Art is Alive in Indio

Past, Present and Future

By: Kimberly Nichols

Indio provides treasures to be uncovered by any art lover

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The City of Indio is vibrant with art offerings that reflect its past, present and future. From educational public murals to commissioned public art to annual events that celebrate a rich and creative local and national diversity, the city provides treasures to be uncovered by any art lover.

Murals

In 1996, Indio spurred a mural project, asking business owners and local entities to help expose the rich historical, cultural and creative legacy of the city through art. A bold rendering of the Taj Mahal by San Franciscan artist Bill Weber was the first work commissioned by the National Date Festival. Since then, nine more murals have cropped up by various artists, most specifically around the area of Old Town, revitalizing the streets with a new image and spirit.

The pieces reflect aspects of the city’s past and future ranging from illustrated portrayals of an indigenous Cahuilla Village to snapshots of the date, water and electricity industries in the area to a forward looking depiction of rebirth told through a vivid flock of birds in a wildly contemporary garden. Visitors can find an online map and take a tour of the murals by car. Prints of the murals are also available for purchase, which continue to help fund the ongoing project.

indio mural

Art in Public Places

The Art in Public Places program was formed to create artistic harmony between the buildings, landscaping and open spaces of the city while injecting art into the everyday lives of Indio’s residents and visitors. This beautification impetus has resulted in stunning public pieces such as noted local artist Phillip K. Smith’s “One Voice” which aptly sits outside the Indio Teen Center with its message of the unification. Another piece, the iconic “Oculus Sol” by Buster Simpson, is a colorful, sculptural abstraction that reflects the agricultural and recreational desert of the Coachella Valley. Its structure bases are based on the leaves of the palm frond, often used in shelters of the past and present. A map of the pieces can be found online.

Southwest Art Festival

Every January, more than 250 highly accomplished artists who work in traditional, contemporary and abstract works of art converge on the fields of the Empire Polo Club to showcase their work at the Southwest Art Festival. The sprawling art show features every medium imaginable, including clay, drawing, glass, jewelry, metal work, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, textile art and more. Recently, the festival was recognized as one of the “Top 100 Events in North America” by the ABA, featured in Destinations Magazine. 

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is internationally renowned for bringing together the greatest alternative and mainstream musical acts in a yearly festival on the Empire Polo fields. But it is also a showcase for large-scale works of art by today’s hottest contemporary artists such as local stars Phillip K. Smith III and Indio-homegrown boys The Date Farmers alongside other big names from around the world.

Epicenter Projects

Cutting edge contemporary artist Cristopher Cichocki, who lives and works in Indio, founded a non-profit organization called Epicenter Projects as an artist’s residency that invites noted contemporary artists from all over the world to spend time in Indio exploring its desert terrain through the lens of their own work. The resulting artworks are documented and shown through a permanent online exhibition, which highlights the process of interaction with the area that each artist encountered as well as the fruits of their inspiration.

epicenter piece

Art in the Square

Every February on the sidewalks surrounding the Indio City Hall, various artists congregate to create dynamic chalk drawings and vie for prizes. The day features art demonstrations and live entertainment.

Indio Performing Arts Center

In high season, visitors to the area can find an interesting roster of entertainment at the Indio Performing Arts Center. From plays to comedy acts to Chicano R&B to concerts by the Desert Chamber Orchestra, the venue offers something for everyone.

Coachella Valley Arts Center

The Coachella Valley Arts Center was started as a response to inquiries and needs expressed by local artists looking for reasonably priced studio space. Founder Bill Schinsky answered this call in 2010 through a building at 45140 Towne Street in Indio. Today, the center is home to 12 resident artists working in a variety of mediums. As part of their residencies, each of the artists participate by including their work in a roster of ongoing exhibitions open to the public as well the presentation of art classes offered to the local community and tourists visiting the area. Multidisciplinary offerings have ranged from contemporary installations by artists such as Quang Tri to evenings featuring local writers reading their work. Current programming can be found online.

Epicenter Projects photo courtesy of artists: Olga Koumoundouros & Troy Rounseville
Art is Alive in Indio
Art is Alive in Indio
Art is Alive in Indio
Art is Alive in Indio
Art is Alive in Indio
Art is Alive in Indio
Art is Alive in Indio

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