Itineraries for Culture Lovers: March 2019

The arts season reaches a fever pitch in March, offering a world-class lineup of performances, exhibitions, and tours across Greater Palm Springs. Culture vultures can visit Desert X installations and many other art and architecture offerings by day, and take in live music and theater by night. Here are our staff’s best bets. Visit our website,, to see the full calendar.

Above: SPECTER, a sculpture by Los Angeles-based artist Sterling Ruby, occupies a small parcel in Whitewater through April 21 as part of the Desert X exhibition of site-specific art throughout the Coachella Valley and down to the Salton Sea. Photograph by Steven Biller.


HUGH KAPTUR: Organic Desert Architecture continues through June 17 at the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center. The exhibition offers a deep dive into the career of an architect with more than 200 built projects in the Coachella Valley. Info

WALKER GUEST HOUSE: Tour a replica of the Paul Rudolph’s Walker Guest House, an icon of Sarasota modernism, in downtown Palm Springs through March 2020. Info

DAN KILEY: UCR Palm Desert presents a photographic retrospective celebrating the work of the modernist landscape architect through April 12. Info


POSTCARDS FROM MECCA: The California Desert Photographs of Susie Keef Smith and Lula Mae Graves continues through May 11 at La Quinta Museum. The exhibition and a new book by Ann Japenga and Warner Graves follows the story of the photographers capturing the 1920s desert outback. Info

ARTISANS AT THE PUEBLO: Julia Briest, Ellen Finan, Maria Hunt, and Sergio Naduville exhibit their works March 10 at Cabot’s Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs. Info

LIVING HISTORY FESTIVAL: More than 20 exhibits come to life during this free event March 16 at the Coachella Valley History Museum in Indio, where you can also visit the Smiley Adobe home, a 1909 schoolhouse, and the California Date Museum. Info

LINES IN THE SAND: The exhibition at Palm Springs Art Museum explores the history of the desert through for themes: land, light, people, and place. It features highlights from the museum’s collections of indigenous art, depictions of the California desert through painting and photography, and contemporary art inspired by the physical and cultural environment of the state. Info


NATIVE FILM FEST: Mary Pickford Theatre in Cathedral City hosts the 18th annual festival March 8–9, screening Words from a Bear, Falls Around Her, and a program of 13 short films. Info

POINT DEFIANCE: While under house arrest, a stockbroker’s world turns upside down after his troubled brother returns from military duty in Afghanistan, forcing them to face a forgotten past harboring a dark secret. Desert Film Society presents Point Defiance on March 9 at Palm Springs Cultural Center. Info

AS IS: Nick Cave traveled to Louisiana to begin an eight-month project leading to a one-time multimedia performance using hundreds of people from the local community. The film, screening March 21 at UCR Palm Desert, shows how he brought people from all walks of life together using the power of art. Info


WHAT’S YA? Palm Springs Writers Guild presents award-winning author John Smelcer, whose poems, articles, essays, and interviews have been published in more than 500 magazines worldwide. He presents “What’s YA Anyway?” March 2 at Rancho Mirage Public Library and Observatory. Info

RICK STEVES: The travel writer, author, activist, and public television and radio personality continues the Palm Springs Speaks lecture series March 3 at The Richards Center for the Arts at Palm Springs High School. Info

OPEN BOOK: Authors Maggie Downs and Tod Golberg present “Tales from the Open Book Radio Show & Podcast” on March 16 at the Cathedral City Library. The event is part of the library’s free-to-the-public speaker series. Info


RESPECT THE QUEEN: Toucan’s Live on Stage presents Amy Armstrong, one of the biggest voices in cabaret, performing a tribute to the legacies of Aretha Franklin and Queen, March 1–23, at Toucan’s Tiki Lounge & Cabaret in Palm Springs. Info

AMERICANO: Spanish star Pablo Sáinz Villegas combines the emotions of sensual Brazilian music, the nostalgic tango, vivid Venezuelan rhythms, and the exciting and colorful American bluegrass in a performance March 4 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. Info

CHORALE IN CONCERT: The California Desert Chorale presents its spring concert March 31 at Indian Wells Theater at CSUSB Palm Desert Campus. Info


