Palm Springs outdoor art scene – Palm Springs public art and art walks

by Oct 4, 2021California

Palm Springs Outdoor Art Scene Palm Springs Public Art

While Palm Springs may be famous for its celebrity lifestyle and Hollywood elite residences, it is becoming even more famous for its public outdoor art and murals. The Palm Springs outdoor art scene, with art walks and publicly supported art, is alive and vibrant.

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Palm Springs, California, has been known as a desert playground for Hollywood stars since the 1920s. In part, because of those rich and famous, the greater Palm Springs area has become home to world-class art galleries and exhibitions, outdoor art festivals such as Desert X, and an awe-inspiring collection of publicly supported art from sculptures to murals.

The Palm Springs outdoor art scene is not only alive and well, but also kicking and growing. If you’ve not experienced it and you are, as we are, lovers of art — be it sculpture, murals, street art or kinetic creations — then you are missing out. We made a trek there to find out more about the scene, from outdoor art that pops up behind every corner of Greater Palm Springs, to an amazing collection of modernism architecture, to the acclaimed Desert X biennial show.

A perfect introduction to Palm Springs public art is during the El Paseo Art Walk, held the first Friday of every month from November through May from 4 to 8 p.m. El Paseo is known as the Rodeo Drive of the desert, so expect to experience wealth and splendor on exhibit, of course. But it will blend nicely with everyday artists and art lovers mixing with exhibit openings, artist receptions, open art galleries, and more. Courtesy golf-carts are on hand to drop visitors off as they hop from gallery to gallery.

Whether you are a serious art connoisseur or a casual visitor curious about art, Palm Springs has something for you. We’d recommend downloading the ArtsGPS app (only for iPhone currently) as it will be a great digital guide to all the publicly available art in the Greater Palm Spring area (Tiny caveat: Sometimes it doesn’t get updated as quickly as the art is added or moved).

Don’t have time for a full tour? Here is a quick guide to some public art we think you won’t want to miss. You’re very own guided art walk, if you will (well, OK, you’ll need a car to get from city to city).

Palm Springs Public Art

We’ll start in downtown Palm Springs itself, and here, you can leave your car parked and just wander. The first bit of public art you may witness are the colorfully painted benches along South Palm Canyon in downtown Palm Springs. They are part of a larger outdoor art project in Palm Springs supporting public art and were painted in 2020 as part of a multi-phased project supporting individual artists. They add a dash of cheer and color to the street we really enjoyed, like the one below. Go on your own treasure hunt to see them all – and new ones are being added all the time.

Palm Springs Public Art Scene Public Bench

Isabelle is simply an astonishing metal sculpture. Located at 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way (in an walkway between the hotel and the coffee shop), one needs to walk slow circles around this polished stainless steel sculpture to truly appreciate the work of quantum physicist turned artist, Julian Voss-Andreae. It is eye-catching in all kinds of light. Do NOT miss her.

Isabelle Sculpture Solid Public Art Palm Springs

Isabella Public Art Palm Springs

Rainmaker is just fun, and mesmerizing. Located at 500 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Frances Stevens Park, the fountain was created in 2000 by artist David Morris. Two metal tubes bounce slowly up and down, pouring water out (raining) when full into the collection pond below. It is meant to be a community gathering spot, with cooling water on those famous hot desert days. Kids (and adults) love to play in the spray – and are welcome to, as this little boy we discovered was gladly doing on a warm spring day.

Rainmaker Boy Playing Palms Springs Art

Squeeze is a geometric, large-scale sculpture by John Clements that plays with curved linear space. The one pictured is at 538 N. Palm Canyon Drive.

Palm Springs Yellow Circles Art

The Palm Springs Babies will either be fascinating or disturbing, depending on your point of view. Usually located at 101 N. Museum Drive, across the street from the Palm Springs Art Museum, large sculptures of babies look as if they are crawling through the dirt and along the walls of a giant pit. Instead of faces, each sculpture’s face has a barcode, an artist’s statement on societal dehumanization. Created by David Cerny, the baby sculptures also appear in Prague and Chicago – and in fact, keep your eyes peeled in Palm Springs. Sometimes they appear in other places around town, too.

Fault Line Babies Public Art Palm Springs

In the same location as Babies is Fault Line Meditation (which you can see in part in the photo above and at night in our cover image). Created by Palm Springs artist Jevpic, the long, jagged red line in the dirt represents a metaphoric walk along a “fault” that encourages shifting focus from blame to reflection and healing. It is illuminated at night and worth a stop. Just don’t get spooked by the Babies.

Enjoy the sculpture of Lucille Ball, one of the older works of public art in Palm Springs. The bronze statue sits near the corner of Tahquitz Canyon Way and Palm Canyon Drive and is a perfect photo op for many tourists. Who doesn’t want to sit next to Lucy?

Lucille Ball Public Art Palm Springs

Indio Art Scene

We loved the sculpture Yard Dog by Don Kennell. A large 12-foot-by-20-foot metal sculpture, it originally held a giant porch swing under its belly. Now THAT would have been fun. It is located at the corner of Avenue 48 and Hjorth Street, at the corner of a, yes, dog park.

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Yard Dog Coachella Public Art

The Old Indio Mural, below, was created by Rijan Masoumpanah and is part of so many wonderful murals and street art in Indio. If you happen into Indio on a weekend, keep your eye open for some classic car events or cruise nights by the New Illusions Car Club. Indio’s cultural and community scene is worth spending your time; don’t ignore outlying Greater Palm Springs communities and just stay in the ritz of Palm Springs.

Old Indio Mural With Classic Car

Coachella Art Scene

Coachella is known for its amazing murals, launched via a project called Coachella Walls in 2014 with just five murals. The idea was to bring together artists from around the world to commemorate the forgotten farm community. There are now over 14 murals within a 10-block radius of the historic downtown. Just wander and enjoy, but here are a few highlights:

The Anonymous Farm Worker mural was created by artist El Mac and is located on 6th Street and Vine. It is a celebration of the local population of Coachella and honors the farm workers.

Anonymous Farm Worker Mural Coachella

Inspired by Mexican folk-art sculptures, the Hungry Dog of the Desert mural was created by artist Ricardo Angeles Mendoza in 2017. It is located in Veterans Memorial Park.

Hungry Dog Of The Desert Mural

Below is a magnificent mural, nearly 190 feet long, that depicts the color and beauty of nature all around us. Created by artist Ever Galvez.

Evergalvez Artist Nature Mural Coachella

And finally, we loved the mural by Adrian Takano, Mujer del Desierto, created in May 2017. It is located on Sixth Street at Vine Avenue.

Woman With Green Beetles Mural Coachella

And although not a mural, Coachella has also become famous for this sculpture – Etherea. This amazing airy structure sits in Coachella in Greater Palm Springs, larger than life at 54 feet, like a real building from the wonderland world. Changing light keeps it fascinating, any time of day. Etherea, by Italian Edoardo Tresoldi, was installed as a temporary exhibit in 2018 but gained a permanent home in 2021. The sculpture is located at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Sixth Street.

Coachella Outdoor Art Etherea

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