Palm Springs has been drawing creatives and cultural leaders to its streets for nearing on a century, since its days as a desert retreat for Golden Age Hollywood to its more recent incarnation as a hotbed for art and design of international renown. Events such as Modernism Week and the concurrent Art Palm Springs art fair are potent reminders that there is much more to this city than glamorous resorts. Growing every year, these two showcases combine mid-century style with contemporary innovation and transform the California oasis into a dazzling cultural hub each February.
Gerald Peters Projects booth at Art Palm Springs 2018
Less Than Usual (Oil on canvas, 2017), by Kenton Nelson, featured at booth above
Gillian Blitch—a Director of the Santa Fe Art Auction and Gerald Peters Gallery—was visiting with Gerald Peters Projects, one of the exhibitors at Art Palm Springs. She observes that an essential part of that draw is the location itself and the all-encompassing experience of the multi-day function. “More and more people are interested in a ‘destination event,’” she says. “It brought designers and artists and collectors and consultants, as well as dealers, from all over the country.” Modernism Week capitalizes on this trend, as well as the popularity of the aesthetics of the 50s and 60s, while also taking a lens to how the Modernist movement continues to impact the creative communities.
Who-Ble (Acrylic on Canvas, 2002), courtesy of William Turner Gallery, and artist Ed Moses, photographed by Rob Brander
Andy Moses, photographed with one of his pieces by Jim McHugh
“The early Modernists were taking fascinating, groundbreaking steps,” Gillian explains. “How did that incentivize other craftmakers and artists?” Modernism Week and Art Palm Springs gives artists and designers the space to answer that question by “revisiting and exploring those aesthetics in a 21st century setting.” Artists such as Ed and Andy Moses, who were named Art Palm Springs’ 2018 Artists of the Year, are pioneering examples. Ed Moses was a foundational member of the “Cool School” of artists at the L.A. Ferus Gallery, and was committed to experimentation and abstraction for the entirety of his long, groundbreaking career; the works of his son Andy Moses honor and continue that tradition in a style all his own. Other favorites at the show were Kenton Nelson, whose striking pieces depicting Americana has graced several covers of The New Yorker and is reminiscent of 1930’s American scene painters, American Regionalists, and Mexican Muralists, and Jeremy Thomas, who works in a deft fusion of blue-collar work ethic and sculptural practice. Several of his bright steel ‘objects’ can also be seen at our own Bentley Gallery in Phoenix.
A Jeremy Thomas piece featured in the lobby of the convention center
The Artist of the Year award ceremony was simply one of many attractions arranged at the convention center, which saw thousands of visitors during one of Art Palm Springs’ most successful runs to date. A series of “conversations” on special topics were also hosted each day, exploring the inspiration of individual artists as well as the larger creative exchange between the worlds of art and design. After all, as Gillian says, Modernism was never just restricted to a canvas, it was a “trend of thought that affirmed our ability to create, improve and reshape our environment in the context of the newly industrialized world of the early 20th century.” This spirit of reinvention is what continues to draw public attention and acclaim, as each new year boasts exciting trends and styles to discover.
If you missed Art Palm Springs and Modernism Week last month, don’t worry about having to wait until 2019 for your next chance. The latter will be hosting a preview this fall from October 18th through the 21st, so mark your calendars and be sure not to miss it!
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