Editor's note: The following essay from the catalogue for the exhibitions Clarence Hinkle and Modern Spirit and the Group of Eight, on view at the Laguna Art Museum June 10 - October 7, 2012, was reprinted in Resource Library on June 23, 2012 with permission of the Laguna Art Museum, which was granted to TFAO on June 20, 2012. If you have questions or comments regarding the text, or wish to obtain a copy of the catalogue from which it is excerpted, please contact the Laguna Art Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:



 

"In Love with Painting": The Life and Art of Clarence Hinkle

by Janet Blake

 

Some men love paint;

Hinkle, however, is a man in love with painting.

 

In the spring of 1938, Clarence Hinkle was given a solo exhibition at the galleries of the Chouinard School of Art, where he had taught [1] from 1921 to 1935.[2] Hinkle was living in Santa Barbara, but he had maintained ties in both Los Angeles and Laguna Beach, where he had lived and worked for close to twenty years. In the Hollywood Citizen-News, Herman Reuter praised the exhibition highly:

So well versed is Hinkle in the painter's craft that he knocks out still lifes, figure pieces and landscapes with equal dash and understanding. He seems to have most fun, however, in doing California coast scenes, with vast expanses of cluttered houses reaching away into [the] distance. Nowhere does he show his mastery more than in such subjects. With astonishing economy of brush work he manages to suggest illimitable space and detail. Yet, with all his verve and seeming carelessness, he leaves nothing to chance.
 
I find myself thoroughly sold on the idea that eventually America will be acknowledged to have produced few painters more noteworthy than Clarence Hinkle.[3]

Hinkle stands apart from many artists of his generation who came of age in California at the turn of the twentieth century, especially those who settled in Southern California in the following two decades. His work -- especially beginning in the early 1920s -- is bold and expressive, owing much more to the expressionist tradition than the efforts of many of his contemporaries, whose styles were linked to a variant of American impressionism. Hinkle's exhibitions with the Group of Eight -- also in the 1920s -- attested to his modernist viewpoint, as he turned from traditional landscape painting and focused on expressive figural work and still-life painting.

In 1933 art critic Arthur Millier wrote: "Some men love paint -- the late Joseph Kleitsch, for instance; Hinkle, however, is a man in love with painting."[4] That love of painting is seen in the rich variety of his work and range of subject matter, as displayed in his portraits, figure works, landscapes, and still lifes. It is also seen in his bravura brushwork and gestural -- sometimes calligraphic-style, combined with a personal vision and a willingness to explore new ideas and methods. The shift toward a less expressive style, seen in his work of the mid-1930s onward, shows not that the artist was becoming more conservative, but rather that he was always open to new ideas in his interpretation of the world around him.

 

Early Life and Education

Clarence Keiser Hinkle was born in Auburn, California, on June 19, 1880. His father, Amos Hinkle, was a carriage designer and builder who had moved with his wife, Roberta Keiser Hinkle, from Muncie, Indiana, to California in 1871. The couple had settled on a ranch in the rural community of Lincoln, about thirty miles northeast of Sacramento.[5] Clarence Hinkle recalled that his childhood was filled with typical outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, and hiking -- even mining for gold. When he was very young (too young to remember it) he was kicked by a horse, and the resulting injury left a deep scar on his forehead.

A visit to the Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento spurred an early interest in art as a vocation, although such interest was not met with encouragement by his family.[6] However, when visiting Muncie one summer with his aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence B. Keiser, the aspiring young artist received some instruction -- and possibly encouragement -- from Hoosier artist Henry Ryan MacGinnis (1875­1962), a noted impressionist.[7] In his teens, Hinkle began painting while on camping trips in the Sierra.[8]

At age eighteen, Hinkle began academic art studies in earnest at the Crocker Art Gallery under William Franklin Jackson, who served as curator and director of the gallery. Jackson was both a portrait artist and a landscape painter who worked in an impressionistic style. Two years later, Hinkle moved to San Francisco and enrolled in the California School of Design under Arthur Mathews.[9] In contrast to Jackson, Mathews and his wife, Lucia Kleinhans Mathews, were leading proponents of the Arts and Crafts movement and the tonalist aesthetic. Hinkle later recalled: "Whistler and tonal painting were the thing there. If a student used a palette brighter than dull red, a yellow ocher and black, Mathews threw up his hands in horror."[10]

After only a year, Hinkle left San Francisco and headed to the East, where, in 1901, he enrolled in the Art Students League of New York. There, he said, impressionism was "the new gospel," and John Twachtman (1853-1902) its prophet. An influential teacher, Twachtman was a leading American impressionist and founder of The Ten. Hinkle quickly learned to change the low-key, tonal palette that he had developed under Mathews. He also discovered that for Twachtman, black was anathema. When Hinkle painted a model's black hair with black pigment, Twachtman admonished him and his fellow students to never use anything deeper than cobalt blue.[11] Already showing an interest in portraiture, in 1903 the young artist won a prize in that category from the Art Students League.[12]

Between 1904 and 1906, Hinkle studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In May 1906 he was awarded a $2,000 traveling scholarship from the academy, which afforded him the opportunity to continue his studies in Europe for two years.[13] Traveling on a ship owned by the Holland Steamship Company, Hinkle arrived in Amsterdam and continued to the small town of Laren in the province of North Holland. Laren was one of several communities in the Netherlands where artists had established art colonies in the late nineteenth century. American artists were attracted to the region because of its preindustrial charm. Until a trolley line was completed in 1882, Laren remained remote and pastoral, though only twenty miles from Amsterdam, a small village where the only industries were the raising of dairy cattle and sheep and the spinning and weaving of wool.[14] The people, who were mostly poor, lived in quaint farmers' and laborers' cottages.

The popularity of the region for American artists was something that Hinkle had likely heard about during his studies in both New York and Philadelphia. Twachtman and his wife, etcher Martha Scudder, accompanied by artists Julian Alden Weir and John Ferguson Weir, had visited Holland in 1881, traveling in the countryside around Dordrecht and visiting the picturesque area of South Holland. Both Twachtman and his wife made etchings of the region, and Twachtman made several oil paintings.[15]

Hinkle later recalled how quiet and simple life was in Laren, and how "a model could be had all day for 40 cents."[16] The village was described as emanating "a serene charm." The year before Hinkle arrived, the village hostelry, Hotel Hamdorff, had been expanded by Jan Hamdorff, son of its original owner. The hotel became Laren's best known, and it had a café called Het Kroegje (Little Tavern) where artists and intellectuals gathered. Jan Hamdorff was very congenial to visiting artists, and he assisted them in finding studios, models, and dealers for their works. In addition to the hotel, there was a boarding house -- 't Witte Huis (The White House) -- whose proprietor was an English-born woman, Mrs. Kam-Redcliffe, a fact that, of course, appealed to American artists intimidated by the language barrier.[17]

A few works are extant from Hinkle's sojourn in Holland. Most are small landscapes painted in a low-key tonalist palette of mostly browns and grays, typical of The Hague School. One such work -- which is two-sided -- depicts a solitary figure on a rural path on one side and a small village scene on the other (p. 14). This has been identified by Johanna Raphael Sibbett, daughter of expatriate artist Joseph Raphael, as a view of the village of Leiden. She recalled that Hinkle had been befriended by her father when he was there.[18] Raphael lived in Laren periodically between 1904 and 1912, staying at Mrs. Kam-Redcliffe's boarding house.[19] Perhaps Hinkle stayed there as well. Raphael made several trips to France during this period, and he came under the influence of impressionists and post-impressionists; Hinkle would follow a similar path. In fact, the influence of impressionism can be seen in several outdoor figural works that are infused with light.

Hinkle's activities in Laren were reported in the newspaper of his parents' hometown of Muncie, Indiana, which noted that the young artist would soon leave for Paris. His friends in Muncie were "pleased at learning that he is rapidly becoming a prominent artist of unusual ability."[20] Leaving Laren in early 1909, Hinkle enrolled in the Académie Julian in Paris in February, studying there with Jean-Paul Laurens, Henri Royer, Tony Robert-Fleury, and Jules Lefebvre. In Paris he saw the works of "the great French painters," including Cézanne and Gauguin, as well as those by van Gogh. He also studied at the Louvre.[21] In fact, it is interesting to note that many years later, Hinkle told Los Angeles Times art critic Antony Anderson that he had learned more from studying paintings at the Louvre -- including those by Lawrence, Gainsborough, and Copley -- than he had at the Académie.[22] The following year, 1910, one of Hinkle's works was accepted for exhibition in the Paris Salon.

