A Valley Brimming With Art
Palm Springs is a wellspring of community-focused art that captures the spirit and personality of the Coachella Valley. From fine art galleries to eclectic museums and gardens, tourists can absorb a diverse array of paintings, environmental art, sculptures, theatrical experiences and other art forms to satisfy their cultural cravings.
Top art institutions in Palm Springs
The arts play a significant role in Palm Springs by celebrating the area’s history and heritage and expressing the characteristics of its present landscape. The area boasts a wealth of galleries, museums and other institutions.
Palm Springs Art Museum, the largest cultural institution in Coachella Valley, is spread across three locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. It features a permanent art collection, rotating exhibitions, and the Annenberg Theater. The museum's Palm Desert site is hosted in The Galen. The four-acre Fay Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden surrounds The Galen and is free to the public. For those with an affinity for architecture, the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion, in downtown Palm Springs is a must-see.
Meanwhile, the Desert Art Center is a paragon of the community’s sense of pride in its art production. A community resource, the center seeks to stimulate, educate and nurture the visual arts of the Coachella Valley. Members exhibit and sell their art in a gallery space that emulates a co-op setting.
The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum emphasizes the critical role the Palm Springs-based Agua Caliente clan of Cahuilla Indians played in developing the area’s artistic expression. At the museum, tourists can learn about Native American ancestry, art and history. Coming in 2017, the museum will host “Singing the Birds: (Wikitmallem Tahmuwhae) Bird Song & Dance Festival” with celebrated bird singers and dancers from California and Arizona. Additionally, a Native FilmFest is planned for March.
Encapsulating the desert landscape
Also embedded in the Palm Springs art scene are celebrations of the region’s environment and history. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens pay homage to the flora and fauna of the Colorado Desert. The Stephen B. Chase Administration Building at The Living Desert hosts a collection of nearly 50 paintings by 22 artists, including some of California's best. Among the collection are 14 scenes depicting the Coachella Valley done in Plein Air style, a long-time California tradition because it serves to capture transient light on the environment's fixed yet expansive landscape.
The Desert Art Center carries on this tradition by hosting Plein Air Painting Days several times per month in various outdoor locations around the Coachella Valley – another benefit of the area's reliably warm and pleasant climate. Community members and tourists alike enjoy this organized outdoor social event.
Behind the curtains
For those wishing to escape inside for a show, Palm Springs and the surrounding cities offer a burgeoning theater community.
The Coachella Valley Repertory in Rancho Mirage is a nonprofit professional theater company whose past productions have included bold works such as “I Am My Own Wife,” by Doug Wright; “Master Class,” By Terrence McNally; and “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks,” by Richard Alfieri. A premier arts organization, the company contributes to Coachella Valley communities through cultural awareness and support.
Coyote StageWorks, another leading theater organization, works out of the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater. The Coyote was voted “Best Live Theater” by readers of Desert Magazine in 2013 and 2014. The Coyote’s 2016-17 season will feature a "Legendary Ladies" series with shows that have strong female leads, such as “Steel Magnolias” and “The Lady With All the Answers.”
With offerings that embrace the full spectrum of visual arts, as well as theater and outdoor exhibits, the art scene in the Greater Palm Springs area is poised to appeal to the proclivities and preferences of all art aficionados.