Desert X reflections

Last Sunday Sarah and I embarked on a spontaneous trip out to Desert X, a showcase of contemporary art out in the Southern California desert.

There is a lot to see and we started late, so we had to be pretty selective. First stop was to Doug Aitken’s Mirage; a ranch-style mirrored structure. It reflects the desert floor, the sky, clouds, rocks – becoming almost invisible.

After that we headed to the Ace Hotel to pick up a map and check out the Desert X Hub.


After a couple cocktails poolside it was time to see more.
The Map from the Desert X Hub comes in the back of a full color publication about Desert X, complete with articles and advertising. Directions are also available on an interactive map: but some of the directions were not specific, i.e. getting directions from the interactive map lead us to the intersection of Frank Sinatra Drive & Portola Ave…which is a busy intersection. After a couple u-turns we saw the Desert X sign north of the intersection on Portola. It seems there’s a more accurate Google Maps map, which I didn’t know about on Sunday. Apparently if you click on the words INTERACTIVE MAP LINK – CLICK HERE it’s different than if you click on the image of a map, which takes you to the more accurate Google Map? Here?

Phillip K. Smith III’s The Circle of Land and Sky; a circle of 300 angled reflecting posts:

By this point in the day the constant navigation and photography had almost completely drained my phone battery. (Be sure to charge your devices and bring plugs, chargers, batteries, etc.)

Glenn Kaino’s Hollow Earth was a fun illusion of depth in a small shed-like structure that seems to go down infinitely. There seems to be an almost instinctual moment of terror when first noticing it.


We arrived at Lita Albuquerque’s hEARTH two minutes too late. It was Sunday and the Sunnylands Center & Gardens (where hEarth was) closed at 3:45pm – it may be open different hours on different days.

On our way out of the desert we made a last stop at Richard Prince’s Third Place; a beat up house in Desert Hot Springs. “Family Tweets” are plaster on walls, scattered around, held on the ground by rocks. Paint, dilapidation,sculpture, dirt, rusted objects. When we were there the wind was really howling which made it a bit more surreal.


We headed home after that, knowing we only saw a small portion and wondering when we could get back out to see more. Take your time. I would recommend either staying out there a couple days/nights or arriving as the sun comes up (which we didn’t do).

Here are a couple articles about Desert X:

Massive Desert X art exhibit debuts in Palm Springs area

That Mirage at Coachella Isn’t Beyoncé, It’s Desert X

At Desert X, 16 Artists Make 45 Miles of the Coachella Valley Their Canvas

If you’ve been out to Desert X, what did you like or not like about it? Let me know in the comments



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