Loving Being Back in the Desert!

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A sculpture of a heart in the median of El Paseo aptly expresses how I feel about the desert

I’ve been settling back into my desert lifestyle and as a full-time Realtor® now since I returned back to the desert from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, just before Christmas 2019, where I also worked as a Realtor®. Since I’ve been back, I found out that three other Realtor® friends who left the desert around the same time I did for other parts of the world to live, have now returned about the same time I did! One tried living in Maui, Hawaii, another in Nova Scotia, Canada, and another in Aiken, South Carolina. There’s something about the desert that just pulls at your heartstrings and draws you back! In spite of the sizzling hot summers, it still offers an incredible lifestyle that is just so upbeat and fun!

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Gorgeous homes in south Palm Desert available for purchase. Prices typically range from $500,000s and up to over a million dollars.

The real estate market here is hot, hot, hot, with lots of sales activity happening! In fact, it’s probably more of a seller’s market since there are many buyers looking for properties, in all the price ranges, even in the luxury estate market, and any single family residence under $300,000 just gets scooped up right away! For instance, a very cute home around 1400 sq ft on a very large lot in Palm Desert just a couple of blocks north of Hwy 111 off Portola, was priced at $300,000, had 75 people show up for the first open house on Saturday, and by Sunday, it was bought for $335,000 in a multiple offer situation!

While I am now prospecting for my own listings, I am holding open houses for my colleague, in Palm Springs in the Sunrise Park neighborhood, at two homes that were bought and remodeled by investors. I always have about 25 to 30 people who show up, and one of the properties went into escrow, but just fell out, so if you are reading this, you just might want to check it out and make an offer!

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Pictures just do NOT do this gorgeous property justice!

The address is 460 N Orchid Tree Lane, Palm Springs, so you can easily look up the details. It has a sleek interior with an open floor concept, mostly white with gray accents, and appeals to those looking for a mid-century home that is already done, so you can just move in and enjoy the views and the carefree Palm Springs lifestyle! It’s bike ride from downtown Palm Springs!

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The front of 460 N Orchid Tree Lane, Palm Springs, beckons you in!

The price has been reduced to $825,000, so the sellers are motivated!

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The open floor concept is embraced here, with floor to ceiling windows to take in the mountain views! Bright and white with touches of gray, this home has lots of appeal!

There is another one just down the street at 365 N Orchid Tree, Palm Springs, and the price has been reduced to $775,000. It’s got a great separation of bedrooms in this floorpan, with a huge master suite on one side and the other three bedrooms on the other side of the house, with a big bonus room as well, for what ever you desire… a game room, an office, a cabana, a den, a room for the pets… you decide! Its pool and spa are south-facing and offer a lot of privacy! The finishes are reminiscent of a Tuscan contemporary design, with tumbled travertine floors, and earth-toned wood and granite.

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The entryway to 365 N Orchid Tree Lane, Palm Springs

The mountain views are lovely from the pool area, and the yard is low maintenance.

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The pool area is south-facing for lots of sunshine!

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The gourmet kitchen is part of the open floor concept which includes the living room and dining area, great for entertaining!

When I’m not busy with real estate activities (which is rare!), one thing I enjoy a lot is visiting the art galleries, meeting the gallery owners and the artists themselves and learning about them and their art.

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Posing in front of a vibrant painting in a gallery on El Paseo

I also enjoy hiking in the many trails in the Coachella Valley and up Hwy 74, where the landscape changes dramatically. The alpine town of Idyllwild is just about an hour drive from Palm Desert and is literally about a mile in the sky! It’s a totally different environment than the desert, and the drive up offers very dramatic and ever-changing vistas.

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The dogs enjoy hiking, too! Pictured here on a hiking trail in Pinyon, above the Coachella Valley.

Window shopping along El Paseo is one of my favorite past-times, and sometimes I even indulge in buying some clothes, like I did the other day at a relatively new addition to El Paseo, Tina Stephens, which offers chic, easy to wear clothes that are perfect for traveling, one of my passions.

