Go ahead. Put down your golf clubs, get up from that poolside chaise and go to The Galen. Open since 2012, The Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert is housed in an 8,400 sq. ft., LEED- certified building called The Galen and features photography, sculpture, painting and new media exhibitions, at no charge.
Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Gerald Ford may have streets named after them in this affluent desert community, but it’s Lucille Ball who’ll welcome you to the marvelous Personalities: Fantasy and Identity in Photography and New Media exhibition now on display through May 3, 2015 at The Galen.
A gorgeous, nearly life- sized photograph of America’s favorite red head, “Lucille Ball, Lover Come Back” by Ray Jones, leads the way into a fascinating exploration of the photographic portrait from early daguerreotypes, circa 1851 and 1860, to a 2013 video portrait by Brian Bress created during the artist’s residency at the MACRO in Rome. Bress’s work, titled “The White and the Yellow Hunter,” is revealed, and then just as quickly, hidden, from the viewer.
Unfortunately, no photography was permitted in the galleries so I will have to tell, instead of show, what I saw.
In addition to Lucille Ball, notables whose images grace the galleries include: Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Steve McQueen, Francis Bacon and Salvador Dali. Works by Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Harry Callahan, Weegee (Arthur Fellig), Robert Mapplethorpe and other photographers, some better known than others, are included in the exhibition.
LWS-105-2, LWS 95-4 and LWS 237-7 are part of a series of photos taken over a 30-year time period by Milton Rogovin, a retired optometrist. Dr. Rogovin began photographing people and places, some year after year, in Buffalo’s down and out Lower West Side, when he was 62 years old. He completed the project when he was 92.
Among the images I found most striking was one of a hyena handler (that there were such people was a bit of a revelation) called, “Abudullah Mohammed with Mainasara.” The photo was taken in Ogre Remo, Nigeria by Pieter Hugo and is part of his series The Hyena and Other Men. Ike Ude’s “Sartorial Anarchy #5,” Andrew Bush’s “Deerheadman,” and Jono Rotman’s image of the tattooed countenance, “Denimz Rogue,” from his Mongrel Mob series, were other standouts.
Several videos are also on display, including one by Marina Abramovic titled “The Kitchen V- Carrying the Milk.” It’s a 12 minute and 43 second video of the performance artist holding a bowl of said beverage. Tony Oursler’s doll in a suitcase featuring a video- recorded face, with sound, called “Passage,” also drew quite a bit of attention.
The exhibition also provides the opportunity to walk on water, or at least walk on five underwater images of the artist, Wang Wei, in “1/30th of a Second.” I enjoyed watching a school group gingerly step on the images, one by one, as the docent explained what they were seeing.