirits and Nightlife

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. The Beer Hunter

Eureka!

4. Village Pub

5. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Local Brewery

TIE

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

La Quinta Brewing Co.

 

Runner up:

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

TIE

Hunters

Palm Springs Lanes

 

Runners up:

3. Pappy and Harriet’s

4. The Beer Hunter

5. Sharky’s Family Billiards

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Purple Room

3. Eureka!

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Workshop Kitchen and Bar

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Streetbar

 

Runners up:

2. Hunters

3. Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

4. Score

5. Digs

 

Best Happy Hour

Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. LuLu California Bistro

3. TIE

Hunters

Stuft Pizza

5. Village Pub

 

Best Dive Bar

Neil’s Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Score

4. Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

5. The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Best Margarita

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Maracas

5. Blue Coyote Grill

 

Best Martini

The Falls

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Zin American Bistro

4. Copley’s

5. Workshop Kitchen and Bar

 

Best Nightclub

Hunters

 

Runners up:

2. Copa

3. LIT at Fantasy Springs

4. TIE

Schmidy’s Tavern

Village Pub

 

Best Sports Bar

Burgers and Beer

 

Runners up:

2. Yard House

3. The Beer Hunter

4. TIE

Tilted Kilt

Village Pub

 

Best Wine Bar

3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar at Fantasy Springs

Zin American Bistro

4. Wine Bar Bistro

5. Fame Lounge

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro

4. Fame Lounge

5. LQ Wine

 

Best Bar Ambiance

Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Melvyn’s

4. Schmidy’s Tavern

5. Copa


Staff Picks

Best Story From an Annual Festival

“The Moneymaker”

A woman who appears to be about 65 and who is here for the American Heat Bike Weekend event in downtown Palm Springs comes in to Crystal Fantasy and wants to use some tape, because her “moneymaker” is broken. I give her some packing tape, and she takes something out of her pocket she is trying to fix.

After a few moments, she says, “OK, I’ll see if it works”—and proceeds to swallow a foot-long (now-taped) all-beef hot dog down her throat; she then pulls it out of her mouth. The tape wasn’t really sticking, and all I had otherwise was some purple duct tape.

That seemed to do the job. She very professionally deep-throated the hot dog, thanked us and left.

—Joy Brown Meredith, as told to the Palm Springs Neighborhoods Group on Facebook, adapted with permission by Jimmy Boegle


Best Band Militia

Machin’

I first met David Macias of Machin’ for an interview at Starbucks in Desert Hot Springs, and I was rather surprised when he told me about what he called the “Machin’ Militia”—the band’s loyal fans who turn up for their shows.

Well, I’ve seen Machin’ perform several times over the last year—and I’m not surprised that the Machin’ Militia is growing rapidly.

Perhaps David’s military background explains his terminology. He was born in Mexico and completed two deployments to Iraq as a Navy corpsman. When he gets together with classically trained violinist Bri Cherry and upright-bass-player/accordionist Andy Gorrill, they make attention-grabbing music that combines Latin, hip-hop and rock sounds. Their sound is instantly recognizable wherever they go.

Crowds of all sorts adore Machin’. They have a weekly residency at the Purple Room in Palm Springs; they busk on street corners in various places while on tour. Wherever Machin’ is, people can’t help but clap or dance along when the group performs.

Machin’ is truly what the name means in Spanglish slang—supremely excellent.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Food and Drink Trend That’s Finally Arrived in the Valley

Craft Cocktails

Tucson, Ariz., the city in which I used to live, is the home of one of the leaders in the craft-cocktail revolution. Scott and Co.—a speakeasy-style bar that’s received national attention for its amazing and innovative drinks—was perhaps the place I missed the most when I moved to the desert several years ago.

Look at the Best Cocktail finalists here, and you’ll see why I used to miss Scott and Co. so damned much: When I first started making preparations to move here, four of the five finalists picked by our readers weren’t yet in existence.

Today, however, I don’t miss Scott and Co. all that much—because over the last couple years, the craft-cocktail revolution has belatedly arrived in the Coachella Valley. In addition to our readers’ five Best of Coachella Valley finalists (great picks, readers!), you can find fantastic hand-crafted beverages at locations all across the valley, from Indian Wells’ Vue Grille and Bar, to retro-tiki newcomers Tonga Hut and Bootlegger Tiki in downtown Palm Springs, to Citron at the Viceroy (pictured), also in Palm Springs.

