This Month in the Arts – August 2021

Tickets for Modernism Week Fall Preview go on sale Aug. 1. Above: Elrod House, Palm Springs, California, 2007, by Julius Shulman and Juergen Nogai.

 

A new budget with an unprecedented investment in the arts, the return of local theater (proof of vaccination required), signs of life at the historic Plaza Theatre, an in-person Modernism Week Fall Preview, and a new film festival in the High Desert. Welcome to the August edition of This Month in the Arts from the California Desert Arts Council.

We begin with Gov. Gavin Newsom signing the 2021-22 state budget, which includes $616 million for the arts, culture, and live events industries — a figure that many longtime arts advocates suggest could herald a new era in how the state supports the arts, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The budget package includes:

  • $50 million for small nonprofits for employee expenses, which could help those organizations comply with AB5, the gig work law that makes it harder for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors.
  • $150 million to live event venues and businesses, including minor league sports.
  • $128 million to the California Arts Council, $60 million of which supports the piloting of the California Creative Corps, a program hiring artists to further public health goals.
  • $50 million to museums.
  • $238 million in a series of earmarks to specific organizations.

 

ON WITH THE SHOW

For the safety of its cast, crew, vendors, and audiences, CVRep will require proof of vaccination in the upcoming season, The Desert Sun reports. The theater company will make an exception for those who are unable to get vaccinated for health or other reasons with proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours. They also will have to remain masked and seated in a separate socially distanced section of the auditorium. A CVRep benefit event is set for Aug. 22 with a performance by the piano duo The Latsos, featuring the music of Joe Giarrusso. Joining Giorgi Latso and Ana Fedorova-Latso are John Walz, Kaitlyn Farley, and David Hirsch. Tickets include a post-performance reception at the Playhouse.

Desert Rose Playhouse, the first local theater company to put on a full, live production since the pandemic shutdowns, is settling into its new home and preparing for a busy year, CV Independent reports. Now located in Palm Springs, the theater has announced an ambitious slate of shows that includes The Great American Trailer Park MusicalXanadu, Rocky HorrorHedwig and the Angry Itch, and Christmas With the Crawfords.”

By the way, according to new research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, watching a live theater production can increase empathy for the groups depicted in the plays and may even result in real changes in charitable behavior. The findings shed light on how the consumption of fictional narratives can alter people’s socio-political beliefs and their behavior toward others.

 

STAGE AND SCREEN

Palm Springs International Film Festival chairman Harold Matzner told city officials he is willing to pay $1.6 million for use of the historic Plaza Theatre by the festival as well as charity and other events, according to The Desert Sun.

A new film festival — in Pioneertown! —  is set to roll Aug. 27–29, thanks to director and producer Julian Pinder. Former Sundance programmer Todd Luoto is curating a selection of new and classic western films, including the opener, The Last Manhunt, produced by Jason Momoa (Aquaman) along with special presentations, such as “The Indigenous Image in Westerns.” Incidentally, the Old West-style movie-set town in the High Desert has no movie theater.

Coachella Crossroads will host El Grito, a music festival celebrating Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 17–18, featuring rapper Snoop Dog and other artists. El Grito observes the day in 1810 when priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the bells of his small parish and inspired the people to rebel against the Spanish monarchy and take control of their own lives, country, and destiny, which changed Mexico forever.

 

MAD FOR MOD

Tickets go on sale Aug. 1 for October’s Modernism Week Fall Preview, which offers a full slate of in-person events including tours of three featured properties, as well as historic walking tours, Premier Double Decker architectural bus tours, and Charles Phoenix-led bus tours. The popular Cul-de-Sac A-Go-Go! home tour makes its return, and so does the Modernism Show and Sale.

The three-story Aluminaire House, an all-metal prototype residence designed by Albert Frey and
 A. Lawrence Kocher, will be lit inside and out, making the historic structure a beacon of modern design history in Palm Springs.

A book paying tribute to the Palm Springs architecture of Hugh Kaptur is earning accolades. In June, The Modern Architecture of Hugh Michael Kaptur received the gold medal for architecture at the 2021 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Author Steve Keylon chats about Kaptur, who turned 90 in May, and writing the book.

 

VISUAL ART

The Palm Desert arts nonprofit the Artists Council is retaining local philanthropist Helene Galen’s name on its new home at the former Palm Springs Art Museum building in Palm Desert, also known as “The Galen.” The organization signed a three-year lease with the city of Palm Desert to expand its exhibitions and educational programs.

Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment has acquired the archive of High Desert Test Sites and opened the exhibition Disturbances in the Field: Art in the High Desert from Andrea Zittel’s A-Z West to High Desert Test Sites, on view through Feb. 6, 2022. HDTS is known for its roving biennial events featuring artworks installed in diverse desert locations, and its programs that include performances, workshops, film screenings, publications, residencies, excursions, as well as two well-known community-based programs known as Kip’s Desert Book Club and High Desert Test Kitchen. This exhibition, guest curated by Brooke Hodge, features highlights from the HDTS archives.