Navigate Up
Sign In

COD Marks Center for the Arts Presents New Exhibition, Phantasmagoria


College of the Desert’s (COD) Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts presents the paintings and mixed media artworks of five artists whose haunting imagery straddles a thin line between abstract and surreal in Phantasmagoria, on exhibition Nov. 3 – Dec. 12, 2013. 

An artists’ reception will be held Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 5-7 p.m. This free event is open to the public, with light refreshments and musical entertainment by Jesika von Rabbit, lead singer for the Joshua Tree band Gram Rabbit. The reception will be followed by the monthly Cup of Happy Open Mic from 7:30-9:30 p.m., a SafeHouse of the Desert event that is also free and open to the public. 

“Phantasmagoria” as an art form has its roots in late-eighteenth century theater, in which a modified lantern was used to project frightening figures, shadows and reflections onto a surface. The exhibition title, Phantasmagoria, refers to deceptive images and illusions. These surreal and dreamlike images began in the minds of the artists and are completed by the imagination of the viewer.

This compilation of collage, assemblage and paintings by artists Lee Balan, Shaktima Brien, Shahram Farshadfar, Peggy Vermeer, and Brian Wilson wavers between abstract and surreal. Familiar objects and imagery appear from a fog of color, brushwork, light and sometimes chaos. It is up to the viewer to decipher what is really portrayed and what is surfacing from their own subconscious.

The Marks Art Center is always free and open to the public, Monday-Thursday, and the first Sunday of the month (November 3 and December 1), 11-4 p.m., and by appointment; for more information, please call 760.776.7278, or check online at or



Shaktima Brien

Shaktima Brien has been published multiple times as an artist and author. This year alone she released three art books featuring her paintings. She wrote a novel which she adapted into an award-winning screenplay based on the idea of the Goddess Journey—a theme that can also be found in her artwork. Brien has exhibited at the Palm Springs Art Museum and the UCLA Fowler Museum.











Lee Balan

LBalan_AmITheManWhoSuddenlyExplodes.jpgLee Balan has been working and exhibiting as a fine artist for thirty years and is also a poet, published author and performance artist with a deeper understanding of how the creative mind works. He earned a B.A. in Art and Sociology and also a Graduate Certificate in Counseling. For fifteen years, he worked as the Director for a mental health program which emphasized the benefits of art and writing to help clients control symptoms. Balan describes himself as an experimental artist who uses mixed-media to create sensory-experiences. He has exhibited The Palm Springs Art Museum, M-modern Gallery, and the L.A. Center for Digital Art.


Shahram Farshadfar

Iranian born Shahram Farshadfar studied art in New York before moving to Los Angeles to study Comparative Religion. After working in the fashion industry in NY and being introduced to hypnotherapy in LA
, Farshadfar moved to Palm Springs where he continues to pursue creative outlets and still reach people on a subconscious level, “I believe laughter overrides fear at the subconscious level. I confront societies with their own taboos by expressing myself through my artworks joyfully, beautifully, radically and humorously.”











Peggy Vermeer


Peggy Vermeer has been an active member of the Coachella Valley
art scene for over forty years. She worked for the Palm Springs Desert Museum (now the Palm Springs Art Museum) for twenty-eight years as the Art Education Specialist, and assisted in the formation of the Docent program. Peggy is still an active member of the Docent council, volunteering her time to give tours of the museum. She is also a mixed media artist who creates paintings, prints, collages, and assemblage sculptures.  She says themes are very important in her work and describes her process as this,Usually the female form will emerge or a face to center the piece and from there the spirit of creativity takes over and is finished when the moment of revelation comes about.” Vermeer has exhibited at the Palm Springs Art Museum and Coachella Valley History Museum.




Brian Wilson


California resident and artist Brian Wilson is fascinated with the physical landscape and the human condition. As a child, he began drawing maps, landscapes and architectural renderings. As an adult, his works have recently morphed into mostly acrylic based, mixed media paintings and textures. The unique geography, climate and energy flow of the southwest United States all strongly influence Brian’s current artwork. Brian’s works have been shown in several solo shows at Espresso Cielo in Palm Springs, as well as group shows at the Red Arrow Gallery in Joshua Tree.  He has been showcased in the Desert Sun as well.