Cheers, folks. The local craft-cocktail scene is getting better by the month.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best Local Social Trend

The Increasingly Busy Summer

Let’s face facts: The business and tourism cycle in the Coachella Valley will always have seasonal highs and lows. The power of the weather is undeniable: Temps in the 70s and 80s will always draw people to the valley during the winter, and temps in the 110s will always push people out during the summer.

However, that seasonality is beginning to lessen—just a little.

I live in downtown Palm Springs, and last summer, the streets near my home weren’t as lonely as they used to be in years past. In fact, on some summer weekend nights, Palm Canyon Drive foot traffic was even something approaching busy. (Not April busy, but still.) The reason? More people are starting to brave the toasty temps to come to the valley, thanks to great events like Splash House (which was so nice, they did it twice during the summer of 2014; pictured), fantastic deals (like those offered during Restaurant Week) and the realization that the slower summer pace here has its benefits. (No snowbirds on Highway 111?! YES!)

Can one argue that the Best Season here in the Coachella Valley is, in fact, the summer? No … we won’t go that far. But the summers here are certainly not as dead as they used to be—and that’s something worth celebrating.

—Jimmy Boegle

Photo credits: Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash courtesy of elephant-carwash.com. The Living Desert courtesy of Greater Palm Springs CVB. Machin’ courtesy of Chris Miller via Machin’ Facebook. Splash House by Guillermo Prieto/IROCKPHOTOS.NET.

Published in Readers' Picks

The 2014 Artists Council Exhibition is currently on display at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Jorgensen Gallery and Marks Graphic Center. This year’s juror, Donna MacMillan—a generous supporter of the museum—selected some 70 works among submissions from about 400 artists.

The exhibit shows a broad range of representational, non-representational and abstract art in varying media. MacMillan also selected one piece of video art.

The Best in Show award went to Elaine Sigwald for her digitally hand-painted photograph “Sojourners Passing Through Time and Space.” The oversized, glossy vertical image is awash in organic brown and orange-black shapes. Electric blue-white ganglia-like forms create an intense dimensionality and offset the deep browns and oranges. The piece is worth noting, if only for its size and for the artist’s technical proficiency.

Another award winner is Cindy King, whose pen-and-ink drawing “Hills of California” was discussed in a previous Coachella Valley Independent story on the artist.

“Vertical Hold II,” by Irene Ryan Maloney, is a narrow intaglio print. A scratchy purplish form is at the bottom of the work; as a viewer’s eyes moves upward, a well-articulated head in black and white appears. With a blank upward stare, the head at the top becomes what appears to be more of a death mask than a portrait. The piece contains a quiet, controlled power. This print earned the Michele Jamison Memorial Award.

Lucia Grossberger Morales’ “Fractal Sines” didn’t receive an award, but it’s worth noting as the only piece of video art in the show—and it is a stand-out addition. In silence, a video monitor displays a screen of seemingly ever-changing, amorphous cloud-like formations, for four minutes. Clouds change from fun, light and floating, to ominous and threatening. Grossberger’s mesmerizing and almost hypnotic creation shows off shades of blue and purple, with hints of grey.

Atop an orange-red painted panel, Darrell Corn applies a rich deeply-saturated blue encaustic to create “Borneo.” About 80 percent of the panel is covered by the encaustic, and the eye wanders across the entire painting, seeking spaces where the contrasting orange-red peeks through. When a viewer blinks, the orange-red forms seemingly move from backdrop to foreground. The experience of depth is further enhanced by the orange-red patches that at times seem to float.

Jim Riche’s black-and-white photograph “Visitor Center” at first seems like a dramatic presentation of the iconic mid-century building that greets visitors when driving into Palm Springs on Highway 111. The angled roof commands the space with cirrus clouds dancing in the background; unfortunately, the artist’s attempt to frame the bottom of the image by including the small treetops and possibly the ground doesn’t work. The irregular black band, to me, was a visual distraction.

Kim Chasen’s “Blocks 2,” an acrylic and mixed-media piece, consists of two horizontal bands of five blocks. The face of each block is textured to enhance the experience, and each face is in a muddied color, like lime green or orange.

All works in the show, valued between $500 and $6,000, are for sale. The proceeds are equally divided between the artist and the museum’s educational programs.

The awards ceremony for the show takes place in the museum’s Annenberg Theater at 5:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 7, and is followed by a reception in the Elrod Sculpture Garden and the museum’s lower-level galleries. Admission is free and open to the public.

The 2014 Artists Council Exhibition is on display through Sunday, Dec. 7, at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, in Palm Springs. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday; and noon to 8 p.m., Thursday. Admission is $12.50 general; $10.50 for seniors; $5 for students; and free to members, kids 12 and younger, active military members and everyone the second Sunday of each month and after 4 p.m. on Thursday. For more information, call 760-322-4800, or visit www.psmuseum.org.

Below: “Borneo,” by Darrell Corn.

Published in Visual Arts

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

When I first walked into Peggy Vermeer’s home in Palm Springs, I was immediately impressed: At 89 years old, she’s still sharp as a knife—and the artwork on the walls is simply mesmerizing.

Vermeer has quite a history as a local artist. She’s well-known for her assemblage art, although she has also done some abstract painting and papercraft. However, she’s best known for what she has given to others: She was the very first teacher at the Palm Springs Art Museum and was the founder of the children’s art program. In fact, she’s still a docent at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Peggy said she’s often recognized around town due to her time as the children’s art teacher at the museum.

“I had a man who came up to me and said, ‘Oh, Peggy. I was in your art class, and I’m 41 now.’ I said, ‘Thank you very much!’” Vermeer said with a laugh.

Vermeer’s interest in art developed as she grew up. Her mother served as an inspiration.

“It started with designing paper dolls, and when I went to high school, I discovered I could be an artist. My mother was an artist, but she didn’t practice it,” she said. “I just started doing it, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Vermeer credits Robert Rauschenberg as the artist who inspired her the most. However, she was inspired to start working in assemblage after she met assemblage artist Michael deMeng in Idyllwild.

“It’s found pieces of ordinary objects put together to form an art piece,” she said. “We used to go to the illegal dump to get shot-up old things. Assemblage is putting junk together, really. It can be anything at all. It’s not following any rules; no rules or regulations.”

Sure enough, when you look at the works in Vermeer’s home, there are no rules or regulations. One of Vermeer’s pieces that caught my attention was a piece that featured a raven in a bird cage—positioned on top of a vintage Corona typewriter (below). Another interesting piece is a bust with a Walkman embedded in the chest; it also includes a door with a mirror, an image of the Mona Lisa, and … a broken crack pipe?

“My friend, Brother Andy, he found (the crack pipe) in the street. He was taking a walk, picked it up, and brought it over.”

Vermeer said she doesn’t have any problem finding objects.

“People bring you things,” she said. “Sometimes, you look around your own home, and there it is. You never know, and that’s why you can’t throw anything away.”

When I brought up a work that was in her kitchen, she told me it was assembled from a mannequin she purchased off eBay, a broken shower glass door, gesso paint, acrylic paint, plumbing sealant and some lighting. Vermeer definitely has an advanced knowledge of tools and various skills that would make the average handyman quite envious.

“When I go down to True Value, they run and hide,” she said, laughing. “I’m always asking them for impossible things. I’ve learned how to solder, and I’ve learned how to burn things with a blow torch. I learned a lot of it from Michael deMeng. I took a lot of his online classes.”

She discussed how one of her pieces made it into the Palm Springs Art Museum—and in the process, she reportedly became the first local artist to have her a piece in the renowned museum.

“Last year, I entered one of my pieces into the artists’ council shows. It didn’t win anything,” she said. “Donna MacMillan, the patron of the arts in the valley, bought it and donated it to the museum. (The judge in the contest) said, ‘It isn’t really art.’ … It had lights, a head, and he decided it wasn’t real art because it wasn’t a painting. But the museum was very pleased about accepting it.”

Vermeer is most definitely an original—and she’s not in the mindset of trying to impress typical upscale art patrons. She said she is always out to learn new things and discover how things work. She supports Debra Ann Mumm’s murals project in Palm Springs; she speaks highly of the art scenes coming out of Slab City and the Joshua Tree areas. She also has a high opinion about many artists in the Palm Springs area.

“We have some really interesting artists here in the desert,” she said. “They’re striving and struggling to get shown.”

She also said that she’s been fortunate in her life.

“I was very lucky that I inherited some money. I had a good brother, and I thank him daily,” she said. “What I earned at the museum was nothing.”

She shared some advice for those who want to take up art.

“You can’t make a living as an artist alone; you have to look at it as a hobby,” she said. “… It’s nice to sell, but it’s a struggle. When you commission something, you’ll have a wife who loves it and a husband who doesn’t like it. So you learn if you do a commission that you get paid a certain amount of money that’s non-refundable.”

