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  • Words & Photos by John Domine

On the Road: Palm Springs, CA

Smack dab in the middle of the California desert, Palm Springs may be one of the last places you would expect to find a burgeoning street art scene, but with its reputation as an A-List weekend retreat from the bustle of nearby Los Angeles, the home of the world-renowned annual music festival, and an enclave to creatives throughout the Coachella Valley, it is definitely worth a visit to explore the art that has been popping up over the last few years.

If Palm Springs were to nominate a Street Art Queen, Christina Angelina (aka Starfighter) would definitely be holding court. And if she were Queen, Ease and Fin Dac would be vying for the position of King, having painted many collaborative walls with her in the region. With works to be found everywhere from Downtown Palm Springs to the Salton Sea and the remote reaches of Slab City, her work is surprisingly refreshing in this arid environment, and equally inspiring.

And if that weren't enough to start planning a trip, there are several other artists of note to be discovered in the area, such as James Haunt, El Mac, and MDMN to name a few. The towns of Coachella, Indio and the Bombay Beach Ruins are great places to come across some incredible walls.

If you are in the mood for something a bit more eclectic, you will find it in spades in Slab City, located near the southeastern shore of the Salton Sea in the Sonoran Desert. Salvation Mountain should definitely be your first stop; a rainbow-hued monolith of adobe, straw and thousands of gallons of paint, rising out of the desert sands, created as a religious art piece by local resident Leonard Knight. Following his death in 2014, visitors and volunteers have been maintaining the site and its vibrancy, protecting it from the harsh environment.

Continuing on to East Jesus, you will find an outdoor museum which is less religious but far more eccentric, taking a page out of the Burning Man Handbook on a year-round basis. Baby doll heads play a prominent role in the pieces on hand, but to be honest, nothing is verboten in this Badlands stronghold. Trust me, there is a lot of eye candy for the weary traveler. Leave your apprehensions at the door and dive in. You will be treated to a plethora of fodder for your most vivid dreams.

When you are all done exploring the desert artscape, check out the beauty of Joshua Tree National Park, which is only 20 miles from Palm Springs, making for an easy day trip to explore the beauty of the desert landscape and its wildlife.

Palm Springs has everything an art lover and nature lover could hope for. You're going to need a car, as the public transportation is lacking and the distances can be far, but the visual payout is definitely worth it. And, of course, you should check out the Street Art Cities app for the locations of all the best work in the area. If you are a bit tired of the chill this winter, why not consider a trip to the desert to warm up? You just might be surprised by the beauty that awaits.

So, what are you waiting for? Palm Springs is calling.

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