This Month in the Arts – November 2021

Artist Yvette Mattern’s laser light installation, Global Rainbow, will shine in Palm Springs Nov. 5-6. Photography courtesy Tom Duffin.

 

 

There’s new hope for the Plaza Theatre in downtown Palm Springs, a McCallum Theatre exec signs on for a third tour of duty, community theaters are showing signs of life, local artists have a new home, and much more. Welcome to “This Month in the Arts,” brought to you by the California Desert Arts Council.

There’s no bigger story than the one unfolding at the historic Plaza Theatre. Following a period of inactivity due to the pandemic, efforts to restore the venue were put back on track with a $5 million donation from television and theater producer (and Palm Springs resident) David Lee, The Desert Sun reports. The theater, which was built in 1936, opened with the premiere of the movie Camille and hosted screenings and broadcast radio programs featuring Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and others. It hosted the inaugural Palm Springs International Film Festival under the direction of then-Mayor Sonny Bono and was home to The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies for 22 years. The theater will host the Oasis Palm Springs Music Festival on Jan. 27–30 featuring The White Buffalo, The Milk Carton Kids, and Y La Bamba as well as local bands The Flusters, Giselle Woo and the Night Owls, Blasting Echo, and others.

Meanwhile, in Palm Desert, former McCallum Theatre CEO Mitch Gershenfeld has returned to his old post following the departure of Jamie Grant, according to The Desert Sun. McCallum Chairman Harold Matzner said that while former CEO Grant is “outstanding and capable,” he wasn’t a fit for the theater.  Gershenfeld moved to Oregon last year but continued to serve as the theater’s artistic director and set up shows for the 2021–22 season. The theater reopens Nov. 10 with Michael Childers’ star-studded “One Night Only.”

 

OPENINGS

The Palm Springs International Dance Festival’s fall series opened with a party dubbed “Salon Rouge” at Desert Rose Playhouse, which featured performances by Nickerson-Rossi Dance, Los Angeles-based Versa-Style, and several others, and continued with a student showcase and a performance featuring four professional companies offering a taste of Brazilian, contemporary, modern, and hip-hop dance.

Nexus, the Artists Council’s first in-person exhibition and sale at its new home, Artists Center at the Galen in Palm Desert, drew a crowd of artists, collectors, and local dignitaries and enthusiasts, The Desert Sun reports. Upcoming exhibitions and sales include the Holiday Squares Fundraiser (Dec. 6-11), with 8-inch by 8-inch artworks on sale for $100; Member Gallery Pop-Up Show (Dec. 1-Jan. 15), and juried ACE Exhibition and Sale (Feb. 12-March 27).

A new film about Desert X, the biennial exhibition of site-specific art in the Coachella Valley, pulls back the curtain on the behind-the-scenes discussions between artists and curators responsible for the installations dealing with questions about land rights ownership and stewardship, migration, and social justice. A new film about the outdoor arts biennial Desert X pulls back the curtain on the behind-the-scenes discussions between artists and curators responsible for the installations dealing with questions about land rights ownership and stewardship, migration, and social justice.

Artist Yvette Mattern’s laser light installation, Global Rainbow, has been seen around the world in New York City, Berlin (Germany), Mexico City, Bergen Floyen (Norway), Kobe (Japan), and Edinburgh (Scotland), and now it’s coming to Palm Springs during Greater Palm Springs Pride. The artwork will shine above Palm Canyon Drive at Amado Road, Nov. 5-6, from 5:45 to 10:15 p.m. The artist talks to Palm Springs Life about the inspiration for the work and how she came to install it in Palm Springs.

Dezart Performs artistic director Michael Shaw talked to Palm Springs Life on the eve of the opening of its 14th year — and very first musical, Girlfriend, which was staged at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheater.

An art installation that captured the imagination of the 2019 Coachella fest crowd has been reinstalled at Dr. Carreon Park in Indio in a partnership between the city and Goldenvoice, the parent company of the festival. The artwork by Francis Kéré is called Sarbalé Ke, which means “house of celebration” in the Mòoré language of the artist’s native Burkina Faso.

The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus begins its 23rd season with a performance Nov. 4 at Greater Palm Springs Pride, followed by two full programs in December and April. CV Independent’s Matt King talks to the chorus’ new artistic director, Jerry R. Soria-Foust, who wants the group to contribute to a wider understanding of the LGBTQ+ experience by “standing up and speaking out.”

 

COMING SOON

An 18-hole golf scramble, a keynote speaker whose work has broken the glass ceiling for female architects, a never-been-seen tour of Bobby Berk’s Palm Desert estate, and programming that celebrates Black History Month are just some of the newbies joining a jam-packed Modernism Week schedule when the full 11-day version returns Feb. 17-27 in Palm Springs.

In a Desert Sun report about the restoration of the Japanese Memorial Garden at the Coachella Valley History Museum in Indio,reporter Eliana Perez gives an overview of the Japanese heritage and culture in the desert, particularly the first generation of immigrants who were farmers, starting as sharecroppers and eventually leasing, then buying, farmland in the east valley. The garden is integral to the museum, she writes, noting the cost of the restoration is $40,000. The museum sought architect Keiji Uesugi, who, alongside his father, Takeo Uesugi, restored the well-known Japanese garden at The Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif., in 2012. The garden at the Coachella Valley History Museum will feature natural rock seating, interpretive text, and wheelchair-accessible walkway.