When she looks back on her life so far as an artist, she said she has no regrets.

“I’m very happy I was an artist,” she said. “I’m glad I got the opportunity to work at the museum, and I had freedom they don’t have now. I couldn’t function there now, because it’s too structured.”

Published in Visual Arts

Comedy

Kathy Griffin

The famous, profane and controversial comedian brings her comedy and D-list fame to the desert for two shows. 9 p.m., Friday, June 6; and 8 p.m., Saturday, June 7. The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Wayans Brothers Live!

In 1990, the world of comedy welcomed an irreverent sketch comedy that changed the playing field. In Living Color debuted to critical acclaim and adoration by millions of American fans. Leading the charge was trailblazing creator, writer, director, producer and actor Keenen Ivory Wayans. He and his brothers take the stage together. 8 p.m., Saturday, June 21. $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway. 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Film

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is the only science-fiction film produced by Walt Disney himself and remains one of the most highly regarded live action films of Walt Disney Productions. Infusing fresh life and color into the Jules Verne classic, the film doesn’t shy away from the challenges of its ocean setting, featuring outstanding underwater sequences, a legendary special-effects battle with a giant squid, and a regrettably “true to the text” depiction of “cannibal island.” 5:30 p.m., Friday, June 13. Free. Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, 72567 Highway 111, Palm Desert. 760-322-4800; www.psmuseum.org/palm-desert.

Movies in the Park: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

Bring chairs, kick back and enjoy the start of summer! The movie will begin the second the sun goes behind our mountains. 5 p.m., Friday, June 13. Free. Thousand Palms Community Park, 31189 Robert Road, Thousand Palms. 760-343-3595; apm.activecommunities.com/desertrecdistrict.

Palm Springs International Shortfest and Film Market

Palm Springs International ShortFest is renowned worldwide for the extraordinary community of filmmakers it attracts, and for the quality and scope of its programming. ShortFest 2014 will present more than 300 short films from more than 50 countries. Tuesday, June 17, through Monday, June 23; times, prices and venues vary. General public sales begin June 10; www.psfilmfest.org.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a mystical, surreal and challenging film exploring questions of memory, reincarnation and the afterlife. On the edge of the florid jungle lies a man on the edge of death, who begins to recall his past lives in the company of his deceased wife and son who have returned in non-human form to usher him into the afterlife. 5:30 p.m., Friday, June 6. Free. Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, 72567 Highway 111, Palm Desert. 760-322-4800; www.psmuseum.org/palm-desert.

Music

America

America created a sound of their own with their flawless blend of contrasting genres, consisting of pop rock, folk-jazz and even Latin-leaning rhythms. Since the 1970s, America band members Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell have been producing inspiring music that has brought them chart-topping success. 8 p.m., Saturday, June 7. $35 to $55. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Art Laboe Summer of Love Jam III

The show features El Chicano, Rose Royce, MC Magic, Amanda Perez and Club Noveau. 7 p.m., Saturday, June 14. $35 to $65. The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Christina Bianco

Drama Desk and MAC Award-nominated actress, singer and impressionist Christina Bianco has become a worldwide YouTube sensation thanks to her diva impression videos going viral. Christina also just sold out a critically acclaimed extended run headlining at London’s famed Hippodrome. 8 p.m., Saturday, June 21. $20 to $40 with a two-drink minimum. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs. 760-322-3554; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Hot as Hell Pool Party With Zulluu

Zulluu is an Anglo-African fusion band/theater group, pioneering a new trend of blending world beats and sounds into a mix of theater, music and dance. They are highly vocal, singing lyrics in both English and the African language of Zulu. Bring your swimsuit! 7 p.m., Monday, June 2. Free. Sidebar Patio and Circa 59 at Riviera Palm Springs, 1600 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-327-8311; www.psriviera.com.

Special Events

Desert Chiefs Football Presents Desert Bowl

Battle for the ball, 7-on-7 football tournament. All sponsorship proceeds go the DHS JAA Football and Cheer. 10 a.m., Saturday, June 14. Free. Desert Hot Springs High School, 65850 Pierson Blvd., Desert Hot Springs. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Juneteenth in the Coachella Valley

The event promises good food, exciting entertainment and an atmosphere that inspires community unity and support. All proceeds will directly benefit the Family Health and Support Network foster-care program. The evening will include a performance by special guest artist and renowned vocalist Ms. Alfreda James. 6 p.m., Saturday, June 14. $65; $85 VIP. La Quinta Resort and Club and PGA West, 49499 Eisenhower Drive, La Quinta. 760-340-2442; www.juneteenthcv.com.

