Gallerist Melissa Morgan is the owner of Melissa Morgan Fine Art in Palm Desert, CA. The gallery represents contemporary 2D, 3D and New Media artists both nationally and internationally, and evolved “Modern Masters Fine Art,” an El Paseo gallery opened by Melissa and her late husband in 2002. Melissa is also private art consultant and advisor.
Melissa Morgan Fine Art represents cutting-edge international contemporary art for both the savvy collector and for those newer to the art world. In its 6,500 square foot show-space, the gallery features paintings, mixed media, sculpture, glass, tapestry and photography. Additionally, the gallery showcases an extensive schedule of solo and thematic group exhibitions, interpretive programming and artist and curator lectures and panel discussions. The gallery also provides private consultations and confidential advice to collectors, corporations and institutions regarding identifying, locating, and sourcing works of art world-wide.
Kate Buckley: Melissa, what led you to open your Palm Desert gallery, Melissa Morgan Fine Art —featuring cutting-edge international contemporary art?
Melissa Morgan: I love the Coachella Valley and wanted be more involved in this community. We can learn so much about ourselves and others through art. One of my favorite things is watching people interact with art. Sharing our interpretations of what activates us as we explore art can be super intimate. For me getting to explore those passions with people—from serious collectors to students—is a wonderful part of what I do.
What sets the gallery apart from other galleries in Greater Palm Springs? What would you say is your aesthetic sensibility?
The roster of artists we represent is national as well as international—artists that are really at the top of their game. We have an immense space plus under roof (6,500 sq. ft.), as well as a 2,000 sq. ft. sculpture courtyard.We are able to mount museum level exhibitions while still maintaining an eclectic grouping of artists.
And why Palm Springs?
Because in many ways it is the smallest big-town there is. Where else can one experience cultural offerings of this level? Whether it be shopping, world renowned golf courses, music venues, restaurants—not to mention one of the finest mid-sized museums in North America. We get to be a major presence with a sophisticated clientele!
Melissa Morgan Fine Art features artists from around the world. What are your criteria? How do you source—or how does an artist apply to be represented by your gallery?
For us to consider an artist, they need already be established—be part of museum collections, won awards and been included in major collections. We spend a significant amount of time establishing relationships with our artists and are not accepting new artists at this time. We work with an eclectic collection of artists, but they are all tied together by experience and notoriety. At a certain level, the contemporary art world becomes very small. Think about it as you would an elite athlete. Only a select few rise to the top. As long as we remain integrous to that notion, the gallery will continue to attract the top tier of artists from all over the world. Not to belabor the sports analogy, but the concept is not dissimilar to assembling a top professional team.
You’ve curated many well-regarded exhibitions; of which exhibition to date are you most proud?
It’s hard to nail it down. Each are so different. We love our annual show (that usually opens mid-February) featuring contemporary Southern California artists, and usually grouped around one of our most known painters, Andy Moses. We also have an exhibition opening in November that I am particularly excited about—the working title is “White on White.” Simply put, it’s a group exhibition of—you guessed it!—white paintings and sculpture (and other works that play along the grayscale). The gallery will look spectacular!
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I’m not sure there’s such a thing for me and I love that my life gets to look like that— the clients and artist that I serve are so terrifically diverse.
What do you believe is your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?
I think the ability—or lack there of—to “turn off” I’d consider a weakness. But, also, in some ways that’s the strength I need to always be ready for whatever opportunity is presented to me!
When you’re not hard at work running the gallery or hosting one of its many illustrious events, what activities do you enjoy in and around Greater Palm Springs?
So many great things about this town! We love supporting our local charities (I’m actually a participant this year in “Dancing With the Desert Stars” benefiting the Desert Aids Project). We are active with the Palm Springs art Museum, Idyllwyld Arts Academy, Digicam, and many other not-for-profit and educational organizations. I love to spin at Pedals, sweat at Palm Desert Bikram, then float at M’otus. When the time permits, I love to meet friends at Tara Lazar’s new speakeasy “Seymors,” or dine at the adjoining restaurant Mr. Lyons. Have you ever had ice cream at the Ice Cream Shoppe at the Arrive Hotel? Fantastic!
What is it you love most about the community of Palm Springs?
That it’s a community. Many towns of its size are “cliquish.” Palm Springs seems to eschew that principal. Residents here seem to revel in gathering together for events, and it incredible how many of us are truly great friends! Plus, it sure is gorgeous isn’t it?
The Official Guide to Palm Springs, California!