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Photographs Chronicle Significant Cultural, Historical, and Social Milestones   


Historically significant photographs taken by late valley philanthropist and Time/Life photojournalist Donald Cravens are now on display at The Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts at College of the Desert (COD), located at 43500 Monterey Av. in Palm Desert. The Center is also presenting a selection of student photography in conjunction with the Cravens exhibit, featuring the work of student photographer Mark Manocchio, whose collection of images is entitled "A Joshua Tree Retrospective." Retired from a successful career with Levis Strauss, Mr. Manocchio's first photography class ever was at COD in 1994,but his experience capturing landscape images dates back to World War II serving in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1946, he worked as an aviation machinist on aircraft carriers in the Pacific Ocean and was part of a unit that took aeriels photographs of the Marshall Islands a stronghold for the Japanese navy. 

“Don would be so proud and thrilled to have his photographs exhibited alongside student work, and available for all students at COD to see, because he was always motivated to help young people,” explains Cravens’ widow, Peggy, also a beloved and longtime COD supporter. “These images give clear insight into some of the major events of the 20th century, particularly World War II. Many of our young people have no conception of what that time was about, and I think they will learn so much by viewing these pictures. The photos will also serve as a reminder to older people as to what the world was like all those years ago.”

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Donald Cravens captured some of the 20th century's most historic moments with his camera, documenting in film and photographs many significant events including the Allied Forces Normandy Invasion, beginning with D-Day on June 6, 1944; the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi War Criminals in Germany from 1945-46; the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and subsequent civil rights activities led by Rosa Parks, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ralph Abernathy through the 1950s; and Elvis Presley's first RCA recording session in 1956.

At age 23, Cravens was sent to Normandy, France as part of the D-Day Invasion, where he hit the beach with a 16-pound camera strapped to his shoulder. Cravens won two Purple Hearts for leg injuries sustained while covering the war through the Battle of the Bulge and VE Day. His photographs have appeared in Life magazine and in various History Channel programs throughout the years.

The month-long exhibit, which opened on January 27th, will run through Thursday, February 27, 2014 and is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday from 11 am to 4 pm, and first Sundays (Sunday, February 9th) from 11 am to 1 pm and by appointment. Cravens' work is on display in the Cravens and Leberman galleries, and Manocchio’s photography is on display in the Alumni Association gallery.

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The Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts is a nonprofit cultural and educational facility. Committed to educational excellence, The Center provides a venue for artistic exploration, experimentation and research. The Center is located at the northwest corner of the COD campus, adjacent to the Street Fair parking lot (Lot 28) and across the street from the Coeta and Donald Barker Nursing Complex.

For more information about these exhibits, call the Marks Center at (760) 776-7278 or go to


Pictured right:  One of  Mark Manocchio's photos of his exhibit, "A Joshua Tree Retrospective."

After the Navy, Manocchio enjoyed a successful career at Levi Strauss, which brought him to the Coachella Valley; three years after relocating, he retired and decided to stay in the desert.  He became an active member at the Palm Springs Art Museum, and especially admired their photo collection.
Landscapes and architecture are his favorite subject matter to photograph.  The photographs in this gallery are part of the last project Manocchio completed as a student at College of the Desert.  During his time at COD, he enjoyed the time spent with his instructors and fellow students, which he found to be as enjoyable as the learning experience itself.