 

Return to the United States-

New York and San Francisco

During his six years in Europe, Hinkle visited Italy, Spain, and England before returning to the United States around 1912. He remained in New York City for several months and exhibited a work at the National Academy of Design's 87th Annual Exhibition in March. In 1913 he received the Cooper Union prize for drawing.[23] Finally, he headed west, first visiting his mother in Sacramento, where he showed a few paintings at the Crocker Art Gallery, and then traveling to San Francisco in late spring 1913.[24] In deciding where to locate his studio, Hinkle clearly was looking for an atmosphere that was conducive to plein-air painting. Grace Armistead Doyle, writing for the San Francisco Post, reported that the artist was going to open a studio in one of the cities in the Bay Area, but not in San Francisco, where California sunlight is not as abundant: "California, he says, has so much more of color and sunlight" than where he had been the past few years, likely a reference to his time in the eastern United States and his three years in Holland. His intention was to "bring out its effects with his brush."[25]

The San Francisco Chronicle also reported his return and announced an exhibition of his works at Helgesen Galleries on Sutter Street. The forty-three paintings -- described as "sketches in oil" -- were all from his sojourn in France, and they included both landscape and figural works.[26] Porter Garnett, writing in the San Francisco Call, noted that the works were "marked by a striking vigor of execution" but with "refinement of color and subtlety of quality which the artist has associated with his astonishing technical freedom. One does not think of sketches nor of paint in such complete paintings.... [Early Spring] is remarkable for its charm of color, its absolute quality and its splendid feeling of sunlight."[27] Another writer in the San Francisco Chronicle described the artist as "a follower of the modern European school, which is broad and suggestive of the impressionistic tendency, but where conservatism is still to be detected."[28]

At the time of Hinkle's arrival in California, the San Francisco art community was busily preparing for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which was slated to open in February 1915. Those years would be an exciting time for the young artist, who would soon be exposed to the work of notable California artists, not only from Northern but also from Southern California. In December 1913, he participated in an exhibition at the California Club in San Francisco and was honored when the club purchased his painting Head of an Italian Child for its collection.[29] Hinkle reportedly was one of the first artists to indicate a willingness to assist Laura Bride Powers of the California Club in plans for organizing an exhibition of work of younger California artists, to be displayed in a gallery at the coming exposition.[30]

Although Hinkle had intended to return to New York, his success in San Francisco, the excitement of the time, and the demand for his portrait works likely induced him to remain. He did not confine himself to portraiture in his studio, however, and in February 1914 showed twenty-one works at Helgesen Galleries; all of them had been painted in the San Francisco area. Michael Williams, writing for the San Francisco Examiner, called High Fog over the Golden Gate "a romantic, airy, spacious, light-drenched harmony in gold and dim blue and pearly-white." Williams described the artist as "not a mere picture maker...[one] with a personal vision and a technique...a name seriously to be reckoned with."[31]

At the same time, the artist accepted numerous portrait commissions. His portrait of Mrs. F. W. Hollman (p. 18) was reproduced in the San Francisco Chronicle when it was exhibited at Helgesen Galleries in 1914.[32] In this strikingly exquisite portrait, the carefully composed seated figure enchants the viewer with her gaze, her chin ever so slightly upturned, her hands crossed in her lap. She is wearing a black dress with a transparent, lace-like sleeve at the top of her left arm; her right arm is bare. A cluster of yellow flowers adorns the bodice. The composition is enhanced by a background of mottled impressionistic dabs of color, vaguely suggesting an outdoor setting filled with trees and flowers. The painting would be the artist's entry -- with the title A Portrait -- in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.[33]

The art that was displayed at the exposition had a profound impact on artists in California. By 1915, impressionism, which had originated in France in the 1860s, was at its zenith in the United States. Visitors to the exposition saw works by Theodore Robinson, John Twachtman, J. Alden Weir, Childe Hassam, Edward Redfield, Frederick Frieseke, and William Merritt Chase, to name just a few of the leading American impressionist artists of the day. Specifically excluded from the American section of the exposition were works from radical modern movements such as cubism and futurism, examples of which had been seen at the Armory Show in New York in 1913.[34] Most California artists in this period embraced impressionism, a style that Antony Anderson noted "is the only method permitted you today in the painting of landscape."[35] The Panama-Pacific International Exposition afforded Hinkle the opportunity to see the work of several Southern California artists, including Maurice Braun, Benjamin Brown, Hanson Puthuff, John Hubbard Rich, Guy Rose, Donna Schuster, C. P. Townsley, and William Wendt.

In 1916 the San Francisco Society of Artists, of which Hinkle was a member, merged with the San Francisco Art Institute, an action that Michael Williams predicted would assure San Francisco's place in the national art scene.[36] Early the following year, Hinkle showed work alongside Armin Hansen and Granville Redmond at a San Francisco gallery.[37] Continued success in San Francisco was not enough to convince the artist -- now in his late thirties -- to remain, however, and he altered his course for Los Angeles.

 

Move to Los Angeles

In late spring 1917, Hinkle moved to Los Angeles and secured a position as an instructor at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design at 6th and Alvarado Streets, where he taught life classes.[38] At that time, Los Angeles had a burgeoning art community. The California Art Club, founded in 1909, boasted a roster of leading artists, among them William Wendt, Franz Bischoff, Hanson Puthuff, Maurice Braun, Edgar Payne, and Jack Wilkinson Smith. The Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art, which had opened in 1913, hosted the first of many annual exhibitions of the California Art Club in the spring of 1916. That same year, in December, Harrison Gray Otis, founder and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, deeded his home on Wilshire Boulevard to Los Angeles County "to be used continuously and perpetually for the Arts and advancement of the Arts."[39] This would become the home of Otis Art Institute.

Hinkle opened a studio at 1548 West 6th Street, not far from the Los Angeles School of Art and Design, and in early June 1917 introduced his work to the public by opening his studio to visitors every Friday afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m. He displayed twenty paintings, which included landscapes, portraits, and figural works done in France and California (both San Francisco and Los Angeles). Los Angeles Times art critic Antony Anderson visited the artist at his studio and was deeply impressed by his work, especially by his portraits. In An Oriental Arrangement (p. 55), as in his earlier portrait of Mrs. Hollman, Hinkle depicted the figure against an unusual background -- in this instance, vertical bars of color that seem to make the painting vibrate. Anderson saw in the work a "dynamic energy."[40]

Hinkle did not completely sever his ties with Northern California. Less than a year after his arrival in Los Angeles, he sent paintings to San Francisco for an exhibition with five other artists, held at Tolerton Galleries in March 1918. Along with works by Armin Hansen, Gottardo Piazzoni, Rinaldo Cuneo, Ralph Stackpole, and Phillips Lewis, Hinkle showed three sketches in a high-key palette, all depicting Southern California, as well as what was described as a "still more ambitious landscape" and a portrait of a woman.[41] The next month, in Los Angeles, he made his debut at the California Art Club's spring exhibition. He exhibited two works: Quiet Pose (p. 21) and Reverie of the Orient (also known as An Oriental Arrangement). Quiet Pose, today in the collection of Gardena High School (given by the winter graduating class of 1929), is a figural study of a young woman seated outdoors, quietly reading. Her book is open in her lap, and to shade her eyes from the sun, she carefully balances an orange umbrella over her right shoulder. The painting is filled with dappled sunlight, as seen on the umbrella and on the woman's white dress. The background garden setting is loosely rendered in dabs of blues, greens, and white, a painting technique similar to that in the portrait of Mrs. Hollman. The following year, Hinkle showed two works, both portraits, at the California Art Club spring exhibition.[42]

While teaching at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design, Hinkle met a young student from Canada, Mabel Bain, who had arrived in Los Angeles in November 1917 to study art and photography.[43] They married in June 1921, and Mabel became the subject of the majority of her husband's figure and portrait studies throughout their marriage, a union that would last until his death in 1960.[44]

Through his activities in Los Angeles, Hinkle developed associations and friendships with several artists in the California Art Club, including Mabel Alvarez, Henri De Kruif, John Hubbard Rich, Donna Schuster, Roscoe Shrader, and Edouard Vysekal. When Otis Art Institute opened in 1919, Rich, Schuster, Shrader, and Vysekal were on the faculty. In the fall Hinkle participated in the California Art Club's Twelfth Annual Exhibition and was singled out by Antony Anderson for having the "most original painting in the gallery," a work simply titled Portrait, whose "scheme of color and method of painting show force and distinction."[45]

Also on the faculty at Otis in the early years was Nelbert Murphy Chouinard, a landscape painter and designer who, early in her career, decided to focus on art education. In June 1921 Chouinard founded her own school -- the Chouinard School of Art -- but continued to teach at Otis two mornings a week. That first year, there were seven faculty members, including Chouinard herself. Hinkle signed on to teach painting. He and another of those first faculty members, F. Tolles Chamberlin, who taught life drawing and painting, would prove very influential for the next generation of artists.[46] On a Sunday afternoon in early December, a group of Hinkle's paintings was shown at the school in a series of "at home exhibitions," held the first Sunday of each month during the school year.[47] That same month he was joined by seven other artists -- Alvarez, De Kruif, Rich, Schuster, Shrader, Edouard Vysekal, and Luvena Buchanan Vysekal -- in exhibiting "sketches" at the Friday Morning Club in Los Angeles. All the works -- both oils and watercolors -- were described as small in size, but very big artistically, with Hinkle's works noted as having a "gem-like quality of color -- they need only a rim of solid gold to make them look like set jewels."[48]

In January 1922 an exhibition opened at Bullock's Bridgeway featuring works by those same eight artists. This would be the first of several exhibitions by the group, collectively exhibiting under the name "Group of Eight." Antony Anderson described them as having "some decidedly modern tendencies, the best of which is a penchant for lively color," their message, "color and light." He added:

It is to be presumed that the group of eight have some fundamental theories of art common to the group, since they coalesce as a club of painters, but if any member suddenly decides to fly off on a tangent for our mystification and delight, it is again presumed that he is given perfect liberty to do so. We may therefore expect many and diverse things from the Group of the Eight, who seem to announce that they are in the very vanguard of progress, waving a wet red paint rag in our faces. Iconoclasts, some of them, but still sane enough for serious consideration.[49]

It is interesting to note that Anderson described the group as "still sane enough for serious consideration," for indeed those movements in modern art that were blooming in Europe and in the United States were commonly described as insane, especially on the West Coast.

