When the husband-and-wife artistic team of Linda and Greg Maxson retired from Dow Chemical, their lifelong dream of owning a gallery took shape in small, calculated business steps.
For three years, they hosted monthly art shows out of a casita at their Palm Desert home to showcase Linda’s paintings, prints, sculptures and tiles. With a solid backing of regular customers last year, and Linda’s foray working as a gallery assistant; they opened up Maxson Art Studio Gallery at the Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs.
Then when the former Rebel Art Space next-door became available, the couple took the plunge and expanded their gallery space at the Backstreet Art District to a total of 1,600 feet.
“Linda was always the artist who had a degree in art,” Greg says. “I was a chemical engineer and happy to support her endeavors by building bases, pedestals, sculpture stands and movable walls.”
Yet, it wasn’t until that move into the Maxson Art Studio and Gallery that Greg’s creativity in woodworking emerged from a supportive role to an identity of his own.
After seeing how an artist created a “Zen Drum” that sounds like a xylophone, Greg was intrigued and determined to build one of his own. Through trial and error over a four-month period, Greg learned the process of taking pieces of wood off the back of the drum and tuning it to a particular scale. His bloodwood and birch drums create soothing sounds when pounded with mallets and sell for $250 each.
PHOTO COURTESY OF RESORT MARKETING
The Maxson’s opened their art gallery in January 2016, and their recent expansion doubles their space.
VIDEO: Greg Maxson gives a demonstration of his bloodwood and birch “Zen Drum.”
Linda’s hand-painted tile mosaics are brightly colored and reflect her love of the desert oasis. Together, they build custom mosaic-tile tables with Greg building the base. “We sold more tiles, mosaics and tables when we had the casita,” recalls Greg. “Because we could point to examples in our own backyard and they could easily see how it could fit into their own outdoor surroundings.
Besides tiles, Linda creates large-scale flower paintings that are inspired by her desert surroundings. Yet it’s her life sized women sculptures clearly grounded in Palm Springs that make you gape. One in the gallery’s entryway is wrapped in a clay dress imprinted by early manhole covers in Palm Springs. Chicken wire and long decorative beads set it off.
“Getting an impression of these Palm Springs manhole covers was quite the challenge,” laughs Greg. “We would wait until the early hours of the morning and rush to the middle of the street and press the clay onto the manhole cover to get a good impression. It never failed that when we were halfway done, cars started whizzing by us!”
The other female sculpture showcases the beauty of Palm Springs palms. Two nearly full-size palms look like folded angel wings on either side of the bodice, while the chest cavity opens to reveal a bird’s nest and other objects. Palm fronds frame the rest of her dress.
PHOTO COURTESY OF RESORT MARKETING
The female sculpture showcases the beauty of Palm Springs palms.
The gallery also showcases several other artists work, including sculpture, paintings, gourds and glasswork. “There’s more windows, light and space to showcase all of our artists work,” says Linda.
When they agreed to take the space next door, the landlords created an archway to seamlessly join the two spaces. Besides being able to show larger canvases and sculptures, the new space in the back will be used for Linda’s private art classes. They also have plans for performance pieces like storytelling for adults.
“We’re ready for this new challenge of ours,” Greg says.
Maxson Art Studio Gallery is part of the First Wednesday’s Artwalk held the first Wednesday of each month from 5-8 p.m. at the Backstreet Art District, 2600 Cherokee Way in Palm Springs. The next one is Aug. 2.
Call 760-989-1467 or visit maxsonart.com for information on Maxson Art Studio Gallery.