Visual Arts

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

“California Dreamin’,” the iconic song of the 1960s, conjures up images of the peace and love movement for many. Today, however, the Palm Springs Art Museum is offering its own take on the phrase.

The exhibit California Dreamin’: Thirty Years of Collecting shows off the works of artists who worked in or were influenced by California over the last three decades.

California Dreamin’ marks the first time these pieces, all museum-owned, have been exhibited at the same time. Movements represented include Bay Area Figurative Art; Funk Art; Assemblage; Light and Space; Hard Edge and Geometric Abstraction; and Latino.

Christopher Brown’s painting “800 Hours” (bottom) evokes the same sense of loneliness and isolation created by Edward Hopper a century before. In contrast to Hopper and his recognizable figures, Brown paints forms that are concurrently figurative and abstract; he enhances the sense of anomie by creating humanoid forms devoid of facial features. The artist’s figures appear in a shadowy black, with the exception of one painted in a yellowish green, and another painted in both yellow-green and black.

The entire top third of the canvas is in shades of deep aqua. Angled across the middle section of the wide image, Brown paints a bright, broad swath of yellowish-green, which serves as a harsh counterpoint to the softer aqua. The dark left foreground is painted in deep aqua muddied by the yellow-green. In addition to being a path along which these ambiguous figures move, the wide yellow-green strip creates dimensionality and forces the viewer’s eyes to travel across the entire painting.

Brown’s choice of materials softens the harshness. By employing oil on silk, a soft sheen infuses a humanity into what could otherwise be an overly strident composition.

Rooted in commercial art, Ed Ruscha grew his portfolio thanks to his interest in words and typography. His work bridges the pop and conceptual art movements. The artist deftly creates paintings that have an intellectual element and provoke an emotional response, as can be seen in “Exploded Crystal Chandelier Headache.”

In a soft white, Ruscha paints each word vertically from the top to the bottom of the large canvas. The background begins in a dark charcoal black and transitions first to mauve and then finally to a light yellow-white. “Exploded” appears sits stark against the dark charcoal.  Paired with mauve, “Crystal” seems relaxed. With a backdrop of yellow, the word “Chandelier” comes across like a soft light.

Ruscha’s presentation of the word “Headache” is contradictory: The word representing a painful condition becomes peaceful, calm and nearly invisible juxtaposed against the faint yellow-white backdrop.

A recognized leader of the Light and Space movement, Helen Pashgian produced “Untitled (Acrylic, Copper, Epoxy).” The artist’s positioning of these three complementary materials creates a powerful piece that plays with the viewer’s visual experience and center of gravity. Behind what seems like a scrim, the artist fabricates what looks like a vertical sheet of metal leading to the first of three horizontal bands. Below the third band hangs a dark circular disk. The translucent scrim blurs all objects; they appear to float in space.

Copper strips appear laminated into each horizontal band. She creates the appearance of a concave half of a thick, blurred white tube. However, upon blinking, there is a change: What was the interior becomes the exterior—the copper stripe appears laminated to the outer shell.

Positioned behind the blurred dark circular object, a strategically placed copper disk reinforces the sense of dimensionality, and produces the illusion of movement. While none exists, Pashgian fabricates the illusion of a floodlight shining on the entire piece.

Robert Therrien’s “No Title (stacked plates, butter)” (right) can be summarized in two words: whimsical and fun! The cream-colored plates are reminiscent of Melmac, the kitschy dinnerware popular between the 1940s and 1960s. The plates are positioned so that they appear to be teetering, creating what is experienced as an unstable, tottering 10-to-12-foot tower.

“The Big 4,” painted by Robert Motherwell, is wide and expansive; it consumes the exhibit’s entranceway. Using his signature colors, the artist produced a powerful, inspiring work that deserves to be exhibited as frequently as possible. However, including “The Big 4” in a show titled California Dreamin’ at first blush seems problematic. Motherwell’s ties to the California art scene seem dubious; he is the youngest member of the globally recognized New York Abstract Expressionist Movement.

However, his ties to the Golden State are there. Motherwell lived in both the north and south parts of the state, and he graduated from Stanford University.