Commenting on Hinkle's works, Anderson wrote:

The exquisite experiments in color that Clarence Hinkle lays out for our inspection in three landscapes of unusual beauty are as intriguing as the color he bewitched us with in his prize-winning portrait of his wife. The landscapes are "Laguna Hills, Orange," "California," and "Low Tide." All are fine. Mr. Hinkle shows no small sketches this time, though many of the others in the group do. We wish he had done so, for his little bits are like semi-precious jewels.[50]

 

Living in Laguna Beach, 1922 to 1935

In April 1922, Hinkle went to Laguna Beach, accompanied by his wife, to make arrangements for the summer outdoor classes that he would be teaching for Chouinard in July.[51] It was not his first visit, as evidenced by several extant paintings from Laguna Beach that date back as far as 1917, but it was likely his first visit as a married man. Hinkle had maintained his residence in Los Angeles, and he had not been a founding member of the Laguna Beach Art Association in the summer of 1918. Yet, it was clear during the 1922 visit that the vibrant and lively art community there was an attraction to both him and his wife, for by June it was reported that they were building a home in Arch Beach.[52] Hinkle acquired several lots, which he lavishly landscaped with trees, flowers, and shrubs. His home -- which featured a wraparound porch -- was used by the artist not only as a vantage point, from which he painted many scenes of the area, but also as subject matter.[53] Hinkle joined the Laguna Beach Art Association and became a very active member, serving on juries and on the association's board over the next fourteen years.

At the end of 1925, in the Pan-American Exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum, Hinkle exhibited one of his most important portraits, that of fellow artist Gjura Stojana (p. 96). Antony Anderson voiced strong approval of what he considered were truly modernist artistic expressions in the many works on view. Hinkle's work he described thus: "The most distinguished piece of portraiture is without doubt Clarence Hinkle's portrait of another great artist, 'Gjura Stojana'. With what swift vision and sureness he has seized what is characteristic and vital!"[54] Stojana is depicted as a true artist -- a bohemian -- attired in a brilliant yellow shirt with a band wrapped around his forehead. He is seated with his arms akimbo, looking not at the viewer, but slightly to the left. In this portrait, Hinkle focuses entirely on his subject, set against a neutral gray background accented with random slashes of color -- predominantly greens and oranges. It is a realist portrait, reminiscent of the work of Robert Henri, whose work Hinkle had likely seen when he was in New York and again at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.[55] There is also an allusion to the dynamic portraiture of the seventeenth-century Dutch master Frans Hals, which Hinkle likely saw at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem during his years in Holland.

Gjura Stojana exhibited alongside Hinkle at the Modern Art Workers exhibition held at the Los Angeles Museum in early March 1926. The organization had been formed in 1925 in order to offer a venue for artists who might be excluded from juried exhibitions where only "certain types" of works were admitted. Artist Stanton Macdonald-Wright described the group in a letter to Antony Anderson that was published in the Los Angeles Times in October 1925. The society felt that their artists would "attain a freer form of expression....and a certain restriction of impulse will be eradicated." Other member artists included Mabel Alvarez, Nick Brigante, Conrad Buff, Val Costello, Helena Dunlap, Henri De Kruif, Morgan Russell, Henrietta Shore, Edouard Vysekal, and Luvena Vysekal.[56] In the March exhibition Stojana showed a wood bas-relief abstract sculpture accented with gold. Hinkle showed a portrait of fellow artist Henri De Kruif, painted in very loose brushwork and described by Antony Anderson as capturing "the very soul of him." Anderson considered the work equal to if not superior to Hinkle's portrait of Stojana.[57]

While Hinkle continued with art activities in Los Angeles and Laguna Beach, the decade of the 1920s for the Laguna Beach Art Association was particularly busy. In 1926, the association announced its plans to build a new gallery, to "stand on a cliff above the sea and within sight of the heart of the village." The association had retained the services of noted architect Myron Hunt, and the gallery was to be designed with a large main exhibition space, which would be entered from a patio. Plans called for a smaller gallery accessible from the main gallery, an office, a workroom, and a kitchen. There would be a full basement accessed by an elevator. The walls of the galleries would be "hung with monk's cloth, a neutral background for pictures," and the floors would be hardwood.[58] The association held fundraisers in order to secure the needed funds for construction (estimated to be $16,000), which did not begin until the summer of 1928. When the city surveyed the residents as to the value of the art colony to the community, the response was overwhelmingly positive, "that the artists are the greatest asset to Laguna Beach."[59] It was noted that visitors often asked for directions to the gallery and to the many artists' studios that might be open to visitors. Artists who had their own gallery-studios included William Griffith, Anna Hills, Frank Cuprien, William Wendt, William Riddell, and Clarence Hinkle.

By 1927 the building fund had grown to $7,000, due in large part to a successful sale of paintings that had been installed at St. Ann's Inn in Santa Ana, with Hinkle serving as one of the installers.[60] In September 1928, just a month after groundbreaking, Hinkle donated $400 to the building fund, from monies received for a portrait commission. At that time, he presented a resolution to the association that the names of all donors to the gallery fund be recorded, posted in the gallery, and released to the newspapers.[61]

Hinkle's work was often praised in the Laguna Beach press when he exhibited with the art association, which held bimonthly and occasionally monthly exhibitions in its small, one-room gallery throughout the 1920s. Each August, it held an anniversary exhibition, considered the prize show of the year. Hinkle was often cited for his constant striving for new techniques and his willingness to experiment. The local press also took note of his exhibitions in other areas of Southern California, including one at the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego (forerunner of the San Diego Museum of Art). In 1928 he was awarded the landscape prize for Coastline, Laguna (p. 29).

Laguna Beach Art Association president Anna Hills wrote about the honor, noting that the award was accompanied by a cash prize. She solicited Lagunans to consider establishing cash prizes for their association artists as well, especially since the tenth anniversary exhibition would be opening on August 1.[62]

In January 1928 Hinkle was awarded the Harold A. Streator Memorial Prize of $500 for his painting Roof Tops in an exhibition for California artists held at the Pasadena Art Institute. The work was purchased by collector H. C. Bentley, who showed seventeen works from his collection at the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery in March. Hazel Boyer Braun, writing for the Evening Tribune, stated: "this painting reveals Hinkle as a good technician and especially interest in aesthetic pattern."[63] The painting is a view of rooftops seen from Hinkle's porch, the railing of which is draped with a striped orange blanket. The porch railing and upright, which are wrapped in the tendrils of a climbing green vine, frame the composition, focusing attention on the building in the distance and its cupola capped with orange tiles, which echo the color of the draping.

The Laguna Beach Art Association's new gallery in Heisler Park opened with great fanfare in February 1929. Due to an increase in costs, modifications had been made to Hunt's original design. There was one large main gallery -- measuring sixty by thirty-six feet -- with an L-shaped projection off the front that contained a lobby and a window on the ocean side that looked out over a garden. The smaller area had an office and a small kitchen plus a stairway that led to the basement, which was unfinished. The large gallery was illuminated by a skylight. The gallery walls had a forty-inch-high wainscot, which was painted a dark gray-green. The walls above the wainscot were covered with gray monk's cloth. The coved ceiling was painted white.

The official opening day was February 16, 1929, with many visitors arriving from out of town and out of state. South Coast News dedicated its entire February 15 edition to the many events, with tributes to the notable people who had worked so hard to make the dream of a new gallery a reality. In the March issue of South Coast News, Antony Anderson reviewed the latest exhibition in the "handsome, brand-new art gallery." Hinkle, he wrote, was one of the most original of the artists in Laguna Beach and one of the most interesting: "What hard white light he gives us in 'Houses at Arch Beach.' The light of California, brilliant and almost blinding. When an artist can give us such an expression of light in opaque paint, he is -- well, he's an artist."[64] The following November the city officially renamed four streets in honor of the artistic leaders of the day: Frank Cuprien, William Griffith, Anna Hills, and Clarence Hinkle.

