PALM SPRINGS —More than one dozen Cahuilla Road Signs have been installed in six city parks as part of the first installation of the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission’s “Art is Everywhere” initiative.

The signs, which artist Gerald Clarke created, celebrate the Cahuilla language.

City Park Road Signs Celebrate Cahuilla LanguageThe artist repurposes the yellow road sign—which is commonly used as a warning or informational sign—as a motif for this project. Clarke inscribes them with images of flora and fauna from the natural world, along with their names in the Cahuilla language. The Road Signs symbols include: images of a snake, coyote, and squirrel (James O. Jessie Desert Highland Park); native plants such as white sage and creosote (Wellness Park); a welcome to Séc-he, the original name for Palm Springs by the Agua Caliente people (Palm Springs Visitors Center); a shelter (Baristo Park); a rattle that is traditionally filled with palm fruit seeds (Palm Springs Pavilion at Sunrise Park); and an ancient stone graphic found on the artist’s ancestral land (Demuth Park).

“The Road Signs are a series of works I’ve been making since the mid-1990’s as a way to illustrate the importance of Indigenous languages and the history of place. As a Cahuilla artist, I feel a responsibility to my tribal community… I began to think of a way to incorporate art into the environment without interfering with the natural beauty of the land,’ said Clarke. “I chose road signs as the format for these works because people tend to see them or not. In a funny way, road signs such as these tend to become invisible when people choose to ignore them. It’s a choice.”

“We are thrilled to activate our beautiful city parks with Gerald Clarke’s “Road Signs,” which surprise us, encourage us to connect with nature, and remind us of the legacy of Indigenous culture and language in this region,” Public Arts Commissioner Mara Gladstone said in a prepared statement.

Clarke’s Road Signs Celebrating Cahuilla Language project for the city of Palm Springs also coincides with his mid-career survey exhibition at Palm Springs Art Museum, and his participation in the High Desert Test Sites exhibition in fall 2020.

Additional information for artists and sponsoring organizations about these and other public arts projects is available by clicking here.

Image Sources

  • Kish: Facebook
  • Road Signs: Facebook