Sunnylands Totem Pole Dedication


 I simply cannot stay away from Sunnylands.  As you probably know by now, the former Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage has been totally refurbished and is open for small-scale tours of its historic A. Quincy Jones-designed midcentury masterpiece of a residence (for a nominal fee) and free visits to its perfectly planned Visitors Center and Gardens.  The house tours book up early, but I take friends to the Visitors Center every opportunity I can find, whether it’s for lunch or coffee, or just to walk around in the glorious green space—the likes of which most have never seen.

I was recently treated to a very special event.  In the mid-’70s, the Annenbergs commissioned Henry Hunt—a world-renowned artist from the First Nations People of British Columbia, Canada—to carve a very special red cedar totem pole destined to grace the 5th fairway of their private 18-hole Dick Wilson-designed golf course.  Due to the searing sun of the Palm Springs Valley, the exquisite objet d’art was sorely in need of restoration, as in, repairs and repainting.  The project was carried out by none other than Hunt’s youngest son, Stanley Clifford Hunt, who carries on the family legacy as an accomplished master carver.  The refreshed totem was recently reinstalled on the golf course and rededicated in mid-April.

The dedication included First Nations People from the Kwakiutl Indian tribe, who performed traditional songs and dances—while being joined by Rancho Mirage city officials!—in front of a group of about 130 people.  It was a delightful treat.  There is always something going on at Sunnylands, and I can’t wait to return to find out what other surprises are in store.  Join me?