ICONICITY: ART IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA DESERT

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture piece begins:

Director/producer Leo Zahn has made documentaries about mid-century architect William F. Cody and Frank Sinatra in Palm Springs.

Now he brings us “Iconicity.” The core theme: “Why are artists attracted to the [Southern California] desert? There is something here, call it a mystical energy or what have you, but it’s also very practical as to why certain art gets created only in the desert.”

I caught a screening in January at the Palm Springs Film Festival.

Shot over a period of ten months in 2019, the cinematography is all saturated colors, sweeping aerial vistas, turquoise skies, shimmering mountains, landscapes that by day tend toward burned-out lunar, and velvet nights.

The music, courtesy of Spirit Production, lends the perfect out-of-time, slightly woo-woo touch.  

In Niland, Leonard Knight spent decades painting Salvation Mountain. Slab City, a former Marine base, is now one of the largest vehicle squats in the country. East Jesus, another Salton Sea community, has likewise sprouted masses of sculpture, installations and art made from desert-scavenged detritus.  

Yucca Valley’s Christ Desert Park was the ten-year labor of Antoine Martin (1887-1961). In Borrego Springs, the shipping-label magnate Dennis Avery commissioned artist Ricardo Breceda to create a menagerie of giant metal sculptures: mammoths, dragons, insects.

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

This just in: the film is an official selection at the NoHo Cine Fest And will screen on Easter Sunday, April 12 at the North Hollywood Laemmle Theater.

© PICTURE PALACE, INC.

I WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS!