On a recent visit to Southern California to see relatives, I made a 400-mile side trip to Indian Wells to see the 10th Annual Indian Wells Art Festival. I wanted to get a feel for the “Art Fair” scene.
Hundreds of these juried professional art events are held every year at outstanding venues throughout the United States, including more than 400 in the Western states alone. To find a show and see for yourself, check out Greg Lawler and his helpful Art Fair Source Book.
Indian Wells was bright and shiny on the gorgeous April day of my visit, an alternate-universe oasis dropped into the desert near several other, similarly lush enclaves — Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, and of course, Palm Springs, the original desert hideaway for Hollywood’s elite.
The venue was the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the site only three weeks earlier of a major two-week international tennis tournament, the BNP Paribas Open, which drew more than 370,000 fans. I would love to have attended that event too, but this country boy can’t be hanging out in these environs for too long.
It was great to see the art, the array of exhibitors and the crowds browsing the tree-lined aisles of the Festival. About a dozen photographers’ work was on display, reflecting a wide disparity of styles and presentations. Landscape photography was the most prevalent form, including several artists who combined painting and photography in creative ways. Many really large pieces were on display, in hopes of attracting folks with some really large walls to fill.
I had some great conversations with the artists, and left feeling I had learned a lot and met some top professionals. My favorite: Michael Gordon, a Long Beach, Calif., fine-art landscape photographer.