In the spring of 1929, Fern Burford wrote a profile of Hinkle at home in Laguna Beach. She wrote that his home was a "rendezvous for many of the most famous painters of this part of the country," a fact that attests to the degree of respect the artist commanded. Burford called Hinkle "one of the leaders among the modernists in Southern California," an artist who "likes to experiment" in form and in color.[65] Laguna's local press would frequently report on the activities of resident artists. Every vacation, every dinner party, every sketching trip, every exhibition, and every award would receive a notation in the paper, especially in the South Coast News.

In both Laguna Beach and Los Angeles, the Hinkles led a very active life that included visiting with friends and taking trips for vacation and for sketching and painting opportunities.[66] They enjoyed close relationships with other artist families, among them in Laguna Beach, William Griffith and his wife. Local beach scenes painted by both men suggest the possibility that they frequented the beach together with their wives (and in the case of Griffith, with children as well). Griffith used pastels for his colorful beach scenes, while Hinkle worked with oils on small canvas panels. Many of his figural works depicting a woman at the beach are of Mabel Hinkle.

The Hinkles and Griffiths also took brief trips together, as in November 1929, when they went to 29 Palms and Morongo Canyon, north of Palm Springs.[67] One of Hinkle's most important figurative paintings -- In the Hammock -- is a portrait of Mabel Hinkle resting in a hammock that had been set up at their Palm Springs campsite.[68] Hinkle first exhibited the painting in early 1925 at the 120th Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Four years later, when exhibited at the Tenth Annual Exhibition of the Painters and Sculptors Club, the painting received second honorable mention. Arthur Millier wrote of it: "While there is no pretentious attempt to be modern in this beautiful work, it is interesting to note how the design takes its theme quietly from the girl's crossed legs, repeating itself and being subtly echoed in angles of trees and hammock, a theme that would not have been possible in any age, but this. The color is of that cool, atmospheric variety, suffused with light such as only Hinkle, among us, is able to record."[69]

In May 1930, while preparing for an extended trip to Europe, the Hinkles rented their home in Arch Beach to artist Charles Philip Krauth and his wife. Krauth, thirteen years younger than Hinkle, had studied with him, E. Roscoe Shrader, and Edouard Vysekal. The Hinkles left in the middle of May, first taking a motor trip to Taos, New Mexico, for a sketching tour. Heading east, they spent some time in Rockport, Massachusetts, before going on to New York and then Europe. They shipped their car so that they could "motor through many of the interesting places in a leisurely manner with no definite time limit for their return home.... Both Mr. and Mrs. Hinkle have worked faithfully in the building up of the art colony here and their many friends both in Laguna and Southern California will be interested in their trip."[70] Less than a month later, on June 13, artist Anna Hills, who had so tirelessly worked for the art association, died unexpectedly at age forty-eight. The news reached the traveling Hinkles, who sent a telegram of condolence to the art association.[71]

Many months later, in January 1931, friends heard from the couple that they were spending time in St. Tropez, where the artist was busily engaged with making studies for future paintings. South Coast News continued to report on their travels as they made their way to Nice; while there, the artist met his friend and former Chouinard student Phil Dike, and the two painted together at nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer. Leaving Nice, the Hinkles went on to Florence, where the artist could study the Old Masters. After Florence, they traveled to Paris, and then to England, where they boarded the ship Belgenland at Southampton, setting sail for New York on September 3.[72]

The Hinkles returned to Laguna Beach in time for the artist to begin teaching once again at Chouinard. Since its founding in 1921, the school had grown considerably and was now boasting its largest enrollment ever. Hinkle was joined on the teaching staff by two of his best pupils -- Phil Dike and Millard Sheets.[73] In January 1932 Arthur Millier interviewed him about his philosophy of painting and his European experience. He wrote about the artist's willingness to explore new ideas and experiment: "While many others find a manner, stick to it and make sales, Hinkle changes because he is forever trying to get at the roots of the painter's art." Hinkle told Millier that he was still digesting his studies from his European travels. He said that in Italy he had looked at unfinished works by Renaissance artists, which afforded him the opportunity to study their methods. He brought back small paintings by Henri Matisse and André Lhote. Hinkle told Millier that Matisse "keeps his painter-mind fresh by setting up many still-life arrangements in his studio and just studying them. Many of them he never paints but just looks at."[74] The numerous extant examples of Hinkle still lifes suggest that he followed Matisse's in this.

Hinkle continued to exhibit and receive positive reviews of his work. In June 1933 he was profiled in Arthur Millier's "Our Artists in Person" in the Los Angeles Times. South Coast News took note of the interview, writing that, although Hinkle was modest and retiring and hated to be interviewed, he did concede to sit down and talk to Millier. Millier asked him, "Why, at 52, do you paint?" to which Hinkle replied, "Because painting is the most marvelous adventure in the world."[75]

At the end of the month, Hinkle and his wife traveled once again to Taos, this time to spend the entire summer there. They rented their Laguna home to Helena Dunlap and her sister, Lillian. In Taos they rented the studio of E. Irving Couse. They returned to Laguna Beach in late October. South Coast News reported: "The rich material afforded artists by the interesting pueblos and the colorful Indian and Mexican residents of Taos, was not lost on the Laguna artist, who made good use of his summer in a series of sketches and paintings reflecting the life which prevails at this popular resort."[76]

In December 1933, Hinkle was included in a major national exhibition, Painting & Sculpture from 16 American Cities, held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Other artists representing Los Angeles were Conrad Buff, John Hubbard Rich, Edouard Vysekal, and William Wendt. Hinkle showed one of his large corner-window still lifes, The Breakfast Table, an award-winning painting from 1930 (p. 39).[77] When the painting was exhibited at the Pasadena Art Institute, Arthur Millier described it as having "little cores of delicious color echoed in and illuminated by the surrounding colored whites of walls and window curtains. The picture takes the light from many others in the room."[78]

In 1934 Hinkle was honored when the San Diego Fine Arts Society purchased his portrait of author Dillwyn Parrish while it was on exhibition at the Eighth Annual Exhibition of the Artists of Southern California, displayed in the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery (p. 40). Reginald Poland, director of the Fine Arts Gallery, wrote a laudatory article about the artist and the painting in The San Diego Union:

Like most of Mr. Hinkle's oils, this portrait is a study in tones of color. The artist says that when he painted it in 1933 he was studying subtle tones obtainable from the local coloring of objects affected by sunshine or shadow. Soon before, he had been in Italy and Paris on an art study trip. He returned from Europe convinced that Italian old masters, more than French contemporaries, help him and other modern painters through their understanding use of colors.
 
But Mr. Hinkle has not arbitrarily applied colors to the subject's dress in this newly acquired painting. He has changed the tones only so he could produce a more artistically beautiful picture.[79]

The year 1935 would be the last that the Hinkles lived in Laguna Beach. In June they spent several days in Los Angeles, visiting friends and attending exhibitions. In July Nellie Strong Capron reported in the South Coast News that the couple had spent several days in Santa Barbara looking for a place to build a new home and studio, "as it is their intention to remove from the Laguna Beach art colony, a project attended with sincere regret on the part of those they leave behind."[80]

 

Santa Barbara

The reason for Clarence and Mabel Hinkle's move from Laguna Beach to Santa Barbara is unclear. There are no newspaper articles that explain the relocation. It was apparent that their decision to move was not an easy one. In September 1935 Nellie Strong Capron reported that they had written to artist Thomas Hunt and his wife, announcing that they were settled in their new home, "and while everything is lovely to behold on every hand, when the twilight shadows gather they have those long, long thoughts about the Laguna they have left behind. Mr. Hunt is ready to wager it won't be long before the Hinkles come trekking back."[81] However, such was not the case. Although Hinkle maintained his ties to Laguna Beach -- occasionally visiting and participating in activities of the art association and the Festival of Arts -- he and his wife resided in Santa Barbara for the remainder of his life. While building their home and studio on an acre of land in the hills of Montecito, they resided in town on Anacapa Street (left) [82]

When Hinkle arrived, he had a stellar reputation as an artist and teacher. Apparently indifferent to the social side of the artistic scene, he chose to build his home in a remote location from the city, high on a bluff that afforded a panoramic view of Santa Barbara's harbor. Having spent his childhood on a ranch in Northern California, perhaps he was seeking a respite from the hustle and bustle in Laguna Beach caused by a real estate boom and increase in tourism. With the advent of the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters (called The Spirit of the Masters in 1935), Laguna Beach was a busy place, especially in the summer. By the spring of 1937, the Hinkles were settled in Montecito.South Coast News described a "lovely new home, of the farm house... typebuilt by the Hinkles, on the hills in back of Santa Barbara, on over an acre of ground."[83]

As an artists' colony, Santa Barbara was very different from Laguna Beach. The influx of artists to Santa Barbara began in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when many artists who had lost their homes and studios headed south to Los Angeles. Some stopped in Santa Barbara, and, liking the area, remained. Others arrived from the East. By 1921 resident artists included Carl Oscar Borg, Colin Campbell Cooper, John Gamble, Albert Herter, Fernand Lungren, DeWitt Parshall, Douglass Parshall, and Thomas Moran. Cooper, who had spent many years in Europe and in New York City, observed that the rich and diverse art community compensated for what many perceived to be a community isolated from the national scene.[84] Through the Community Arts Association (founded in 1920), Lungren opened the School of the Arts, which offered classes in visual arts, music, drama, dance, and foreign languages. The Santa Barbara Art Club -- an artists' cooperative in the same vein as the Laguna Beach Art Association -- was founded in 1924. The club exhibited members' works in the old Casa de la Guerra and also hosted traveling exhibitions. Unfortunately, by 1935, the Community Arts Association was in dire need of funding and closed the School of the Arts.

