Palm Desert is a town in California that is dedicated to promoting art and culture. Palm Desert has a thriving arts scene and, every two years, they host a public showcase of 18 huge sculptures which delight thousands of visitors. In fact, some people travel hours to come and see the array of artwork. Moreover, in recent years–via social media–the work has become popular with a worldwide audience.
Palm Desert started their Public Art Program in 1986 and the sculpture exhibition began in the early 1990s. Noting that 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the town’s dedication to the arts, Palm Desert is making a point to continue its mission to foster the arts and share creative endeavors with the public in a fun and laidback atmosphere. Part of the reason that so many of Palm Desert’s most popular sculptures are colorful and whimsical is because the town seeks abstract and/or fun works to enhance visitor’s experiences of the location.
“We place the sculptures in areas where there’s a lot of commercial activity,” Deborah Glickman, a Management Analyst for the City of Palm Desert, explained in a recent interview. “People notice the art as they are shopping or having lunch and it adds to their experience. People are always taking photos and videos with the artwork. It’s really nice to see them interact with it like that.”
Palm Desert is open to a wide range of work from a diverse group of artists. Even famous actors have submitted art to the show, including actor Daniel Stern who starred in “Home Alone.” Every two years, Palm Desert announces a “Call for Artists” pertaining to the show. Each artist can submit up to two proposals for work or–better yet–photos of existing works. Then a committee selects 18 artists out of the pool of approximately 60 entries. Although many chosen artists are from the West Coast or the Southwest, the entry is open to international artists and some selected works have been from foreign artists including those from Europe, Israel and Africa. There is no fee to submit but, if selected, it is up to the artist to deliver the piece, loan it to Palm Desert and–after the two years are up–remove it to another location. In exchange, Palm Desert will insure the work, maintain the work and display the work for the duration of its two year public display. Moreover, artists who exhibit on El Paseo receive an honorarium for their participation in the exhibition.
Aside from the bi-annual sculpture exhibit, Palm Desert is constantly promoting new artistic endeavors and frequently seeks creators to submit to their projects. In fact, the Palm Desert website includes a section that posts artist opportunities and it is updated weekly. “Ten year from now we hope that the Arts Program is still growing and expanding,” Deborah Glickman stated. “We promote gallery tours, 2D work, 3D work, musicians, films–basically lots and lots of artistic events. The best part of my job is seeing first-hand how the arts enhance people’s experiences of Palm Desert which is a beautiful town to begin with.”
At present, Palm Desert is in the process of selecting the 18 artists for their 2018 sculptural exhibit. The town is also anticipating their version of Fashion Week which is just one example of their many and ongoing cultural events. To learn more about the Palm Desert Public Art Program, see here.