Konstantin Vulkov: Is it possible for Palm Springs to be seen as a non-tourist destination at all? And how you are seeing it?
Nancy Baron: It seems to me that the only way to see the side Palm Springs that is a lovely American small town in which to live is to experience it in that way. I try to make that point in my photo series that appears in THE GOOD LIFE > Palm Springs. Before I made Palm Springs my second home, I didn’t know about the rich every day life that was being lived only steps from resorts and the main drag.
Konstantin: Where did the idea for a small town to become a famous resort came from?
Nancy: Palm Springs started as a resort town. Southern California residents came for the climate and the health spas. As they fell in love with the idea of enjoying its beauty and health benefits, year round, they gradually began to settle in this peaceful desert setting. Its proximity to Los Angeles and simple life style made it a great destination for the Hollywood crowd, whose contracts sometimes required that they remain within a certain distance of Los Angeles.
Konstantin: Tell me about the design heritage of the city? What inspires you there?
Nancy: Spanish adobe architecture, which fits the desert climate was the original style of Palm Springs dwellings. In the 1940’s architects from all over the world learned that Palm Springs was a place where they could find the abundance of land and the freedom which inspired and informed many mid-century architectural masterpieces.
I’m inspired by the beautiful desert light, the warmth of the climate, and the people – and the seemingly endless opportunity for discovery in such a small town.
Konstantin: Can you live there? I mean - in a city of like 50 000?
Nancy: Although currently my life keeps me tethered to Los Angeles, I could live full time in Palm Springs. It is a small town with big city sophistication in a beautiful desert setting. The Palm Springs Art Museum and the new Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center are world class museums. The rich design history – amongst others, Raymond Loewe, the French-born American Father of Design lived and worked here – encourages ongoing design innovation. Add to that its ubiquitous appearance on lists of “the nicest cities in America,” the idea of living full time in Palm Springs is pretty appealing.
Konstantin: The title of the book is “Good Life”. What’s the opposite, the darker side of living in Palm Spring?
Nancy: My Palm Springs work is unabashedly subjective. I do proudly idealize Palm Springs in this body of work, which is impressionistic, rather that straight documentary in nature. This is the side of this town that I, and most others see and are attracted to. The small bits of life that I portray are meant to evoke a feeling of this place and the life here, rather than paint a strict, illustrative picture.
Konstantin: Did you had another destination in mind or you chose Palm Springs right away?
Nancy: Originally I looked at beach properties. A home purchase is emotional, by nature. As much as I love the ocean, nothing called to me the way the Palm Springs life tugged at me. I was seduced by the layered beauty I found here.
Konstantin: A perfect day at the beach for you?
Nancy: That would be walking along, watching people enjoying the water, lying on a blanket with a good book, chatting with my husband or daughters.
Konstantin: What are you packing for summer holidays?
Nancy: Not much! Summer is all about simplicity for me…sunscreen, a smart phone full of good music, my camera…and I am happy.
Konstantin: Your next destination?
Nancy: I try to get to Europe once a year, and New York as often as possible, I miss Chicago, my original home, but I’ve never been to Japan and am keen to get there before long.
Konstantin: Finally, what’s your advise to readers - how they should be looking at the book’s photographs?
Nancy: In the shade, with a cool drink in hand, and an appreciation for the simple treasures that can be found all around us when we take the time to see them.
--- Los Angeles–based photographer Nancy Baron shares colorful images of Palm Springs from her recent book, The Good Life: Palm Springs. Fine more here. The Good Life > Palm Springs is now a monograph published by Kehrer Verlag.