Once settled in Santa Barbara, Hinkle reconnected with the art centers in Northern California -- Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento -- exhibiting a Santa Barbara­area landscape, To the Santa Ynez, at the Oakland Art Gallery's annual exhibition of 1937.[85] The painting was voted best in show, and several months later, in September, the gallery honored the artist with his first major one-man exhibition, at which fifty oil paintings were shown. H. L. Dungan, writing for the Oakland Tribune, described Hinkle as "one of our best landscape painters," noting that he had the advantage of many years of experience.[86] Accompanying the article was a reproduction of Beach at Laguna from 1926­27. In November, Hinkle sent To the Santa Ynez to the Twenty-Eighth Annual California Art Club Exhibition in Los Angeles, where it garnered second prize and an accolade from Arthur Millier as one of the star paintings of a "pleasantly conservative" show.[87]

The Oakland Art Gallery's exhibition was the first of many one-man shows that Hinkle would have over the next fifteen years. During December 1937, the Faulkner Memorial Art Gallery exhibited a selection of his works in its large gallery inside the Santa Barbara Public Library. Margaret Ely Webb, writing for the Santa Barbara News-Press, described the show as a notable one by an artist who "has an intense interest in the properties of light, in the drama that is played when the curtain of the dark is raised."[88] Hinkle showed many of his best paintings-landscapes, still lifes, figures, and portraits; some were old favorites, some were recently completed. The following year, in Los Angeles, he received another award from the California Art Club at the organization's November exhibition, this time in the figure and portrait category for his painting titled Chinese Boy, a portrait of his friend and student Shelly Dong (p. 44).[89] The painting was included the following year in the Foundation of Western Art's exhibition of prize-winning paintings.

In October 1939 Hinkle showed forty paintings at the Crocker Art Gallery, the place where his art career had begun under the tutelage of William F. Jackson nearly forty years earlier. Paul Tanner, writing for the Sacramento Union, wrote that he "[is] hailed as one of California's greatest artists."[90] A few months later -- a little more than ten years after the opening of the Laguna Beach Art Association gallery on Cliff Drive -- Hinkle found himself once again actively involved with a developing arts institution. Although Santa Barbara had a thriving arts culture, its only community gallery of any size was the Faulkner Memorial Art Gallery. In 1937, however, the original post office building at the corner of State and Anapamu Streets was acquired by the county from the federal government. The intent of the purchase was to turn the building over to a group that would convert the building into a museum. To that end, on December 29, 1939, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art was officially incorporated. Thirty-six directors were named to the board, including Hinkle. The directors and officers were convinced that the community would cooperate with the "educational and civic service possibilities of an art project." At its incorporation, the museum had gifts totaling more than $50,000, gifts of art also valued at more than $50,000, and a pledged fund of $35,000 for maintenance and expenses.[91] Noted Chicago architect David Adler was retained to plan the remodeling of the building -- simplifying the façade, constructing galleries, and creating a dramatic entryway. The first director, hired in January 1940, was Donald J. Bear, a respected artist, art critic, and arts administrator, and, at that time, director of the Denver Art Museum. Bear had most recently served as a member of the national staff of the Federal Art Project, and he was the assistant director for American Art Today, the art exhibition at the 1939 New York World's Fair.[92]

The museum opened to the public on June 5, 1941, and in September its first "one-man show" was accorded to Hinkle. Bear wrote, "[T]hough Clarence Hinkle [is] identified with Southern California and the local art activity of this community in particular, his influence extends far beyond any boundaries of place." The show had twenty-nine paintings, including landscapes, still lifes, and portraits. Bear said that "in his painting, from the slightest sketch to his largest portraits, there is an honesty which belies a clever eclecticism. Hinkle's work is profoundly serious and has had for a long time an inspiring influence on many of the gifted younger artists of this city and throughout the region."[93] Reproduced with the article was Overlooking Laguna, one of Hinkle's most important paintings (p. 56).

In 1943, at Hinkle's suggestion, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art debuted a "preview" gallery. The idea behind the gallery was that artists with new paintings or drawings could hang their work in a designated preview gallery on the second floor of the museum. Hinkle discussed the new gallery concept at his Hillcrest studio with artist DeWitt Parshall, second vice president of the museum board:

In the undeniable fact that all art is relative lies the basic idea behind the preview gallery. No one can be sicker than the artist who goes to an exhibit, locates his newest work on which he has set his heart, and finds that by comparison with the paintings which surround it his effort is a weakling and falls below the standard of that particular show.
 
California artists have grown accustomed to meet Eastern art standards and do so willingly. They will, we believe, welcome the opportunity to test their work before sending it out for formal exhibition. In our studios we are too close to our work and it becomes photographic on our minds. When we enter a public gallery and find our picture hung with others it occasionally seems anything but the masterpiece we thought we had created."[94]

Hinkle recalled his own painful experience when, as a young student in France, he had a work accepted at the Paris Salon. He remembered going through the exhibition three times before he finally found his painting very high on the wall in a corner of the gallery, a rather humble work in comparison to those around it. Hinkle's idea for the preview gallery and his observations attest to his commitment to teaching and mentoring younger artists, who, he recognized, needed support and encouragement.[95] In June 1943 the Santa Barbara Museum of Art also initiated Saturday adult art classes taught by noted artists in the area, including Hinkle. The classes were made available to adult men and women, high school students, and servicemen who were stationed nearby. It was noted that the younger aspiring artists sought out Hinkle, whose reputation from his years at Chouinard in Los Angeles was widely known and often touted by outstanding former students such as Millard Sheets and Phil Dike. One reporter noted of the classes: "The friendliness of this noted Californian and his warm interest in fellow artists have made his home and studio a Mecca for painters and he is even more accessible at the museum."[96]

The year 1944 was highly successful for the artist, who was now sixty-three years old. Dalzell Hatfield Galleries included his work La Cumbre Peak in its March exhibition of Contemporary Americans. Hinkle exhibited alongside several other artists, including one of his protégés, Millard Sheets. Kenneth Ross was effusive in his praise for Hinkle's expressive landscape painting, saying: "At no point has the artist stopped to fuss over literal description. He has transcribed the breadth and richness of his moment with a spontaneity and deftness which give it enduring life."[97] The following month, Hatfield showed a more comprehensive Hinkle exhibition, and in June 1944 the same group of works went on exhibition at the Laguna Beach Art Association Gallery. It was the largest showing of his works since he had left Laguna Beach nearly ten years before. The Laguna art community celebrated his success with a potluck supper at the gallery while they reminisced about the early days when the association was just getting started.[98]

In late summer, Hinkle was accorded a one-man exhibition of forty-two paintings at the McCormick Gallery of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Included in the exhibition was one of his latest works, Blue Day on the Channel. The local newspaper reported that the artist had painted the oil-over-tempera work on a very chilly day in June, as rain was threatening. Not to be deterred by the inclement weather, Hinkle -- a true plein-air artist -- wrapped himself in a blanket while he worked outside on his terrace, which had a panoramic view of the harbor. In October, at the Twenty-Fourth Annual Exhibition of the California Art Club, the painting was awarded the first cash prize; it was described by Arthur Millier as a "light-filled canvas."[99] Finally, in November the same paintings that he had exhibited at Dalzell Hatfield were shown at the Los Angeles County Museum, accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Donald Bear.

Hinkle continued to actively participate in exhibitions and garner awards throughout the 1940s. In 1945 La Cumbre Peak was selected for inclusion in the Encyclopaedia Britannica's collection called Contemporary American Painting. Bear contributed the introduction and artist notes for the 116 artists who were included. Of Hinkle, who had become his colleague and friend, he wrote:

It is a fascinating experience to watch Clarence Hinkle weave colors together-deep tones and brilliant ones, interlaced with bold slashes of white. He lays on his pigments lavishly, his approach is sure and gradually there emerge shapes of trees, craggy rocks, depths of sky and water, into landscapes that unloose new horizons for the imagination. At no time does he worry over literal transcription-but in a manner all his own creates pictorial themes that aim straight at the emotional reactions of the onlooker.
 
