This Month in the Arts – April 2021

Modernism Week runs April 8–18 with a variety of home tours, including this new design by Ray and Finn Kappe in the Desert Palisades neighborhood in Palm Springs. Photo courtesy Lance Gerber/Palm Springs Life


The Coachella Valley has entered the Red Tier, meaning museums can reopen and outdoor shows will go on, albeit with reduced capacity and continued use of masks and distancing. But it’s not all blue skies and sunshine for the arts in the Coachella Valley. Welcome to the April edition of This Month in the Arts from the California Desert Arts Council.

We begin at Palm Springs Art Museum, which opens April 1 with the greatly anticipated exhibition Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist. The museum’s challenges have only deepened over the past month with the death of Board of Trustees chairman Steve Maloney, the resignation of CEO and director Louis Grachos, and the installation of the controversial Forever Marilyn statue outside the main entrance. Meanwhile, in the lot across from its main building, the museum is siting a major installation by Mexico City artist Gonzalo Lebrija. In the artwork, titled History of Suspended Time (A monument for the impossible), a 1968 Chevy Malibu appears to defy gravity and time as if suspended over a pool of liquid approximately 40 feet in diameter. Visitors also get another chance to see Gerald Clarke: Falling Rock, an exhibition featuring the work of the Cahuilla conceptual artist that was shuttered a year ago due to the pandemic. Additionally, the museum is ready to launch a major fundraiser, Art Auction ’21 (April 9–26), featuring works in a variety of media by more than 60 artists from near and far.

Read more:

Palm Springs Art Museum to reopen on April 1 (The Desert Sun)

Radiant Agnes Pelton (Palm Springs Life)

Palm Springs Art Museum director, CEO Louis Grachos resigns (The Desert Sun)

‘Forever Marilyn’: Citizen group wants judge to stop Palm Springs from closing Museum Way (The Desert Sun)

Gerald Clarke: Tweaking the traditional (Palm Springs Life)

Palm Springs Art Museum adds more artists to auction for fundraiser (The Desert Sun)



Sunnylands Center & Gardens has also reopened, presenting an exhibition of kinetic and op art by Yaacov Agam. The Israeli artist caught the attention of the late Walter and Leonore Annenberg when he exhibited at the opening of the Palm Springs Art Museum’s current location in 1976. Sunnylands is also hosting a “word garden” by artist Ghada Amer on its Great Lawn as part of Desert X through May 16. (Palm Springs Life)

Desert X is seeing steady traffic at nine art installation sites in the Coachella Valley, and two more artworks debut this month, according to the show’s organizers. Visitors will find helpful volunteers and docents, as well as security patrols, at sites during high-traffic times. Desert X offers a bounty of free virtual programs at The Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs hosts the Desert X hub, where visitors can pick up a free program and other valuable information. View the program.

Desert Open Studios, a free, self-guided tour of 66 artist workspaces across the Coachella Valley, is set for April 10–11. Visit the website for a list of artists and driving map, and to download the tour handbook.



Modernism Week (April 8–18) is back with a variety of tours ranging from a seventies Sackley to a contemporary Kappe. Go inside modernist homes and neighborhoods and hear from a variety of experts on all things midcentury during two weeks of fun and informative programming. Here’s the complete schedule.



McCallum Theatre’s Ghostlight Series of free virtual performances continues this month with its third installment featuring Linda Eder, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr., Judy Collins, and a new performance by The TEN Tenors. Meanwhile, watch Episode 2 (featuring Michael Feinstein, Roseann Cash and John Leventhal, and Hershey Felder).

The American Documentary and Animation Film Festival is streaming more than 200 films through April 4 on the DocsNow+ app. The $35.88 pass includes a 12-month subscription for all films presented in the program. A complete list of films is available at (The Desert Sun)

Country singer Toby Keith will be the first musical act this spring at the Coachella Crossroads outdoor event and sports venue next to Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella. (The Desert Sun)



Crime novelist Tod Goldberg, author of the new book The Low Desert, explains how to become a gangster in Palm Springs Life.



CERF+, a nonprofit “safety net” for artists who work in crafts disciplines, is accepting applications through April 21 for its Get Ready Grants, which will award $500 to at least 100 artists to help safeguard their studios, protect their careers, and prepare for emergencies.