Jarrod Riggs

Destination Palm Springs with Jarrod Riggs

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill

There is a desert city famous for mid-century modern architecture. It’s a proverbial playground for movie stars and the iconic and colourful inspiration for the aspirational works of a local artist. Palm Springs comes to life in layers of oil by Jarrod Riggs, as Carlie Wacker discovers.

Colour and vibrancy runs through the veins of Sunshine Coast artist Jarrod Riggs. As a boy growing up in Auckland, New Zealand he spent endless hours creating abstract and playful pieces using his most prized collection of coloured felt tip pens,
which would get a much needed restock every birthday and Christmas. 

Later his art explored the coastal landscapes he was drawn to through expressionism and abstract art. Now, he has returned to the very heart of the art form and style that brings him the most joy with his latest body of work an unexpected pandemic outcome. 

From his Diddillibah studio, Jarrod takes us on an exciting journey into realism through idealism in Destination Palm Springs! I am immediately won over with his colour palette but more importantly for me, the escapism an artwork creates is what I am drawn to and that’s what keeps me coming back. 

With Jarrod’s latest collection I become a Hollywood celebrity on a movie set – I’m vacationing with the who’s who of industry in Coachella Valley or sipping cocktails around the pool, it’s only midday and the pool boy is keeping me entertained. Breeze blocks are the perfect backdrop and my agent is popping over with a lucrative new movie contract! That reverie is precisely how Jarrod wants the viewer to react.  

“The predominant focus of my paintings is on modernist architecture, pop iconography and classic car culture found throughout Southern California,” he said. “Working in a representational style, I try to highlight aspects that romanticise that lifestyle, a fashionable lady approaching her Palm Springs home, a Cadillac parked outside a mid-century condo and a sunny poolside setting.

“I want to capture these moments but also communicate their aspirational qualities of hope and optimism. 

“The paintings evolve from snapshots I find online to drawings on canvas, to the finished work which I complete in layers of oils for their colour qualities and blending properties. Ultimately, I see my paintings as uplifting.”

That optimistic perspective is one that makes his Palm Springs-inspired masterpieces so appealing and interesting, particularly as the idea came to fruition during an isolating and negative period in the world. 

“We hadn’t been able to travel and it was starting to affect us,” Jarrod says. “I found a YouTube channel that did walking tours around various locations overseas (Windwalktours). We would sit in our media room in the dark and watch these and imagine we were there.”

After spending time ‘walking’ around Palm Springs, Jarrod’s ideas began to coalesce. 

“Being a long-time film fanatic, I have always been aware of Palm Springs and the beautifully rich architectural homes owned by film stars and celebrities from the Golden Age of Hollywood,” he said.

That’s where #thatpinkdoor comes in. It is the most famous door on the planet situated in the Indian Canyon region of Palm Springs – in fact it’s one of many colourful doors that make the place so popular and has led to the development of Palm Springs Door Tours. 

The door makes an appearance in several of Jarrod’s works. 

“There are many pink doors in Palm Springs, yet in my online searches I kept running into images of people having their picture taken in front of this one particular pink door – it really is huge,” he said. 

“It became a curiosity to me so I explored further and I discovered it had its own Instagram hashtag with over 10,000 posts and I figured, well, somebody had to live behind this famous front door and so I imagined who that person could be, that is how the idea for the painting originated.”

I want that person to be me – and that’s what’s so magical about Jarrod’s art. It’s aspirational, colourful – a daydream to immerse yourself in. 

Enjoy the work of our Spring cover artist Jarrod Riggs; a world inspired by mid-century architecture and design, breeze blocks, palm trees and coloured doors while I head home and paint my front door pink! 

About the Author /

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Carlie Wacker has worked in the media entertainment industry for over 20 years. From television to stage and radio she has been lucky enough to work her way around the whole country. Over the last 10 years she has styled and choreographed innovative fashion parades and talent shows and brings her love for fashion and entertainment as our Fashion Editor. She is also an MC, voice-over artist and radio announcer.

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