Palm Springs, CA

If you’ve ever strolled by the Artize Gallery at the Backstreet Arts District in Palm Springs or their gallery location near Old Town La Quinta, you may have caught a glimpse of Carrie Graber’s work. Authentically staged and popping with vibrant colors, Graber’s desert paradise Palm Springs centric art is captivating and visionary.

Graber, born in 1975, grew up in Southern California where she graduated with distinction in 1997 from Art Center College of Design. She later on started as an artist apprentice with Aldo Luongo and had her first opening in the quiet Central California beach community of Cambria. Her pieces depict beautiful hot scenic summers, mixed with warm colorful hues of life in the Coachella Valley, Los Angeles, and beyond.

Kaufmann House

I recently got to interview one of Palm Spring’s most talented and exciting artists, Carrie Graber, and here are the answers to our questions:

Eric: When did you get started with your art?

Carrie: I don’t recall an actual “start” time, it was just always there. My dad was an arts and crafts teacher, so drawing and painting supplies were part of life around the house. There was a pottery area, darkroom, woodshop, things like that. I was always drawing and making things.

Eric: How have you developed your career?

Carrie: I’d made up my mind early on, and tried to get my portfolio together to get into Art Center. I was an illustration major, graduated in 1997, and was hired by Impressionist Aldo Luongo as his studio assistant. A year later he and his publisher sponsored me so that I could create my own body of work. I had my first gallery exhibition in 1999. During that partnership we signed on to work with Global Fine Arts, which hosted the art program on Princess Cruises. We attended the onboard gallery showings and fine art auctions around the world, so that certainly helped what I did to be recognizable to a broad audience. After those relationships dissolved, I started over on my own in Palm Springs. I felt I’d exhausted the subjects and palettes I’d painted over that time period, and wanted something fresher, with more narrative, and amalgamated my interest and activities in the Mid Century Modern architectural forums.

Eric: Who are your biggest artistic influences?

Carrie: Vermeer for his light, Modern nonrepresentational artists for their composition, David Bowie, classic American illustrators, Parrish, Harper, Sargent, Leyendecker, McGinnis, Kagan… Bill Watterson lol. I don’t know that there are main influences so much as first influences maybe? Everyone and everything is an artistic influence.

Eric: What’s your relationship to Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley?

Carrie: Palm Springs is where I started over. It seemed like where the interests I had in painting, architecture, furniture design, etc. all met. Gideon Cohn at Images Gallery in the Backstreet Art District gave me a shot, so I had a couple shows there, then at Smith Vargas, then at Haya, now full-circle at Artize Gallery in Backstreet. I’m very inspired by the light, lifestyle, architecture, textiles, and general efforvescence of Palm Springs. It’s the setting in a lot of my work.

Eric: Describe how art is important to society.

Carrie: Art is a language. And what’s magical about it is that everyone speaks it.

Chillin’ In The Palm Shadows

Eric: What motivates you to create?

Carrie: I have no idea, I just do. Everything I see and hear and experience is fuel to reflect it and interract with it. If a bird chirped at another bird, it would probably chirp back. If I see an interesting tone of green when I’m running to the supermarket, I’ve made a note of it and it’ll show up in a painting later. It’s hard to describe what might seem “different” to other people, but to me, if the world says something to me, I’m going to say something back. It just usually comes out as artwork.

Eric: Describe your ideal working environment?

Carrie: Silence, music, book-on-tape, cats, warmth, something that smells nice, windows open with birds and plants outside, a peaceful mind.

Eric: Which current art world trends are you following?

Carrie: I don’t think I’m really following any. I’m curious about Procreate, but would also love spendng a week in Italy painting on some sunny country hillside

Eric: For those looking to succeed in art, what words of wisdom do  you give to artists who have difficulty getting their art recognized?

Carrie: Oof, this is hard. Maybe because so many things are different now then when I started… I wasn’t even ON social media until around 2009. I think one thing that hasn’t changed is meeting people. Seek out others who are in your field but a little further down the road, and talk to people who can help you get there. In contrast to a former question, I’d advise them to not follow trends. It’s very easy to find a thousand things all at once, and you’ll get pulled to bits. Try to focus on whatever you’re really good at. I also think it’s sound classic advice to carry a simple sketchbook and draw every day.

Eric: Can you give me two absolute “should never do’s” in the commercial art world?

Carrie: No matter what part of the art world or business you’re in, never speak down to or ill about another artist or gallery. Don’t take yourself too seriously 🙂

Carrie Graber

Carrie’s work can be viewed and purchased at the Artize Gallery at the Backstreet Arts District in Palm Springs at 2600 Cherokee Way, Palm Springs, CA 92264 or in La Quinta at 51351 Avenida Bermudas, La Quinta, CA 92253.

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By Eric Gray