As much as I love looking at paintings and sculptures by famous — and in many cases long-dead — artists, I appreciate even more the paintings and sculptures of artists who are not household names. Actually, they are household names — in my world. They are “local artists” that are living and breathing life into new ideas all the time.
I have lived in San Diego for a little less than 15 months, so I am still absorbing the art scene here. I moved to Palm Springs in 1989, so I’ve had plenty of time to become acquainted with the art scene there. What I have always appreciated is that the desert embraces local artists, and I enjoy witnessing the camaraderie among them.
I took an extended, art-centric weekend there at the beginning of this month, arriving in the desert on Thursday afternoon. About an hour later, I was in Tony and Karen Barone’s sculpture-filled back yard in Rancho Mirage.
Tony and Karen create sculptures for Fashion Week El Paseo and unveil them in their back yard before the weeklong event in Palm Desert. Karen, who makes her own couture, was dressed in gold and silver — matching this year’s Gilded Godiva sculpture (photo below) and the gold and silver balloons floating on the pool (photo above).
“Are there enough balloons?” Tony asked. “No,” she replied, “you can never have too many balloons.”
Among the guests was Michael Fiacco, who opened Archangel Gallery on Palm Canyon Drive since my departure from Palm Springs. I was pleased to hear that he is representing several local artists, including Tony and Karen.
On Friday, I attended an exhibition reception for Michael Ross, who paints abstract landscapes at his home studio in the High Desert. A master of color and texture with oils, Michael recently embarked on a series of oceanscapes. The first six sold immediately, including the latest that was hanging on the wall at Ramey Fine Art on El Paseo in Palm Desert (photo below). Within 30 minutes of my arrival, a couple purchased his 60-by-60 painting hanging in the gallery’s front window. Because Michael is a dear friend of mine, I felt a thrill even though I wasn’t the one going home with the money or the painting.
Before heading home, I stopped at the Walter N. Marks Gallery at College of the Desert to see the Desertscapes: Outliers exhibition featuring photography by another friend, whom I met at another local artist’s home. Bill Brewer makes magic of desolate places and panoramas (photo below). His photographs inspire contemplation. And viewers often can be heard asking, “Where is that?”
My trilogy of art events culminated on Sunday with a fundraising exhibit and sale by the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Artists Council. I knew several of the artists showing at the event, held in a residential back yard. I was drawn there by the appearance of Robert Bradshaw, whose character-filled ink paintings capture moments like still frames from movies, probably surreal ones (photo below). But I also saw other artists I knew, including Charlie Ciali, who has recently experimented with resin over encaustic painting (photo below), and Ryan Motel Campbell, who has gravitated toward painting dancers (photo below).
There was another artist there that I knew, but I didn’t meet her in the desert. Dottie Stanley (photo below) lives in La Jolla, but has a condo in Palm Desert. Robert met her when he removed his paintings from Miro’s Restaurant in Palm Springs and she was installing her paintings. On one of my visits to his house after I moved to San Diego, he mentioned that I should look her up sometime in La Jolla.
I hadn’t gotten around to doing so when, a couple of weeks later, I attended a fundraising gala. The gentleman I sat next to told me that his wife, sitting on his other side, is an artist and that her name is Dottie.
“Do you live in La Jolla?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
Dottie was now listening to our conversation.
“Oh!” I said. “I’m supposed to meet you!”
If you hang out with artists, you’re bound to meet more of them. And when you befriend artists, you will see life in new ways.
Shown below, in order: Tony and Karen Barone, Michael Ross, Bill Brewer, Robert Bradshaw, Charlie Ciali, Ryan Motel Campbell and Dottie Stanley with their works — and me!