The exhibit contains many excellent examples of California schools, including Nathan Oliveira’s oil and vine charcoal on campus “Untitled Standing Figure 1,” William Allan’s oil on canvas “Wyoming Pond,” and An-My Le’s gelatin silver print “29 Palms: Night Operations IV.” However, one of the works in particular does not fit.

Rupert Garcia’s pastel “Un Ramo de Flores para Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (A Bouquet of Flowers for Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz)” seems more like three independent illustrations; it is not a cohesive triptych.

The artist demonstrates his expertise as a fine draughtsman. In addition to creating an attractive, mysterious Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz, he skillfully draws flowers. However, no bouquets exist: To the right and left of the sister, Garcia draws stems with either a single flower or two flowers and buds. Even symbolically, these straggly, unappealing flowers do not constitute a “bouquet.”

California Dreamin’: Thirty Years of Collecting is on display through Thursday, July 31, at the Annenberg Wing of the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. Regular museum admission fees apply. For more information, call 760-322-4800, or visit www.psmuseum.org.

Expanded credits: Christopher Brown, "800 Hours," 1992, oil on linen, museum purchase with funds provided by the Contemporary Art Council, 1993; Robert Therrien, "No Title (stacked plates, butter)," 2007, plastic, museum purchase with funds provided by the Contemporary Art Council, Donna and Cargill MacMillan, Jr., and funds derived from a previous gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel H. Maslon. Photograph by Sherrill and Associates, Inc.

Editor's Note: This version of the story has been corrected with proper information on Robert Motherwell's California ties.

Published in Visual Arts

Film

MOVIES IN THE PARK: THE CROODS

Bring chairs, kick back and enjoy the start of summer! The movie will begin the second the sun goes behind our mountains. 6 p.m., Friday, May 9. Free. Mecca Community Park, 65250 Coahuila St., Mecca; apm.activecommunities.com/desertrecdistrict.

SHORTFEST ‘SHOOTING STARS’

In preparation for June’s ShortFest 2014, the Camelot will host a program of the best of the “Shooting Stars” programming, featuring major Hollywood names appearing on screen or behind the camera. 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 15. Free. Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs. 760-322-2930; www.psfilmfest.org.

Music

BEST OF COACHELLA VALLEY SYMPHONY

In Coachella Valley Symphony’s season finale, local physician and soprano Dr. Lisa Lindley headlines this gala event with selections from both the opera and pop worlds. This special evening will include a grand VIP reception and auction following the concert for those patrons who purchase a $125 ticket. All proceeds from the auction will go toward youth education programs. 7 p.m., Friday, May 9. $25 to $125. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert. 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

MARIACHI EXTRAVAGANZA

Don't miss the dynamic sounds, the rich colorful costumes and the cultural celebration of the Mariachi Extravaganza. Embajadores Del Mariachi, Mariachi Sol De Mexico, led by Jose Hernandez, is a Grammy-nominated and platinum-selling group that has performed to sold-out audiences around the world for more than 30 years. Las Primeras Damas De Mariachi Reyna De Los Angeles is the first female mariachi ensemble in the United States. 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 24. $20 to $40. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 800-585-3737; startickets.com/venues/item/spotlight-29-casino.

MARIACHI VARGAS DE TECALITLAN

Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan has been in existence for 100 years and has been credited with revolutionizing the style of music. They've recorded albums, starred in more than 200 movies, and performed all over the world. 4 p.m., Sunday, May 11. $40 to $100. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert. 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

PEPE AGUILAR

Five-time-Grammy winning artist Pepe Aguilar is an impressive master of fusion with an undisputed capacity to inspire audiences. 8 p.m., Friday, May 2. $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

ROCK YARD AT FANTASY SPRINGS

The Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs brings music fans free, live rock shows. At 7:30 p.m., the full-throttle rock music fires up with cover band Rok of Ages and gets 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, May 2: Pat Benatar. Saturday, May 3: Tribute to U2. More shows to be announced; check the website for more information. Free; 18 and older. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

STAYIN’ ALIVE: A CELEBRATION OF THE BEE GEES

Stayin' Alive offers the songs and sights of a full Bee Gees concert, singing blockbusters such as “Night Fever,” “Jive Talkin,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” “You Should Be Dancing,” “Nights on Broadway” and “Stayin’ Alive,” along with video clips, photos and dazzling imagery. 8 p.m., Saturday, May 10. $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 800-585-3737; startickets.com/venues/item/spotlight-29-casino.