Probably it is this technique of his -- apparently careless in his throwing on of hillocks of paint -- that results in an almost third-dimensional feeling in his picture-making, a technique that few artists would dare to imitate.[100]

Hinkle received one of his highest honors in the spring of 1945 at the Sixth Annual Exhibition of Artists of Los Angeles and Vicinity, where his painting Picknickers (p. 50) was awarded the museum purchase prize. Painted on a sunny afternoon near the beach in Santa Barbara, the painting is a whimsical self-portrait, the artist's idea of a relaxing afternoon picnic at the beach. The artist -- clearly napping -- is lying on his back with his feet propped up against a tree trunk, his hat pulled down to shade his eyes, a book open near his right hand. Another work, likely painted around the same time, shows just the picnic basket resting at the base of the trees, with a view through to the ocean (p. 86).[101] The following year Hinkle exhibited with Farwell Taylor and David A. Vaughan in the Rotunda Gallery of the historic City of Paris department store in San Francisco. Alfred Frankenstein, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, observed that Hinkle dominated the exhibition with such paintings as Johnny (p. 52) (which was reproduced on the cover of the gallery announcement) and his still life with fruit and blue jar (p. 53).[102] Blue Jar would be seen in Los Angeles at the 1947 Municipal Art Exhibition in the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, where it would win a second medal in oils; it was described by Alma May Cook as a "subtle and strong still life."[103] Hinkle would win first place at the same exhibition two years later, this time with Fall Landscape.[104]

 

The Last Decade: Accolades

That Hinkle continued to exhibit works and garner awards throughout his career is a testament to his talents and to his commitment to painting. In 1956 he said: "Am I still painting[?] I am sometimes asked. It might as well be, do I still see[?] For to see is a challenge and urge to paint the world about me -- which presents problems of how best to do it."[105] Hinkle worked consistently in multiple media -- oil, tempera, and watercolor. Occasionally he would use tempera as the ground for a work executed in oil. In February 1952 the Santa Barbara Museum of Art held a comprehensive retrospective exhibition of his work with over sixty paintings -- still life, landscape, and figure compositions -- in both oil and watercolor. Director Donald Bear praised the veteran artist effusively, writing that, despite the rapid changes in the art world, he had remained "true to his own vision" throughout his career:

Among the oils there are some that date back to the time when Clarence Hinkle was painting at Laguna Beach. These are brilliant and vigorous, powerfully painted by meshing the color into a ground of fresh gray and white. There are also later oils, landscapes done of the coastline and the country-side around Santa Barbara. These, too, though more quiet than the earlier pictures, have a dramatic quality and employ a forceful set of dynamics... Often in landscape painting Hinkle achieves a mastery of mood and a delicacy of color which so often comes through his realization of the atmospheric veil which so often clings to the countryside in this part of the world.[106]

Bear also commented positively on the artist's still lifes, noting that the small paintings, "sometimes of a single flower, other times, a handful of fruit,... have special appeal because of their simplicity and unaffected quality, coupled with the beauty of the subject matter in good, solid painting."[107]

Also in 1952, the Los Angeles Times included Hinkle in its Home Magazine feature on Southern California painters, citing him as one of the leaders, especially in the early days of the California Water Color Society.[108] In December, he was the only artist from the Santa Barbara area to be juried into the American Water Colors, Drawings and Prints exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[109] Three years later, in the spring of 1955, he was accorded the final retrospective exhibition to be held during his lifetime. Curated by his former student Phil Dike, the exhibition opened at the Contemporary Galleries of Scripps College on April 19. Forty-four works were selected by Dike, dating from the 1920s to the 1950s, many of them past award-winners. (See the Exhibition History in this volume for a detailed list of paintings.) Dike, now a professor of art at Scripps College and Claremont Graduate School, called his friend and teacher "one of California's most distinguished painters.... [who] has made a stimulating and vital contribution to the art of the area.... The Hinkle home and studio in Santa Barbara is a Mecca for students and painters, who have shared the unique fund of knowledge of this natural teacher, this painter whose life is devoted to his art." Millard Sheets, director of the art department at Scripps, gave the opening remarks.[110]

The exhibition received laudatory coverage in newspapers throughout Southern California-from such critics as Arthur Millier, Jarvis Barlow, and Henry Seldis. Seldis wrote: "Among his generation of California painters, Hinkle has been always a forward-looking and sometimes a controversial painter. Although he has never followed dominant contemporary trends, the veteran Santa Barbara artist, at 75, retains a true modernity and youthful zest which is truly remarkable."[111] Millier wrote that the exhibition honored an artist who had had a profound influence on painting in Southern California both as a painter and as a teacher, citing Millard Sheets, Phil Paradise, Rex Brandt, Barse Miller, and Phil Dike as artists currently on the national scene who were taught by him.[112] Dike further noted:

There is a unity of idea and a consistency of purpose in this exhibition which makes his early work compatible with his more recent paintings. Such change as has occurred is not one of style or ideal but of manner and method. The chief concentration of the artist is toward perfecting the total effect, so we find many of his same basic subjects expressed in a variety of moods and media.[113]

In April 1956 Millier wrote an article looking back on thirty years of art in Los Angeles. He talked about the role that Laguna Beach had played, especially for such early landscape painters as William Wendt and Gardner Symons. Hinkle, on the other hand, he described as one of Southern California's earliest modernists, artists who worked in "near isolation." He grouped Hinkle with Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Boris Deutsch, Peter Krasnow, and photographer Edward Weston: "They were symptomatic, for typical work of the present generation is much closer to theirs than to that of the landscape school."[114]

In February 1958 Hinkle was included in an exhibition on California painting held at Scripps College. Described as "an exuberant array" of work, the show of fifty-eight artists primarily focused on artists of the generation after Hinkle, many of whom had been influenced (or taught) by him. Both representational and abstract works were featured. The fact that Hinkle -- of all the artists who came to prominence in Southern California in the 1920s and 1930s -- was one of only a few to be included in the exhibition was a testament to his resilience as an artist of merit throughout his lifetime.[115] A few months later, Millier, in discussing the evolution of the California Watercolor School, cited Hinkle's influence as a teacher at Chouinard, where he "encouraged his students to experiment, to 'let go,' to try anything new or different."[116] It would be Millier's last article that featured the artist; that year Millier retired from his position as art critic for the Los Angeles Times.[117]

 

An Evaluation

In 1956, just four years before his death, Hinkle expressed the ongoing challenge of being an artist. He was analytical in his methodology, noting that each subject called for a different approach that had to be carefully thought out before he could begin. He would start with a drawing, sometimes working in tempera before finishing in oil. The final work would appear more as a sketch. For his quickly rendered plein-air paintings, he often painted into a wet white or gray ground, which he said allowed for rapid changes. Decisions also had to be made regarding which abstract patterns should be visible. Careful analysis of the intensity and source of light would determine the color chord of the work, whether it had a cool palette or a warm one. To him, "the play of the warm and cool colors gives life to a picture." He learned by studying the Old Masters, and he especially admired the works of Goya as examples of how realism could be painted powerfully and loosely, yet retain structure and pattern.[118]

This essentially was Hinkle's view of what a modern painter should be: an artist who could interpret a subject in a powerful, expressive, and individualistic manner. Indeed, the general consensus of critics during his career and in the years after his death was that his style was unique and modern. In 1955 Henry Seldis wrote of Hinkle's "continued fascination with the painting medium, with its infinite potentialities and its variety of technique. While his canvases often have the light and air of Impressionism, his brushstrokes are more expressionistic in tendency and his easily recognizable style is strictly a personal one."[119] It was only early in his career -- in the first two decades of the twentieth century -- that his style was grounded in the tenets of impressionism, which he had studied both in Europe and in the eastern United States. This is evident especially in early portraits of young women in dappled sunlight and in a few early landscapes. In the years before 1920, he began to experiment, exploring color and pattern as a compositional device, as in the remarkable and richly colorful figurative work An Oriental Arrangement, with its scintillating background of vertical stripes. This same experimentation with a striped background is seen in the portrait of his wife, Mabel, done around the time of their marriage in 1921.

