Student-created portrait paintings of 15 prominent valley women are being exhibited at Gallery 500 through the end of March, culminating a collaboration between the Palm Springs Unified School District and City of Palm Springs Arts Commission.

Student Exhibit Showcases Prominent Valley Women

Students beginning work.

The Desert Maid(ens) show debuted last week with an artist reception in honor of the 15 Palm Springs High advanced art students who created the acrylic paint portraits. Portraits of local women including Susan Stein, Keisha Halvorsen, Irene Rodriguez, Barbara Keller and Palm Springs Unified Supt. of Schools Sandra Lyon are included in the exhibition.

In January, Palm Springs Unified’s Arts Coordinator Louisa Castrodale, Palm Springs Public Arts Coordinator Jennifer Henning and Artist-in-Residence Sofia Enriquez began working with the students, first presenting them with the photos and bios of 30 local women who have made notable contributions in the local community. The students then each selected a woman to honor with a portrait and then began painting.

Student Exhibit Showcases Prominent Valley Women

Students working.

Beginning at the end of January and continuing through last month, the trio met with the students in Rebecca Patterson’s zero period class to paint the 15, 2’ by 2’ paintings in black and pink acrylic paint. Midway through the process, Castrodale and Henning invited the Desert Maid(ens) to visit with their student artist with about half able to attend.

“We wanted to create a concept for students that would inspire them,” said Castrodale. “They had the opportunity to get to know the ladies they were painting and then create artwork that would be pleasing to their subjects, as well as be meaningful to themselves as artists.  We seek to present high quality projects that uplift what students are capable of, as well as share with the community the wonderful work that is going on in our schools.”

The portrait project is one of many collaborations between PSUSD Arts and the Arts Commission over the past several years. Other projects have included a re-creation of an art piece in the city’s public art collection, canvas banners for Black History Month, the Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez Excellence in Art Shows, the Judging A Book By Its Cover Show, and the Portraits Of A City photography exhibit.

Gallery 500 Owner John Monahan made the gallery available for the project including the opening reception attended by student artists, parents, school district staff, City of Palm Springs Arts Commissioners, community members and Desert Maid(ens), who were seeing their portraits for the first time, The show will be on display through the end of March and gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at the gallery located at 500 S. Palm Canyon Drive.

(Pictured above with Bonnie Ruttan is City of Palm Springs Public Arts Coordinator Jennifer Henning.)