The Palm Springs Fine Art Fair was a terrifically diverse event that brought to its participants a wide array of modern fine art that both challenged the senses and harmonized its audience.
The event excelled at providing a unique fusion of relaxed atmosphere and significant art that succeeded in welcoming all levels of casual and accomplished art enthusiasts.
Every exhibition felt like a mini-museum. It seemed that with every turn of the corner something unique and alluring was unveiled. I was struck by the exactness and quality of the art--clearly the best of the best were in attendance. Even more rousing was the variety of artistic offerings and the way they were introduced. Not only was the varied art alluring and well presented, but the chance to talk with many of the artists about their creations, and the inspirations behind them, was a unique experience that a casual art admirer doesn’t often find.
Exploring further, I began to discover my own unique theme to the fine art fair that highlighted something I had never considered; the journey that a piece of fine art makes from conception to utilization.
To examine this idea I chose to interview three artists and attend the Interior Design Secrets to Enhance Your Art Collection panel forum.
I first met with Jeffro Uitto, an artist from Washington state, who utilizes salvaged wood from all types of waterways to create unique natural art. His works vary from durable and useable furniture pieces to captivating sculptures. As a kid, Jeffro felt connected to the beach and the wooden shoreline materials from which his creations evolve. He learned to create his art entirely on his own; passion and drive being his fuel and the beach being his inspiration.
He dreamt of making his art a way of life and best describes his quest as “organic sculpting.” Given that he has created over one-hundred pieces, I would say his dream has become a reality.
One unique aspect of Jeffro’s artistic inspiration is that the materials he uses all have a unique journey--what he calls the “journey of the materials”. His quest is to give the materials he finds a new life, and a new positive purpose. An old piece of wood that spent hundreds of years in nature now has a new journey and a new life in a home, office or landscape.
Creating both sculptures and custom in-home installations, Jeffro’s key in working with his clients is structural integrity. He strives to create durable pieces that are both useful and look entirely non-contrived; as if they were built by nature.
I later discussed how art can bring social issues to light with San Diego-based artist, James Stone. James’ strategy as an artist is to seduce his audience in with beauty and then subtly share a message. A diverse talent, James is a master glass artist who employs a unique technique for casting glass into metal.
In his environmentally-conscious studio in Southern California, James merges the ancient media of glass and metal to not only to create beauty and artistry, but to send what he believes is an imperative message.
His latest mega-work, Last Call Before We Eat Them All, is a 30-foot wall; a dazzling and yet powerful warning that fish and other sea life are disappearing at historically unprecedented rates. His art speaks to the delicate sustainability of our world's largest ecosystem and its inhabitants. James’ desire is two-fold; for people to enjoy his art and to open a dialogue about the environment.
Finally, I had the opportunity to discuss a unique creative process with Steve Maloney, a Rancho Santa Fe-based artist, Steve Maloney’s artistic offerings traverse a wide variety of media including painting, sculpture, collage and film.
His Ride-Em Copter Project is a truly inspiring and unique contribution. Morphing animal and machine into a contemporary sculpture, Steve has effectively transformed a decommissioned helicopter into a unique piece of contemporary art.
This dazzling endeavor required the incorporation of many diverse materials. Vinyl cowhide wrap, hand-painted Indian Motorcycle front fender lights, a hand-tooled western saddle, a longhorn steer skull with gold tooth (that was implanted by a real dentist), are only a partial list of the materials and out-of-the-box ideas that came together to create this piece.
As I moved around the piece I was intrigued by the fact that there seemed to be an endless amount to explore. With a wry smile Steve mentioned to me that this was his first helicopter. Personally, I hope it’s not his last.
Steve describes his art as: fashion, meets mechanics, meets design. He considers his art to be pop culture with a fun and whimsical side.
Given its spectacular, unique, and whimsical, traits, Steve believes his Ride-Em Copter could find a terrific home in a casino, corporate headquarters, or major venue.
It was interesting to hear from three unique creators. I was struck by their artistic diversity; how each artist had both specific and personal methodologies...and reasons for creating their art.
It was now time to hear from those who specialize in implementation.
A small panel of large talent met to discuss Interior Design Secrets to Enhance Your Art Collection. This panel was comprised of industry professionals Dann Foley and Christopher Kennedy, both highly recognized for their design aesthetic and styles.
Architecture, age of the residence, and weather are but a few of the many factors and considerations for displaying fine art in a well-designed home.
For example, a hundred year old home with 7 ½ foot ceilings and relatively small rooms does not have the same design possibilities as a vaulted ceiling residence with large amounts of open wall space.
Dann, however, believes that challenging circumstances are an opportunity to get creative. His philosophy of the intersection of art, and fearless choices to overlap, allow the fine art pieces he chooses to integrate into the lives and homes of his clients. “I love the intersection of art, whether it’s a painting or an animal print rug or antique carpet, layering art, or stacking art.” Dann also tends to hang paintings at eye level or below stating, “If you can’t see the art well, you may not like it. If you can’t live with your art, why have it?”
In contrast to the seductive richness of Dann Foley’s designs, Christopher Kennedy’s bright, fresh and bold styles compliment a modern luxury that often leads to a California-esque glamor. His method of asking his clients for three words which describe their style and tastes and then creating inspired design around them, fosters a combination of modern opposites and fearless choices.
It seems to be the opinion of both designers that in regards to design elements and fine art, the age old question: Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?, takes on a new form in the fine art version of the question: Which comes first, the design or the art?
Dann and Christopher agree that this is a question that must be re-asked and answered anew with each new job. Both designers will design a room around a glorious piece of fine art, and both designers will source fine art to finish a room for their clients.
There are certainly many circumstances in which the art dictates the design of the room. Many clients already have a large collection of fine art and in those cases both designers agree it is their job to find the best way to feature, compliment and enhance the art.
As Dann Foley elegantly reminds us, “Your fine art makes fine art of everything else.” Christopher Kennedy’s philosophy on selecting art is to not over complicate it. “If you like looking at it and it pleases you, or it makes you happy, go for it.”
A final browse through the fair allowed me to take deep notice of what I had just learned. Many forward-thinking curators were assembled to create an enriched experience for fairgoers. The positioning and integration of the art, artists and galleries created a uniquely inviting and stimulating experience.
The Palm Springs Fine Art Fair affords its participants a unique opportunity to discuss and experience the varied creative processes and inspirations of the great artists in attendance, while being able to simultaneously witness the innovative implementation of art through both the eyes and examples of design experts and curators.
For those who are interested in building an art collection, and knowing what to do with it once they have it, The Palm Springs Fine Art Fair is a great choice. I found the event to be an inviting setting through which the creation and implementation of fine art could not only be explored and enjoyed, but also understood...from creation to implementation.