Candlewood Arts Festival


Last updated 3/27/2024 at 11:49am

After a year off to have artists become more deeply connected to Borrego Springs, the Candlewood Arts Festival was finally back on March 23.

The Festival featured newly commissioned, temporary public art projects that engage community and place in Galleta Meadows, while featuring workshops, screenings, artist talks, events and tours for visitors and residents in the Anza-Borrego Desert. This Festival is sponsored by the Under the Sun Foundation, a non-profit organization, founded by Halina and Chris Avery, stewards of the landmark metal Sky Art sculptures of Galleta Meadows.

An enthusiastic crowd, including both art lovers who traveled to participate and those who happened to find the Festival, enjoyed a variety of multiple interactive events, artists workshops, culminating in a reception at the Candlewood Gallery.

The days events started with the Borrego Unity Run: The Performance, by Karla Diaz. This celebrates the stories of the people who make up the vibrant community of Borrego Springs. Diaz's participatory performance is a guided 5k run/walk that will center the histories of labor and community as they relate to the unique landscape of the Anza-Borrego desert. The performance also celebrated the connections between mind and body, labor and land, and the stories that weave us together. Festival goers journeyed from Galleta Meadows and went past land that held Borrego's agricultural stories, concluding at Seley Ranches, a family-owned citrus orchard focused on developing a more sustainable future for farming in the valley. To some people's luck, there was also a shuttle bus available along the route. There is also a self-guided version of the route available for those who were not able to attend.

Artist Debra Scacco, whose work lives at the intersection of ecology, history, policy, materializing the tension between these forces through a sensitive use of materials, often in public contexts premiered a newly commissioned piece of artwork, "Beneath The Clay," that was inspired by the stories of water embedded in the land around Borrego Springs. This can be found on display until April 24 on the corner of Big Horn Road and DiGiorgio Road.

Following the days events, Festival Art goers enjoyed a drop-in painting workshop with returning artist Pearl C. Hsiung, who featured a collaborative monumental sculpture inspired by the patterns of ocotillo and cholla branches, "Holocene Screen."

Hsiung's sculpture Holocene Screen was originally created for the first Candlewood Arts Festival in 2019 created with contributions from youth at the Borrego Springs Boys and Girls Club. The sculpture explores how we understand the terms natural, artificial, and lithe ways this framing impacts our actions. Installed on the gravel area east of the paved parking lot between the Mall and the US Post Office. On view through April 2024.

After an artists' panel held at the Borrego Library Community Room, all were invited to the opening reception at the Candlewood Gallery at The Mall.

Forty artists from Borrego Springs High School, with the guidance of artist Jake Freilich for the third year in a row, made work and organized their own art exhibition at a temporary gallery space in The Mall, titled "We You Me."

Freilich collaborated with BSHS welding instructor Mike Kitten to engage his students in creating steel works for the exhibition. Some artwork looked familiar too, as the gallery featured artists from past editions of the Candlewood Arts Festival, reflecting on the themes of belonging and identity, including Tanya Aguiñiga, Sherin Guirguis, Nery Gabriel Lemus, Star Montana, noé olivas, Fay Ray, Alison Saar, Devon Tsuno, Allison Wiese and more. These can be viewed until April 14, open to the public from Thursday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"The artists have produced incredibly thoughtful work for this year's festival, responding to not only the extraordinary landscape of the Anza Borrego Desert but also the people that make this place so special," said Curator and Artistic Director Kris Kuramitsu.

For details about the Candlewood Arts Festival, visit:

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