Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Arizona to Palm Springs, CA


Downtown Flagstaff
An hour south of the Grand Canyon lies the small art community of Flagstaff, Arizona. Flagstaff, deriving its name from a group of pioneers who raised an American flag upon a deboughed pine tree in celebration of America's centennial in 1876, has serviced travelers from the time of its inception to current day, via trail, train, and road, most notably the historic Route 66.  Today, a visitor can see the evidence of Flagstaff's past along its main streets, where Historic Rte 66 markers reside next to a retired train engine and its historic buildings turned retail shops. The shops that dot the main streets of Flagstaff depict the diverse culture that exists in the region,among those, several galleries representing local and Native American artworks. It was in one such shop, the Arizona Handmade Gallery, that we met up with glass artist George Averbeck. Within minutes, after hearing about our tour, George set up an opportunity for A. Paul & I to meet several other artists in the town.  Before leaving the gallery, George introduced us to his beautiful handblown glass pieces shown at the Handmade Gallery. He also provided us a signed copy of his most recent claim to fame, playing Cupid, a photographic image that graces the cover of the local arts & news magazine called "The Noise".   A quick look at the cover immediately conveys the playfulness and good nature of this artist. Thank you George for your time, energy, and hospitality.
L-R: A. Paul, Kerry, & George Averbeck
You can view George's work and that of the other artists represented at the Handmade Gallery  at website

A. Paul & I visited a couple more of the galleries along San Franciso Street, namesake of the six towering peaks in Arizona's mountains, before wandering into photographer John Running's studio.
Running is an amazing photographer, whose works adorn album covers, advertising, and editorial works with clients such as Nikon and Sterling Commerce.  In addition to his corporate photographic works, Running's portraits of Native Americans and female & male figures are stunningly powerful images that capture the soul and essence of his subjects.  Running's works have been published in several books, "Honor Dance", "Pictures for Soloman", and "Halo of the Sun", which are worthy of acquiring.

While at Running's studio, we had the opportunity to meet several other artists, two photographers  Margeaux Bestard (responsible for George's cupid image) & Kristen Caldon, and a ceramist, Chelsea Arndt, all who seemed quite at home in Running's studio.  It simply demonstrated to us the strength of a collaborative spirit that exists in the Flagstaff art community.  You can visit most of these artists' works at their respective websites.  John Running sites: and ; Margeaux Bestard at ; and Kristen Caldon at

L-R: Chelsea Arndt, John Running, Margeaux Bestard,
Kristen Caldon, and studio dog Penny Lane.

To learn more about Flagstaff's arts, you can visit the Artists' Coalition site as well as  and Coconino Center for the Arts

After a short but informative stop in Flagstaff, we drove to nearby Sedona, Arizona.  As one person stated to me at the Grand Canyon, "The Grand Canyon is all downward where Sedona is all up."  She could not be more correct.  The towering red rock chimneys of Sedona are simply awe inspiring.  The drive down the curvy, steep decline into Sedona through light filtering towering pines is a perfect backdrop to the main street of Sedona, where its main visual art center  is located next door to  a western saloon style shop. Once inside the Sedona Arts Center, it was clear that many of the artists are inspired by their surroundings.  Color and content of the works captured the hues and forms of the landscape.  In addition to the Center's two levels of exhibit galleries, the Center offers onsite studio art workshops in two of its buildings, photographic and plein air expeditions, and  workshops abroad.

After our stay in Scottsdale, A. Paul & I headed out today for Palm Springs, CA.  The day was a picture perfect, warm and sunny 78 degrees across the Sonoran Desert.  We rolled into Palm Springs  in the afternoon and directly visited the Palm Springs Art Museum.   The museum's building is an artistic sight itself.  The multi level, spacious galleries felt more like an open air mall than museum but was perfectly curated for the space.  On the top level, the museum's permanent collections of contemporary works includes lesser seen works such as Lichtenstein's laquered screen and Warhol's Brillo Box Dress.  

Lichenstein's screen

The second level houses a small but eclectic collection of contemporary works by artists such as Franz Kline and Henry Moore, as well as a small collection of Mexican artists including Diego Rivera works.  The lower level displays a stunning collection of glasswork and American West works.  You can see many of these works as well as learn about other visual art venues held at the museum on the museum website .

"Apart X" Anthony Gormley
Tomorrow, we leave to Santa Barbara, where it appears it will be raining upon our arrival.  We did so enjoy the desert dry heat and the beauty of spring arriving upon the desert landscape.  Until tomorrow, I bid you goodnight and leave you with images from the drive from Scottsdale to Palm Springs as well as additional images of artwork from the Palm Springs Art Museum.  

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