Yesterday we decided to see what the downtown area of Palm Springs was like. We’d been told when we rented our car that the small area along Palm Canyon Drive and Indian Canyon Drive had she’s and restaurants. And we knew that the art and Indian museums were there too. We had driven down this strip a couple of times coming back into town from driving trips.
We didn’t know what challenges parking would be, but it turned out that there was unlimited free parking in a garage at the south end of the strip. There were already diners eating early lunch under roofed open-air cafés, so e of which we’re offering early happy hours. The sidewalks of Palm Springs have their own Hollywood-style stars, though not all the names are household–many producers, writers, and radio people from earlier eras.
The Cultural Center for the local Indians was small but informative, featuring historical origins and more recent misperceptions of their culture. Some of the quotations and statements were pretty egregious, from Gen. Philip Sheridan to John Wayne, who said in the early 70s how selfish the native peoples were to want to keep all this land for themselves. We liked the small outdoor area where native plants used by the people were planted and explained.
We walked down to see the famed Seward Johnson statue of Marilyn Monroe, all 26′ of her, holding down her wind-blown skirt. Then we pressed on to the art museum itself, a pleasant surprise. We got a guided tour of the special exhibit, George Catlin’s many buffalo paintings. It was culled from the Smithsonian’s holdings, and created an interesting angle of vision. Our guide had done lots of research about buffalo/bison and Catlin, so we came away illuminated. The beautiful modern museum building building held quite a good collection of modernist and postmodern works, especially small sculpture. There was also a good collection of Indian artifacts and current regional artists.
This excursion gave us food for thought as we lounged poolside in the late afternoon.

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