"WHAT? if"

(L) 10 ft. reflecting pond and (R) installation site

Date:  1993


Four (4) 10 ft. galvanized metal reflecting pools with painted bottoms on 1-acre lot


Mixed media

Commissioned By:

La Quinta Arts Foundation, City of La Quinta, California


Vacant lot adjacent to the La Quinta Arts Foundation, La Quinta, California (Temporary Installation)


A temporary public art installation accomplished after researching community's history and its future growth. Four reflecting ponds were individually crafted to illustrate a component of the community. A large variety of media was used, including electronic message units, graphic illustrations in the bottom of the pools, and distributed material at the site of the installation.


Text regarding the work from literature distributed at site:

"Following his belief that art for public spaces should be site-specific and interactive with its environment, Tzanetopoulos has created a three-week installation based upon research about the area, visits to commercial and historic sites and his conversations with local residents. In creating "WHAT? if", Paul Tzanetopoulos focuses upon water as the basis for all life in the desert, affording us an opportunity to reflect upon ourselves in our own space, to see ourselves amidst our surroundings, our past and present. "WHAT? if" introduces questions about our community: not only about what has gone by, but to put us in context and to consider the future.  The constantly rotating comments (on the message unit) are thoughts suggesting a semantically cyclical condition relating to the past and present. These thoughts were elicited from the community about the community, juxtaposed with some challenging and humorous statements to reflect upon. The slogan in the first pool allows us to reflect our actual position in the art piece and the community.  At the putting green, we are invited to experience one of the community's largest industries. We not only see ourselves reflected in the ring, but notice how dependent the resort industry is on water allocation and the pressures that this places on the environment. In the third pool, a modern paradise collides with the Cahuilla perception that our valley was their paradise, their "Garden of Eden".  A fence separates the swimming paradise from the other half: a segment of the desert with Cahuilla relics long since missing from this environment.  Lastly, the roulette motif alludes to a larger literal element of gambling, as well as the historic element of gambling on agriculture (and other ventures) in this valley.  The contemporary issue of gambling is posed as a current question to reflect upon. The public is welcome to interact with each piece, to putt, gamble, reflect, wade and wonder.....WHAT? if".


Image #1 -- 10 ft. reflecting pond representing the importance of golf to the area, both professionally and recreationally.

Image #2 -- Local residents interacting with piece.

Image #3 -- Half of a 10 ft. reflecting pond featuring "Paradise/Pair-o'-Dice" and its place in the community, juxtaposed with . . .

Image #4 -- The other half of the pool featuring local Cahuilla Indian relics relating to the valley's history.

Site at night; message unit

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