Performing Arts

THE FABULOUS PALM SPRINGS FOLLIES’ FINAL SEASON

The Follies’ final edition, entitled “The Last Hurrah,” will conclude on Sunday, May 18. The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies has been seen by nearly 3 million patrons, and celebrates the music and dance of mid-century America with a cast ranging in age from 55 to 83 years young. Various dates and times through Sunday, May 18. $29 to $95. Palm Springs Follies at the Historic Plaza Theatre, 128 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-327-0225; www.psfollies.com.

Special Events

BIRDS OF JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

The deceptively barren Mojave Desert landscape is home to and resting grounds for numerous endemic and migratory bird species; more than 240 species of birds have been recorded in Joshua Tree National Park. Kurt Leuschner, professor at College of the Desert, will guide this three-day field class through the Mojave and Colorado deserts to identify common and rare birds. Leuschner’s focus will be on identifying individual species and separating summer and winter residents from true migrants. 6 to 8 p.m., Friday, May 2; 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, May 3; 7 a.m. to noon, Sunday, May 4. $125 to $135. Black Rock Visitor Center, 9800 Black Rock Canyon Road, Yucca Valley. 760-367-5525; www.joshuatree.org/desert-institute/field-classes/birds-of-joshua-tree-national-park.

BREW AT THE ZOO

“Save wildlife one beer at a time.” Enjoy a sampling of handcrafted beers, food and live entertainment, with participation by more than 50 local breweries and restaurants. Proceeds help The Living Desert. 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3. $35 to $125. The Living Desert, 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. 760-346-5694; www.livingdesert.org.

AN EVENING AT THE PUEBLO

Join Cabot’s Pueblo Museum for a fabulous cocktail and dinner celebrating the placement on the National Register of Historic Places and the preservation of the integrity of Cabot Yerxa’s history, pueblo and collection of artifacts. 6 p.m., Saturday, May 17. $150. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, 67616 E. Desert View Ave., Desert Hot Springs. 760-329-7610; www.cabotsmuseum.org.

EVENING UNDER THE STARS’ 2014 GALA: FIRST LADIES OF DISCO

The 21st annual Evening Under the Stars gala to benefit the AIDS Assistance Program (AAP) will feature a star-studded performance by fabulous female pioneers of the ’70s disco scene. Scheduled to appear are Linda Clifford, France Joli, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Maxine Nightingale, Pamala Stanley, Anita Ward, Martha Wash and the ladies formerly of Chic: Alfa Anderson, Luci Martin and Norma Jean. The event includes cocktails, dinner, dancing, and silent and live auctions, one-of-a-kind collectibles, marvelous merchandise and more. 5:30 p.m., Saturday, May 3. $395 and up. O'Donnell Golf Club, 301 N. Belardo Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-8481; aidsassistance.org.

Visual Arts

ART AT SUNNYLANDS

Sculpture Taking Place: Cast, Carve, Combine allows families to wander Sunnylands Gardens and view local sculptors at work in this thematic family day; from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, May 18. Plein Air in the Gardens admits artists for extended hours to paint, sketch or sculpt in the gardens. Pre-registration is required; from 7:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, May 21. Free. Sunnylands Center and Gardens, 37977 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270. 760-202-2222; sunnylands.org.

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.

PALM SPRINGS PHOTO FESTIVAL

Connect 2014 offers the opportunity for professional, emerging professional and serious advanced amateur photographers to study with legendary photographers, show portfolios in the celebrated Portfolio Review Program, and attend cutting-edge seminars. The program is intended to inspire, educate and instill or reignite passion for the art and commerce of photography. Various times Monday, April 28, through Friday; May 2. Prices vary. Hyatt Palm Springs, 285 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 310-289-5030; 2014.palmspringsphotofestival.com.

Published in Local Fun

Comic books may be meant for kids, but they’re not child’s play. So says Jon Proudstar, creator of Tribal Force—the first comic book to feature an all-Native American superhero team.

Time spent counseling child-abuse victims and violent youth offenders—often from the Pascua Yaqui and Tohono O’odham reservations near his Tucson, Ariz., home—taught Proudstar the value of cultural awareness. He didn’t learn about his own Yaqui heritage until his maternal grandmother told him when he was 5.

Tribal Force, released in 1996, was critically well received—even making it into Comic Art Indigène, a pop-culture exhibition that stopped at locations including the Palm Springs Art Museum. Several large comic-book publishers sought to buy the rights, but Proudstar wanted to retain control of the storyline and the characters’ unhappy, all-too-real backstories. Unfortunately, he lacked funding, so the project went dark for more than a decade.

