January 7, 2009

Desert artist Carl Bray's historic home and gallery threatened

Simlar to recent efforts to demolish the Rancho Dos Palmas home of John W. Hilton, another desert artist's historic home and gallery is in peril

by Daniel Rohlfing
Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery Newsletter

Carl Glen Bray.

Carl Glen Bray came to the California desert during the depression. In classes sponsored by the WPA, he studied painting with Maynard Dixon and Russell Swan. He became a popular lecturer for college classes, television shows and art groups. In 1956, he settled a home and art gallery in Indian Wells and had developed a close friendship with artist/engraver Fred Chisnall. Fred Chisnall was an artist credited by John W. Hilton as his most demanding and most effective art teacher.

Adele Ruxton of the Indian Wells Historic Preservation Foundation wrote the Indian Wells City Council about the matter in a January 7 letter. Here is the text of that letter.

Re: Carl Bray House and Gallery -- Please let it be noted that the Indian Wells Historic Preservation Foundation, at its regular meeting on January 6, 2009, approved a motion to request that the City of Indian Wells maintain a 90 day moratorium on the possible demolition of the Carl Bray House and Gallery. It was only on the morning of the meeting that the board learned of the fact that the city had purchased the house from the seller. It had always been the hope that whoever owned the property would work with the IWHPF to help preserve an important and historic site within the city limits.

At this point in time we want only to hear of the city’s intentions and to ask that at some point “our side” can be presented for review. In the event that the buildings must come down, we will need the time to photograph, describe, register, etc. so that the site may become one to be recognized with some kind of distinctive marker. And we would like to see that the Carl Bray Gallery sign be a part of the Indian Wells archives.

Do bear in mind that the Bray house and gallery are one of a kind and havebeen a travel stop for thousands of tourists over the years. To remove the landmark might be detrimental to the integrity of the city and the hope to preserve its legacy.

We ask of you again to honor our request for a moratorium.
Ann Japenga contributed to this story

Desert Sunset on Mountains by Carl Glen Bray