Desert X

“Desert X” starts at 1:23

On this episode of California Life, we look at a new way to explore art exhibits during the pandemic. Jason Rzucidlo takes us to the third installment of “Desert X,” an outdoor art exhibition located at various sites across the Coachella Valley.

For the 2021 edition of Desert X, there are 11 pieces on display, created by 13 different artists. These pieces span across 40 miles of the desert!

The first piece we take a look at is called “Tamanrasset,” and it is created by artist Vivan Suter. Suter was inspired by the landscape of the Coachella Valley and this piece features large-scale abstract paintings and light. Suter uses colors to set the mood, shapes to reference natural formations/landmarks, and then she introduces the canvases to outside elements to create different textures.

Rzucidlo says Suter’s paintings “speak to the embodied and emotional dimensions of the desert landscape, to the way deserts provoke personal associations and trigger memories that are not always resolved.”

Next, we go to Zahrah Alghamdi’s “What Lies Behind the Walls,” a sculpture that combines the traditionally built forms from her country with the architectural organization she found in the valley.

Alghamdi’s piece is a monolithic wall, with stacked forms glued with cements, and with soils and dyes specific to each region of her home country.

We then speak to Jeff McCobb, an attendee of the Desert X exhibit. “With a lot of these pieces out here you’re trying to grapple with the social commentary,” McCobb said. “There’s a lot of talk about indigenous folk that are overlooked and I think a lot of the artists are native.”

McCobb called Alghamdi’s piece a “spectacle,” and said that it would be “impactful” to stumble upon this piece in the desert outside of the exhibition.

Next, we look at Kim Stringfellow’s Jackrabbit Homestead, which takes a look at how the law made the desert accessible to a new demographic of landowners. This turquoise, 122 square cabin, is between the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce and a CVS Pharmacy.

Inside the cabin, you can hear Catherine Venn’s voice, talking about her 1950 homesteading experience.