Spendthrift’s Guide to Modernism Week

If you’re interested in dipping your toe in the Modernism Week experience, but not quite ready to make the spend on tickets, here’s a simple guide to free events that will give you a great peek into what Modernism Week is all about without hurting your pocket book.  

Even if you’re on a strict budget, there are lots of economic ways to satisfy your design appetite.  From parties to films to a couple of bike rides, this guide will keep you entertained and active during Modernism Week without breaking the bank.


“Hugh Kaptur: Organic Desert Architecture”
Hugh M. Kaptur is a visionary designer who practiced in Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley area from the late 1950s through the early 2000s. With over 200 built projects in the area, his designs are considered among the most creative and innovative of the era. Experience the first museum exhibition of Kaptur’s body of work at the Palm Springs Art Museum. February 14-24, 2019, time varies. Complimentary admission courtesy of the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation. 

Palm Springs Walk of Stars Dedication for Arthur Elrod
Join us at the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion as we dedicate a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars for Arthur Elrod. Friends, former colleagues and special guest presenter Martyn Lawrence Bullard will speak about Elrod’s important role in desert modern design and the legacy of his iconic design projects. Light refreshments will be served. February 15, 2019, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

Sad People in Modernist Homes
As a follow up to Benjamin Critton Art Department’s wildly popular canonical zine that looked at “Evil People in Modernist Homes in Popular Films,” the LA-based design studio launches their sophomore zine “Sad People in Modernist Homes” at Modernism Week at the Saguaro.  Stop by to watch a screening of The Anniversary Party (2001) and pick up a copy of the zine. February 15, 2019, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. RSVP in advance here.

Hot Purple Energy’s Architectural Bike Ride
This annual bike ride is a great way to explore different midcentury modern neighborhoods.  While this event is free, you must bring your own bike.  To rent one, contact Big Wheel Tours to make a reservation. February 16 + 23, 2019, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  RSVP in advance here.

Shag’s Modernism Print Release Party
Each year, artist Josh Agle (aka Shag) hosts a print release party to celebrate the special edition artwork that he creates specially for Modernism Week.  This gallery event is a great way to experience the Uptown Design District, and get up close and personal with a Palm Springs celebrity and retro-inspired art icon. Shag will be signing prints and hosting for the evening, with live music by the Martini Kings. February 16, 2019, 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. RSVP in advance here.

Photo courtesy of @localwanderer

Palm Springs Door Tour
If Instagram’s your jam and you’ve been dying to know where all those colorful doors are actually located, then hop on the annual Palm Springs Door Tour curated by Palm Springs Style.  While this event is not free (tickets are $20/person), it’s not super spendy – plus, it’s a great way to explore the insta-famous Indian Canyons neighborhood.  You must bring your own bike or reserve one in advance from Bike Palm Springs. February 17 + 24, 2019, time varies. Buy your ticket here then contact Bike Palm Springs to reserve your bike.

Photo courtesy of Jake Holt

Modernism Week Vintage Car Show
Spend the long weekend in Palm Springs and stick around for the Modernism Week Vintage Car Show outside the Palm Springs Convention Center.  Whether you’re a devoted collector or just a fan of good old Americana, this annual show will stun with rare and lovingly restored classic cars from the 1930s to the 1980s. February 18, 2019, 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Tickets are not required for this event.

The Kennedy Center: An American Architectural Icon, Then and Now
The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (1971) was designed by renowned American architect Edward Durell Stone as a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy. For the first-time ever, the architectural icon is undergoing an expansion that will be unveiled in September 2019. Join KCRW’s Design & Architecture host Frances Anderton, Chris McVoy (Partner and Design Architect for Steven Holl Architects), and Edmund Hollander (founder of HOLLANDER design | Landscape Architects) for an insightful conversation. February 18, 2019, 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tickets available for $10 here.

Space Age Era Culture and Design 1957-1972
Modernism Week features some of the nation’s foremost experts on midcentury architecture, design and culture, so if you are in Palm Springs through the mid-week, don’t miss your chance to delve into the headier topics.  For example, if you’re a fan of Barbarella or other classic space age flicks, don’t miss cultural archeologist Martin McGee who will look at the intersection of the Information Age and the Space Age, and how this aesthetic still inspires present-day designers. February 19, 2019, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. RSVP in advance here.

The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley
Landscape architecture remains one of the more unsung heroes of the design disciplines, often overshadowed by architects and interior designers.  If you’re interested in learning more about the significance of midcentury modern landscape architecture and how it informs our environments today, don’t miss this special exhibition on the work of midcentury modern landscape architect Dan Kiley. Free exhibition at UC Riverside, Palm Desert campus opens February 19 and runs through April 12, 2019, time varies. See gallery schedule here.

Mod Mixer and Happy Hour
Enjoy midcentury-era cocktails poolside at the V Palm Springs, a midcentury masterpiece built in 1959. Revel to the sounds of Rat Pack tunes in the air, enjoy special pricing on food and beverages at the martini bar and relax by an inviting fire pit! February 21, 2019, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. This event is free, but RSVP is required.

Modernism Yard Sale
If you’re an early bird and love the thrill of the hunt, don’t miss the annual Modernism Yard Sale curated by Modern Bear and hosted by H3K Design.  Grab some complimentary donuts and coffee and end Modernism Week with some bargain shopping.  From midcentury decor and furniture to rare collectibles, you could score an epic deal! February 24, 2019, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  No tickets necessary.

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