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Palm Springs Local Art to Check Out

backstreet art district outside wall

Palm Springs is an art lover’s dream destination any time of the year. There are dozens of independent galleries and artful boutiques to frequent, and there are world-famous attractions and unique public art installations around almost every corner.

Here are some must-see spots for scoping out the Palm Springs local art scene. Maybe even making your masterpieces — when you’re visiting Palm Springs

backstreet art district

The Art  Benches of Palm Springs

Strolling through downtown Palm Springs is a favorite activity for many travelers — and there are the most unique spots to sit down and take five.

“The Art Benches of Palm Springs” include over 50 benches up and down Palm Canyon Drive. Each one has a unique design hand-painted by a local artist.

art benches

Local artist Tysen Knight shepherded the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission project. He also designed the first group of benches.  It became an important stream of support for desert artists affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020. The outcome was so popular that it led to even more painted benches around the city.  Not only will you find these downtown, but also at the Palm Springs Convention Center and Palm Springs International Airport.

tysen knight
Tysen Knight

From colorful cacti to bold abstract prints, see how many you can spot on your stroll through the city!

A bit of trivia: The Art Benches of Palm Springs project was inspired by the Public Works of Art Project, which was undertaken during the Great Depression.

art bench

Backstreet Arts District

Tucked off Highway 111 against the mountains is a not-to-be-missed collection of galleries and working studios known as the Backstreet Arts District. For nearly 20 years, this spot has been a home for local artists who want to share their work with the community.

backstreet arts district photo 1

Visitors will immediately notice the sheer variety of work on display. Some gallerists put up their own works, while others curated mixed media from local artists.

Kelly Truscott, an artist and gallerist who operates a space at Backstreet, says there’s always something new for visitors to check out. Some gallerists will also operate their workshops or classes at their space.

“One of the many wonderful things about Backstreet is the art is always changing, and that is so appealing to art lovers,” she said. “If one gallery or studio leaves, another will take its place.”

backstreet arts district photo 2

One of the best times for visitors to come to check out Backstreet is on the first Wednesday of every month from 5 pm to 8 pm.  This free monthly art walk is open to all and a great way to check out the local art scene in Palm Springs. The event is held rain or shine, making it the ideal spot to meet and mingle with local art enthusiasts and bring home the perfect piece to add to your collection.

Or, check out their website to find hours for individual businesses.

Desert Art Center

Right in the middle of Palm Springs is the longtime creative hub called the Desert Art Center.  Here, artists and art lovers can take in a new gallery show every eight weeks.

Christine Houser, who handles marketing for the center, said, “It’s unique to be a member-driven arts collective in Palm Springs. And it’s one of the oldest art institutions in the area, operating continuously for more than 70 years.”

desert Art Center

“If offers a broad collection of fine art in its 2,000 square feet of gallery space.”  Additionally she want on to say, “Visitors to the Desert Art Center can also scope out a temporary pop-up show in our Studio Gallery the first weekend of every month.” There are also annual shows like January’s Art Under the Eaves.

The Desert Art Center is a go-to spot for local art classes, including painting, drawing, ceramics, and more. Artists of any age and ability are welcome. Drop-in rates exist for visitors who want to take a single class or just want to experiment with different mediums.

desert Art Center

Some art workshops are held outside on the lawn – a special treat for anyone looking to take inspiration from the majesty of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Fun fact: the space at the Desert Art Center was the first schoolhouse in Palm Springs!

the desert art center

 Graffiti Yard

Street art has a strong and inspired legacy in California. Palm Springs visitors will find a homegrown collection right in the heart of downtown. Located right off Palm Canyon Drive at East Andreas Road, it’s now often referred to as The Block. You will also find the Forever Marilyn statue and the new public park here.

The Graffiti Yard was commissioned by the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission in 2019. It is a colorful complement to the murals and installations of downtown Palm Springs. It’s a worthy stop for any lover of street art, especially since the medium is always changing.

Experienced street artists are invited to add to the collection as well. Head to Palm Desert first to visit Flat Black Art Supplies, which curates the site, and get your supplies!

Graffiti Yar Art Credit David Lee
Credit: David Lee

Palm Springs Art Museum

This established and well-known center of arts and culture in the desert is a highlight of any visit to downtown Palm Springs. The museum’s permanent collection has over 12,000 pieces, including works from. Plus, two main floor galleries feature touring exhibits from around the world.

It also has its own history: The Palm Springs Art Museum originally opened in 1938 as a science museum focused on the natural world. It went through several locations and smaller footprints before the mountainside masterpiece by E. Stewart Williams opened in the mid-1970s.

palm springs art museum

You can check,. it out for free on Thursday nights from 4 pm to 8 pm. This is part of a long-running program from the City of Palm Springs and the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission.

palm springs art museum

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