By Simeon Den

There is a lost history being uncovered of the artist’s colony in the Cathedral City Cove, where in the 1930’s through the early 60’s, a small group of nationally renowned painters, musicians, and writers came to live seasonally and permanently to make art. The Agnes Pelton Society has been instrumental in uncovering that history and their upcoming annual Home Tour of Historic and Artists’ Homes in the Cathedral City Cove celebrates it. It particularly commemorates the 70th anniversary of when Agnes Pelton and her contemporaries first used her Cove home as a makeshift art gallery.  

Agnes Pelton was the American modernist painter, who was one of the few women that exhibited in the iconic New York Armory Show of 1913. It was the influential art exhibition that introduced America to the likes of Picasso, Kandinsky, and Duchamps, which changed the course of American artmaking, and first established Pelton’s reputation in the art world.

Pelton travelled widely, building her stature at the forefront of the Transcendental style and in 1932 settled in the Cathedral City Cove. There, she designed and built a home studio, where she lived and panted for over two decades. She became known locally for her decorative desert paintings of smoke trees and dates, and continued to gain national prominence for her modern abstract masterworks. It is there in her Cove home that Pelton and her contemporaries began showing their work.  After two years they opened a storefront on Highway 111, which was the first art gallery in Cathedral City and was the geneses of the Desert Art Center, that still exists today in Palm Springs.

To fund the opening of the gallery, Pelton donated her painting, “Smoke Tree In Bloom.” Recently, Peter Palladino, who now owns her historic home, tracked down “Smoke Tree In Bloom” at auction and brought it back to be displayed where it was originally shown in Pelton’s house. Palladino has been collecting original works of Pelton, as well as the paintings of her contemporaries of that era and has brought them all “back home,” where they were originally exhibited.

The Home Tour includes the house of Val Samuelson, another Cathedral City resident, who gained a national reputation for his desert paintings, and the home studios of fourteen other working artists in the Cove; and five other homes with historic significance.

The Agnes Pelton Society was named Non-Profit of the Year by the Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce and ticket sales and support from the City of Cathedral City attends to their mission statement, which is to sustain the legacy of Agnes Pelton, be an advocate for local artists, and provide free arts education opportunities for children.

For information on the Cathedral City Home Tour of Historic and Artists’ Homes visit their website: www.agnespeltonsociety.com.

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