Desert X 2021, the Coachella Valley Art Show, Postpones

The expansive outdoor exhibition, which has featured over-sized art installations in remote locations in past years, will not open in February.

Alysia Gray Painter

What to Know

  • The biennial art exhibition, which features outdoor installations placed around the Coachella Valley, was due to open in February 2021
  • A new opening date has not been announced
  • Free to see

The desert is well-known for its epic ability to bloom with beauty, from ocotillo flowers to prickly pear blossoms to the other stunning sights that dot California's arid expanses with regularity.

But sometimes mysterious forms, and strange displays, and wondrous experiences also can appear and astound us, at least when Desert X calls upon the Coachella Valley.

The biennial art exhibition, which opened to worldwide acclaim in February 2017, and returned again in February 2019, has become celebrated for its thought-provoking, offbeat, and deeply beautiful art installations.

But the team behind newest Desert X announced on Jan. 8 they're postponing the February 2021 opening.

"The Desert X Board in consultation with its team and members of the Coachella Valley community confirmed today that in light of the urgent health crisis and surge in cases of COVID-19, the only responsible way forward to protect our community, health care system, artists, visitors and all those who volunteer and contribute to the exhibition, is to wait until we are out of the lockdown period before opening to the public," said Desert X Founder and President Susan Davis in a statement.

"The artists' projects are ready, and the Desert X team and board will identify a new opening date as soon as we believe we can safely do so."

When it does debut, Desert X 2021 will run for nine weeks. And like the 2017 and 2019 happenings, every piece will be free to see.

Not every artwork is placed in or near the desert — past installations were on view near the streets and buildings of Palm Springs, Indio, and other nearby cities — but one of the hallmarks of the exhibition is pairing a stunning natural setting with an artist's quirky or stark or vast vision.

Artist Doug Aitken's "Mirage," also known to many as "The Mirror House," was one such work in 2017, while 2019 saw Sterling Ruby's "Specter" and Kathleen Ryan's "Ghost Palm" (both pictured above).

As far as what visitors can expect to see in the 2021 show, when it does open?

You'll want to keep an eye on the Desert X site and its social pages for any updates about the 2021 artists, their biographies, and the pieces they'll be showing.

Or, of course, you can wait to be surprised by an eye-popping, idea-amazing artwork by seeing it in person, set against a desert sky, for the very first time.

When that can happen, of course. Stay tuned.

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