Palm Springs Reveals its Hidden Heart

'Red Sweater' by Nancy Baron suggests mystery. All photos, courtesy of Nancy Baron

She’s photographed rodeo riders and prize fighters, but now Nancy Baron is sticking closer to home – her easygoing yet strangely exotic neighbors in Palm Springs.

“I typically document the exotic world next door that could be misunderstood or overlooked,” says Baron, whose latest project, a book and exhibit, is ‘The Good Life: Palm Springs.’

“There’s an ease of life here, whether it’s in a trailer or in an architectural masterpiece. Anyone can live a good life here,” she says of her part-time hometown. She also has a residence in Los Angeles.

In the desert Baron lives in a mid-century Alexander home in the neighborhood of Sunrise Park. Several photos in the series were shot in her own home.

Many of the photos show people, and those that don’t, she notes, suggest their presence nonetheless, as though the subjects of the photograph had just stepped out of view. She calls her work “interpretive documentary.”

Baron's 'Kaufman House Papers' suggests that the inhabitant's of Richard Neutra's masterpiece have not gone completely digital.

For years she visited Palm Springs as a tourist, she says, but until she became a part-time resident, “I didn’t realize the extent of the mid-century modern design and culture.”

Her photos, she says, provide “a look behind the scenes, some of the places that are off the beaten path.”

“I saw the life a few steps away from the resorts. Palm Springs is very much like a small town. The actually shocking thing is how incredibly friendly people are here. When I get here from LA, where of course I am always busy, I think, ‘Ah! They’re all really friendly.’ It’s on national lists as one of friendliest towns in United States. Because it’s a resort town, people are welcoming.”

The exhibit of her work continues at dnj Gallery in Santa Monica through November 1.

Nancy Baron's 'Peter's Hat'.
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