Tag Archives: Eric Merrell

Salton Sea Museum Exhibition

In conjunction with Desertscapes: A Month Long Celebration of Plein Air Artwork occurring throughout the Coachella Valley during April, the Salton Sea History Museum will present its inaugural exhibition,Valley of the Ancient Lake: Works Inspired by the Salton Sea. The opening reception will be on Sunday, April 3 from 3 – 7 p.m. The museum is open daily from 10 am-4 pm (closed Wed. & Thurs.)

My work will be exhibited alongside work by Bill Leigh Brewer (photography), Cristopher Cichocki (new media),Andrew Dickson (artist), Mary-Austin Klien (landscape artist), Christopher Landis (photography, author of In Search of Eldorado: The Salton Sea), Deborah Martin (American realist painter), Eric Merrell (artist), Joan Myers (photography, Salt Dreams), and Kim Stringfellow (photography,  author of Greetings From the Salton Sea).

Accompanied by a full-color catalogue and curated by Deborah Martin, the exhibit will also include historic works of the area.

The Salton Sea History Museum is located inside of the historic North Shore Beach & Yacht Club on the north shore of the Salton Sea. Recently restored, this architectural landmark was designed by famed mid-century architect Albert Frey, who went on to design many homes and buildings in Palm Springs. The Club was a favorite hangout of the Beach Boys, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra and many other entertainers during it’s heyday in the 1950s and 60s.

Salton Sea Dusk I • Joe Forkan 2010 Oil on Panel 7.375" x 16"

Salton Sea Dusk II • Joe Forkan 2010 Oil on Panel 5.25" x 10.75"

Andrew Dickson, Late Afternoon Down Harbor Drive, 11 x 24, Oil on canvas, © Andrew Dickson

Amongst numerous artist talks and lectures during April, Eric Merrell, Andrew Dickson, and myself will speak at the Salton Sea History Museum on April 23 from 1-3 pm on “The Artist’s Eye: Landscape Painting in the Desert”, covering our individual approaches to painting on location in the desert.

Eric Merrell, Salton Sea, Haze, 30″ x 30″, Oil on canvas mounted on panel, © Eric Merrell

Read more at CaliforniaDesertArt.com – Inaugural Salton Sea Exhibit Opens April 1.

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea • Joe Forkan 2010 Oil on Panel 10" x 10"

The Salton Sea and Mecca Hills

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea • Joe Forkan 2010 Oil on Panel 10" x 10"

Last week I made a trip out to the Salton Sea with painters Andrew DicksonEric MerrellYu Ji, and Larry Groff for 4 days of painting. I had never been there before, and didn’t really know much about it. The over-salinated inland sea is situated a couple of hundred feet below sea level, directly over the the San Andreas Fault, and a bit south of Joshua Tree National Park.

We stayed in the tiny town of North Shore, and painted along the edge of the sea, and in the canyons in nearby Mecca Hills. It was a challenging environment to paint.

Bombay Beach is a desolate little spot out of some post-apocalyptic vision. The beach is littered with dead fish, (victims of the increasingly salty water), that are largely left uneaten by the migrating birds. The lumpy, salt encrusted remains of building foundations jut out of the ground, punctuated occasionally by decimated trailers and piles of debris that were once trailers or shacks, now long abandoned. In midday, harsh sunlight washes all the color out of the environment save for the extremes of gray-yellow highlights and deep, dead purple shadows.

Box Canyon, Mecca Hills • Joe Forkan 2010 Oil on Canvas 12" x 12"

Towards sunset the desert really lights up. Long cast shadows of rich blue and purple cut across sand lit orange underneath skies washed with pinks and pale greens.

In Box Canyon, where we painted a few mornings, you could see the color quickly drain out of the environment as the sun climbed the hills. I am used to similar dynamics of color from my years in Tucson, but the extremes and speed of the changes in the gray hills were remarkable.

In Ireland this summer, I slowly weeded out the stronger colors (Cadmiums, Phthalos, and Dioxazine Purple) from my palette, and the color relationships in the paintings seemed to make more sense in that environment of rich dark greens, dark blues and gray red-violets, but it was clear very quickly that the harsh, extreme light of the Salton Sea demanded a much more chromatic palette and a more aggressive approach.

The weekend was also great for conversations about art and painting, (and the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in California – Plaza Garibaldi Restaurant, in Mecca).

Dry River Bed, Box Canyon, Mecca Hills • Joe Forkan 2010 Oil on Panel 14" x 10"