About four years ago I went to a small art show in Old Town Indio. I showed up and the first thing I smelled was the fried chicken that the artists were offering to their guests (they weren’t old enough to serve alcohol yet). The first thing I saw was cool art on the walls and the first thing I received upon entering was a free comic book created by Kylie Knight & Carlos Munoz titled, The Adventures of Kylie & Carlos. I realized once I was in there that I had been looking for this type of art, fried chicken, comic book and friend(s) for years.
Prior to the show I had just graduated from UCR with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Film and Visual Culture, moved back home, and was bored. While at home I had been searching long and hard for some fellow young art enthusiats out in the desert to create with – I knew they had to be out here – but I was coming up empty handed, especially when looking in all the ‘typical’ places around town. Luckily, things quickly changed for the better after that particular art show…
It was after meeting Carlos and Kylie at the Date Farmers Art Studio that evening (an evening that naturally lasted until the early morning of the following day) that I was inspired to start a little blog called, The Coachella Valley Art Scene. I figured, if there were cool kids like Kylie out in Indio who were looking to connect with other local artists but didn’t know how, then maybe there is a chance that there are a lot more. And maybe there is a way that we can all connect on a digital platform? And maybe we can all start a movement? From that day forward, The Coachella Valley Art Scene was started and has continued to evolve since….
As time passed, the more I got to know Kylie the more I learned. Keep in mind that she is not just an artist, she is a young woman who is intelligent, opinionated, confident, wise, and very stylish. In addition, she also posseses that special talent of having the ability to take all those traits and eloquently communicate her ideas and emotions through artistic expression, thus making her a true “artist.” And because of all of this, I personally think of her as an educator and leader as well. For in fact she continues to this day be one of my educators on life and culture from an Eastern Coachella Valley youth’s perspective. It is Kylie who has turned me on to not just many of the other young artists hiding out east bound, but also the problems within the communities and progressive ideas on how to make it better through art. What I think I admire most about her is her ability to see beyond her canvas, she is in it for the bigger picture.
A couple months ago when Glen Coy, owner of Epidemic Skateboard Shop, contacted me with the idea of offering The Coachella Valley Art Scene gallery space inside his store to feature a rotating solo artist – I was so grateful. It was such an honor and so exciting, this was the ‘movement’ that I had been working so hard for. When discussing who would be the first debut artist, there was only one person in mind – Kylie Knight. Not only has she inspired me from Day #1 to do what I do, but I feel as though she plays a somewhat similar role in the lives of many of other young creative’s who live desert (that have met her) as well. She represents what it is to be a ‘desert kid’; what it is to survive out here, to be raw, to say what you mean and mean what you say… and to just do it. Her art pieces are assembled with memories, moments and moop from her times and travels in the desert, each one laced with her punk-rock attitude towards it all.
The opening party (click here to see the Event Recap) was a true success. And now, just days before she will take down her art before we put up the works of another local artist, we spend a moment with her and get inside the mind of what it is to be Kylie Knight.
So, without further ado… I present to you…. Kylie Knight….
Interview: Kylie Knight
intro and questions conducted by Sarah Scheideman
I grew up in various trailer parks and shotty mobile homes throughout the desert. I consider Indio my hometown, but I’ve lived in almost every city in the Coachella Valley. The weirdest place I lived growing up had to be Windy Point, which is basically a gas station and a few mobile homes lost in the desert off the side of the freeway heading towards outlet malls.
Did you come from a family of artists? Or are you the odd man out?
My mother has always been involved in the arts. She had worked in and exhibited her art in various galleries and shortly after my birth started her own freelance picture framing business. She would often bring fine works of art into our garage which she converted into a studio and I’d sit with her, working with colored pencils and crayons and paint. I was always surrounded by art thanks to my mother. My early childhood was very happy.
My father was a mason and an aspiring writer. Occasionally I’d follow my dad to work while he’d design and build structures such as stone fountains, pools, and walls for huge homes. He’d often ask me hypothetical questions to be answered on paper, and would only be satisfied after I had filled up at least five to ten pages of text.
Carlos Ramirez and Armando Lerma (The Date Farmers)
The Date Farmer’s fucking rock. Their paintings are mind-numbing and I feel able to relate on so many different levels, Their work is spoken through a universal tongue. They are genuine human beings who have taught me the power of hard work and dedication. One of the most inspiring aspects of their influence is the fact they are from my hometown. We have grown up in the same poverty stricken, lonely, faithless environment. We have seen the same graffiti, garbage, characters, and relics.
This guy is an amazing comic book artist with a heart of gold. He has showed me the power of empathy and love. His latest humanitarian venture is the Coachella Valley Burrito Project, which is basically a project where he makes burritos (through the help of donations) and then delivers them to the homeless citizens (and yes, they are still citizens) of the Coachella Valley. He does this by himself, with a kitchen, a backpack, and a bicycle.
I don’t know any other person in the Coachella Valley who has given more for the Coachella Valley music scene. He records, listens, critiques, books shows, loans, and gives to promising local bands who are normally overlooked. He is a desert native who has been involved with music and art his entire life, never asking for anything in return, and always willing to lend a hand. He has taught me the power of giving, the impracticability of complaining, and showed me the importance in being able to laugh at yourself.
Aaron Hansen is the type of guy who has never taken any art classes, and probably knows more about art than almost anybody I know. He preaches by doing. His actions speak louder than any words ever written. He probably believes in you more than you do. He has showed me that beautiful things are capable of coming out of this desert, our desert, normally devoid of life, we flourish.
The youth of the Coachella Valley inspire me. Their passion for music and art is unparalleled and not enough is being done to unearth their creative energy and compassionate souls. We need to act locally to help these forgotten children. Such anger and sadness envelops this desert. I’ve seen blood and tears and alcohol and broken limbs. These children, specifically in Coachella and Indio and Desert Hot Springs live in poor neighborhoods with big families where depression and drugs are uncomfortably common. They know nothing else. But you’ll never know cooler kids, they are weird and original and need to be embraced.
We heard you’re also in a band, let’s talk about that a little…. What’s your band’s name, who’s in it, what does it sound like, and what inspired you to go down that route?
We are called Pagan Powers. The band consists of Ian Townley on guitar, Rafael Rodriguez on drums, Brandon Gomez on bass, and myself doing vocals. We’re all Indio residents and all of us just so happen to live down the street from one another. Works out. We sound pretty loud, and fast, and quiet, and slow. I’d call it punk music for lack of a better word. It’s really difficult for me to describe actually. We might have recordings in the works though.
So, give me a run down of what is currently on display at The Coachella Valley Art Scene’s Gallery space inside Epidemic Skateshop Shop?
The show is called “Buried Gas Line,” which is also the name of an arts zine I released a few months back. It’s a very short summary of everything that has happened to me this far in my life. Buried Gas Line represents invisible boundaries, potentially dangerous situations, things normally overlooked and unappreciated.
To check out more of Kylie Knight’s work, please visit:
To contact her regarding art, please write to: