CATHEDRAL CITY – Salton Sea barnacles, living aloe vera, and more are critical elements to Christopher Cichocki’s Art Exhibit, titled “Desert Sea,” on display now through May 5 on the Festival Lawn.

In a city synonymous with public art, the exhibit makes a unique statement. The exhibit is running as a complementary showpiece to Desert X, which is expected to draw thousands through downtown Cathedral City.

Art Exhibit Captivates Using Salton Sea Barnacles

Cristopher Cichocki

Cichocki, a Coachella Valley artist, is internationally recognized. His art has been featured in numerous exhibitions around the world including Sao Paulo, Brazil; Venice, Italy; Berlin, Germany; Guadalajara, Mexico; and New York City. Cichocki encapsulates the cycle of decay and renewal through an examination between humankind, the natural world, and industrial production. Situated on the fringe of contemporary art and natural science, the artist’s environmental interventions reflect on the timeline spanning from pre-historic oceans to present-day transmutations within his “Desert Abyss” inspired artworks.

His latest art installation, “Desert Sea,” is located 68-600 East Palm Canyon Drive in Downtown Cathedral City.

“Desert Sea” unveils a fusion of materials derived from the Coachella Valley that include not only the Salton Sea barnacles and living aloe vera, but also reclaimed irrigation tubing that once watered the mass of abandoned orchard branches on view within this large-scale artwork.

Cichocki’s application of fluorescent color stems from his early explorations of coded street markings related to urban construction, property divisions, and infrastructural development. Here, in the midst of a desert that was once submerged under water, Cichocki shifts the identity of fluorescence and black light into perceptions of deep-sea bioluminescence. In this sense, “Desert Sea” re-examines the surviving seeds within this ancient desert abyss, according to a description of the piece.

For decades Cichocki has been immersed in the desert of Southern California, responding to the dynamic ecology and water issues of the region. The artist’s environmental interventions reflect upon the timeline spanning from pre-historic oceans to the present-day intersection between humankind, the natural world, and industrial expansion.

“With art enthusiasts coming to the Coachella Valley from all over the world during this time of year, we wanted to showcase the work of an artist that embraces the desert and its history,” Alan Carvalho, chair of the Cathedral City Public Arts Commission (CCPAC), said in a prepared statement. “Cristopher’s work has been exhibited internationally, and the poetic breadth he expels transforms these living, decaying, and reclaimed materials into a discussion about our environment that resonates deeply within our desert and beyond.”

The “Desert Sea” art exhibit consists of a “Sculptural Painting” circular centerpiece that stands approximately 16 feet high by 32 feet wide. This large-scale element transforms with shadow transitions in the daytime and shifts into colored lighting at night.  It also includes large-scale groupings of painted tree branches and irrigation tubing configured in a strategic sculptural arrangement.  The installation transitions from day to night with ambient black lights and colored LED lights. These lights illuminate strategic areas of the installation in the evening hours creating an entirely new experience from the day time. A series of three nighttime performances will also take place throughout the duration of the installation.

After the showcase, Cathedral City will acquire the “sculptural painting” to be part of its lengthy collection of art for the general public’s enjoyment.  In addition to the “Sculptural Painting,” Cathedral City will acquire an archival work of video art by the artist. The video work will consist of approximately one hour of original content produced by the artist, exhibited during the live audiovisual performances throughout “Desert Sea.”

This original archive of video art is an investment for Cathedral City, as it intends to expand into exhibiting more digital/multi-media art forms projected publicly in the future. The work will be signed and numbered in a unique edition of one and housed within archival media storage.

The City Council voted on Jan. 23, 2019 to approve the Cathedral City Public Arts Commission’s recommendation to showcase the $25,000 art exhibit. Money for the exhibit comes from the Art in Public Places Fund.  Public Art in Cathedral City is made possible through booth Public Arts funds and private donations. Public Arts funds are collected as commercial development occurs. A percentage of development fees are put into the public arts fund which cannot be used for any other purpose. No General Fund dollars are used for public arts.

Desert Sea is open daily during its scheduled run. The transitional art installation can be viewed in the daytime and/or at nighttime via ultra violet illumination. Admission and public parking are free.


Image Sources

  • Christopher Cichocki: Cristopher Cichocki