A stop in Indian Wells on the way to Coachella

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Art, Indian Wells style.

That time I found myself at an art gallery opening hosted by a (former) Rattled Rooster.

In 2009 I went to my first (and so far last) Coachella. Along the way we stopped in at an art gallery in nearby Indian Wells, not far from Palm Springs. I believe my connection to the art gallery was that I’d met gallery co-owner Rick Royale at least once before, on a previous trip to Los Angeles; also, he was once in a Vancouver band called Rattled Roosters. Anyway, I don’t think the gallery’s there anymore, at least not according to a cursory Google search. Re-posting here because the images aren’t terrible, and I can beef up my travel category. This post was originally published at lavalife.com April 18, 2009.

Dateline: Indian Wells, California

The other night, the Royale Gallery had its opening in Indian Wells. Indian Wells isn’t far from Palm Springs, traditionally an enclave for retired, white, gun-toting* Republicans**. Which raised the question: how much of a market is there in this retirement community for contemporary art?

Run by Paige Moss, an actress with episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 to her credit, has opened the gallery with her partner Rick Royale. Royale himself had a dalliance with show biz: he used to front a rockabilly band in Vancouver, Canada called the Rattled Roosters.

Their previous lives are little in evidence at the gallery, though. Located in a adobe strip mall a few doors down from a day spa specializing in collagen treatments, Botox, and “medically assisted weight loss”, the Royale Projects reflects Rick’s interest in the abstract in sculpture, objects and painting. There was also neon art (the words “Happiness is expensive”), photography, and the winning entry in a competition for interior designers to come up with a dress.

The art was interesting, some of it arresting (I really loved a bronze abstract, heavy on the paint textures), but I was waaaaaay too tired to properly socialize, having spent the day getting from my Eastside Vancouver abode to Indian Wells (car ride thanks to the Twister, plane to Denver, plane to Ontario CA, motorcycle ride to here, for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival). At one point I poked my head in at the Nest, a notorious bar-restaurant (it’s slogan: “after 5, life begins here”) in the same complex as the Royale Projects. The Nest caters to the after-60 set, and I think I looked a little shell-shocked when I returned to the gallery after seeing all those sextagenarians shaking their whithered moneymakers to bouncy tunes from a piano man. (I was so tired I fell asleep almost immediately back at the condo we’re renting. The room I was “assigned” by the team leader of this mission belongs to the son of the owners, and it’s filled with WW1 aircraft replicas. Even the bedsheets have airplanes on ’em.)

But last night I was talking to the owner of another contemporary art gallery in the area, the only other one, according to her. (There’s also a lowbrow gallery, with art by people like cocktail/lounge illustrator Shag.) But the area is starting to see some of the people who were raised here, and who are now in their late 20s and early 30s, coming back “to invest in the community,” according to the gallery owner. I guess they’re the ones buying up the Cheezies-shaped sculptures and expensive happiness.

*For example: there’s a gun counter at a sporting goods store, Big Five. I went in looking for sunglasses, and the sunglasses were near the guns. Go figure. Anyway, a sign on the cash register said, “Due to popular demand, the [some make] 12-gauge shotgun may be unavailable between the dates of…” And I’m thinking, a 12-gauge shotgun? Who’s buying this? That’s like a post-apocalypse, kill-all-the-zombies kind of weapon. Maybe they know something down here we don’t.

**I’m sitting outside in a courtyard surrounded by ranch-style bungalows, and an old dude ambles past. He’s wearing a T-shirt with the U.S. flag on it. Love it or leave it!

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