Public Art Documentary Film Series

Discover inspiring and thought-provoking cinema at the 2016 Palm Desert Public Art Documentary Film Series. Beginning in January, the public is invited to an eighth season of free screenings of public art-themed documentaries presented by the City’s Public Art Department and the University of California, Riverside Palm Desert Graduate Center. Each screening will include a featured speaker who will discuss that night’s film.  

Series Schedule

All films screen the third Thursday of the month, January through April, at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at UCR Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended. For more information, or to make a reservation, please call 760-837-1663.

The 2016 film schedule:

January 21
Sol Lewitt: Wall Drawings

The film focuses on a celebrated retrospective of the art of Sol Lewitt, who during a four-decade long career produced more than 1,200 wall drawings using a deliberately limited repertoire of lines and geometric shapes to create works of remarkable complexity. The retrospective exhibition, which began a 25-year run at MASS MoCA in Massachusetts in 2008, includes 105 of Lewitt’s works installed on 40,000 square feet of old mill wall surface. A question and answer session with Steven Biller, editor-at-large for Palm Springs Life and contributing writer to Art Ltd will follow the screening.

February 18
Calder – Sculptor of Air

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) revolutionized the art of sculpture, freeing it from its stand and adding movement to the art itself. He rose to fame in the 1930s with his renowned Miniature Circus, but his modernist creativity skyrocketed with his wire sculptures, an invention he dubbed “drawing in space.”  This film retraces his unique quest and explores the masterpieces that have marked the history of 20th century art.  Featured speaker:  Dr. Steven Nash, former director of the Palm Springs Art Museum.

March 17
Beyond These Walls: Building Community through Public Art

In 1992, a small group of community leaders in Portsmouth, Ohio asked, "How can we create pride in our community, improve the local economy, and change a dying part of town into the vibrant place it once was?"  This film tells the story of the local visionaries and extraordinary artists who transformed a drab, 2,200-foot section of floodwall into a vast display of public art, history, and pride.  

Murals: Transformations 

This short (9-minute) documentary tells the story of how the Palm Springs Unified School District started and maintains a thriving mural program with a collection of over 80 murals. Featured speaker:  Louisa Castrodale, Arts Coordinator, Palm Springs Unified School District.

April 21
A Model for Matisse

Directed by Barbara Freed, A Model for Matisse documents the association between the nun Sister Jacques-Marie and Henri Matisse. Their relationship began when she started working as his personal nurse, but she soon began posing for the painter. Eventually, Sister Jacques-Marie played a critical role in helping Matisse design the Chapelle du Rosaire, one of the greatest accomplishments in the famous artist’s remarkable career. Featured speaker: Emily Culhan, Programs Coordinator, Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert.

Attending the Event

Film screenings are free, but reservations are recommended.  To make a reservation, visit For questions or more information, please call 760-837-1663.