PALM SPRINGS — Palm Springs has always been known for its link to Hollywood. This bond is further underscored with the images of iconic performers and artists like Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, and Andy Warhol. Their vivid portraits grace exteriors of benches throughout downtown Palm Springs thanks to an innovative “Street Bench Art Pilot Project.”

The Street Bench Art Pilot Project was the brainchild of the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission, the City Council Downtown Subcommittee and Main Street Palm Springs.

Artist Tysen Knight was commissioned to create the series of benches with the theme of “Urban Desert Palms and Icons” on Palm Canyon Drive between Arenas Road and Museum Way. The project cost was $14,850, Communications Director Amy Blaisdell told Uken Report.

Among the icons now appearing on the benches besides Garland, Presley, and Warhol, include artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Frida Kahlo, and Lucille Ball. All were chosen for their connection to Palm Springs.

Street Bench Art Project Boosts Downtown Vibe

Frida Kahlo

“We hope to expand this project with more art – and more artists – throughout downtown, as well as the city’s neighborhoods and parks,” Public Arts Commission Chair Ann Sheffer said in a prepared statement.

The Commission created a number of installations in downtown over the summer which can be seen along Palm Canyon and Museum Way. The downtown art projects to date also include a sign installation titled “Finding Our Way” by artist Scott Froschauer at the corner of Museum Way and Palm Canyon, and banners along Museum Way which proclaim “Art Is Here” and “Palm Springs Art Museum” to celebrate the importance of the Museum as a cultural anchor of downtown.

David Ready

Palm Springs City Manager David H. Ready

“Public Art is an in important component of the redevelopment of downtown,” City Manager David H. Ready said in a prepared statement. “The City Council is pleased this new pilot project has become such a hit with our residents and visitors and we want to thank the Commission and Main Street for collaborating together to bring more exciting public art to downtown.”

The Public Arts Commission previously commissioned a mural by Ryan Campbell titled “Line Segments“ in the “Art Pit”, a mural by Sophia Enriquez entitled “Con Tus Tias “ (painted with the assistance of students from the Museum’s Mural Camp) and the Graffiti Art Park on the construction site next to the Rowan Hotel. The Art Pit is shared with two installations on loan – the “Babies” and the Walker Guest House.

Most of the Downtown art installations are temporary, until the property is developed — especially the Downtown Park.

“The Public Arts Commission is working with the designers of the Park and the Museum to create art that integrates with and extends downtown as the cultural center of Palm Springs,” said Sheffer.

For the 2019-20 year, the street bench art project will be expanded to “Art in the Parks” and future projects. More information is available by clicking here.

Image Sources

  • Frida Kahlo: City of Palm Springs
  • David H. Ready: City of Palm Springs
  • Judy street bench: City of Palm Springs