It would be in his work of the mid- to late 1920s that Hinkle earned distinction as a modernist. Many of his small panel works -- which were done quickly en plein air -- are extraordinary for their strength, both in technique and in composition. Viewed up close, they manifest a patchwork of exuberant, gestural strokes of pigment, which give the work the appearance of pure abstraction. It is only as one moves back from the work that suddenly the jumble of strokes and colors coalesces to form an expressive interpretation of the scene. Hinkle clearly considered these expressive works to be modern, as evidenced by his inclusion of such works in Group of Eight exhibitions. Two of his most important larger works from the 1920s are Laguna Beach and Overlooking Laguna (pp. 2 and 56). In both he combines line with broad applications of pigment to create form, and he does not shy away from using black, something that many years earlier, John Twachtman had admonished him never to do. In 1996 Paul J. Karlstrom cited Laguna Beach as Hinkle's best work as a modernist, the painting gaining authority "from a superbly integrated architecture of color and ground, and a contagious delight in the calligraphic potentialities of line."[120]

From May 1930 to November 1931, Hinkle and his wife traveled in the United States and Europe. Shortly before their departure from California, he exhibited works at Ilsley Galleries in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Interviewed by Alma May Cook, the artist admitted to finding rapid changes in art styles "confusing," and he remarked that a painter should not be dissuaded from continuing to work in a manner that he feels to be true, yet at the same time he should be willing to experiment.[121] Motoring east on their way to New York City, they spent time in Taos, New Mexico, and Rockport, Massachusetts. Many paintings from this period -- especially the small study works -- reflect Hinkle's continued exploration of a gestural, abstract application of pigment. Yet, his large painting of Rockport (p. 11) owes more to traditional American impressionism in its color palette and technique. This return to impressionist ideas is also seen in his small plein-air studies done in France during his long sojourn in Europe.

By the time Hinkle moved to Santa Barbara in 1935, it became apparent that he had abandoned his gestural and calligraphic style of the 1920s. It was the height of the Depression, and for American art, the rise of regionalism and the American Scene. Patrons and critics demanded that artists turn away from European influences and focus on work that would support nationalism and the American spirit. So loud were the outcries against so-called modernism that museums found it necessary to have two juries for painting competitions, one modern and one conservative. Certainly Hinkle was well aware of this tendency. Indeed, two of his closest friends and best students from Chouinard -- Millard Sheets and Phil Dike -- were champions of California regionalism.

Once settled in Santa Barbara, Hinkle began painting landscapes that were more literal in interpretation. Perhaps this can be attributed not only to changes in the art world in general but also to a change in the artist's environment. In Laguna Beach, Hinkle had lived within the village, which was rapidly growing and modernizing. In 1929, when he looked out from his studio or from the bluff on Cliff Drive where the new Laguna Beach Art Association gallery had just opened, he saw essentially a pattern of geometric shapes and lines -- streets, houses, buildings, and cars -- all part of a bustling community. Once ensconced in his new home, however, high on a bluff in Montecito, he was surrounded by rugged, undeveloped land covered in trees, grasses, flowers, and shrubs. From the hilltop he beheld an expansive view of Santa Barbara and its harbor, with the Channel Islands beyond. In works that depict that panorama, the city and its harbor are delineated in abbreviated dashes and dabs of color, while the foreground that frames the view is more literally developed. Probably one of his most remarkable paintings of the vista is Cannas over the City, in which he painted a large "still life" of cannas and a blue-and-white jug that partially obscure the view of the harbor beyond. The work is a reflection of Hinkle's continued interest in creating modern and arresting compositions.

In describing his painting La Cumbre Peak (p. 48) in 1945, Hinkle provided insight into his views and methods:

Some artists are more deeply affected by Nature than others, and some are even more affected by art itself. For me the emotional realization of my work lies in the experimental and technical process of painting. First I must try to solve the visual and plastic problems of painting through the various contrasts and situations afforded by Nature. These resolve themselves into lines, planes, forms and spaces to be placed on canvas in warm and cool colors with opaque and transparent pigments. Added to this is the experimental use of different combinations of mediums with the particular inspiration they give. The difficulty is always to control these means with emotional accuracy. "La Cumbre Peak" gave me genuine pleasure through the problems which presented themselves while I was painting it.[122]

Stylistic changes are also evident in Hinkle's portraiture, most notably after about 1925. Again, it is only in his early portraits that the influence of American impressionism is clear, as in his 1914 Portrait (Mrs. F. W. Hollman, p. 18) and in Quiet Pose (p. 21) from 1918. But with the portrait of Gjura Stojana (p. 96), shown at the 1925 Pan-American Exhibition in Los Angeles, there is a clear departure from the impressionist ideal of bravura realism. In its expressive application of pigment in broad, fluent brushstrokes and in the limited color palette with intense contrasts, the portrait references Robert Henri. Henri extolled the idea of capturing the spirit of the subject, and with this portrait, Hinkle succeeded well. He continued with frank and honest portraiture into the 1930s and 1940s. In the portrait of writer Dillwyn Parrish (p. 40), he describes a thoughtful, pensive man with tablet and pen in hand. Another, unidentified portrait from the 1940s is of a young woman in a blue sweater, her hair tied up with a kerchief; perhaps it is covering bobby-pinned curls. Hinkle paints her sincerely and honestly. She is not a woman of the upper class, like Mrs. Hollman, but an ordinary woman pausing during her busy day to pose for the artist.

Determining stylistic changes in Hinkle's still-life paintings is difficult, since most of the works are not dated. Though always skillful and arresting, many show a conservative, almost formulaic approach to the subject. In discussing still life, he stated that objects were arranged for "their color, glazed surfaces, contrasts and textures," and the resulting arrangement presented "a problem to be seen in paint."[123] Perhaps the most skillfully composed are his large still lifes in which the elements are carefully arranged against a backdrop of curtains or blinds. These read almost like narratives, as he captures a moment in time. Outdoor Still Life (p. 61) shows an arrangement of apples and pomegranates on a table that is placed against the corner of the porch at his Laguna Beach home. One apple is on a plate, peeled and cut into quarters; the paring knife and a floral napkin lay nearby. More apples are in a bowl and in an open paper bag. It is as if the artist has just paused in what he was doing, stepped back, and taken a painted snapshot of the scene. Perhaps his wife was on the porch, peeling apples for a pie, and he asked her to step away so that he could capture the moment. In The Punch Bowl (p. 62), it is evident that preparations are underway for a party -- the punch bowl and glasses are empty, and on the table are lemons, a knife, and a juicer.

There are also late examples of still-life painting in which Hinkle was experimenting with color relationships, rendered in flat, opaque pigment. He made several of these using the same elements-a small table, a vase, a piece of drapery, flowers, or fruit. The primary change in each work is in his choice of colors. In The Red Table (p. 138), he studies the interaction of blue and red with a touch of yellow. In A Basket of Persimmons on a Chair (p. 64), it is blue, green, and brown.[124]

 

Memorial Tributes

In the spring of 1960 Hinkle was in discussion with James W. Foster, director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, about the museum hosting an exhibition of his work. Foster had approached the artist because he knew that the exhibition would be welcomed not only in Santa Barbara but also throughout California and the United States.[125] This attests to the continued esteem Hinkle enjoyed from the art community. He would be eighty in June. His death on July 20 did not deter the museum, and the exhibition went ahead as planned, but now as a memorial exhibition. Featuring thirty-seven of the artist's best works, spanning his career from 1900 to 1960, it opened just two months after his death.

In the small exhibition catalogue, Foster wrote: "Though his work communicates to all, he was truly an artist's artist, in whose canvases one follows his vital and tireless search for the essence of expression, right to his very last day."[126] Millard Sheets wrote a tribute to his teacher, colleague, and friend. Hinkle, he said, "searched continuously for new methods, new approaches and new attitudes to better express his feeling. He reveled in the success of a small, tender passage in a painting or in a total canvas if it rang true to his every-searching vision and great spirit."[127] A little more than two years later, in February 1963, the Laguna Beach Art Association hosted the same retrospective on the occasion of its forty-fifth anniversary celebration, noting that it was only fitting to show the work of the painter who had lived in Laguna Beach for many years and become a Life Member of the art association. Earlier tributes from Dike and Sheets were printed in the catalogue.[128]

In the years following Hinkle's death, the Laguna Beach Art Association continued to sell his work, much of which is held today in public and private collections throughout the United States. At the time of his death, interest in the early artists of California had waned, and many artists were dismissed as being unimportant to California art history. With the resurgence of research and scholarship about the period that began in the late 1970s, the appreciation of their contributions has been reaffirmed. Clarence Hinkle's works are a truly unique contribution and a reminder of the rich artistic heritage of the state in the first half of the twentieth century.

 

1. "Classes at Museum Offer Budding Artists Valuable Opportunity," Santa Barbara News-Press, December 3, 1944, p. C6.

2. The exact dates of Hinkle's tenure at the Chouinard School of Art are unknown. He began teaching at the school when it was founded in 1921. He continued to teach there after he moved to Laguna Beach in 1922, making once-a-week trips to Los Angeles. He did not teach during his long sojourn in the United States, Europe, and Canada from May 1930 to November 1931. The Los Angeles Times announced that he would be on the faculty at Chouinard for the fall 1931 session: "Chouinard Art School Opens Soon," Los Angeles Times, August 30, 1931, p. C3. It is presumed, therefore, that he suspended his teaching duties only after he moved to Santa Barbara in 1935. At its incorporation as a nonprofit organization in 1935, Chouinard School of Art changed its name to Chouinard Art Institute.

