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Art among the cacti: recurring exhibition to launch in the Southern Californian desert

Site-specific works will be dotted around Coachella Valley for the new Desert X show

A three-month contemporary art exhibition is due to launch early next year in Southern Californian's Coachella Valley and its desert cities, including Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage. The new event, Desert X, is described as a “recurring exhibition” by the organisers. The show is scheduled to open February 2017 and could catch the tail end of the popular Coachella music festival. Venues are scheduled to include the Palm Springs Art Museum and Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage.

The founder of the non-profit event is Susan Davis, the editorial director at Sunnylands. She told The Desert Sun newspaper: “You come here for mid-century Modern architecture, you come here for tennis, polo, music. But people who are interested in contemporary art don’t usually say, ‘Let’s go to the Coachella Valley to look at art.’ And I’d like this exhibition to change that.”

Neville Wakefield, the former curator of Frieze Projects, has been appointed artistic director for the inaugural edition. He says in a statement that “artists from different parts of the world will be invited to make work that responds to the unique conditions of Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley… If the desert is indeed God without man, then Desert X is art without constraint.” Wakefield is due to discuss his plans on 29 January at the Art Los Angeles Contemporary fair in Santa Monica.

“Desert X is currently funded by its board of directors,” the statement adds. Board members include the New York-based collector Beth Rudin DeWoody and the high-profile artist, Ed Ruscha. Philanthropists including Harold Matzner, the owner of Spencer’s restaurant at the Palm Springs tennis club, are also backing the new exhibition.