Road Signs by Gerald Clark
The Palm Springs Public Arts Commission is proud to announce that the first installation in its “Art is Everywhere” initiative, Cahuilla Road Signs by artist Gerald Clarke, is now on view. Thirteen of these Road Signs have been installed in six city parks.
The artist repurposes the yellow road sign—which is commonly used as a warning or informational sign—as a motif for this project. Clarke inscribes them with images of flora and fauna from the natural world, along with their names in the Cahuilla language. The Road Signs symbols include: images of a snake, coyote, and squirrel (James O. Jessie Desert Highland Park); native plants such as white sage and creosote (Wellness Park); a welcome to Séc-he, the original name for Palm Springs by the Agua Caliente people (Palm Springs Visitors Center); a shelter (Baristo Park); a rattle that is traditionally filled with palm fruit seeds (Palm Springs Pavilion at Sunrise Park); and an ancient stone graphic found on the artist’s ancestral land (Demuth Park).
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians tribal council gave its blessing to place these signs on its ancestral lands. Clarke says, “The Road Signs are a series of works I’ve been making since the mid-1990’s as a way to illustrate the importance of Indigenous languages and the history of place. As a Cahuilla artist, I feel a responsibility to my tribal community… I began to think of a way to incorporate art into the environment without interfering with the natural beauty of the land. I chose road signs as the format for these works because people tend to see them or not. In a funny way, road signs such as these tend to become invisible when people choose to ignore them. It’s a choice.”
According to Public Arts Commissioner Mara Gladstone, “We are thrilled to activate our beautiful city parks with Gerald Clarke’s “Road Signs,” which surprise us, encourage us to connect with nature, and remind us of the legacy of Indigenous culture and language in this region.” Gerald Clarke’s project for the City of Palm Springs also coincides with his mid-career survey exhibition at Palm Springs Art Museum, and his participation in the High Desert Test Sites exhibition in fall 2020.
“Public art is an in important component of the redevelopment of the city,” says City Manager David H. Ready. “The City Council is pleased these art projects have become such a hit with our residents and visitors and we want to thank the Commission, the Parks Department, and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for collaborating to bring more exciting public art throughout the city. And we’re looking forward to more art ‘Everywhere.’”