Palm Springs has me in its’ palm. I feel lighter here. Each morning sunshine starts my motor. Can’t help but wondering how gray it must be in Seattle. I miss Seattle a bit when I’m lounging by the pool. Booked a spot at Horizon Village Mobile Home Park in southeast Palm Springs for a month. Loving it. Checking into real estate and possibly living here part of year. Snow bird lifestyle. Met up with an artist friend I knew from Rochester New York. Dave Calver, well known illustrator, very successful, talented, stylish, everything I wanted to be in my earlier manifestation. I was earning a meager living as a newspaper illustrator in Rochester New York, won some journalism awards but never quite “made it” as an illustration career before the profession changed (dried up). I’d been admiring Dave’s wild, totally unique style in the early 80's. First time I called Dave was out of the blue while living in Rochester. Nice guy, down to earth and hip at the same time. Illustrators hardly ever become mainstream famous like “fine artists".
Norman Rockwell. That’s about it. There’s a whole world of illustration which Art Directors and other illustrators know. Most people, like say 85% of folks have not a clue this art world exists. Many people think these pictures are made by machines. Illustration world is a secret society that doesn't want to be secret. Crying to be loved. Begging for attention. Illustration is a trade that keeps cannibalizing itself. An individual talent like DC is refreshing and rare. He's a regular guy, not full of himself. No act or persona. Humble and insightful, good sense of humor (laughs at my jokes). We made an art exchange back in 1984. He has one of my “Joe Nose” suites (Finger Lakes printmaking award in 1984). I selected 3 or 4 of his spot illustrations (from hundreds) and gave the best one away to an artist friend who is a big Dave Calver fan. I think Bart introduced me to Calvers' work. So we meet again after 30 years or so, at Koffi, the stereotypical, hippest, modern coffee shop you will ever sip. We talked for a few hours about everything: art, love, money, future, aging, plans. He’s very happy here in Palm Springs with his love of 30 something years. Dave says the editorial illustration business as we knew it has dried up. No wonder I bowed out and took a different path! (Could have beat that dead horse and been living on welfare).
Teaching in Seattle bought me some time to re-invent myself.
Still many new opportunities for illustrators out there! One must be adaptable to changing tastes and trends. I suggest new opportunities to him including licensing and manufacturing products with his art. DC, you’re an inspiration!.
Check out this interview: www.pencilkings.com/dave-calver
I hunker down in PS. Begin relaxing. Staying close to new “home”. Feeling good about being lazy. Checking best times to sit in spa and swim in pool to avoid crowds. Turns out maintenance and managing team at Horizon Village Mobile Home Park are folks I knew in Seattle, on Capitol Hill ! John was a regular bartender at Encore! He seems to remember me when I mention I use to carry a sketchbook, drawing crowds (pun). His partner, Kurt seems familiar to me also. John is friendly, talkative, and large personality. Good to see him again.
The Araby Trail traverses the rocky mountain face right outside my front door.
Perfect for walking dogs. Don’t need to haul them across town to go hiking. Bob Hopes’ famous home shines with Hollywood glow. Elegant Palms line the private gated drive to top.
We walk the steep trail a mile closer and feel the vibe radiate from round building, known by locals as the parachute building. Landscaping is awesome. Everywhere in Palm Springs, landscaping awesome. I sketch the mountain and notice a correlation: geological strata coincides with economic strata. Higher you go on the hill the richer the homes are. Starting on the street level with homeless people pushing grocery carts, moving up to mobile home ghetto and to RV’s and trailers, then higher to a layer of modest homes, higher up to next level of classic well kept mid century-modern, higher still to noticeably fewer and more expensive/expansive mansions and on to a few gems on mountain tip-top. The diamond is Bob Hopes former spread. Who knew being a funny man can put you on top of the pile? Biggest joke is the trickle-down economy Reagan sold us on. This mountain could be a portrait of Palm Springs and caste system in America.
Horizon Village Mobile Park reminds me of a once adored actress, plastic surgery failing and hot flashes flashing. Grounds are well landscaped and maintained but gravity is winning. The trailers themselves are not elegant from outside. Some look like third world shacks. Some are charmingly decorated. Tiny desert garden plots, carefully tended, teem with various succulents, trellised bougainvillea, patio areas of stones, trashy yard ornaments, light strings, sculptures, fountains, and you name it, a real mix here. Exciting and tacky. At night the trailer park's transformed! Dramatic lighting effects are magical. All the ticky-tacky is cloaked by the night. Kurt said it reminds him of gay ghetto on Capitol Hill, which no longer exists. Theres a nice pool area, spa, and relaxing fountain. Streets in this park are named after planets: Neptune, Saturn, Sun, Rigel, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus. Other parks have themes too; Sahara Park with streets like Oasis, Caravan, Safari,Tangiers, Nile, and Cairo.
Days here in PS fly by, filled with sunshine. Contrasted by nights bone chillingly cold!
I draw a little each day on my secret project and doodle in sketchbook.
Seattle Seahawks prevail! Just barely over Steelers. Still have a shot at playoffs. I’m jazzed about that. Minnesota should be a tough test this Sunday. If Hawks lose, I cannot afford investing anymore emotional energy...I’ll have to wean myself! I still have faith.
I take a drive north to Morongo Valley, curious about PS outlying areas, curious if buying a half acre and fixing it up to accommodate an RV would be an option.
Buying land in Palm Springs is a thought worthy of investigation. Love this place.
Take highway 62 through field dotted with hundreds of monumental windmills and up to mountains. Morongo is a rough and rugged small town in a valley. Most roads are unpaved hard dirt.
There is a sign saying Art Colony Gallery Show. So I stop in for a look. There are 2 women, an elderly man, and a sweet Yorkshire terrier.
This art says “look how groovy and free we are". Looks like fun. I’m glad they give me space and pretend to ignore me. I leave after a polite amount of time.
I continue on through Yucca Valley (very nice place) and on to Joshua Tree. I could live in either place as there is mix of ample amenities and open space. Hills are beautiful and barren at the same time. Need to check real estate listings for an idea of property prices. Heading back through Yucca Valley I turn toward Pioneer town about 5 miles up through the canyon. Entire town’s a western movie set still available for filming. Another tourist attraction. Why do I love this stuff? Dunno. Its just old dilapidated building fronts. Weather worn gray planking, false front buildings, lace curtains, carts, the signage, the corral, the barns; it all adds up to a way of life passed by. Somewhat famous restaurant, Pappy & Harriets is closed today.
Travel back to Palm Springs with new information about surrounding land to north of PS.
With Kurt as guide we visit Thursday night street fair in Palm Springs. We take free bus called The Buzz. Main street is closed off and tents line both sides of street. The place is half bustling. Kurt says it's usually packed with people this time of year. We stop into Legends of Palm Springs, the bar where John is tending. John wants to introduce me to a gallery owner, trying to do me a favor. I thank him but not looking for gallery representation.
I excuse myself to use the bathroom. Sometimes its difficult to explain these things and it really doesn’t matter to explain these things so I’ve learned to not explain. Most people think an artist needs a gallery. I've forged my own way, not caring to have notoriety. More concerned with earning a living.
Kurt and I walk the street show. I’m looking for products similar to ones I produce and find one booth which sells products along the same line as what I sell. I can offer a better product at half the price should I be motivated to do this. We wind up night with a glass of wine at Legends and ride back to Horizon Park.
Palm Springs Art Museum
Some of my favorites on view.
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