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Artists Karen and Tony Barone … Discuss Their El Paseo Sculptures
Diverse artistic styles come together on the median of El Paseo in Palm Desert. Learn more about … the 18 works in the 2023–2024 exhibition.
Janice Kleinschmidt September 29, 2023 Arts & Entertainment
“Swirly Girl” by Karen and Tony Barone stands 8 feet tall.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DREW METZGER PHOTOGRAPHY
Karen and Tony Barone’s swirled-and-painted aluminum sculptures have been visually prominent in the Coachella Valley for years. At 8 feet tall, “Swirly Girl” marks their third entry in the El Paseo Sculpture Exhibition (their previous subjects include a pair of dogs and a trio of rabbits).
“It is an honor to have artwork on El Paseo,” Tony says. “It is one of the showcase streets where tourists go because of the galleries, fashion and décor, and restaurants.”
Karen adds that Palm Desert “reigns supreme” in city-artist partnerships. In particular, she points to their public art program liaisons on the city staff: Erica Powell and Amy Lawrence.
“They are so amenable and very organized,” she says.
“Swirly Girl” was the Barones’ latest work when the city issued the call for entries in 2022. But, more than its timely creation, the Barones selected it for its powerful aura.
“There are not enough works in sculpture that represent what the female represents in this day and age,” Karen says. “She came to us naturally and had a dynamism that took over. I truly feel there is a personality within that metal figure. She stands tall. She stands proud. She stands to represent womankind.”
She also “ignited a flame,” Karen says, that has resulted in a series of “fashionista” sculptures.
“The subject is easy. I am living with it,” Tony elaborates. “Karen knows herself well and is my total muse.” Indeed, only a woman as confident as “Swirly Girl” would pair a dress in black and silver stripes with boots, over-the-elbow gloves, and a helmet with red polka dots and stripes on orange and silver.
Over the years, the Barones have perfected a signature style for intersecting flat pieces of aluminum to give the illusion of volume. In more recent works, they have incorporated spherical heads — like the one on “Swirly Girl” — by welding together hemispheres formed over hours on a special lathe.
Karen Barone credits the positivity of the city council and staff for a camaraderie among the artists at the opening reception.
“They were all very giving and excited to be among the other artists,” she says.
Asked if they have advice for their creative colleagues considering a submission for the next El Paseo Sculpture Exhibition, Tony simply asks, “Other than ‘Do it’?”
“Be original, be honest, and do your best,” Karen offers, prompting Tony to finish with this suggestion: “Go look at the exhibition. Nothing else looks like ours, and ours doesn’t look like any of the others.”
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Friday, February 17, 2023
The Desert Is Their Inspiration … Their Oasis.
Sometimes the art takes over.
In Rancho Mirage, Calif., Karen and Tony Barone reinvented the interiors of their 2,000-square-foot, Midcentury Modern home into areas suited to the various forms of experimental art they produce. They gave over their entire primary home to their art, eschewing any separation of work and home life.
The Barones bought the three-bedroom home in 2004 and completed a renovation at a total cost of $700,000. One bedroom is now a green room where Ms. Barone creates elements for her performance-art videos. A den is used by Mr. Barone as a painting studio, called the rabbit hole. There is also a separate 600-square-foot atelier where they build scale models of sculptures that are later fabricated in aluminum and finished with automotive paint. “The whole place is living, breathing, eating art,” says Ms. Barone.
The couple, who previously lived in Los Angeles, says they love the desert, which allowed them the wide outdoor space they needed to display their works. Many of their installations are more than 7 feel tall. They include colorful outdoor metal sculptures of various subjects, including mythological creatures and animals such as dogs and rabbits. About three dozen are now featured throughout the property.
Having more space to display and build their work is fulfilling, says Mr. Barone. “When we came out here, we went nuts,” he says.
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???? Art tour of Coachella Valley
A giant orange popsicle. Polka-dot bunny rabbits. And a towering teal dog.
These are just a few of the playful, candy-bright metal sculptures by artists Karen and Tony Barone you’ll see on a driving tour of the Coachella Valley. Visitors can use an app to navigate from Indio to Palm Springs to locate the 36 sculptures at 21 locations. The Barones say they created the experience to provide people with a way to see their art without visiting a gallery or museum during the pandemic.
Thinking about making the trip? You can access the app at BaroneArt.com.
Missing a visit to a museum or art gallery? Tired of virus restrictions?— Karen and Tony Barone (@BaroneArtStudio) October 1, 2020
Take the Coachella Valley Barone Art Tour. Download free app at https://t.co/y42vsfKagf Hop in the car & follow app map, driving to enjoy unique sculpture pieces throughout the Coachella Valley.#ArtRules pic.twitter.com/J8U73NlyR1
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Karen and Tony Barone’s self-guided art tour is ‘an adventure’ through the Coachella Valley
Brian Blueskye | Palm Springs Desert Sun
Published 2:55 p.m. PT Sep. 15, 2020
Karen and Tony Barone don’t just create art. They live and breathe it.
The married pair of local artists live in a Rancho Mirage home with a front yard that features their sculptures of a creamsicle, a pair of chopsticks holding a shrimp, an ice cream cone, and Pegasus horse ridden by a female figure — which happens to be Karen. Their white-and-black, polka dot 2015 Volkswagen Beetle sits in the driveway.