Palm Springs Desert Modernism Tour – Day Three – Taking of the Waters, Need I Say More

I have now been in the Springs for three days and have come to know and adore my traveling mates. These traveling journalists with such varied backgrounds and such richly cultured experiences have unknowingly taught me a lot. I have learned that Escargot is really good if it is prepared right, I have learned a couple Aussie phrases, and I have even learned how unconditional love looks through the mannerism of the couples on the tour. I guess this trip has served varying purposes, all of which the universe knew that I needed. And, after two days of waking up early and having full days of fun, food, and fabulousness, what I needed today was to sleep in and that’s exactly what I did. Today’s festivities would start with a tour of the Palm Springs Art Museum located conveniently adjacent to the Hyatt. So, I could take my time during the morning and walk to meet the crew at the museum for a guided tour.

Palm Springs Art Museum - Wendell Castle's The Red Chair (l) and Gary Hume's American Tan III

View of the top of the stairs from the first floor (l), and the gift shop (r)

For many of the young, hip, on-the-go Angelinos out there, being a connoisseur of art may not be on your top list of things to do. However, I would like to challenge you to immerse yourselves in an art gallery, like Palm Springs Art Museum, every now and then. Trust me, it will raise your “coolness” meter a few notches when you can spout off names of some famous artists or art collectors at your next party.  I’m sure that Bob Bogard, Director of Marketing Communications and our tour guide for the day, wouldn’t have any trouble seeming cool at any party. Bogard provided our group with a wealth of information related to the museum and that art that hung or sat within the 150,000 square foot facility. What amazed me the most is that out of all the art that we viewed, there is still nearly 95% in a secured storage facility in a location that you, nor I, will never know. But what we will come to know is everything about the collections mostly donated by some of the most affluent art collectors in the region. Collections like The Passionate Pursuit:  Gifts and Promised Works from Donna and Cargill MacMillan.

The Passionate Pursuit

Overview of the museum (l), and Louise Bourgeois's oversized spider (r)

The MacMillan’s are local collectors whom have spent the last 20 years collecting amazing Modern and Contemporary art from around the world. Their collection consists of sculptures, paintings, design objects, and works on paper.  The museum reveals that the “heart  of the collection is its sculpture, which engages viewers with its direct appeal to emotion whether contemplating the polished finish of Anish Koper’s reflective aluminum and lacquer disc or the abstract expressionism of Anselm Keifer’s headless, Gnostic goddess; the hyperrealism of John de Andrea’s pensive, reclining nude or the assertive presence of Louise Bourgeois’s oversized spider…”  In total, the museum houses a collection of more than 7,000 objects, including works by Andy Warhol, Helen Frankenthaller, Hery Moore, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, and Donald Judd.

One of the donations made by the MacMillans - Anselm Keifer's headless Gnostic goddess

Palm Springs Art Museum Warhol pieces

PS Art Museum

On the horizon for the museum is the J ohn Lautner exhibit titled Between Heaven and Earth.  The exhibit will run between February 20th and May 23rd, 2010.  Lautner, who is often referred to as the “architect’s of architect” created designs that mingled with nature, rather than creating an opposition.  You may want to plan on checking it out, so get your tickets now! Museum admission is as little as $12.50 for adults, $10.50 for seniors (62 and over), and $5.00 for students. There are three ways that you can enjoy the museum for free! One, you can become a member, you can stay at a hotel (such as the Hyatt) which often offers passes to the museum, or you can visit the museum on the second Sunday of every month and Thursdays from 4-8p.  Now how about that!

School children examin the wax figures

Downstairs of the PS Art Museum, art lines the walls


After the museum, our group made our way back to the ACE Hotel to view a cooking demonstration with Chef Johnny Vee. Chef Vee recently launched a new cookbook and was there during modernism week to highlight some of the most popular foods of that era. One of those foods, Fondue of course! One of the most interesting things that Chef Vee schooled us on during his demo was the “Etiquette of Fondue.”  Vee states, “If you are a man and you loose your bread in the fondue pot, you have to buy everyone at the table a drink. If you are a woman and you loose your bread in the fondue pot, then you have to kiss the man to your left.” I thought this was hysterical! The next time I go out for Fondue, it will definitely be with wealthy and good-looking men, so either way I will be a winner – drinks and kisses all around!

