By Rich Henrich

Tucked away inside the stylish mid-century modern architecture that was once home to the CV Printing Company in downtown Indio, the Coachella Valley Art Center (CVAC) is taking the freedom of the (printing) press into a whole new direction of expression. The space supports artists (both in-residence and at-large) in all mediums and encourages creative exploration and collaboration. Executive Director, Bill Schinsky, says, “If you succeed, good. If you fail, good. Just try.” His simple philosophy for artists recalls the words of the great sage, Yoda, when he spoke to the young Jedi, Luke Skywalker. Luke, doubting his own abilities and not entrusting himself into the force or the guidance of his master received the wisdom: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” However, inside these walls, the act of trying transforms the cautious observer into a doer, a creator. This process leads to artistic discovery, an unknown outcome, or an individual artistic expression and that is all that really matters at CVAC.

The Coachella Valley Art Center’s website proclaims the place is designed to cultivate introductions- new concepts, new art, artists, community, history- all cross-pollinating in an atmosphere of inquiry and accomplishment. “We are an innovative non-profit facility for the Arts developed by the Coachella Valley Arts Alliance to provide access to artists on all levels: the established professional, the beginner, as well as the student working towards a future in the Arts,” elaborates Mr. Schinsky, his voice tuned like a classical instrument. For over a decade, the mission of the CV Arts Alliance is to enhance the creative vitality of the Coachella Valley. CVAC’s 17,000 square foot facility is such a place where new intersections of art and culture are emerging out of “an atmosphere of inquiry and accomplishment.”

The Center is home to several diverse artists connected by their passion for enhancing the current state of the arts in Coachella Valley. Resident artists include Patrick Blythe (glass sculpture, installation), Mike McLane (Fine Artist, Painter), Leila Namvar (Photography, Film) and Stacey Campbell (Fine Artist, Copper Patina). Ed de Roo (glass), Rich Lane (glass), Char Dimond (glass), Mary Foote (metal), Sal Moreno (wood and furniture), Lois Fausto (graphic design) and Bill Schinsky (mixed-media).

Bill, once set on being a history teacher, took an art class and then advanced to earn an M.A. in museum and installation studies. He’s traveled the Southeastern U.S. organizing several exhibits. “I’ve been blessed to work with the best! I’ve had coffee with Horowitz in his underwear, wonderful conversations with John McLaughlin, the minimalist painter and sculptor Louise Nevelson. It has been interesting being me.” Now, he’s interested in discovering and encouraging the unknown artists, particularly in the Coachella Valley but would love to see a serious international exchange and artist-in-residence program at the Center.

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The Art Center provides the Valley an opportunity to experiment, to be introduced to new artists, to introduce and highlight work that is not known and is always of high quality. Recently, the space has evolved into a center for more hand-crafted work. “It’s powerful and humble…people are drawn to it. I want to maintain some of the traditions of the art in the valley. Take the traditional base and put individual spin on it.” Bill Schinsky says it is most important to give yourself permission to try. He doesn’t favor the predictable and encourages coloring outside the lines. His hope is that the space on Towne Street will be used however someone envisions it to be used. Bill reminds, “It’s also important for the building to be a place to learn a trade so you can take care of yourself financially, too.”

CVAC also works with Riverside County Mental Health clients on a weekly basis for art therapy classes. “It’s also an opportunity for their issues to go away for a couple of hours and let go,” Schinsky reflects. “I work with them to help teach them patience and allow themselves to not be perfect. No erasers or no rulers. Incorporate the mistake and move on.”

For more information on classes and workshops or to help support CVAC, go to: www.coachellavalleyartcenter.org

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