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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The busy season is here—and to celebrate, the city of Palm Desert has moved its El Paseo Art Walks from Thursday to Friday, as part of an expanded “First Weekend” arts and culture celebration.

I went down to the season’s first El Paseo Art Walk on Friday, Nov. 1, to check out the scene. The event will happen every first Friday through May.

“This was a very positive change to the Art Walk schedule—and with a great turnout,” said Rick Royale, of Royale Projects: Contemporary Art, where the gallery celebrated the opening of Gustavo Godoy: Fast-Formal Metal Constructions. “It’s bringing a good many people interested in art—and also in the social aspect that this event brings to everyone.”

Royale relocated the gallery from Indian Wells earlier this year, so he’s kicking off his first full season at 73190 El Paseo, Suite 3 (760-742-5182; www.royaleprojects.com).

“This location offers greater convenience for new clients to explore the art programs and broaden their interest and awareness,” he said.

Dawson Cole Fine Art manager Marty Raichle declared the move to Fridays to be an instant hit.

“This far surpassed the former Thursday Art Walk. … This is truly special for the city and the galleries,” Raichle said.

The gallery, at 73199 El Paseo, Suite H (760-303-4300; www.dawsoncolefineart.com), is currently showing James Galindo; Soft Edges. The December exhibit, Jim Lamb, will be celebrated with a reception on the next First Friday, Dec. 6.

Nearby Christian Hohmann Fine Art, at 73660 El Paseo, Suite 2 (760-346-4243; www.christianhohmann.com) also opened its doors for the November party.

“I was a part of the committee that worked on the change,” he said. “… Personally, I have participated in the art walks for over 10 years now, and I hope that it will be a constant work in progress … so it can grow into a much larger event over time with broader participation.”

He said the galleries all benefit from the monthly Art Walk.

“Every opportunity to share our passion for art ... (and) meet prospective clients … (and) mingle with collectors benefits us,” he said. “At our price level, we have very few instant sales ... but we have planted countless seeds during art walks.”

The Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert (aka The Galen) is opening its doors for free every first Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. Live music, performance art and film screenings are happening both inside and outside at the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden. (By the way: The museum’s big “Meet the Galen” takes place on Friday, Nov. 22; tickets are $40 to $50 for individuals, or $80 to $85 for couples. Get info at the website.)

Overall, the response at the November event to the change to Friday was overwhelmingly positive; it was nice to see the streets alive with people and traffic—including free pedestrian tours led by a docent.

Of course, the Art Walk is just part of the goings-on that are part of the expanded First Weekend Palm Desert offerings. For example, Cruise Night is part of the First Weekend fun. Classic cars will be parked on the upper level of the Gardens on El Paseo beginning at 3:15 p.m. The cruise on El Paseo starts at 4:30 and continues for an hour. The public is invited to participate or just enjoy. Cruise Night takes place on the first and third Fridays; get more details at www.elpaseocruisenight.com.

Check out all of the First Weekend events at www.pdfirstweekend.com.

And now, it’s time for some self-promotion: Those interested in an art excursion who don’t want to wait until December’s First Friday can delight in VIP treatment while viewing world-class art during one of my Desert Art Tours. Our tours go to an array of local artists’ studios and galleries throughout the valley. Special looks at blue-chip private collections also included. This is a great way to enjoy the vibrant art scene in Greater Palm Springs. The next tour is set for Saturday, Nov. 16. All transportation is included, and space is limited, so reservations are advised; the cost is $65 per person. For reservations or information, call 760-219-5647, or go to www.Desert-ArtTours.com.

Published in Visual Arts

Meet Richard Almada. Several months ago, he launched Desert Art Tours, a new business that offers … well, just what the name says: tours, organized and hosted by Almada, that offer attendees a chance to take in a variety of art in the desert and beyond.

Almada has experience in the arts, cosmetics and real estate worlds over his 30-plus year career. As someone who does not know a whole lot about gallery/visual arts, I decided to talk to Almada about the valley’s arts scene, and where Desert Art Tours fits in.

Consider yourself warned (in a good way): If you ask Almada a question about art, you are going to get a quick-paced, passionate, information-heavy answer. Here are some highlights from our chat.

Why Desert Art Tours? Why now?

Almada said he started the company because he recognized that there are a growing number of folks, both locals and tourists, like me—people who want to learn more about art. For example, the Smithsonian museums have been seeing record crowds. “Attendance at art venues, in the country and around the world, has grown, even as the recession hit us,” he said.

However, it can be difficult for gallery and museum attendees to get proper information if they’re there to truly learn, and not just browse. “Docents aren’t always available,” Almada said. “That can discourage a lot of people from attending.”

It can also be a challenge to see a variety of art in the ever-sprawling Coachella Valley, both for tourists without vehicles, and for locals who may not know where to go. Therefore, Almada handles all of the transportation—and even arranges for a meal on some tours.

Since nobody else in the Coachella Valley that he knew of was offering such art tours, Almada said, starting Desert Art Tours to fill that niche made sense.

What tours are offered?

Almada currently lists six different tours on his site: a tour of the Palm Springs Art Museum; a journey of art, both public and private, across the valley; a valley gallery tour; an El Paseo shopping/gallery jaunt; a private collections tour; and a Southern California day trip tour. Almada is also happy to tailor tours to attendees’ specific desires.

What are some favorite places to take tour-goers?

Almada mentioned a variety of places, all of which happen to be in Palm Desert: The J. Willott Gallery on El Paseo (“They appeal to a vast audience,” he said); the new Dawson Cole Fine Art location, also on El Paseo, which showcases the “world-class sculptures” of Richard MacDonald; the Imago Galleries on Highway 74 (“The architecture is so grand, and the art is so contemporary. They have world-class glass creations.”); Heather James Fine Art, on Portola Avenue, which Almada likes both for its “blue chip” art and its periodic exhibitions, including a fine Picasso show a few years back; and, finally, the four-acre Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert.

OK, so how much does it cost?

That depends on the tour, the length and whether a meal is involved, but it starts at $125 per person, with a group of at least four, he said.

For more information or to contact Desert Art Tours, visit desert-arttours.com.

Published in Visual Arts