Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Desert X from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea

by Patricia Frischer

The second year of Desert X is now on view until April 21. These installation are from artists from all over the world. They are hard to find but they have made it easier if you have an iphone (which I do not!). So we just have to search and trust to luck and a small gathering of others to make sure that X marked the spot. 

We could not attempt to see all the installation so I choose ones to hunt out that had a visual component that seemed compelling. The first two at the Salton Sea near Mecca, were just absent.  Maybe bad weather destroyed them or they were more temporary than reported. But we got to see the Salton Sea which is now full and quite lovely. And we did not give up. Instead we were lucky to find a few replacements on view (not part of Desert X) but restoring our confidence that public art could be mysterious and awe inspiring, 

Etherea by Edoardo Tresoldi
This large structure is made all of chicken wire and is quite magnificent. It is on permanent display at the corner of 6th St and Caesar Chavez (formally Harrison) in Coachella Valley. It was installed during the festival and the Mayor fell in love with it and managed to obtain it for the city.  

Desert Warren by Karen and Tony Barone
These dumb bunnies do put a smile on your face and sometimes that is all you need to get through the day. Across the street was a rainbow made out of re bar and painted in similar colors. Lover's Rainbow by Pia Coordinates  simply did not look worth the effort to stride out into the desert to look more closely. 

Dive-In by Superflex
This was our first real Desert X work of the trip and although we were not able to see the video component that was only display on a Sat night between 6 and 8, we were still charmed by the color and the texture of this painted structure. Evidently the video projects an undersea fantasy of what the desert would look like if it was once again underwater. The pink color made everyone look rosy and provided tons of photo opportunities. Not sure this is great art, but it was a relief to see any art at all finally. 

Western Flag by John Gerrard
Luckily the next day was more successful still. Our favorite work was this huge LED display of a pole emitting plumbs of oil making a flag shape. On coming very close you could see the foreground and background were shifting as the recording was pivoting. As it turns the oil flow shifts as if the winds was shifting. 

Ghost Palm by Kathleen Ryan

Finding this work entailed a drive on a dirt road and a trust in the process of hide and seek.  The real luck was the breeze picking up just at the right time so we could record this work as it moved and played it wind song. 

Specter by Sterling Ruby

Weaving back and forth through out the valley, racking up miles as we criss-crossed the terrain, our last stop was this simple box constructed out of different shades of orange, casting shadows, reflecting its glow and some times even appearing almost flat from a distance at certain angles. I like the reflection of the clouds which then led you to reflect on the desert around you and the mountain backdrop. 

 Of course it is hard to compete with the natural beauty of the snow topped mountains that are a back drop to all of Palm Springs. And if you go soon, you can also see some of the desert in bloom.

We reported on the first Desert X in 2017 if you want to view more reports.

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