Desert X: An Art Scavenger Hunt in the Coachella Valley

We exited the Interstate 10 onto a 2-lane road lined with bright yellow wildflowers. I’ve driven past this exit a million times on the way to Palms Spring and Joshua Tree without a second glance.

As we followed close behind a slower car, I started feeling antsy. “Why are they driving so slow?” I yelled. Then I turned the question on myself, “What’s the rush?” and took a moment to recalibrate from the work week stress. Turning my gaze outside the passenger window, I watched the landscape transform from sun-baked rocks to a lush green oasis.

We were on a scavenger hunt-of-sorts to find the sculpture “One I Call” by Sherin Guirguis, the first installation of a free public exhibition across the Coachella Valley called Desert X.

The road ended at Whitewater Preserve Ranger Station. Without knowing exactly where we were headed, we allowed ourselves to explore the pleasantly shaded park as temperatures climbed into the 80’s. Just past a shallow pond where children were splashing, a dirt path led us to the installation. I asked myself, “How have I never been here?”

I repeated this question throughout the day, as we followed my hand-drawn map from one installation to the next. The desert landscape acts as a canvas for conversations about global and local issues through artistic works.

The official headquarters of Desert X is located at Ace Hotel & Swim Club, providing maps, information, guided tours and souvenirs. Being that it was the first weekend of Coachella Music Festival, we relied instead on our own navigational instincts.

Of the 16 installations, 13 are still on view until April 30. We visited 6 installations in an afternoon, but if you are feeling ambitious like our friend Josh of California Through My Lens, you might be able to see them all. Visiting hours apply, so plan accordingly.

One I Call by Sherin Guirguis

  • Location: Whitewater Preserve, 9160 Whitewater Canyon Rd, Whitewater, CA 92282
  • Hours: Open daily, 8am – 5pm

hEarth by Lita Albuquerque

  • Location: Sunnylands Center & Gardens, 37977 Bob Hope Dr, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
  • Hours: Thurs – Sun, 8:30am – 3:45pm
  • Tip: Don’t ask where to find the installation. Allow yourself to wander through the gardens until you find it.

Curves and Zigzags by Claudia Comte

  • Location: Homme-Adams Park, 72500 Thrush Rd, Palm Desert, CA 92260
  • Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Hollow Earth by Glenn Kaino

  • Location: Ave 42 & Golf Center Parkway, Indio, CA
  • Hours: Open daily, 7:30am – 7:30pm; for access, text “hollowearth” to 41411.

Circle of Land and Sky by Phillip K Smith III

  • Location: Frank Sinatra Drive & Portola Avenue, Palm Desert, CA
  • Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Mirage by Doug Aitken

  • Location: 1101 W Racquet Club Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92262
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 3:30pm – 7:00pm; Saturday & Sunday: 7am – 7pm

Photos © 2017 Shoestring Adventures

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