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​Marks Art Gallery Hosts Opening Reception for Desertscapes Exhibition

College of the Desert’s Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts presents Desertscapes: A Sense of Place, an exhibition of prints by COD/CSUSB instructor Dennis Johnson, alongside oil paintings by the Palm Springs Desert Chapter of the California Art Club, March 5 – April 26, 2012. This exhibition is scheduled in conjunction with the third annual Desertscapes celebration—a collaboration of major arts and community organizations throughout the Coachella Valley and the high desert that pays tribute to early desert painters and the contemporary landscape artists who have followed. Painters included in the exhibition are Andrew Gillespie, Raymond Lanowy, Terry Masters, Elaine Mathews, Diane McClary, Silvio Silvestri, and Lisa Spencer; the paintings, along with Dennis Johnson’s prints, are available for purchase.

The Marks Art Center will kick off April’s month-long series of Desertscapes events with an artists’ reception this Wednesday, March 26, from 5:00-7:00 p.m., with Elaine Mathews and some of her fellow CAC painters demonstrating their painting techniques on the lawn of the Marks Art Center beginning at 3:00 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public; musical entertainment will be provided by COD’s Faculty Jazz Trio—Anthony Fesmire, Mikael Jacobson, and Matthew Howe.

In the fall of last year, Johnson began a new series of prints inspired by the desert and Joshua Tree National Park. The series combines photography transformed into etchings, then overlaid with postcards, typographic maps, and writing to evoke a connection and remembrances of this rugged yet beautiful landscape. The prints incorporate solar plate etching, embossing, color airbrush, Kinwashi paper, and collage. Johnson explains that the inspiration for his work is the communities in which he has lived: Florida, Missouri, Montana, California, and even Finland, all of which have influenced his work and vision, leading him to create images that “blend the past, present, and imagined.”

Each community has and continues to present unique opportunities to explore and to grow as an artist. It is the recurring theme of twentieth century architecture in the urban landscape I find most fascinating and inspiring.  Artistically, and conceptually, I examine objects and buildings in their environs, and enjoy considering them removed from their current contexts….  In many prints, I consider the building, visually and historically, both in and out of the context of its surroundings, and reflect on its purposes. In that way, I try to view buildings and objects as separate from time and space, as well as being reflections of a particular moment in time and space.

The Marks Art Center is open Monday through Thursday from 12:00-4:00 p.m. and by appointment (760-776-7278). For more information about other Desertscapes events, please visit, or call 760-837-1664.