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The Louis Vuitton windows on El Paseo are always works of Art!

And now that I am a CTA (Certified Tourism Ambassador) of Greater Palm Springs, I attend many fun events to learn even more about the great venues and businesses that are available for both tourists and residents alike to enjoy. You can check out the lineup of events and attractions here in the Coachella Valley at www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com, or just ask me! I am more than happy to help!

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I was happy to be an attendee of a catered event at a fabulous luxury estate in Palm Springs that is available for special events. As a CTA, I can help point you in the right direction!

There is just so much to do here during our high season in particular (November to April), that is basically impossible to be bored! There is always something fun going on. On Friday nights during high season, it’s fun to go to El Paseo to see all kinds of exotic and antique cars cruise down the boulevard, and then afterwards go to dinner at one of the many fine eating establishments to choose from.

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You’ll see classic beach wagons, “Woodies”, Rolls Royces, brand new Lamborghinis, muscle cars, low-riders, VW busses, Ford Model Ts, and much more on Cruise Night on El Paseo!

Fashion Week is coming up soon, and all the events that pop up around it. Then there’s the Food & Wine Festival. You get the idea! Never a dull moment during season! The polo matches are held very weekend at the El Dorado Polo Club and the Empire Polo Club from January to the end of March. In April there are the famous music festivals Coachella Music and Arts Festival simply known as “Coachella” and then Stagecoach, although these have been postponed til October this year amidst the coronavirus scares.

There are over 120 golf courses here in the desert, many of them open to the public. There are public and private tennis courts as well throughout the desert. Of course, the BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament happens here every March and draws people from around the world to see the top stars of tennis battle it out on the courts, amicably of course! Golf tournaments are also a draw here, and PGA WEST is located in La Quinta, offering several golf courses and a wide variety of homes to buy, ranging from condos and townhouses to multi-million dollars estates.

Some people can take the heat of summer here! Are you one of them? If not, there are many places just an hour or two or three away, to escape it. Right in Palm Springs, there is the Aerial Tramway, which offers hiking in an alpine atmosphere overlooking the hot desert below.

The indoor/outdoor living here draws “snowbirds” and people from all over the world to bask in the sunshine. Some people choose to make it their home as well, whether it’s their primary home or a secondary home. Are you thinking about buying a home here? I can help! Just a phone call away at 1-760-587-6009 or e-mail me at wendysdesert@gmail.com for more information or to answer any question you may have.

PS Here is a link to a recent article about fun things to do in Greater Palm Springs from Forbes Magazine!

 

 

From California to South Carolina and Back to California! For good! Yay!!!

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A gorgeous sunset on Mitchelville Beach on the north end of Hilton Head Island

LOOKING FOR ADVENTURE

Sometimes one feels the need for a new adventure! So last year in Feb. 2019, I drove cross country with my two cats and dog to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to buy a cute little condo not far from the beach! I figured, hey, check it out! The prices for real estate and gas are much less than here in California, and I thought that I’d love to live near the beach for a change. Yes, I had heard of the hurricanes and alligators there, but…well, I decided I’d check it out, just the same.

I had also planned on getting my real estate license there, as well as keep the one I have in California, and so I accomplished that goal with not a lot of hassle.

Boy, oh boy, what a culture shock I felt after immersing myself in life in Hilton Head Island!

I had thought I might possibly stay in South Carolina for maybe even the rest of my life, but as the months went by, I sorely missed home sweet home: California!! In spite of all its problems, like some of the high living expenses such as housing and gas, the wacky politics, the homelessness problems, the sanctuary cities, frequent devastating fires and occasional earthquakes!

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It’s definitely a “Buyer Beware” kind of state in South Carolina when it comes to buying real estate! Buyers in California are much more protected!

REAL ESTATE PRACTICES IN SOUTH CAROLINA VS. IN CALIFORNIA REALLY DIFFER

First of all, the way they do real estate there is completely different than the way we do it here in California!

It’s very much a “Buyer Beware” kind of a state, where once an Offer is accepted, basically, you bought it! No easy way to back out, like here in California, where the contingency period is 17 days, and you don’t even have to give a reason for backing out, and you don’t lose any money whatsoever if you do.

