The La Quinta Resort and Club (laquintaresort.com) is a glistening oasis of bubbling fountains and green landscaping that affords lush relief from the arid mountains and sand dunes of the Coachella Valley's surrounding desert. Since it opened in 1926, the Southern California resort has attracted movie stars and moguls as well as writers and artists, all searching for privacy and inspiration. Frank Capra, for instance, wrote It's a Wonderful Life at La Quinta. And apparently the great Mexican muralist Diego Rivera was also encouraged to create while he was staying at the resort.
In fact, during recent renovations to the hotel's main lobby, workers found nine black paint and charcoal artworks purportedly done by Rivera in the late 1930s and early 1940s. According to Tracey Jardin, La Quinta's director of marketing communications, the story is that Rivera made them at the resort and used them to pay for his stays. The pieces, which had been stashed away in a storage closet, depict Mexican laborers at work, and each is in line with Rivera's characteristically bold and lyrically flowing lines. Unfortunately, authenticating them is proving a bit difficult. "The resort doesn't have records of its visitors' stays that go back that far," says Jardin. "So while the story of Rivera producing these works has become legend and is considered fact by many of our longtime employees, we aren't one hundred percent sure."
Jardin is spearheading the effort to authenticate the artworks, a process that will begin with having them evaluated by an expert in Latin American art. In the meantime, they remain bolted to the wall in the Santa Rosa room, just off the hotel's main lobby, for all to enjoy.