Past, Present and Future
Creative Consultant Deborah Page and Photographer Don Saxton’s Palm Desert Estate
Upon entering the home of art consultant Deborah Page and fine arts photographer Don Saxton, guests find themselves in a desert sanctuary pulled from the pages of a magazine. The scenic destination exists in a neighborhood far from the commonalities of track homes and miles away from cookie-cutter appeal. This atmosphere is a necessity for an artist such as Page, who is driven above all by inspiration, aestheticism, individuality and intuition.
Art Patron was given access to the couple’s five-acre property the day following a highly anticipated Andy Warhol-themed party at the estate. It was an event for which guests were instructed to step into Warhol’s world for a night, and directed to adorn themselves with threads inspired by the regulars of his NYC studio, the Factory. We got an exclusive tour of the art-filled residence and an up-close-and-personal look at the couple responsible for its pronounced aesthetic appeal.
Greeted at the door by Page, chunky bangles clasped over her wrists and wedged peep toe pumps on foot, we entered the house to music blaring over a full-property stereo system—a contrasting medley of 1960s alternative and early 2000s R&B hits.
At the entryway of the Palm Desert estate, guests are greeted by a large painting by famed American abstract artist Kenneth Noland. Across the way hangs a light work installation by emerging artist and Palm Desert native Phillip K. Smith III—“the most important artist to originate from the Desert, ever,” asserts Page.
Page does not make bold statements like this lightly. Her meticulous tastes, plus her innate understanding of ”how things work,” makes her knowledge apparent; her compliments are as rare and as carefully chosen as the pieces she lays out in her curatorial work.
Well-known for curating museum-quality collections in famed art institutions as well as personal estates, Page has become a go-to innovator in interior décor, unintimidated by any space and enthusiastically prepared for the challenge at hand. A master of her tools, she draws from a large group of artists at varying career levels and working in varying media, melding their art to create and accentuate the atmosphere of personal, professional and commercial spaces.
“I don’t know what it is about a space when preparing to fill it that guides me,” Page admits. “It’s just a vibe, an energy, a feeling.”
As you tour the Page and Saxton property, you realize that art fills every nook and cranny. Noland and Mark Bradford originals face each other across the hallway, and a Damien Hirst work is the highlight of Page’s office. A Lindsey Adelman chandelier hangs above the dining room table, and another one by Joel Otterson dangles artfully above the breakfast table. There is another Smith light and shadow disc piece above the living room fireplace, while an Anthony Caro sculpture is displayed casually nearby.
Page and Saxton’s energy is very much in line with that of their shared Virgo nature—analytical, practical and meticulous. “Don said to me prior to purchasing—since I’m much more impulsive—‘Now, don’t even think we’re going to just put an offer on this place.’” But by the next morning, in the time it took to sit down over coffee at their hotel, they had redesigned the entire house together. Although they considered other properties with plenty of attractive qualities, their connection to the Palm Desert estate was undeniable. “This has been one of the most enjoyable projects for Don and me,” Page continues. ”Truly, this space has been a pleasure to work on because I have a partner who is as into the work as I am.”
In one room of the couple’s expansive property, a Joseph Rodriguez neon art piece reading “Present, Future” hangs over the center of the bed. “That piece relates to Don and myself quite well,” explains Page.
Deborah Page and Don Saxton are an artistic duo unlike any other that Art Patron has sat down with. The long-time friends knew one another in their adolescence. “Don had come to Palm Springs since he was a kid, and so had I,” Page recalls. Both sets of parents once lived within a few miles of their current home. Things progressed full circle, and the two reconnected again, reborn as seasoned, experienced and thoughtful business owners and the most idealistic of creative partners in crime.
Palm Desert’s Austin Art Projects has just begun representing Saxton, and his works are displayed in nearly each room of the couple’s home. Large-scale, pronounced and conversation-igniting, each photo leads to the next, creating an abstract narrative displaying Saxton's unique vision and approach. In the breakfast nook—still strewn with Abba-Zabas and confetti following the prior night’s events—a colorful macro image of circular shapes and forms hangs in the viewer’s line of sight. It’s the result of Saxton’s sticking his camera lens into his grandchildren’s cereal bowl one weekday morning. The image is comforting, quirky and wholly engaging.
Page has spent 25 years building her art-consulting career. Along with clients such as the Four Seasons and the W Hotel in Austin, Page curated the art collection for the Museum Tower in Dallas. She also co-founded and curated the outdoor sculpture garden at the Auberge du Soleil Resort in the Napa Valley, and assembled a multi-million dollar contemporary art collection for the famed CordeValle resort in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. She’s put together art collections for the Calistoga Ranch, the El Dorado Hotel in Sonoma, and the Aetna Springs Resort in Pope Valley, and secured art for numerous wineries, restaurants, and private collections such as the DeJoria residence and ranch in Austin. Her chiseled eye for design and—even more vital—her passion for this work are unmatched.
Page and Saxton jovially acknowledge that their residence is actively lived in, that it functions as more than a house to dwell in, but as a location for function, festivities and freedom. “We truly live in our home and that’s important to us. We prop our feet up on every surface of this place,” Page explains as they both laugh, “and enjoy every single room.”
When asked what thematic words are most common in the pair’s life, fueling their ability to do what they currently do, Saxton suggests “creativity” while Page adds “love. Being able to do what you love with a partner is something totally different and unique. There’s work and obligations to be dealt with, but to do the creative work that you love with someone you love, that’s really just pure joy.”