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Desert X ~ Coachella Valley

Words by Christina Huntington // Photography by Sarah Prikryl // Contributing Photography by Megan MacEachern & Christina Huntington

When was the last time you participated in a good old-fashioned treasure hunt? Aside from playing pirates as kids, the answer is probably “never”. Well lucky for you, your day has finally come! Combining three of our absolute favorite things in life—a treasure hunt, art and the wide-open spaces of the California desert—Desert X is the local adventurer’s dream come true! With some of our leading contemporary artists erecting 15 art installations spread throughout the Coachella Valley, discovered only by using coordinates on a map, “X” literally marks the spot in this limited-run exhibition. Grab a map and your most adventurous friends then keep your eyes peeled as you drive across Palm Desert and Palm Springs discovering each new artistic treasure! You can pick up a map, the official program containing all of the artists’ information and memorabilia from the Desert X Hub at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club Palm Springs. Maps can also be accessed on the Desert X website. With only a few more weeks until the exhibition closes on April 30th, make sure you go out and take part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience that is truly not to be missed!

We checked it out during the week, which we highly recommend if you can swing it, as the exhibit experiences higher numbers of visitors on the weekends. Also keep in mind that the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival is happening on April 14-16 & April 21-23 this year when you are making your travel plans. We recommend packing your car with ample snacks and water, making sure you have your sun protection gear in tow (hats/sunglasses/sunscreen) and make a couple days of it. It can theoretically all be experienced in a day, but two is better if you want to be able to really take the time to explore. And be sure to bring your real camera…Desert X boasts many stunning images and memories that you’ll want to make last.

Here are the highlights and favorites from our art hunting adventures…

Circle of Land & Sky // Phillip K. Smith III

Located in an open stretch of desert off Frank Sinatra Drive & Portola Avenue, Circle of Land and Sky is an all-natural hallucinatory experience that awakens your inner child-like wonder as it manipulates how we view the world around us. Hundreds of reflective poles each set at a 10 degree angle form a circle in the large expanse of desert, endlessly reflecting land, sand, sky and mountains back onto each other and then flipping the perspective as you weave throughout the circle and the sun moves overhead. It’s a mind game of the most delicious variety as reality itself bends, shifts and alters before your very eyes like magic. This one is worth repeat visits to take in the shifting reflections of daylight’s stark bright blues versus the electric pastels that set the reflectors aflame as the sun sets.


Mirage // Doug Aitken

Probably the most photographed of all the exhibits, Doug Aitken’s Mirage truly is a sight to behold, pushing the concept of the desert mirage to a whole other level. Situated on top of a hill at the end of Racquet Club Drive and overlooking the entire Palm Springs desert, Mirage is a house made entirely of mirrors. Though reminiscent of Phillip K. Smith III’s gorgeous Lucid Stead wood-mirror-LED house erected in Joshua Tree in 2013, Mirage takes the mirror house idea one step further by furnishing the entire home in reflective surfaces both inside and out. The now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t design is purposely meant to make your eyes play tricks on you, making it difficult to distinguish reflection from reality. Visitors are invited to walk through the house and around the property to view the exhibit from all angles and meditate on the nature of perception versus illusion. We recommend timing your visit to catch the sunset, when the house turns into a hazy dream wrapped up in all the gauzy colors of the setting sun. Mirage is the only exhibit that remains open until October 31, 2017. But since it is accessed through a guard gate, it has strict and varying operating hours, so be sure to check the website each day before venturing out into your desert daydream.


More Buried Treasures…”X” Marks the Spot!

In all honesty, most of the fun of this art scavenger hunt is to go in knowing as little as possible and with very few expectations so that each new find is a true discovery that unfolds before your own eyes. So just take our word for it and go exploring, mark the “X’s” off your map one by one and experience the thrill of finding buried treasure right here in our own backyard!


Palm Springs Art Museum

The Palm Springs Art Museum plays host to Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market as part of Desert X. But be sure to take some extra time to check out their Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibit running through May 28th for a balanced perspective on women’s contribution to the modern art movement.

“This exhibition presents the work of twelve American women artists active in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1940s and 1950s. As part of a circle of painters known as Abstract Expressionists, they helped forge the first fully American modern art movement. Though women actively participated alongside men in the studios, clubs, and exhibitions, textbook accounts of the movement tell the story through the work of a handful of male artists. In fact, the image of the paint-splattered, heroic male artist has come to characterize the movement as a whole.        

This is the first major museum exhibition to address the contribution of women to Abstract Expressionism. Until recently, their involvement has been underreported and their canvases undervalued. Yet their authentic expressions belong front and center in the accounts of Abstract Expressionism.”


Wiki Up // Joshua Desert Retreats

We combined our Desert X treasure hunt with a desert wildflower hunt (stay tuned for more on that next week), so we decided to hole up in Joshua Tree as our home base between art and wildflower chasing excursions. We always love to stay with our fave desert homestead purveyor, Joshua Desert Retreats. With 13 charming properties to choose from, discovering each new property becomes a treasure hunt of its own. This time we stayed at Wiki Up, a 1970’s vintage bohemian desert dream with all the fixings…a pool, jacuzzi, hammock for stargazing, outdoor firepit and even our own private backyard mountain range perfect for an evening hike to take in a gorgeous sweeping desert vista as you watch the sunset in the West. It’s always “sunny and 1970’s” here!

Go grab your gang for a grown up scavenger hunt and let your inner art aficionado explorers out to play! See you in the desert, California Dreamers!!

love, Sirens & Scoundrels xoxo

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© 2017 Sirens and Scoundrels


  1. Stacey Goldblatt says

    These Pictures and the article are incredible! What a wonderful post!

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