On Thursday, August 7 at 1:00 in the afternoon, I was happy and honored to join journalists from the Palm Springs Valley and varied other invited guests at the unveiling of a very special mural by local artist Keith Blum—who was named “Best Artist of the Year” for 2014 by desert publication the Coachella Valley Weekly—at the Mountain Station of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
A master trompe l’oeil artist—in other words, someone skilled in the art of optical illusion who makes flat paintings look like they’re three-dimensional—Blum chose to create a mural that extends on two walls of the boarding room at the top of the tram. The first panel depicts a stone fireplace and hearth, replete with matches and bellows; the second portrays a view of the valley below and mountains beyond through a “window.” The two details are linked by a log cabin motif on both walls.
Our beautiful desert oasis is getting lots of press these days, but this unveiling ceremony is going to give us exposure of an entirely different kind. It was filmed as part of a reality series titled “The Artist,” currently in production. Blum, who is a co-producer on the project, is also the star of the show, which revolves around the life of an artist and the impact of art within a community. While it’s too soon to know where “The Artist” will be broadcast, for now, everyone who scales the mountain via the tram will be able to see Blum’s permanent art installation.
For the uninitiated, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway boasts the world’s largest rotating tram car. It was inaugurated in 1963, and has the capacity to transport 80 passengers up the awesome cliffs of Chino Canyon from the Valley Station to the Mountain Station (at an elevation of 8,516 feet) in roughly 10 minutes. If you’ve never experienced this thrill ride—which at the summit leads to the gateway to the sublime Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument—be sure to make the trip. The views from on high of the Palm Springs Valley below—from Desert Hot Springs, past my hometown of Rancho Mirage, and all the way to the Salton Sea—are utterly unforgettable. www.pstramway.com