The Elemental meditates on the life cycle of palm trees in new Palm Springs art exhibition

The Elemental meditates on the life cycle of palm trees in new Palm Springs art exhibition
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Art Galleries and Museums

Galerie Jumelles

Galerie Jumelles is an online Art Gallery founded by Sierra M. Bretz. Inspired by the French language and lifestyle, Sierra closed her business and her life in the US in 2021 to move to France to promote French Artists.

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The Elemental meditates on the life cycle of palm trees in new Palm Springs art exhibition If you immediately visualize palm trees when you think of California, you’re not alone, but palm trees have a complex history beyond symbolizing an oasis or tropical paradise. The Elemental — a contemporary Palm Springs art gallery and collaborative partnership between Coachella Valley artist Cristopher Cichocki, and Catherine Dobler and Christopher Yggdre of the Paris-based Fondation LAccolade – lnstitut de France, and Epicenter Projects — is presenting a variety of narratives on palm trees through its current exhibition, “The GAIA Hyptothesis, Chapter Two: Palm Trees Also Die 2.0” In dedication to the Cahuilla Nation, it opened last fall with 15 artists and its 2.0 version, which opened in March, has been expanded to 22 participating artists. The exhibition will be on display through May 25. “If we go back into an ancient time period, the palm tree was upheld with great respect. We even see (religious) scriptures were written about them. We’re here standing on Cahuilla land, who are the stewards of the palms and the oases of the palms. In many ways, this show is a homage to that history,” Cichocki said. Featured artists include Ed Ruscha, Chris Sanchez, Zoe Crosher, Rachid Bouhamidi, Francesca Gabbiani and more. There are 27 multidisciplinary art works in the exhibition such as sculptures, digital media, paintings, stoneware and other mediums. During a residency in February, French artist Sara Favriau created “Les Petits Riens #4,” which consists of 25 small sculptures made of plant fibers, minerals, and human debris. One of the sculptures is a hollowed-out golf ball containing a bird’s nest. For her second piece, “And this fierce garden belongs to the monument,” Favriau collaborated with Justine Bernachon-Irisarri to create a small raft made of a palm trunk and a sword constructed from a palm frond. A rope made from palm fibers protrudes from a block of clay near a large comb made of palm material, which was used to create the strand. Cichocki said the concept and presentation of the show belongs to Yggdre, who he described as “equally a philosopher and a curator. The Elemental also seeks to bridge international waters and present artists from around the globe. “The thought was to bring a historic time capsule with works already produced surrounding the palm tree or artists that were already invested in their practice with them. All of the artists here have a history working with the palm, whether it’s through paintings, sculpture, photography or installation,” Cichocki said. Thousands of palm trees were imported from Mexico Washingtonia filifera, or what is known as the California palm and fan palm, is a native species to the region throughout the Colorado and Mojave deserts. These are the palms the Cahuilla and Paiutes tribes used as a resource for constructing roofs, weaving baskets and making sandals. During the 1930s, other species of palm trees began appearing in Los Angeles, notably the Mexican fan palm. According to a 2023 article by KCRW, the trees were brought to Los Angeles during the 1930s by real estate developers for aesthetics and to attract new residents. “They were imported during the Great Depression when our relationship with Mexico wasn’t so great. We were happily importing tens of thousands of palms,” Cichocki said. “Here we are 100 years later from that time where the trees are dying. We’re going to see a transformation during the next few decades and the landscape is going to change.” As part of its mission showcasing Earth and Land Art, Eco-Art, Bio-Art, and Light & Space installations, The Elemental places a strong emphasis on life and ecology, including climate change and environmental disasters. One grim example is the 2014 photo “Carlsbad Mansion Pool” by Jeff Frost. The image was taken during the Poinsettia Fire and is displayed on a wall near the entrance to the exhibition. Cichocki described an intriguing aspect of palm trees — their resilience. He explained palm trees can collect water from underground aquifers through their roots and distribute it to other palms in the area, similar to the way a network of mycelium functions in mushrooms and aspen trees. This interconnectivity allows for the survival and growth of the entire palm oasis even in challenging conditions. “Think of the palm as not necessarily a tree, because it’s not” Cichocki said. “It’s part of the grass and herb families. Look at how narrow the trunk is, it’s an anomaly. How do you have this architecture in a palm tree? They can withstand the winds with very shallow root systems. Architects are starting to study what’s going on with the fibers in the palms.” If you go What: “The GAIA Hyptothesis, Chapter Two: Palm Trees Also Die 2.0” When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday now through May 25 or on view by appointment Where: The Elemental, 800 Vella Road, Palm Springs Cost: Free to view the art More info: Desert Sun reporter Brian Blueskye covers arts and entertainment. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bblueskye.

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