The music and visual arts are quite different, but now come together in a beautiful way, right on El Paseo.
The new Melissa Morgan Fine Art Sculpture Garden is a place where vibrant 3D art collides with live music, creating an auditory and visual experience for art lovers at all levels.
“I fell in love with collecting, swapping and selling art,” Melissa Morgan said in a recent phone interview. “My partner, Alec Longmuir, has a fine art background from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and he comes from a heavy sculpture program, so between the two of us – with my love of art and his fine art background – we sell mid-career artwork to blue chips.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years; he’s probably been doing it for 25 years. We also do artistic design for commercial and residential applications. We work with institutions, museums, architects and promoters; we help advise on people’s collections, or how to develop their collections. … We also probably do six to eight art fairs across the country a year. We have many different facets. »
Morgan said she wanted more community involvement with her gallery — and that’s where the sculpture garden comes in.
“We did it before the shutdown, and since then it’s become super, super popular,” Morgan said. “The city adopted him; the community adopted it. Early in the morning, at sunset, it seems that there are always people there. We have interactive programming; we have a wall of paintings on which we kind of change the themes, but it allows people to express themselves. … We have a concert series every two weeks that is starting to get popular.
The idea for a sculpture garden actually started at the gallery’s former location, simply as a place to display artwork for sale.
“We sell 2D, 3D, and new media art, so we place a lot of large-scale outdoor art, and it displays differently,” Morgan said. “Our old space was Eddie V’s restaurant, and we had a sculpture garden there, and it was very popular. When we moved to our new building, I think in 2018-2019, we lost the opportunity to show outdoor art, so we rented land, which once had a bank that burned down…. A lot of our collectors have big houses with outdoor space, and they’re looking for art for their outdoor space. Everything in the sculpture garden is for sale.
Having more community events in the sculpture garden was a natural next step, Morgan said.
“Over the years, we have lent our space to almost any nonprofit that requests it. we love being able to give back and participate,” she said. “Knowing the importance of community engagement and community activation…is very important to us. Whether it’s the bookstore or the music, we activate the space for people to participate and interact.
The garden will host the Idyllwild Arts Academy Opening Reception on Friday 6 May.
“We are holding an exhibition in the gallery for students from the Idyllwild Arts Academy, and their works will be for sale; we don’t profit from it,” Morgan said. “For many of these students, this will be their very first sale, and it will help them learn about the professional and business aspects of the business. They will actually be able to attend the reception and talk to collectors about their work and hopefully sell some works. The Idyllwild Arts Academy student band will perform in the sculpture garden. Art has always been indoors and outdoors in a community gathering space, so we wanted to keep it that way.
You may have noticed that Morgan mentioned a bookstore. Yes, the gallery and garden do include a bookstore.
“We feature many nonprofit publishers and books, and we sell our books at face value; we don’t mark our books,” Morgan said. “They’re really about education, and most of our books, if they’re not (by or about) the artists we represent or their related artists, they’re about other people in our area. I released Jim Isermann’s new book from a non-profit publisher. We don’t show Jim Isermann, but he’s an integral part of our community and he’s active at the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Morgan said she’s happy with how the live music events have gone so far.
“It’s been very diverse, from students and small families to our snowbirds who live behind the club doors and really enjoy the comfortable, laid-back experience of interacting with art and watching great music,” said Morgan said. “We (had) Jesika von Rabbit, high desert musician and performance artist…and we just had a high desert artist who is quite accomplished, Brad Byrd, play. We are really open to musicians who want to play here. …Meeting some of their followers and growing our audience is also a nice bonus.
Morgan said she’s open to hosting any sculpture garden event that makes sense.
“We have more performance art, not just specific to music or concerts, that we’ve studied,” she said. “We are always looking for ways to engage the community. We will also do signing sessions and maybe talks, and we plan to install a cinema screen.
The Melissa Morgan Sculpture Garden is located at 73785 El Paseo, Palm Desert. For more information, call 760-341-1056 or visit www.melissamorganfineart.com.