Over in South Carolina, there are only a few pages of real estate documents you need to close a deal, whereas here in California, the stack often reaches 2 inches high or more! In South Carolina, buyers sometimes do not receive any disclosures other than one Seller Disclosure, IF they are lucky! Many times sellers do not bother to provide one, and a deal cannot be voided if none is provided. In California, buyers receive a Seller Property Questionnaire, a Real Estate Transfer Disclosure (with even more details and disclosures from the seller), and the Natural Hazards Disclosure. In South Carolina, home owners association documents are not current and you may not receive full documents until AFTER you close escrow. In California, HOA-related documents are provided usually within 10 days of acceptance of the offer.

While there are many more documents that California realtors must process in order to complete a real estate transaction, I think it’s worth it, because it truly protects the buyer, which is only right, since the buyer is often making the biggest financial decision of his/her life! In the end, I think it benefits everyone. It makes for fewer surprises, and let’s face it, when it comes to buying a home, no one wants surprises! Here in California, it’s best for sellers to “disclose, disclose, disclose” to avoid problems down the road.

In California, we use escrow companies that are very customer service oriented to handle the closing of the real estate transaction. The escrow company can be selected by the buyer or the seller, but both must agree on using the same one. Usually the seller is the one who selects the escrow company, however, occasionally it is the buyer who does. On the other hand, in South Carolina, they use attorneys. I found that to be very inefficient because it added an extra layer to the process. Having just one escrow company to deal with is far more efficient and saves time. The lawyers I encounter did not seem at all customer service oriented, and were often unaccessible. Generally, there is no need for a lawyer when it comes to closing a deal in California, and all the various disclosures that are mandatory help keep everything above board and on track.

As for real estate documents, in California, they are all standardized CAR (California Association of Realtors) forms. On the other hand, in South Carolina, they have a variety of options and ways to write up their contracts, which makes the process more confusing. They don’t typically include expiration dates which makes things seem so open-ended. In California, the documents are much more concise and detailed in the language. Again, I believe this takes out the guesswork and, even if there are more pages to a document, such as an offer to purchase, I believe it’s actually a much more efficient and clear, transparent way to practice real estate, that benefits all involved, especially the buyer.

I could continue on with this topic, but I think you get the idea! They really do things differently in South Carolina than in California with regards to real estate, and I am much more comfortable with the California way!

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Unfortunately due to the sediment from surrounding rivers, lagoons, and marshland, the water is so murky you can’t see your feet! Scary when there are stinging jellyfish, stingrays and sharks lurking in the water!

DISAPPOINTMENT WITH THE CLARITY OF THE OCEAN WATER DETRACTED FROM THE ENJOYMENT OF THE BEACHES FOR ME

While I love the long, sandy beaches of Hilton Head Island, I was very surprised that the water is very murky due to the sediment of nearby rivers and marshes. You can’t see your feet even in a few inches of water! This is particularly troublesome if you, like me, are afraid of being stung, either by stinging jellyfish or stingrays, or bitten by sharks! I found that very disappointing because one of my favorite things to do is to snorkel and look at fish underwater, which is not possible there. Oops! I guess I should’ve researched that! Also, during the summer months in particular, there are a lot of biting bugs, such as “no see ums” (gnats so little that you can’t see them). So you had better have your bug spray handy at all times!

On the bright side, sometimes I almost felt like I was in St. Bart’s on the beach, because of the airplanes flying low over the beach on Mitchelville Beach, an incredibly beautiful and natural beach. I spent many an idyllic afternoon reading and studying on that beach, with Cupcake in tow. Dogs area allowed to roam freely on the beaches except during peak hours during the summer. I never tired of the gorgeous sunsets from the beaches and restaurants such as my favorites Skull Creek Boathouse, on the north end of the island, and The Ocean Club, at Sea Pines at the south end of the island, and Poseidon, in the middle of them.

