By H. Simmons

Indio is the City of Festivals.  If you have yet to attend one of the city’s great outdoor venues at the beautiful Empire Polo Club, The Southwest Arts Festival should be your first!  It is a family friendly festival and a fun favorite of the CV.


This weekend, starting Friday running through Sunday, January 25, 26 and 27, The Southwest Arts Festival will display over 250 artists from 16 states and Mexico.   Celebrating its 27th year, it promises to be a vibrant and varied array of art, crafts, music and food.


“This is a very exciting event.  We’re thrilled to create a welcoming and entertaining festival,” said Joyce Donaldson, Indio Chamber of Commerce CEO.  “It’s fun for the community, the attending artists and for us.  Those involved with the festival take pleasure in doing everything they can to make it an enjoyable experience.”


“Culture and Commerce” is the City of Indio’s Chamber of Commerce mantra, the host and sponsor of the event.  What could be a better representation than artisans showing and selling their creations: Sculpture and clay works; photography, paintings and drawings; glass, jewelry and metal works; printmaking and textiles — all laid out in rows on expansive green grounds in a picturesque setting.


The event has something for everybody.  No matter if you and your family have different tastes in art and entertainment, The Southwest Arts Festival is certain to please.  Every year the festival attracts acclaimed returning and new artists who show traditional, contemporary and abstract fine art.  An outdoor café area has a variety of food to meet the needs of those who may have picky taste buds and there are rest areas where the grandparents can sit all day and enjoy the music or just people watch.


For the kids, there will be the award winning S.C.R.A.P. Gallery where children of all ages can indulge their creativity with art projects crafted from recycled materials.  This year, dream catchers made from recycled CDs will be the focus of the artistic fun.  It is the fourth year the S.C.R.A.P. Gallery has taken part in the festival.  There is no cost to participate and it will be open throughout the event.  The S.C.R.A.P. Gallery is the only organization in the CV providing hands-on art opportunities for children and adults using recycled materials.


Along with all the optic stimulation of the colorful art and bright surroundings, there is amazing music for the ears.  Vebhas Kendzia will be on the grounds playing his Native American flutes creating a delightful and soothing ambiance.


Also Bob Culbertson’s fantastic Stick music will be featured during the festival.  The Chapman Stick is a unique instrument made with a 10 to 12 stringboard, frets and pickup.  It is held and played upright; the strings are hammered with the player’s fingertips between the frets.  Invented in 1974 by Emmett Chapman, Culbertson is a virtuoso who has spent the last 30 years cultivating the beguiling, enchanting sound.  If you are a guitarist — electric or acoustic, or lover of classical, jazz or eclectic guitar, hearing and watching Culbertson is worth the price of admission.  He will be performing on the festival’s center stage all three days.


Every year a Poster Artist is chosen for the Festival.  Artists are invited to present work and a jury of community leaders and local artists consider the submissions.  This year CV resident and plein air artist Diane McClary was chosen.   Her colorful oil paintings exemplify the spirit of the Festival.  McClary’s poster and winners of previous years have become collectables and are available for sale during the festival.


As one of the longest running festivals, this venue is a celebrated tradition with both visitors and CV locals.  The festival not only provides quality entertainment, it provides jobs.  During the event, the festival has service contracts with 23 companies.  It generates revenue for the City of Indio as well as other CV cities.


Beyond the celebration of arts and crafts, the festival is the most important and significant fund raising event for the Indio Chamber of Commerce.   As a non-profit entity, the proceeds will generate nearly 20 percent of the Chamber’s annual budget.  Ultimately, the money raised is reinvested into the Chamber, supporting programs for the community and the building of its businesses.


The objective of the Chamber and its Cultural Community Partners is to strengthen the artistic aspects of the local community.  Their collaboration is a high priority and is an example of blending culture and commerce.  This in turns builds a strong, creative and viable environment for the business and residential community.  The Cultural Community Partners are the Coachella Valley Art Center, Burrtec, Kid Kreation Korner, Indio Performing Arts Center and the Coachella Valley History Museum.


