After a difficult year of quarantines and “safer at home” orders, we’re slowly beginning to leave our homes to once again venture into the outside and the unknown. At no other time has the idea of “home” been under such examination: your geographical home, your mental home, and the home you share with others.
My work has always focused on ideas of home, community, neighborhood, and social design. Through my paintings, I observe and document mostly residential design and architecture, and its historical impact, specifically that of the post WWII midcentury housing boom. It was a time of great growth, both in population and in ideals to improve quality of life. I thought about those ideals quite a bit during this past year of lockdowns and how those living in midcentury Modern homes perhaps fared better than most: open, airy floor plans; an attention to nature due to atriums and interior gardens; and an emphasis on leisure with beckoning swimming pools and spacious patios.
I’ve always insisted that the city of Palm Springs embodies these principles above and beyond any others, and so I chose to focus on this location of optimistic architecture for my latest body of work. These paintings aim to transport the viewer to the sun-drenched landscape of swimming pools, swaying palm trees, manicured lawns, and colorful cars, not only as an escape during hard times, but also as a reminder that bright, well-thought out architecture is timeless and the key to better living. I hope people can reflect on these scenes, thinking about how they live and where they call home. Perhaps they’ll reevaluate their own living situation and make small adjustments. But maybe they’ll plan that next vacation, as things open up bit by bit, day by day, and we can all once again enjoy a Palm Springs Weekend.
Danny Heller was born in Northridge, CA in 1982. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, the artist was able to carefully study the golden landscape of Los Angeles which would shape his later body of work. For formal art instruction, Danny left the Valley for the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. After formative years spent capturing Santa Barbara’s landscapes, Danny’s attention turned toward retro iconography characteristic of mid-century Los Angeles. Having set up his studio in the Coachella Valley, the artist now concentrates on chronicling Modern American imagery, specifically focusing on the architecture, design, and car culture found throughout the nation.