The Wrightwood Arts Center held our only Adventure of 2021, caravanning to Desert X in the Coachella Valley in socially distanced “pods.” The Desert X 2021 exhibition explores the desert as both place and idea, acknowledging the realities of people who reside here currently and before, incorporating the political, social, and cultural contexts that shape their stories.

Among the first art experiences in the region since widespread lockdowns to offer a safe, outdoor experience that is free and open to all, Desert X includes newly commissioned works that collectively pose urgent questions about our pasts while imagining the possibilities of a shared future. Our Wrightwood caravan visited four installations before lunch and had the option of two additional sites afterward.

cr: Joan McCandless | A view from inside “The Passenger” by Eduardo Sarabia

After driving 100 miles, it seemed appropriate that our first stop was “The Passenger” by Eduardo Sarabia. This arrow-shaped maze made from petates—traditional rugs woven from palm fibers—speaks to the challenges and aspirations that encourage journeys and migrations and pays tribute to the people who have embarked upon them. Inside the walls, one feels the company of generations.

cr: Joan McCandless | A view of “What Lies Behind These Walls” by Zahrah Alghamdi

In “What Lies Behind These Walls” by Zahrah Alghamdi, material and memory are inextricably intertwined. Assembling particles of earth, clay, rocks, leather, and water, she evokes themes of cultural identity, memory, and loss. It takes time and reflection to consider the implications.

The group strolled by numerous downtown sculptures on the way to lunch (The Babies, Palm Springs, & “Infinite Trefoil”). Rave reviews followed a delicious lunch at Thai Smile. Balmy weather allowed Palm Springs’ restaurants to move much of its seating outside as soon as permitted.