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Art for a Desert Landscape

Friday, March 8
3 PM

Annenberg Theater at Palm Springs Art Museum
101 N Museum Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Join us for a conversation with Adam Lerner, JoAnn McGrath Executive Director of Palm Springs Art Museum, and Neville Wakefield, Artistic Director of Desert X, to discuss what it means to work curatorially in the desert landscape. Moderated by Kaitlin Garcia-Maestas, Co-curator, Desert X 2025.

Kaitlin Garcia-Maestas is Curator and Director of Exhibitions at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, NY. Born and raised in New Mexico, her research and curatorial interests have primarily explored themes of displacement, decolonial resistance, and cultural hybridity in the United States and the Americas. For over a decade, she has been devoted to the advocacy and realization of large-scale, site-specific installations by BIPOC and emerging artist. Previously, Garcia-Maestas was Acting Curator of Visual Arts at the Momentary, the contemporary satellite space of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR. While at the Momentary she oversaw the artist-in-residency program and organized over a dozen exhibitions and outdoor installations, including site-specific projects by Martine Gutierrez, Matthew Barney, Nicholas Galanin, Xaviera Simmons, and Tavares Strachan. Notable exhibitions include Diana Al-Hadid: Ash in the Trade Winds, In Some Form or Fashion, Esteban Cabeza de Baca: Let Earth Breathe, A Divided Landscape (co-curated with Neville Wakefield), and most recently Yvette Mayorga’s first solo museum exhibition What a Time to Be. Prior to the Momentary, she held curatorial positions at the Denver Art Museum, the Biennial of the Americas, and MCA Denver.

Adam Lerner was appointed the JoAnn McGrath Executive Director/CEO of Palm Springs Art Museum in 2021. He oversees all museum operations at the main building in downtown Palm Springs as well as the nearby satellite locations of the Architecture and Design Center, and iconic desert architect Albert Frey’s Aluminaire House and Frey House II. Previously, Adam headed up the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver where he adopted a unique approach to museum programming that combines curatorial, education, and artistic production. Previously, Lerner was the Mark G. Falcone Director and Chief Animator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver from 2009-2019. Under his leadership, visitation tripled, the operating budget doubled, and the museum produced original exhibitions that traveled to 27 museums nationally and internationally. Among his many exhibitions and projects, he authored the book and curated the major retrospective Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia, the first comprehensive look at the polymath co-founder of the band DEVO. He also co-organized the traveling exhibition and book West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977. Hecurated the exhibition Orphan Paintings, the inspiration for his book From Russia With Doubt: The Quest to Authenticate 181 Would-be Masterpieces of the Russian Avant-Garde. Adopting a unique approach to museum programming that combines curatorial, education and artistic production, Lerner’s innovative programs have been adopted by museums throughout North America and celebrated by leaders in the field and the general media. In 2016, the Andrew W. Mellon foundation funded a 3-year program enabling 14 museum professionals from around the United States to come to Denver and learn from him and his team. From 2004 to 2009, Learner Directed The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar (The Lab), an organization he founded to explore the changing nature of art and museums. Formerly, he was the Master Teacher for Modern and Contemporary Art at the Denver Art Museum and the curator of the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore. He serves on the board of trustees of the Denver Biennial of the Americas and the Downtown Denver Partnership. He received his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University and his Masters from Cambridge University. He is a member of the Hertz Gold Club.

Neville Wakefield is a modern curator interested in exploring the ways in which art behaves outside of institutional contexts. This interest led him to co-found Elevation1049, a site-specific biennial in Gstaad, Switzerland, while his role as artistic director of Desert X has been instrumental in shaping the recurring exhibition that attracted over 1,000,000 visitors to the Coachella Valley region of Southern California. With Saudi curator Raneem Farsi he is co- artistic director of Desert X AlUla, a site-specific exhibition of international artists, taking place in AlUla, northwest Saudi Arabia, home to the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra. As senior curatorial advisor for PS1 MoMA and curator of Frieze Projects, he gained a reputation for challenging the conditions that shape art in both commercial and noncommercial contexts.