Moroccan meets Modernism in Palm Springs [pt 2]

Previously, I shared a few things that caught my eye when wandering around the Moroccan side of Korakia Pensione’s boho luxe grounds. With our 50 hours for Palm Springs fun trickling away, Mr Vix and I decided to carve out time for both the Palm Springs Art Museum and more enjoyment of Korakia’s offerings…and add “desert hike” and “see more modernist buildings” to the vacation still-to-do list.

Sometimes I enjoy visiting places without much—or even any—idea of the area’s past or present. It’s rare that my ignorance leads to bliss, of course, but arriving oblivious and leaving with only a narrow, impressionistic view can add up to a delightfully uncomplicated experience.

In general, though, I’ll take more information before I travel somewhere over less. Novels set in the region, memoirs or art by those who’ve called a set of geographic coordinates home, non-fiction accounts of long-gone or recent happenings…they all add flavor to the pot and make me feel a bit more connected to where I’m headed.

Before arriving in Palm Springs for the first time, then, how could I resist brushing up a least a little on the glamour and grit associated with the locale?

I couldn’t. Bravely disregarding fears that my cardigan-filled closet and default hankering for context have pushed me from “fuddy-duddy tendencies” into flat-out “dud” territory, I started digging.

One of my finds was the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation website; another, a hearty 1999 Vanity Fair article chronicling much of the area’s initial claim to fame (both celebrity and architectural).

Even haphazard and cursory research on Palm Springs makes it obvious the area keeps large chunks of itself tucked away for those with insider access. Luckily, it also offers plenty to those who come with more curiosity than connections.

From our room at Korakia we were able to wander by accessible modernist landmarks…

Seen close or from afar, it’s no mystery why E. Stewart Williams’ design for Coachella Valley Savings and Loan #3 (currently housing Chase Bank) is one of Palm Springs’ modernist landmarks

…enjoy the cultural bounty offered up to the public by passionate collectors and/or high net worth individuals…

Studio glass artist Christine Cathie’s O-Void (Pale Aquamarine) at the Palm Springs Art Museum

Studio glass artists at the Palm Spring Arts Museum: L, from Bella Feldman’s War Toys Redux series; R, Dante Marioni’s Reticello Acorn and Leaf

…and explore the art museum’s elaborate and oops-photography-prohibited “Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography 1945-1982.” The incredibly voyeuristic show positively seethed with wholesomeness and artifice, haughtiness and exhibitionism, serenity and foreboding.*

Naturally I was in love.

A passing, non-flash glimpse shot of photographer Jane L O’Neal’s work as seen in the Palm Springs Art Museum’s comprehensive Backyard Oasis exhibit

Back at Korakia, I was just as seduced by the artificial waters found on the property’s Mediterranean side as I was by the representations I’d seen in the exhibit. [And my ancient Blue Lagoon silk maxi dress felt it had finally met up with its long-lost twin.]

Korakia’s Mediterranean pool and my (now-THIS-is-how-you-should-treat-me) ancient silk maxi by night

Detail of Korakia’s Mediterranean pool, where I nabbed solo time in the heated saltwater for swimming/relaxing both mornings of my visit (which led to my companion nabbing this shot)

The aforementioned seduction didn’t prevent me from leaving the enchanting saltwater pool behind to further enjoy more of the grounds, however.

After hours spent focusing my eyes and brain on museum objets and their backstory, Korakia’s just-stimulating-enough interplay of texture and pattern with open space and solid shades practically begged to be of service.

Or as Mr Vix put it: “Nice bocce court.”

On Korakia’s Mediterranean side, my companion triumphed at bocce while my perimenopausal panther print dress and I enjoyed how texture and pattern were mixed with open spaces and serene stucco facades

Indeed, indeed. If trying to resist the pull of nearby water is on one’s list of priorities, though, may I recommend wearing something other than an inexplicably appealing jaguar totem dress?

Next: Part 3 of Moroccan Meets Modernism in Palm Springs, in which I make a few connections between the desert’s natural and artificial forms 

*PSA: Go context-free and download a PDF full of “Backyard Oasis” images or read’s short, illustrated interview with exhibit curator Daniell Cornell

6 Responses

  1. These are great photographs. You should do travel blogging all the time:).

  2. Amid/Lisa—

    Thanks for the compliment!

    It’s too bad my travel fund is now empty and I can’t even get my current job to send me cross-town. It sure wouldn’t take much to lure me away (write I with deliberate ambiguity, ha!).

  3. Lovely…through your tales…I feel like I have spent the last few weeks there. Sumptuous.

  4. Linda—

    Thank you (and as mentioned in Part 1, you put the bug in my ear with your featuring of Korakia). Though too short, the trip was such a sensory-just-exactly-right experience.

  5. I bet the sun always shines in Palm Springs! Everything looks so lovely – now I can’t wait to see the desert photos.

  6. Tine—

    It shines there most of the time, that’s for sure. Compared to nearly 300 days of rain/heavy cloud cover around my parts….

    Thanks for sticking with the series. I’m not saying the photos in Part 3 will be anything special, ha, but to my eye there are some beautiful colors and textures in them (that I hope to have up this weekend — so slow here, sorry!).

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