MY SON THE WAITER: If you ever longed for something, if you ever desired it with all our heart, if you were willing to wait tables for 29 years to pursue your dream, then this Jewish tragedy will give meaning to your life. My Son the Waiter continues through March 10 at the Indian Wells Theater at CSUSB Palm Desert Campus. Info

WHITE GUY ON THE BUS: A wealthy white businessman always rides the same bus, and befriended a single black mom. As they get to know one another, their pasts unfold and tensions rise, igniting a disturbing and crucial exploration of race, March 1–10 at Pearl McManus Theater in Palm Springs, presented by Dezart Performs. Info

DANCE FEST: Palm Springs Dance Festival unfolds at several locations March 7–10 with a full schedule of performances, master classes, dance on film, and gala. Info

HAIRSPRAY: Desert Theatreworks presents the smash-hit Broadway musical March 8–24 at the Indio Performing Arts Center. It tells the story of plus-sized teen Tracy Turnblad, who becomes a local celebrity by dancing on TV’s Corny Collins Show. Info

PROOF: Desert Ensemble Theatre presents the Pulitzer and Tony award-winning play about the mysteries of love and mathematics March 15–18 and 22–24 at Pearl McManus Theater in Palm Springs. Info

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE: This new play based on the 1998 film introduces a young Will Shakespeare with writer’s block and the deadline approaching for his new play. He finds his muse, Viola, who’ll stop at nothing (including breaking the law) to appear in his production. The pay runs March 21–24 at Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs. Info

GREATER TUNA: In this comedy about a small town in Texas named Tuna, the wacky inhabitants are all played by Alan Denny and Chuck Yates, who change parts at breakneck speed and use inventive voice work. Presented by Coyote StageWorks, the play runs March 22–31 at Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs. Info


DESERT X: Sterling Ruby, Superflex, Iván Argote, and more than 15 other artists from around the world converge on the California desert with site-specific installations throughout the Coachella Valley and down to the Salton Sea. The exhibition continues through April 21. Info

LA QUINTA ARTS FESTIVAL: The nationally acclaimed festival returns March 7–10 for its 37th year, showcasing art in a variety of media by a juried selection of artists from around the United States. Info

UNSETTLED: This sweeping exhibition (through April 30, 2019) at Palm Springs Art Museum features more than 75 artists living or working in the Greater West, including Ed Ruscha, Gerard Murillo, Sonia Falcone, Ana Teresa Fernández, Edgar Arceneaux, Andrea Zittel, Nicholas Galanin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, and Phillip K. Smith III. Info

BOYS HOME: The inaugural exhibition at Radical Aesthetic Transposition in Desert Hot Springs runs March 3 through April 15 and features Michelle Castillo, Adriene Jenkik, Angie Jennings, Steve Walters, Matthew Savistky, and Chantal Wnuk. Info

149: Contemporary Thoughts on the Lynching of Mexicans in California 1848-1895 revisits a dark time in the state’s history at a critical point in the nation’s history. The two-artist exhibition continues through April at the Coachella Valley Art Center. Info

ART WALKS: Put on your walking shoes for a few nights out to see art from near and afar. Upcoming gallery crawls include El Paseo Art Walk on March 1, Backstreet Art District Art Walk in Palm Springs on March 6, and the Cathedral City Art and Design District on March 9.

LOCAL COLOR: Members of the Artists Council present the group exhibition Metamorphosis, featuring a selection of works in different media by locally based artists. The show runs March 28–April 12 at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert. Info

INDIAN WELLS ART FEST: A juried selection of more than 200 artists from around the world converge on the Indian Wells Tennis Garden March 29–31 for the 17th annual Indian Wells Arts Festival. Info

SAM FRANCIS: From Dusk to Dawn, a 40-year survey exhibition of paintings and works on paper by the acclaimed California artist, is on view at Heather James Fine Art in Palm Desert through April 29. Info

FLIGHT PLAN: The Birds of Sunnylands exhibits 52 photos of the more than 130 species of birds that migrate here every year, all photographed at Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage over the past two years by wildlife photographer and ornithologist Tim Laman. Info