We had the good fortune of connecting with Nancy Baron and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nancy, what are you inspired by?
I’m inspired by the beauty and/or mystery in the deceptively simple things all around us, and the many ways that artists experience and interpret them. We can easily miss the wonder if we’re always lost in our thoughts. Being introspective is a must for an artist but looking outward nourishes and sparks the senses.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I work creating fine art documentary images. I typically document (with a hopeful bias) aspects of places where I live or have lived that, although engaging when put in the spotlight, could easily be overlooked or misunderstood. Amongst other projects, I’ve been documenting various aspects of Palm Springs, my second home, for the last 15 years. Part of what sets these photos apart from other Palm Springs work is what they are not. They’re not travel photos and they’re not mid century modern architecture educational photos. They are my impressions of the many facets of this magical desert paradise from the viewpoint of a resident, which is quite different from the interpretation of this layered and storied California resort town by the occasional visitor.
I’m grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to create a record of this Palm Springs series in the three monographs that I’ve had published––two by Kehrer Verlag (Germany) and the most recent one, Palm Springs Modern Dogs at Home, Schiffer Publishing (USA). The books are held in various museum libraries, including MOMA and LACMA, adding to the sense of achievement. Years of hard work have brought me here, with (hopefully!) more years of hard, but fulfilling, work to come.
How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges?
Although I have a great support system, I’d say that what’s helped me to overcome the challenges I’ve faced is my passion for creating the work and striving to do better. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that the best work comes from a place of authenticity and earnestness that has something to say that no one else has said in quite the same way. Finding inspiration in the work and style of others is enlightening but “do you” is the best credo.
I hope that spending time with my photos and books can offer the viewer a respite from the noise and be a reminder of simpler, gentler times. The timing of Palm Springs Modern Dogs at Home, released fall of 2020, was especially fortuitous. What better escape from these intense times than to leaf through pages of photos of the beloved dogs of Palm Springs relaxing in their dreamy, sunlit mid-twentieth century modern homes?
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ha… funny you should ask! I’m constantly asked by friends and strangers for tips on visiting Palm Springs. I even had a stranger contact me once to ask me if she should move there. To be honest, you cannot go wrong in Palm Springs. There’s so much to do, but just lying by the pool with a cool drink should definitely be part of any agenda.
I’d start off with a delicious coffee from Koffi, then off to the brilliant Palm Springs Art Museum, followed by a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center that is in a beautiful E. Stewart Williams-designed building (originally a bank).
The next day would involve some shopping in the Uptown Design District, starting with a visit to the Frippery to shop their collection of vintage caftans, Destination PSP for cool souvenirs and books, Flow Modern for a well-curated collection of art, vintage jewelry, mid century modern furniture and home wares, followed by lunch at The Ace or Cheeky’s or Sherman’s Deli or…. so many choices. An afternoon architectural tour with one of the many modernist tour guides or through a self-guided tour app would be fun.
That day would wind down at the Dead or Alive wine bar at the south end of town, followed by dinner at…ah, yes…so many choices. So many ways to go––funky, old school Billy Reed’s (with delicious pies), the rat pack vibe of Melvyn’s (for drinks and/or dining), the sophisticated elegance of the bar or dining room at Mr. Lyons (with after-dinner drinks at its speakeasy, Seymour’s), the casual menu at King’s Highway at the Ace, whose Amigo Room bar is great––or you can take your drink outside to the pool area. Special dinners at Holiday House and Sparrows Lodge require some planning but are worth it.
Another day would be dedicated to a hike on one of the countless hiking trails to choose from. For starters; Indian Canyons, Tahquitz Canyon (which has a 60-foot waterfall), or The Araby Trail. Another day could call for some golf at one of the countless golf courses, or maybe tennis at Ruth Hardy Park’s great public tennis courts. A trip up the tram takes you to another (cold!) world where you can see as far as Mexico. And speaking of Mexico––end any day at the Saguaro’s El Jefe tequila bar for a Margarita and yummy small plates created by Jose Garces. Okay, I’m getting tired. Time to head back to that cool drink at the pool.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m forever grateful for, and touched by, the people who have opened their homes to me, suggested locations, allowed me to share photos of them, and, in general, have supported me in my quest to share the unique beauty of the nearby worlds I’ve explored.
The inspiration and support I get from my wonderful community of visual artists, curators, and teachers cannot be overstated. Seeing their work and their work habits, learning about their practice, and taking advantage of their wisdom has pushed me along and has made the journey less lonely (and more fun!). Of course, my family’s love and encouragement gives me the confidence and courage to keep at it. Knowing that, regardless of what happens they’re there for me, is everything.
Other: Link to purchase new book, Palm Springs Modern Dogs at Home: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0764359967/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0
© Nancy Baron