The Indio Chamber of Commerce is grateful for the generosity of their sponsors and 200 plus volunteers and community leaders who contribute their time, talent and resources to make the Southwest Arts Festival one of the best in the nation.


The Southwest Arts Festival is held at The Empire Polo Club, located at 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio, CA 92201.  There are two parking entrances with over ten acres of space.  Both lots are on Monroe at Avenue 51 and Avenue 52.  Self-parking is $5 and valet is $8.   Handicapped parking is available at the Avenue 51 lot.  Unfortunately, pets are not allowed on the festival site.  Only service animals are permitted.


Admission is $8.  A two-day pass is $12.  Children 16 and under are free.  The festival opens daily at 10 am and closes at 5 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday — January 25, 26 and 27.


The Southwest Art Festival is a quality event designed to be a culturally enriching and relaxed outdoor venue with a little bit of something for everyone.  It represents all that is good about the blending of culture and commerce.  Indio’s Chamber of Commerce invites you to come and enjoy one day or all three.





There are 250 artists participating in The Southwest Arts Festival.  The festival is a diverse and accomplished group of dedicated artisans who love what they do.  There are traditional, contemporary and abstract painters.  Also crafts, jewelry, sculpture, ceramics, glass, photography and other great surprises.


Diane McClary – Painter

A La Quinta resident, Diane McClary, is this year’s Southwest Art Festival Poster Artist.   Her attention to light and color captures a mood that reflects the vivid nature of landscape.   As an oil plein air artist, she has honed the ability to quickly and confidently depict the beauty of her surroundings, a process that brings excitement and joy to her life.


McClary has been painting for over three decades.  She constantly strives to accurately grasp the color harmony that exists with the quality of light in the moment.  She has studied with master painter Sergei Bongart and Ron Lukas.  She herself teaches and has led workshops throughout the US and Africa.


Richard Curtner – Collage

Written published text is meticulously collected, cut and specifically placed to form color and shape that become realistic images of still life, people and landscapes in Richard Curtner textual collages.   For each piece he creates, the words are selected to match the theme.


Curtner is a CV resident and although he is skilled in numerous mediums, over the last ten year he has developed this new medium that differentiates him from other artists.  His textual collages are visually stimulating as well as thought provoking.  His work exhibits in museums, galleries and appears in books and magazines both national and international.  He was a previous Southwest Art Festival Poster Artist.


Gunn Trigere – Jewelry

Born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, Gunn Trigere studied design and literature.  After leaving Scandinavia, she moved to Paris, France where she continued her education at the Sorbonne and immersed herself further in literature, fashion and jewelry.


She married Robert Trigere, the managing partner of the world famous fashion house of Trigere in New York.  Her designs and jewelry were quickly and eagerly sought.  After she moved to New York, her work become popular across America.  For years, she had an award-winning boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.


Today, Trigere focuses totally on her one-of-a-kind limited edition silver jewelry designs that she exclusively presents at fine arts shows across the nation.


Gary Allison – Glass Sculpture

It all started with Gary Allison’s work in stained glass and his love of geometry.  After years of working with glass, he was creatively driven to put the two together.  Colored shapes and pieces of glass were formed into three-dimensional, figures with many plane faces or polyhedrons — and the holoscope was created.


Allison then wondered what it would look like if he lined the interior of the shell with mirrors.  He places a clear lens for viewing the inside of the holoscope where the light enters through the colored glass.  The interior is illuminated with spectacular imagery that gives the art a beautiful kaleidoscope effect.  Allison is a Palm Desert resident.


Mark Cieslikowski – Photographer

As a CV resident, Mark Cieslikowski is well acquainted with our majestic and photogenic desert.  He has been photographing the valley since the mid 1970s, building a collection that captures the texture, seasons and conditions of the landscape.


Using high resolution digital — and film — cameras, Cieslikowski translates his distinctive vision into complete works of art by using combinations of pigmented inks with archival papers and printing methods.  He uses a protective coating to insure a long lasting effect.


Also exhibited by Cielikowski are his distinctive photographs of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Grand Canyon.


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