This Saturday morning I staggered out to the Argyros parking lot at nine in the morning looking for a bus. What was I doing there? To tell you the truth, I didn’t even fully know myself.
A few days prior an old art professor of mine, David Lee, found me in the Guggenheim Gallery and asked, “Would you like to be a guest of the Escalette Collection on a trip to Palm Springs this Saturday?” Was this some sort of trick question? Of course I want to go on a trip to Palm Springs. “Well there’s a group of people going on a tour to two different museums and a gallery, they’ll provide you with lunch. It’ll be pretty cool, a lot of great people will be there. Meet at the Argyrous parking lot, the bus will pick you up at nine.”
Being a Studio Art major, this sounded like a fantastic opportunity to me. Being without a car makes it difficult to go out and visit galleries, so naturally I jump on any chance to go. I climb aboard the bus and doze all the way to Palm Springs, where we arrive at our first destination, the Palm Springs Desert Museum.
The Palm Springs Desert Museum had several sculptures outside in the garden as well as a variety of indoor installations. I started in the exterior, with an enthusiastic tour guide who led us around with vigor despite the dry desert heat. The garden was open to the public all hours of the day, and exhibited many modernist and classic sculptures including one particularly stunning sculpture of a Native American woman and a Star Quilt. The inside was equally as satisfying with a wide variety of works ranging from photography to neon lighting to charcoal and graphite. After only an hour, we were off to our next objective, the Heather James Gallery.
The Heather James Gallery was probably the highlight of the trip for me. It displayed artists such as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Damien Hirst. It was my first time seeing most of these artists’ work in a gallery setting, and these particular works were absolutely meant to be seen in person. Dali had several gold statuettes of women in a variety of poses. Seeing them in person reveals the details that were perfected that one can’t fully understand by merely viewing a photo on the internet. Hirst had a couple works using real butterfly wings that were painted to a canvas that are absolutely stunning. After we’d finished ambling through the gallery with our charming tour guide, he led us upstairs to a catered lunch served with wine. Sitting down at the table and having my chair pushed in for me by one of the gallery staff had me feeling like nothing short of artistic royalty. After we had all stuffed ourselves on the gracious meal that had been prepared, we began on our way to the conclusion of our journey, the Palm Springs Art Museum.
The Palm Springs Art Museum was much larger than the Palm Springs Desert Museum, with three floors of artwork. As it happened, the museum was celebrating their 75th anniversary, and was having someone film our tour as part of the celebration. The museum mostly consisted of painting and sculpture. Our tour guide was quite humorous and immersive, asking us what we each got out of the work presented as well as questions of the artist. One of the more memorable pieces, and conversations, was of a blanket bunched up on the ground meant to appear as a person huddled beneath it on the street. All too soon it was over, ending with the Rauschenberg exhibit. We had time to wander about ourselves for a few minutes before it was back on the bus and back to Orange.
Not only were the galleries amazing to visit, but the people who accompanied us were quite friendly and knowledgeable. One woman even prepared a snack bag for each of us to munch on during the two-hour ride back. It was a wonderful experience that I was honored to be invited to. I would highly encourage anyone interested in art to join us on the next excursion, especially students. The work and the people were all so inspiring; it’s a perfect way to spend a day if you’re caught in an art block. Besides, who could turn down a trip to Palm Springs?