CUSTOMER SERVICE IS LACKING IN MANY PLACES IN SOUTH CAROLINA

I love to shop at Ralph’s Grocery Store in the desert, for example, but its counterpart Kroger’s is another story altogether! While the great selection and competitive prices are there, the customer service was completely lacking! The cashiers and “baggers” would rather chat and ignore you than bag your groceries. Many of them were very unfriendly and they definitely were not trained to provide good customer service and a pleasant customer service experience! So I am so happy to be back where excellent customer service is commonplace everywhere! California seems to be a happier place in general than South Carolina to me. Maybe it’s just me!

By the way, apparently South Carolina is a so-called “Right To Work” state, where there is no mandatory minimum wage, and so many people get much less wages than people in California for the same kind of job. I heard many of the restaurant food-servers only make $2.50/hr and must rely almost completely on tips to make any money! Due to this fact, the service when tips were involved was almost always great. However, in general, workers did not seem to provide very good customer service resulting in a bad customer experience. This even included real estate attorneys, in addition to cashiers and baggers at grocery stores and moving company employees! The concepts of customer service and customer satisfaction seem to be lost on many, although there were definitely notable exceptions.

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Beachfront properties on Hilton Head Island do cost over a million dollars, however, beachfront properties like these will likely cost five times or more along the California coast!

 

HOME PRICES AND GAS PRICES ARE UNSURPRISINGLY LOW IN SOUTH CAROLINA

I do miss only paying about $2.24 a gallon at the gas pumps, that’s for sure! And home prices are much less in South Carolina (and most places!) than in California. I hope that somehow we Californians can find a way to pressure our politicians to not tax the gas so much. It seems like the gas prices are unnecessarily exorbitant! There’s not pollution in many states I drove through, in spite of their low gas prices!

Home values are great in South Carolina, and it is a fast-growing state. Towns like Bluffton, for instance, are rapidly expanding in population and amenities!

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This was one heck of an alligator, looking almost like a statue. But it wasn’t.

WHERE EVER THERE IS WATER, THERE ARE ALLIGATORS IN HILTON HEAD ISLAND!

I knew that there were alligators in Hilton Head Island, but I didn’t know they are everywhere there is water! And there is a lot of water in Hilton Head Island: a zillion lagoons, creeks, rivers, marshes… occasionally alligators can even be found in the surf at the beach! I almost ran over a 9-footer about to cross the street at night! Apparently alligators are mostly nocturnal and like to jump from lagoon to lagoon and socialize during the mating season! About 6 months before I moved there, a lady named Cassandra Klein was attacked while walking her dog near one of the ubiquitous lagoons, and sadly, she did not survive, while her dog, whom she valiantly tried to protect from the gator, did survive unharmed. While I was there, a woman was walking her dog at night and tripped on an alligator in her side yard, and was attacked by the creature on her wrist and calf, but she survived, fortunately!

I am so glad that me and my little doggie Cupcake (and my cats!) survived South Carolina’s alligators (and hurricanes) for sure!

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Me and my furry family were holed up in a Comfort Suites hotel room in Columbia, glued to the TV watching the news about  Hurricane Dorian, praying it would pass by Hilton Head Island leaving it unscathed. The lump to the left is my cat Mr. T hiding under the covers.

HURRICANES ARE PSYCHOLOGICAL TERRORS

Everyone was forced to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Dorian. It was terrifying to have to constantly watch the news and see the way the hurricane devastated the Bahamas! Hoping it wouldn’t do the same to Hilton Head Island!

So I packed up the furry family and we spent the night at a Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel in the state capital Columbia, which was full of evacuees. It really wasn’t fun because I was too worried about what might happen. It was exhausting!

Fortunately, word came early the next day that Hilton Head Island was spared, and a neighbor told me by phone there wasn’t any damage. So we rolled home and were relieved to see just a lot of branches and pinecones littering the ground. Whew! That was a close one!

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A winsome statue is one of many along El Paseo, “the Rodeo Drive of the desert!”

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME! CALIFORNIA IS TRULY MY HOME!