Chef Johnny Vee prepares and serves Fondue

Jackie Saril, creator of The Rack Trap

There was an exciting bonus while at the ACE viewing Chef Vee, I just so happened to meet Jackie Saril who is the creator of The Rack Trap, a wonderful devise for women to hold their necessary items securly in their bra. I first saw this wonderful creation on the Wendy Williams show, so you can imagine how excited I was to meet and speak with its creator. Saril was visiting for Modernism Week and she just so happened to have a few samples of The Rack Trap to give to me and a few of the other ladies. These little pockets are so handy! Trust me, if anyone knows, Wendy Williams would know!

Daniel of Zin Cafe Med (r)

We had already had a full day, but it was only just beginning! Lunch was served at Zin Café Med and, again, was delicious. Does anyone serve a horrible meal in the Springs? Maybe I just knew all the right things to order. At this Mediterranean inspired café that’s perfect for people watching, I opted for the Caesar, “VERSIONE MODERNA”, with Baby Romaine Leaves, Roasted Garlic Dressing, Croutons,White Anchovies, and Grana Padano. And, for my entrée I tried the Salsiccia Pizza with Fennel Sausage, Roasted Peppers, Red Onions, Mozzarella, Garlic, and Chiles.  Another decadent choice ordered by Jerry, one of my tour mates, was the Veal and Ricotta Meatball Pasta. Created by Mindy Reed and award-winning Chef Nicolas Klontz, Zin and second restaurant Zini have been a fast favorite with both tourist and locals alike. The cuisine has just the right balance of Italian, Mediterranean, and American essences, which totes it as being restaurants that you could frequent at least twice per week.

Sitting down to enjoy lunch

Ceasar Salad and Pizza at Zin

Lunch accomplished it was now time for the piece de resistance, my spa treatment at the Spa Resort Casino, Taking of the Waters! Taking of the Waters is the signature spa service which consist of 5 steps: Mineral Steam to detoxify the body, Sauna to relax and improve circulation, Eucalyptus Inhalation to open up your airway and relax your muscles, Taking of the Waters which is a therapeutic soak in a private sunken tub of famed mineral waters, and finally a visit to the Tranquility Room where you relax with cumber pads placed over your eyes. It is a quick way to renew the body, mind, and spirit. You should definitely give it a try if you are going to be in the area.

Spa Resort Casino

Before we ended the night with dinner at Johannes Restaurant, Hillary Angel guided us on an art walk at the Backstreet Art District. Different from the art we saw at the museum, this art was raw and very unique to the artists that developed the pieces. Highlights of the art walk included showcases at Art by Peter Gallery and Studio, Grey Dove Gallery which exhibited art work by Robert Shafer and Giorgos Dimakis, and The Red Dot Gallery.

Art at the Backstreet Art District

Peter Demopoulos of Art by Peter Gallery and Studio (far right)

Now for dinner! Johannes seemed to be in a class of its own with cuisine that is pleasing to the eye and the pallet. The melody of ingredients – spices, sauces, vegetables, meats – were sophisticated and well balanced. To start off, our group order an assortment of Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tartar and Escargot that was baked in garlic, bread crumbs, and green herb butter. I lost my Escargot virginity at Johannes and for that reason alone, I will never forget my experience there. How was it? Sinful! For my entrée, I chose the Roasted Duck with Sautéed Spinach, Roasted Bosc Pear, and a Tangy Orange Tarragon Glaze. The skin of the duck was crispy and golden and the juiciness of the meat flavored by the glaze was sensual, my plate was licked clean and so were the plates of my travel mates!

Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tartare (l) and Seared Ahi (r)

Wiener Schnitzel

Roasted Duck Breast

Another wonderful day and night had passed by. I would have one more day to enjoy the Springs!

For information on any of the mentioned destinations, please check out the following Websites:

Palm Springs Art Museum –
Zin Café –
Spa Resort Casino –
Backstreet Art District –
Johannes –


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