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Art Spotlight: Desert X 2019

Following the success of the inaugural Desert X in 2017, the expansive outdoor exhibit of large-scale contemporary art installations returns to the Coachella Valley (Indio, Palm Springs, and Palm Desert) from February 9 to April 21.

Desert X was founded by nonprofit Desert Biennial to raise environmental and political awareness through art: Climate change and immigration are some of the recurring themes seen throughout the pieces. The 2017 debut show attracted more than 200,000 visitors to the desert. Two of the most buzzed-about installations were the Mirage mirror house by Doug Aitken, and The Circle of Land and Sky by Phillip K. Smith III (both pictured below.) Desert X went on a year hiatus in 2018, but is back in force this year with 19 established and emerging artists—Pia Camil, Julian Hoeber, and John Gerrad among them.

Each Desert X piece embraces the iconic desert landscape in which it is set. To wit, Nancy Baker Cahill incorporates the Valley’s signature windmills into her installation via an augmented-reality phone app that makes flowers bloom from them. Additionally, Los Angeles-based artist Sterling Ruby set his giant, neon orange rectangular sculpture against a mountainous backdrop, creating an illusion that something had been removed from the landscape.

Due to the fact all of the Desert X installations are spread out from Indio to Palm Desert, Desert X creates a map for art enthusiasts to follow from piece to piece. Official route guides are available on the Desert X app and at Desert X Hubs, including the Ace Hotel. Check out a few of the pieces from this year’s event here and head to the official website for more information.

Specter, by Sterling Ruby

Dive-In, by Superflex

Going Nowhere Pavilion #1, by Julian Hoeber

Mosquito Net, by Cecilia Bengolea

Visit us in the Shape of Clouds, by Armando Lerma

Lover's Rainbow, by Pia Camil