It’s a well known fact, that sometimes you just don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone. And, as the saying goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. This was certainly the case with me, and fortunately California is still here, and I am so glad to be back here, for sure!

I will cherish the great times and beautiful vistas that I witnessed in and around low-key Hilton Head Island, glamorously charming Charleston and entirely enchanting Savannah, and learning about the rich history.

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One of the magnificent historic homes along the Battery in Charleston, this is the Roper House!

I love the historical buildings and architecture, especially the Greek Revival, surrounded by majestic live oak trees festooned with hanging Spanish Moss.

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The historic district in Savannah has around 24 park squares and surrounded by gorgeous historic homes, including this one, which is now The Old Pink House Restaurant, a very popular place, and deservedly so!

I truly enjoyed Southern Cuisine, such as Shrimp and Grits, She Crab Soup, local fish cooked in a variety of ways, the myriad varieties of oysters, fried green tomatoes, and the libations were great too, such as the many local beers and the Dark And Stormy cocktail, so popular with sailors, made of Gosling Dark Rum and Gosling Ginger Beer.

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I truly enjoyed this masterpiece at The Old Pink House Restaurant! Soft-shelled crab and rice deluxe! The service and ambiance was fantastic here!

Of course, the local wines there don’t compare to California wines!

BOTTOM LINE IS…

I’m so grateful I had the very interesting experience of living in the Deep South, which has always fascinated me, and yet, to be able to come back to my beloved California! I rolled back into the desert on December, 22, 2019, just in time for Christmas and ready to begin a brand new year.

It’s so great to be back, reunited with friends and my favorite places here. And to see the mountains again! They don’t call South Carolina the Low Country for nothing!

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Hiking with the dogs up at Idyllwild!

I’m happy to be back at my favorite restaurants and discovering the new ones that opened while I was away, hiking the mountains, strolling the world-famous El Paseo of Palm Desert, and all the fun events we have here during our high season!

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Enjoyed a spectacular property in Palm Springs while sampling appetizers and wine at a chamber of commerce mixer.

This truly is a great country, so full of beauty, variety and great people. Here’s hoping 2020 will be one of the best years ever for us all!

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A beautiful view of Mount Jacinto from Rancho Mirage, CA

Written Feb. 4, 2020 by Wendy Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rancho Santana: a very desirable gated community in La Quinta

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Rancho Santana is a newer gated community in La Quinta with only 168 homes, which have been built in stages from 2006 to 2012 and range in price from the high $400,000’s up to $1,125,000.  There are still a few lots left for future luxury homes to be built upon.

The Mediterranean-style homes range from around 2800 to 4650 square feet, and all offer granite countertops, high ceilings, walk-in closets and other luxury features and amenities.  Some come with their own private pools and spas, and some have skydecks which allow a feast for the eyes of panoramic mountain views.

This home, which is currently my listing, at 81598 Ricochet Way, is offered for $534,000. It offers 3184 square feet of luxury living space which includes 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms.  This includes an attached casita, with its own entryway: perfect for guests! High ceilings, granite counters and an island in the gourmet kitchen, two fireplaces including one in the retreat of the en suite master bedroom, custom tile floors inlaid with decorative European-style designs, and much more, make this a very special place to live.  The energy bills are kept low due to the zoned AC/heating and the energy provider is IID (Imperial Irrigation District).

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This lovely home with many designer features includes a skydeck with these fabulous views (below)! This photo does not do it proper justice! It’s a great place to sit back and watch some of our spectacular desert sunsets. There is a wet bar and covered area as well.

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Here are the stairs leading up to the skydeck:

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The gate to Rancho Santana is located on the south side of Avenue 52 just east of Monroe Street, and the westside of Rancho Santana is next to the uber-prestigious Madison Club, which features a private world class golf course and multi-million dollar luxury homes and estates.

Rancho Santana has very low HOA dues ($142 per month for my featured listing) and offers walking trails, a putting green and a playground area surrounded by lots of green grass.

