January 18, 2009

Historic home items to be saved in Indian Wells

Mariecar Mendoza
The Desert Sun

Historic image of the Carl Bray Gallery and Home. Courtesy of Ann Japenga

The Indian Wells Historic Preservation Foundation is working with city officials to save an historical gallery set to be leveled.

Indian Wells city officials recently announced plans to purchase — then demolish — property off Highway 111 known as the Carl Bray Gallery and Home.

The land would then be incorporated into the city's future Highway 111 beautification project.

“There's no question it's a public safety issue,” said Councilman Patrick Mullany. “Truly, the building itself is a hazard. We inspected the building and saw it was a real danger.”

The Carl Bray Gallery and Home, named after the artist famously known for his desert landscapes and smoketree paintings, has been part of the Coachella Valley since the early 1950s.

Bray, who now lives in Banning after nearly 50 years in Indian Wells, purchased the frontage lot for $1,000.

Now the property, which lapsed into foreclosure last year, is priced at $258,000.

The city expects to close escrow on the property in the next few days.

Since learning of the city's plans, the Indian Wells Historic Preservation Foundation has committed to holding work sessions — with its first meeting held Friday — to create a plan to protect as many historically important items they can, including the Carl Bray Gallery sign.

The group will then present Council with a list of items to keep and ways to commemorate Bray such as erecting a monument or installing a plaque.

“We want to preserve the legacy of Carl Bray and preserve the integrity of the city, too,” said Adele Ruxton, foundation president.

No deadline has been set for when recommendations must go before City Council.

“Although the physical structure of the building is beyond repair, we're working to catalog all relevant artifacts, photograph the building and preserve the art for future generations to enjoy,” said City Manager Greg Johnson.

Response posted to Desert Sun:

As President of the IW Historic Preservation Foundation, I refer to the article in today's newspaper and have to say that portions of the article were true, but at NO time has the IWHPF said they would be satisfied with asking that ONLY items of historic importance be kept!!

There was misleading information presented at the IW City Council meeting (I could not attend due to another commitment) on January 15, and at the present time have sheduled another Work Session for Board members as well as Committee members this week.

We want to work with Council and City staff and wish to carry out the business regarding the Carl Bray property in an utmost and respectful manner. Carl Bray is LIVING legend, not only to be identified with Indian Wells but to the world of ART and ARTISTS! - Adele Ruxton