The new Tribal Force, from the small independent publisher Rising Sun Comics, continues the saga. An online preview is already available, with the print version expected in April.

The god Thunder Eagle, determined to create a Native superhero team from North America’s various First Nations, helps Nita, a Navajo child-molestation survivor, transform into the goddess Earth. Meanwhile, Gabriel Medicine Dog, a Hunkpapa Sioux left mute by fetal alcohol syndrome, metamorphoses into the fearsome Little Big Horn following a fatal bar fight. Together, Nita and Gabriel seek out other Native supernaturals, fighting high-tech government entities and supervillains along the way.

A onetime Hollywood chauffeur and bodyguard, Proudstar, 46, currently works as a screenwriter and independent-film actor. In 2012, he co-starred with Booboo Stewart of the Twilight franchise in the award-winning coming-of-age film Running Deer. He formed Proudstar Productions to represent and finance deserving projects, including the forthcoming Wastelander, an apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Angelo Lopes.

Bryn Bailer caught up with Proudstar recently in a Tucson coffee shop.

Why did you create Tribal Force?

I think Native children need to know who they are. They forget why we fought so hard in the beginning, and why we continue to fight: to fulfill the promise we made with our God to protect this land and take care of it. When you have that strength of knowing where you come from, and the greatness your people once had, it’s like you’re Superman. You feel the power.

Where did the idea come from?

The superhero comic books that I was so into (as a kid) taught me the whole thing about good and evil. I saw the bad things that were going on, that gangs were doing, and … I know it sounds silly, man, but I was like: “Spider-Man wouldn’t do that,” or “Batman wouldn’t do that.”

Traditionalism vs. modern life is a big theme, isn’t it?

That’s definitely entrenched in Tribal Force. They’re all traditional heroes—meaning that their powers come from Native tradition—but their enemies are all high-tech: guns, lasers, cannons, invisible ships. That’s what they’re up against. It’s hard to keep values and traditions when you’re amalgamating with such an advanced society. You walk two roads: Failure in one world is success in the other, and vice versa. … My dream is to give Native American kids heroes. I didn’t have that.

The members of Tribal Force aren’t your typical superhero team.

The characters are very young and flawed, and not into their culture. They’re the last people you’d pick to have super powers in your community. They’re the jerkoffs who are in jail every frickin’ weekend. Nita’s a punk … and the gods won’t take it from her any more. Spiderwoman—the Navajo goddess who taught her people how to weave—takes Nita to the past, and shows her what the Navajo have been through. When she sees the sacrifices that her people made, she starts to become more serious about learning. If she learns how to weave, she’ll get more powers. If she goes through her Kinaaldá (a Navajo coming-of-age ceremony), she’ll increase her powers.

If the members of Tribal Force were here today, what would they be most upset with?

Tribal Force looks at the same issues that rez kids have to deal with. When I was younger, I remember thinking, “We’ll always be poor, struggling, seeing relatives being arrested.” That was kind of crushing. But I educated myself by reading a lot, and in broadening my horizons, I realized that things will change—and that you can change them. The first issue I’m dealing with in the book is the epidemic of child molestation on Indian reservations. Seven out of 10 girls—it’s a huge cancer. Gabe has fetal alcohol syndrome … and he’s into weed and drinking, and struggles with learning what it truly is to be a warrior. A lot of kids misinterpret what a warrior is. It has nothing to do with war. A warrior takes care of his village, makes sure the old ones are taken care of, and that the children are safe. But for the most part, it’s a comic book. There’s action and aliens, and weird stuff.

Given all the injustices Native Americans have experienced, what keeps you fighting the good fight?

To know I have that blood running through me definitely gives me strength. That’s what I’m hoping when kids pick up my book—that somewhere in there, they will find a window that opens up to them, too. We give kids the information in a non-threatening way. It’s not like a textbook.

Is it intended to be controversial?

The books that influenced me, like X-Men, were very controversial at the time, because they talked about homosexuality, racism, suicide—topics that were taboo in comic books. If an educator reads (Tribal Force), they definitely would be worried. (It has) a lot of violence and controversial subject matter. But I’m not writing it for adults. I’m writing it for young people, in a medium they’re used to. It’s the art of “fighting without fighting.” The last thing I want is teachers or organizations saying, “Children, you should read this.” If anything, I want them to say, “Stay away from this book.”

This article originally appeared in High Country News.

Published in Features

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