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If you love horses, there are two world-class polo clubs with restaurant right around the corner! Empire Polo Club has entrances on Monroe St. and Avenue 50, while the El Dorado Polo Club has an entrance on Madison Street. Watching the polo matches while tail-gating or sitting in a cabana is a wonderful way to spend Sunday afternoons.

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If these two top-notch polo clubs were not enough for horse-lovers, Rancho Santana is just a short drive to the Horses In The Sun events in Thermal, where riders from around the world showcase their jumping skills and more equestrian talents.

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If you love golf, you are in luck.  As a resident of La Quinta, you will have discounted rates to play at the prestigious SilverRock Golf Course, which is just down the road a short distance from Rancho Santana, on Avenue 52.  Of course, the entire Coachella Valley is a mecca for golf enthusiasts.  There are about 120 or so golf courses throughout the Coachella Valley and many of them are public courses.  For instance, Indian Palms CC is a very popular  golf community with public golf courses and it is just around the corner on Monroe at Avenue 48. I have listed and sold many homes and condos in Indian Palms Country Club, which offers many amenities including an on-site restaurant, fitness club, tennis courts, community pools and more.

My listing at 81598 Ricochet Way in Rancho Santana is great for either a second residence or even full-time, since when you need to get away from the summer heat, the coastal beaches are only about a two and a half hour drive away. Or you can escape to the mountains in about the same time.

“Snowbirds”, people from colder climes, flock here during our season,  which begins in October and ends in May or June, because of the balmy weather and beautiful scenery of mountain vistas, fountains, colorful flowers and towering palms which line the streets.  There is plenty to do, besides the afore-mentioned golfing and horsing around, such as world-class shopping on El Paseo in Palm Desert, our “Rodeo Drive” in the desert, with a Saks Fifth Avenue, Gucci, Jill St. John, Ralph Laurent, Louis Vuitton, and all the rest. There are film festivals, Fashion Week, concerts at the McCallum Theatre, art museums, outdoor shopping and marketplaces, hiking, biking…the list goes on and on!

Whether you are interested in a house or a condo here in “the desert”, I can help you find what you are looking for and assist you with achieving your real estate goals. Please call me at 760-587-6009 or e-mail me at wendysdesert@gmail.com to start the process!

First Art Walk of the 2010 Season on El Paseo

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For those of you who don’t know, the popular Art Walk on El Paseo in the heart of Palm Desert takes place on the first Thursday of every month of our season, beginning with October and ending in May.

The leisurely gallery-hopping starts around 5:30 pm and goes until about 9 pm at the latest.  Since El Paseo is a long stretch, there are yellow golf carts that are driven by friendly drivers who pick up and drop off gallery-goers who might get weary of all the walking, or those who just want to save time and pack in as many galleries in one night.

Jones & Terwilliger Galleries on El Paseo

 

We first went into the Jones & Terwilliger Galleries.  They also have a gallery in Carmel-By-The-Sea. We were astounded by the incredible artistic talent on display. Art Consultant Rale Potic was very informative with regards to the artists and their techniques. 

Then we went into S. R. Brennen Gallery, where the fine art rivaled what we had just seen in the other gallery!

S.R. Brennen Gallery on El Paseo

 

Party central was at Copal Fine Art, owned by Alicia Armstrong, which features eclectic, edgy works of mid-century and contemporary art, from paintings to sculptures.  We met many old friends and made some new friends there, which is one of the prime reasons for going on Art Walk in the first place!

We also wandered into a new store featuring Chinese antiques and works of art, but mostly Chinese furniture and home decor items. Next we explored a new store featuring upscale patio furniture and met the French owner who just so happened to be there, however he is usually in the store headquarters in Pasadena.

That was all we had time to explore last night, and so we are looking forward to the next Art Walk which will happen on Nov. 4th.  

Hope to see you there!

PS  The “Book of Tiki” Art Exhibition on Oct. 2 at the M Modern Gallery in Palm Springs was very interesting and drew a good crowd. We love the art of SHAG, and own one of his silk screen prints and a couple of his books, so it’s always fun to see his latest work.

M Modern gallery hosted a Tiki art exhibition

The SHAG exhibition at M Modern