DAILY BRIEFING: Tiny art gallery, progress at Orchid Tree site (but another fire), and more

Good morning. It’s Friday, April 29. Expect sunny skies today and a high temperature near 93 degrees. First, some news you need to know…

Local artist’s tiny gallery leaves big impression, promotes creative community

By Cat Makino

Is it a birdbox? Is it a mailbox? No, it’s a tiny gallery in a nearby design district.

Looking inside the Free Little Art Gallery, located at 68895 Perez Rd. in Cathedral City, you might find small drawings, paintings, doodles, sculptures, yarn work, or even painted rocks. The artists? All artists and any type of art. Musicians can leave a CD, a poet can leave poetry. Any kind of art is fine, and all sorts of visitors can enjoy what’s there, and even take a piece of art home with them if they like it enough.

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When I visited, I saw a cute piece of art in the gallery that struck me, and so I took it away with me; a small black canvas on it saying “Cat Lover” in white letters was the thing that caught my eye.

Many artists, including some well-known painters and sculptors leave their art. Popular Palm Springs pop artist Betsy Enzensberger recently left one of her small whimsical melting ice pops inside.

“I just wanted to make someone’s day,” she said. “The first time I donated a piece of art to the little free gallery, I did it on a weekend when I had my studio open to the public. I announced it on my Instagram and a local woman took note. She raced over and picked up the piece of art and then quickly came to my studio to show me. She told me how she’s been following me for years and wanted a piece for a very long time. She was overjoyed to have scored this. This just made my day.”

Accomplished artist Kippi Leonard, a Palm Springs local, built the miniature gallery from scratch one year ago. “I was a new artist in the desert, and it was an interesting way to meet other artists, to promote young artists by showing their work,” she said. “If they put their card on their work, I can then promote them on Instagram.

“It’s all about artists helping other artists.”

What may look like a free neighborhood book exchange is actually a miniature art gallery containing a rotating collection of any art that fits.

Recently a new artist knocked on Leonard’s studio door, asking for advice. Leonard told him about the free gallery.

“If he leaves a piece in the gallery, I can show his art on Instagram with his name attached to it. That leads to the artists selling their works,” she said.

Free Little Art Galleries are a trend spreading across the country in neighborhoods and communities. The concept is like a free library, but instead of books, miniature art is shared with residents. These small-scale galleries also open the door to amateur artists who might never show their work in a formal gallery, and reach people who might not be able to experience the local art scene. They’re accessible to anyone, and break down barriers of age, gender or economic status.

“It’s fun, a little social experiment into building friendships in the art community,” said Leonard. “I’ve even seen sculptures in there by well-known sculptors. I wanted to take them, but I didn’t. I wanted the community to have first dibs.”

More information: If you’re a creator looking to place your art inside the little gallery, Leonard says that the largest 2D size that fits comfortably is about 11″ x 10″ and that anything smaller is fine. 3D pieces should be less than 8 inches in depth. If you want to exhibit and can’t reach the Free Little Art Gallery in person, mail your piece to: Kippi Leonard Art Studio 68845 Perez Rd, Space H13, Cathedral City, Calif. 92234. It will get shared on Instagram as well. Make sure to sign or leave your card so that people know who created the art



Chuck Leachman and Mickey Feigelson invite you to a special benefit cocktail party to raise funds for REAF-PS and the Cathedral City Senior Center. Entertainment by Lisa Vroman (Phantom/Les Miz), David Burnham (Wicked) and Steve Knill (The Voice). Tickets are $100 and are selling fast!

? Briefly

Nuisance buildings have been removed at the site of the former Orchid Tree Inn.

ORCHID TREE PROGRESS, ANOTHER FIRE: Recent activity at the former Orchid Tree Inn property downtown has given some hope that a developer is moving ahead with constructing a planned hotel at the site. The Palm Springs Planning Commission was told Wednesday evening that isn’t happening yet. Instead, a few “nuisance buildings” that were an issue for neighbors and law enforcement were removed, as per an agreement struck last fall when the developer applied for an extension on the project. City staff said the developer is more than 60% complete with construction documents, but no application to begin construction has been filed. The property, located on 3.1 acres at 284 West Baristo Rd., contained the Orchid Tree Inn and Community Church. The buildings date back to the 1930s but have remained vacant for many years. Multiple fires have plagued the property, including one in 2013 that nearly burned the historic church to the ground. On Thursday afternoon, another fire occurred at the church, sending smoke into the air visible throughout downtown. Personnel from the Palm Springs Fire Department and other nearby jurisdictions performed an “aggressive interior attack,” put out the blaze, and found nobody inside. One firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. 

BIG EVENTS AT ANIMAL SHELTER, LIBRARY: Two of the city’s most popular institutions are holding big events this weekend. On both Saturday and Sunday, the Palm Springs Animal Shelter is hosting a yard sale from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Volunteer Steven Tassopoulos worked tirelessly to accumulate four storage units of items to be sold at the yard sale, so you’re sure to find something you can’t live without. On Sunday, the Friends of The Palm Springs Public Library is having its annual meeting, with author Steven Rowley as a special guest. That event gets underway at 2 p.m. and is open to all current members. Not a member? That’s easy. Just click here to sign up.

DRUG AND FIREARM ARREST: A Palm Springs man is out on bond after being arrested by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department on suspicion of having cocaine for sale as well as several firearm charges. He was arrested after the Coachella Violent Crime Gang Taskforce and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement served a search warrant on Wednesday at the man’s house on Arroyo Vista Drive. Authorities say they found cocaine, body armor, and illegally possessed firearms, including AR-15 rifles.

? Weekend events

  • Palm Springs American Legion Post 519 will be rocking and rolling this evening at 6 p.m. with The Unknowns.
  • Palm Canyon Theatre’s production of Monty Python’s Sir Spamalot concludes this weekend with three performances, including tonight at 8 p.m.
  • The Desert Rose Playhouse presents Mid-Century Moderns, a new musical, all weekend.
  • The Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market takes place at 2300 E. Baristo Rd. from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • The Palm Springs Animal Shelter is hosting a yard sale on Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. at the shelter.
  • Got stuff to shred? The Greater Palm Springs Realtors (GPSR) will take it off your hands and shred it during a free event Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at 4045 East Ramon Rd.
  • Italian Tenor Pasquale Esposito performs Il Tempo on Saturday at CVRep, starting at 7:30 p.m.
  • The final Palm Springs Vintage Market of the season is Sunday outside the Cultural Center, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
  • The Friends of the Palm Springs Library holds is annual meeting on Sunday from 2 p.m.-4p.m. at the library.
  • Desert Winds Freedom Band has its next performance on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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