This is a first in a series of posts about my favorite places to visit in Twentynine Palms.
The large bright flag was rolling with the breeze and had the word “OPEN” splashed across it. It was good that it was there because I almost missed the quick right turn from National Park Drive to pull into the driveway to the entrance to the Twentynine Palms Art Gallery. The parking lot was small and had only a couple of other cars parked there despite the flag’s proclamation of being “OPEN.”
My kids and I stepped out of the car and were greeted by beautiful desert views. The Gallery was close to the Oasis of Mara and there was a dirt path that started at the parking lot that led to the Oasis. Large mountains were so close that I could reach out and touch the tips of their peaks with my fingers. The landscape around the old adobe building the housed the Gallery had cacti and sculptures throughout the grounds. Thorned palo verde trees led the way toward the Gallery entrance which was guarded by a large heavy door that I had to pry open to get inside.
As we filed through the door we were greeted by a man sitting behind a counter immediately to the left of the entrance. He told us that his name was John and would we please sign in. “We like to show that we actually have people come and visit us” he told me with a wry smile.
I returned his smile and signed us in the 3-ring binder where I saw that people from all over the world have come to this small art gallery in the old adobe building.
John told us to go ahead and enjoy the artworks. He assured us that he wouldn’t hover and to ask him if we had any questions.
The gallery was sectioned into three main galleries that open to each other in a horizontal row going east to west. John told us that the first and third galleries are their main shows that are changed every month and the middle gallery was devoted to showing the work of their members from their Artist’s Guild. The current show was a historic show, displaying work of one of the founding artists of the Artist’s Guild which was started in 1951-2.
The kids and I headed to the first gallery on the right and I was treated to seeing lovely desert landscapes done by John Hilton. The artist used many brush strokes to perfectly capture light that fell on desert hills and washes. They were so realistic that I felt I could easily step through his paintings and spend a lovely afternoon hiking through the rough yet beautiful desert scenery.
This first gallery had a large adobe fireplace built into the wall and the kids were immediately drawn to it. They spotted something on display in a small case built into the mantle piece. We all looked at it carefully and saw it was a small urn that held the ashes of the old adobe’s mortgage.
The kids were already through the first gallery and I followed them out of the room, passed John who was lounging at the counter, and into the middle gallery. This gallery had art that was more modern than the first gallery. There were a variety of mediums like collage, sculpture, and photographs. Many of the pieces in this gallery were for sale.
Moving on to the last gallery we saw more of the bright and dark desert landscapes of John Hilton. We were also treated to two very large paintings of mountain scenes. These were paintings that were from the 1880s that the Gallery had in its collection and recently cleaned and refurbished to display. I was impressed with how large they were and yet the artist showed striking detail on such a grand scale.
On our way out of the Gallery, John told us about the gift shop they had, which perked up the interest of the kids. He also told us about reasonably priced art classes for both kids and adults and told me to go to the Gallery’s website to see what they offer and sign up. Learning that we were locals, John asked us what brought us to the Gallery.
Without hesitation, I said “To look at the pretty pictures,” and then felt very unsophisticated by my answer but it was the truth.
John paused a moment and replied “Well, that’s as good a reason as any.”
I smiled at his understanding and vowed I would make it a point to return to the gallery at least every month to see the different shows of pretty pictures.
Admission to the Twentynine Palms Art Gallery is free.
Twentynine Palms Art Gallery
74055 Cottonwood Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Click here to go to the Twentynine Palms Art Gallery’s website: https://29palmsartgallery.com/