Friday, March 10, 2017

The 2017 La Quinta Arts Festival

     When I moved to Palm Springs in 2016 I knew both Palm Springs and many of the cities in the Coachella Valley had various events during the year. What I didn't know was just how world class many of them were. I had come to visit a friend several times and saw Halloween, Gay Pride, The Light Parade, even a local high school football game but never really realized there was that and MUCH, much more.
La Quinta Festival of the
Arts Tickets were $17
     A quick rundown: January is The Palm Springs Film Festival, February is Modernism Week something I returned home from a trip in time for but  avoided as I grew up in that time and believe me, today is not the 50's, March is Professional Tennis, La Quinta Arts Festival (more on that next), April two weeks of the Coachella Music Festival then a week of Stagecoach in Indio ... trust me, the list goes on and on. Every month there is something. For many years world class events like this avoided summers but each year one by one more events creep into "summer" or probably a more apt description, hell, where days are routinely 110+ each and every day, weeks on end. However, last August in a bid to have something to do the promoters of Comic-Con decided to use the Contention center in a late bid for a weekend in Palm Springs. Even though there was only three weeks notice, well over 12,000 people attended the three day event, an event so successful they will have another this year probably with a far better promotional notice.
     Many of the events are world class and The La Quinta Arts Festival is one of the premier art shows in the world and voted the best in the nation three years straight. What's not to like? Set in a city park, with fountains, food, and artists from around the world, art fans have four whole days to see and meet the artists and purchase, what I discovered, is world class art.
Yes, there are that many artists from the US and the world!
     There was plenty of parking but I realized a short two block walk was fast and free. The crowd wasn't bad and the process painless. There is a wonderful brochure that gives you a map of what appears to be a wandering meander through the civic center park. There was food with places to eat, a fountain in a pond and lots and lots of art. It appears daunting but the entire area is filled not just with tents but a variety of artwork that is both whimsical and yet skillful just inviting you to come over and look at it. Many of the vendors seem to have few problems with you taking photos and since most of the time now I only take my iPhone to take pictures (unless scanned, every photo here is from my iPhone) so I concentrated on things I had never seen before or were done in new and unique ways. There many many, MANY paintings but it was the craft items that won my heart that day.
A view across the pond of some of the art pavilions.
     One of the first booths to catch my eye was the jewelry, primarily rings of Harry Roa of Florida. I had never seen such designs and while they looked odd and clunky trying them on I found them very
Harry Roa Ring. It fit like a
glove and was stunning on.
Who could resist this "blowing" in the wind?
comfortable and made a definite statement on your hand. Sadly I didn't have that kind of cash but I kept a card if my ship comes in. Starting from the entrance I came in at, I seemed to find a path going up and down the aisles. There were many people there already (I arrived about 11 am) and I saw more than a few people carrying treasures. Many of the original paintings were also available in giclee for less.
A clay birdhouse caught my heart!
     Its hard to know where to begin. You'll just have to come next

Lathed driftwood! Stunning!!

Pottery Nash Metropolitan. I learned
to drive a stick in one of these!

year. I saw so many unique and yet beautiful things, items I would put in my home if I had the room. Or maybe the yard?
       I think what was so wonderful was how things you would know ... driftwood, skeletons, toys, pottery, glass, metal all done with unique twists and turns. I snapped away and then studied each of these items very carefully.
      You have to wonder and admire the originality so many of these artists had. Here are a few of the pieces that simply blew me away.
     As I prepare to be involved with another show soon in Indian Wells, you have to wonder, am I prepared to talk about my art? Does it measure up to the things I saw here? I understand the promoter is famous and that since it is being held during a tennis tournament drawing hundreds of thousands of people, they will be gazing at not only famous artists works but mine as well. How does an artist, especially one that is starting out so late in life, fare in this day and age. I have always insisted that no matter how bad, how
Since I collect cobalt glass this 
artist already connected with me
Kathy Ross's skeletons
mediocre a persons art is, think of Van Gogh, there is a kernel of truth about that artist, what they are trying to say, express. Many artists are very private and can only speak through their art, no matter what it is. We may think something is beautiful or disgusting or have no feelings at all but the person right next to you could be moved, sometimes to tears as they grasp from their own life experiences the pain or puzzlement or joy expressed in that artists work. We never know.
       One of the artists that I particularly liked, talked with for awhile and who shared some of her secrets with me was Kathy Ross with her mixed medias sculptures that were unlike anything I had seen before. Like several other artists, her items must take hours, even hundreds of hours to complete. She had a wide variety of things but several stand out. One was a decorated skeleton perfect for "Day of the Dead" and a VW model that was unlike anything you have ever seen before. It is this
Jeweled bunny
kind of inventiveness that inspires me and I now have several projects I want to try just from seeing some of the possibilities I saw at the Festival.
A knitted faucet!
     There was so much to see and show here that it is kind of overwhelming. Even some of the more mundane crafts were shown one, the huge knitted water spigot was very similar to huge knitted Chinese New Year displays at the IFC 2 in Hong Kong. There was time for whimsy even!
     What was the prettiest item? or items? I don't think there was really a single winner though I did see ribbons proudly displayed for a variety of categories in some of the booths. While I know what I like and over time have come to appreciate certain artists and a variety of artistic creations, I am not fond of critics. Too often, especially in the case of music and art, what a critic thinks is wonderful, does not resonate with the viewing public. The French Salon rejected the Impressionists though the public loved them when they arranged their own show.
No manner of art was neglected. Is this art? Here 
we are ready for Mardi Gras anyplace in the world. I vote
that it IS art!!!
     Art is very subjective. What I like you may not. During his lifetime artists like Van Gogh, Gauguin and later Duchamp, Cezanne and others when starting the movement to modern, even abstract art were vilified, especially by the critics. Behind the "Mona Lisa" the second most liked, popular, admired painting in the world is Van Gogh's "Starry Night," and as beautiful as it is, could be by some thought to have been painted by a child. Having seen it, the power of those swirling brushstrokes is mesmerizing, something no photograph can capture.
Who are we? What is inside us?


     La Quinta has art that we recognize but will also challenges all our personal conceptions, what we think is real and not real. Yet, the power of art is that it does attempt to make the intangible tangible. It tries to explain our deepest fear, our greatest loves and all of the feelings in-between.
     I especially admired work by this artist ( above right. I didn't get a card, sadly) who reminded me of an episode of "Star Trek, The Next Generation" where Picard had a head on his desk found on a planet  long extinct, The head on his desk that opens. Inside are many many little heads. They were finally able to read the writing and it was explained that this sculpture showed with its many heads the aspects of a person ... that of child, boy, son, father, uncle, grandfather, worker, lover, husband. I thought these are thoughts we think. Here the artist was able to show that. It stuck in my mind the first time I saw it because I realized the great truth of that artist.
     Art is something that man has created since before recorded history. It is something that is in our genes, something that we create in an attempt to explain and understand our place in the universe. I urge you to visit an art show, visit a museum and "fall" into each piece of art. In each one is a story, and often it is the same story that we live each and every day today.

Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to read earlier blogs where the emphasis here is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always have. Comments are always welcomed! Be sure to check my re-opened ETSY store ...

No comments:

Post a Comment