Itineraries for Culture Lovers: December 2019

A pow-wow in Indio, design exhibition in Palm Springs, open studio tour in La Quinta, dance in Cathedral City, art shows in Palm Desert, live storytelling in Rancho Mirage, and a variety of holiday-themed entertainment highlight a spirited month of arts and culture across the Coachella Valley. The staff of the California Desert Arts Council offers our recommendations (below) and best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season. Cheers!

Above: Alexander Girard, Abstraction of image Old Sun, Environmental Enrichment Panel #3015, 1971, for Herman Miller. Collection Vitra Design Museum, Alexander Girard Estate. Courtesy Palm Springs Art Museum. From Alexander Girard: A Designer’s Universe, through March 1, 2020, at Palm Springs Art Museum.



BREAKING ALL THE RULES: An exhibition of works by the San Francisco-based graphic designer Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, the pioneer of “California Cool,” continues through January 20, 2020, at the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center. Info

ALEXANDER GIRARD: A Designer’s Universe features more than 400 objects — textiles, drawings, furniture, graphics, film, and folk art — as well as one of the designer’s best known interiors, the 1957 Miller House in Columbus, Indiana, replicated in full scale for the exhibition, which continues through March 1, 2020, at Palm Springs Art Museum. Info

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



OPEN STUDIO TOUR: Visit the La Quinta home studios of more than 25 artists Dec. 1 during the daylong La Quinta Artists Open Studio Tour, presented by La Quinta Historical Society and La Quinta Museum. Info

ART WALK: Visit artists in their natural habitat — in their studios and galleries! — Dec. 6 during the free-to-the-public Backstreet Art District Art Walk in Palm Springs. Info

4 GREAT SHOWS: Heather James Fine Art in Palm Desert presents four exhibitions featuring historic works of art: The Californians, a survey of early impressionist and plein-air paintings; Theophilus Brown and Paul Wonner: Seen through Different Lenses, featuring the artists’ Bay Area figurative paintings; Hassel Smith: Geometric/Abstraction; and Irving Norman: Dark Matter, highlighting the artist’s social surrealist unmasking of the world’s truths. The exhibitions continue through January 31, 2020.

REACH FOR THE SKY: Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage presents a season-long exhibition, Reach for the Sky: Tradition + Inspiration, featuring totems by the Hunt family of Canadian First Nations artists and the musician and artist Herb Alpert. Info

CORAZON DE MEXICO: Visit the 1926 Smiley-Tyler Adobe House and peruse the exhibition Corazon de Mexico, featuring the Coachella Valley History Museum’s new eclectic collection of Mexican folk art, including textiles, pottery, costumes, and wooden toys. Info 

FLIGHT PLAN: The Birds of Sunnylands, an exhibition of 52 photographs taken last season by National Geographic lensman Tim Laman at Sunnylands Center and Gardens, is on view through May 2020 at the Coachella Valley History Museum in Indio. Info



INDIO POWWOW: The Cabazon Band of Mission Indians keeps culture alive Nov. 29–Dec. 1 with Native American dance competitions, bird songs, drum contests, and peon games. Attendees also enjoy Native American foods, jewelry, weavings, and more. The annual event unfolds at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio. Info

TAMALE FESTIVAL: Come see why the Food Network ranks the Indio International Tamale Festival among the nation’s top 10 All-American Food Festivals. Food, music, and fun unfold Dec. 7 and 8 in downtown Indio. Info



KEYS TO JOY: Steinway Society of Riverside presents a free concert by pianist Jonathan Mamora on Dec. 5 at Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory. Mamora uses music to uplift and positively influence others from churches to concert halls. Info

VOICES OF THE HOLIDAYS: The California Desert Chorale, led by artistic director Tim Bruneau and accompanied by Bruce Magnum, performs its holiday concert, “Let There Be Peace,” Dec. 8, 11, and 15, at the Indian Wells Theater at CSUSB Palm Desert Campus. Info

CHRISTMAS CONCERT: Scott Wilkie & Friends return Dec. 9 to CVRep in Cathedral City to perform “Joy: The Christmas Concert,” featuring his creative arrangements of holiday classics. The band includes Pat Kelley (guitar), Nathan Brown (bass), Monette Marino (percussion), and Jeff Olson (drums). Info

JUDY KUHN: Four-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn takes will deliver her Broadway repertoire to audiences at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs, Dec. 9–11. Info

CELTIC CHEER: Eric Rigler and Dirk Freymuth team up Dec. 13 to create a soundscape of Celtic holiday cheer at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs. Info

BIG VOCALS: Voctave, an 11-member a cappella ensemble known for its gorgeous performances of Disney and Broadway hits, performs Dec. 16 at McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. Info

MODERN FAMILY: The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus presents “A Modern Family Holiday,” a concert Dec. 20–22 at Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs. Info



TAP: There’s tap dancing and then there’s Rhythmic Circus, the percussive-dance phenomenon that electrifies audiences with its hard-hitting, rapid-fire tap, sidesplitting humor and finger-snapping tunes. It’s on the McCallum Theatre stage on Dec. 2. Info

CV STORYTELLERS: “New Beginnings” is the theme of the next Coachella Valley Storytellers event, Dec. 4, at the Rancho Mirage Library & Observatory. Real people tell real stories with no script. Info

DANCE AT THE REP: Michael Nickerson-Rossi, founder and artistic director of the International Dance Festival Palm Springs, presents five of his critically acclaimed productions in one in “Masterpiece,” a stunning showcase of compelling choreography and soulful dance, Dec. 8 at CVRep in Cathedral City. Info

WAITRESS: Inspired by the beloved film, this performance, Dec. 6–8 at McCallum Theatre, tells the story of an expert pie maker who dreams of a way out of her small town. It’s an uplifting celebration of friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie. Info

THE NUTCRACKER: CK Dance Company returns to the Annenberg Theater on Dec. 14¬–15 for its 23rd annual performances of The Nutcracker, the quintessential holiday ballet of Tchaikovsky’s classical masterpiece. Info