Tamanrasset is an installation of large-scale abstract paintings and light by Vivian Suter. Photo Lance Gerber.

There are plenty of us who love getting out to see the desert close up and personal. Especially this time of year, the cacti are starting to bloom, and wild desert flowers are peeking their fragile heads out of the desert soil. Breathing the fresh desert air is sure to revive a tired soul. Now, there is another way to explore and appreciate the desert… by exploring Desert X, which is happening now through May 16, 2021.  Book a romantic getaway with your sweetheart or take the kids to a family-friendly small hotel. Either way, prepare yourself for the creative desert adventure known as Desert X .

What is Desert X?

Desert X is an exhibition of 13 contemporary artwork installations, created by artists from eight countries, that are designed and built on site-specific locations through the 40 miles of Coachella Valley. The exhibition is  organized by the Desert Biennial Board, a California nonprofit that selected the sites and artists.

Students and scholars worldwide come here to study and write about the art and emerging and established artists who created these often monumental edifices in unexpected places.  Subject themes range from the environment, immigration, or climate change, to name a few.

However, what makes this adventure very special is that it is an activity an entire family can enjoy. Finding the locations, which are often obscure, may require one to use GPS coordinates. Get the whole family involved in the treasure hunt to find another installation often not visible from the road. The Desert X mobile app is a great tool for learning the details about  the art and its artist.

Here a few examples of the sites that will be revealed as you explore.

Desert X Wishing Well by Ghana Artist Serge Attukewei Clottey

These brilliant canary yellow cubes are constructed of plastic water buckets used to carry water in Ghana. The four-inch squares are connected with wire on four corners. The artist wanted to bring attention to the Coachella Valley’s future and its continuing dependency on water.

Desert X What Lies Behind the Walls by Saudi Arabia Artist Zahrah Alghamdi

This wall is about a quarter-mile hike up a slightly elevated path.  It is made out of insulation dipped in glue and then rolled in the earth surrounding the area. Metal rods in the interior hold it in place. Thus, it displays the different colors of the soil and forces one to think about people’s diverse cultures and experiences throughout the world.

Desert X ParaPivot by Poland Artist Alicja Kwade

This art installation is placed on top of a hill with a path that quickly gains elevation. More than one person has stood at the bottom of the trail and decided it is too much of a challenge to tackle on a warm Palm Springs day.  Representing glaciers, balanced in precarious positions, one walks through it and contemplates the what-ifs surrounding our everyday life.

Note: IF you have a disability placard, please let the volunteers know, and they will facilitate a way to see the art.

So make your reservations to come to Palm Springs. Pack your suntan lotion and your hats, and head out to explore this unusual way to see our valley.