3. Herman Reuter, "Power Found in Hinkle's Paintings," Hollywood Citizen-News, May 7, 1938.

4. Arthur Millier, "Our Artists in Person, No. 38 -- Clarence K. Hinkle," Los Angeles Times, June 4, 1933. Noted artist Joseph Kleitsch (1882-1931) enjoyed a stellar reputation for his brilliant coloration and bravura application of paint during his years in California from 1920 until his death in 1931. Like Hinkle, Kleitsch lived in Laguna Beach.

5. Millier, "Our Artists in Person." Most of the details of Hinkle's early life come from the Millier article of 1933 and an article the following year by Reginald Poland (see the following note). See also the 1880 U.S. federal census record for Amos Hinkle at http://www.ancestry.com.

6. Reginald Poland, "Noted Paintings New Addition to Park Collection," The San Diego Union, July 31, 1934.

7. Unmarked clipping in Clarence Hinkle scrapbook, c. 1909, copy in archives of Laguna Art Museum. The article states that "Hinkle took first lessons in Muncie under Henry MacGinnis," and that Hinkle's friends in Muncie "are pleased at learning that he is rapidly becoming a prominent artist of unusual ability." It is likely that Hinkle may have taken instruction from MacGinnis on one of his many trips to Muncie, where he visited his aunt, Mrs. J. M. Maring (Grace Keiser Maring). MacGinnis was in Europe between 1900 and 1908, so Hinkle's contact with him was likely before he started his studies at the Crocker Art Gallery in 1898.

8. Scribner's Magazine 105, no. 5, May 1939, p. 4. Biographical notes on Hinkle, whose painting of Dillwyn Parrish, "Portrait of a Scenarist," is on the cover. "He painted a lot on camping trips in the Sierras"

9. Although most biographical notes on Hinkle state that he studied at the Mark Hopkins Institute, the actual name of the school was the California School of Design; it was founded by the San Francisco Art Association in 1874 as the San Francisco School of Design, and its name was changed to the California School of Design in 1893. Museum functions of the San Francisco Art Association operated under the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art.

10. Millier, "Our Artists in Person."

11. Ibid.

12. "California Artist Welcomed Home, Hinkle's Sketches Attract Attention," San Francisco Chronicle, June 8, 1913, p. 26.

13. A copy of the certificate is in the Hinkle scrapbook. The title of the certificate is "The William Emlen Cresson Prize Memorial Fund." It reads as follows: "This is to Certify that after honorable and successful study in the Schools of the Academy, a Travelling Scholarship for 2 years has been granted to Clarence K. Hinkle. This award has been made from the Fund created by the Wills of Emlen and Priscilla P. Cresson as a Memorial to their Deceased Son William Emlen Cresson, Academician, the income of which is to be applied by The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in sending pupils of said Corporation to Europe to study Art, and to pay their expenses for going and returning, and for maintenance and support while there. The said pupils to be subject to the rules and regulations relating thereto." The date of the award is May 31, 1906.

14. Annette Stott, ed., Dutch Utopia: American Artists in Holland, 1880-1914 (Savannah, Ga.: Telfair Books, 2009), 5.

15. Ibid., 216. The Twachtmans were on their honeymoon.

16. Henry J. Seldis, "Hinkle's Retrospective Exhibit Spans 30 Years of Excellent Art," Santa Barbara News-Press, April 24, 1955. Clipping in Hinkle scrapbook.

17. Stott, ed., Dutch Utopia, 6.

18. Robert Ehrlich, e-mail correspondence to Janet Blake, July 8, 2011: "Janet, here is the two-sided Hinkle that Johanna identified as Leiden. She said that Hinkle and Raphael were friends and that they painted together in Holland."

19. Stott, ed., Dutch Utopia, 13, 184, 186.

20. Unmarked clipping in Clarence Hinkle scrapbook, c. 1909, copy in archives of Laguna Art Museum.

21. Seldis, "Hinkle's Retrospective." Hinkle told Seldis that he was impressed by the works of Chardin, Fragonard, and Watteau. Although some sources state that Hinkle attended the Académie Colarossi in Paris, he never told either Arthur Millier or Henry Seldis that he did. There is only one source on the Internet that lists Hinkle as a notable graduate of the Académie Colarossi from the United States. However, its source is Wikipedia, and the current Wikipedia entry does not list Hinkle. According to art historian Phil Kovinick, the records for the Académie Colarossi were destroyed in a fire in the 1930s. Phil Kovinick, phone conversation with the author, April 10, 2012. See http://www.tfsimon.com/academie-colarossi-paris.htm.

22. Antony Anderson, "Of Art and Artists," Los Angeles Times, June 3, 1917, sec. 3, p. 24.

23. Copy of announcement card for National Academy of Design exhibition in Hinkle scrapbook. The Cooper Union prize award is mentioned in "Art Notes," Sacramento Bee, June 14, 1913. It is also listed on the brochure for the June exhibition at Helgesen Galleries. Copy in Hinkle scrapbook.

24. Ibid. Mention is made about Hinkle visiting his mother. The website http://www.ancestry.com has a vital statistic death record from the Sacramento Bee dated January 5, 1889, listing Amos Hinkle's date of death as January 4, 1889. Published interviews with Hinkle make no mention of the fact that his father had died when the artist was only eight.

25. Grace Armistead Doyle, "California Artists' Work," San Francisco Post, May 31, 1913, announces his forthcoming exhibition at Helgesen Galleries.

26. "California Artist Welcomed Home."

27. Porter Garnett, "Art Notes," San Francisco Call, June 15, 1913.

28. San Francisco Chronicle, June 8, 1913, p. 26.

29. "California Club Honors Artist," San Francisco Chronicle, December 7, 1913, p. 21. The purchase of the painting by the California Club is also mentioned by Michael Williams in "California Club Gives Practical Bid for Favor of Art Exhibitors," San Francisco Examiner, December 21, 1913. Williams identifies the painting as "Italian Girl." Other clippings identify the title as "Head of an Italian Child" and "An Italian Child's Head." Hinkle scrapbook.

30. "California Club Honors Artist."

31. Michael Williams, "News and Notes of the Art World," San Francisco Sunday Examiner, c. 1914. Clipping in scrapbook, not dated. It is unfortunate that not much work from this period in Hinkle's career is extant.

32. "Fields of Poppies Adorn Galleries," San Francisco Chronicle, July 12, 1914. The portrait is reproduced with the subject identified.

33. Art in California (San Francisco: R. L. Bernier, 1916; repr., Irvine, Calif.: Westphal Publishing, 1988), pl. 15.

34. Christian Brinton, "American Painting of the Panama-Pacific Exposition," The International Studio 56 (August 1915): xxxiii.

35. Los Angeles Times, November 19, 1916, pt. 3, p. 21.

36. Michael Williams, "City to Become Center of Art," San Francisco Chronicle, February 8, 1916.

37. Clipping in scrapbook with handwritten notation, "San Francisco Chronicle 1917." The article states that Redmond, Hansen, and Hinkle are showing examples of their work in the gallery "at No. 341 Sutter street." Helgesen Galleries was at 345 Sutter Street.

38. Antony Anderson, "Of Art and Artists," Los Angeles Times, June 3, 1917, sec. 3, p. 24.

39. Mary Jarrett, The Otis Story of Otis Art Institute since 1918 (Los Angeles: Alumni Association of Otis Art Institute, 1975), 7.

40. Antony Anderson, "Of Art and Artists," Los Angeles Times, June 3, 1917. On his 1918 draft registration card, Hinkle listed his address as 303 South Lake, Los Angeles. This address is seven-tenths of a mile from the studio address on 6th Street. The school, his studio, and his home were all within walking distance, even though Los Angeles had excellent streetcar transportation. Copy of draft registration card found on http://www.ancestry.com.

41. Anna Cora Winchell, "Artists and Their Work," San Francisco Chronicle, March 24, 1918.

42. A selected list of exhibitions for Clarence Hinkle can be found in this volume. The compilation was made from newspaper and magazine articles, the website of the California Art Club, various catalogues, and other publications, including Nancy Dustin Wall Moure's Publications in Southern California Art, vols. 1-3 (Glendale, Calif.: Dustin Publications, 1984).

43. According to a Canadian border-crossing record dated January 21, 1929, Mabel Bain immigrated to Los Angeles on November 19, 1917. According to a birth record, Mabel Bain was born to Donald Bain, a carpenter, and Mary McKenzie (or, McKensie) Bain on March 21, 1886, in Toronto. However, the 1901 Canadian census records list her birthday as March 3, 1886. In succeeding years, Mabel would provide varying information about her age. The Canadian border-crossing record dated January 21, 1921, shows her age as thirty, yet in the 1920 United States census, her age is shown as twenty-seven. When she and Clarence Hinkle went to Europe in 1931, their ages were listed as fifty-one and forty-one respectively on the passenger manifest of the ship Belgenland. The California Death Index lists her birth date as June 4, 1889, whereas the Social Security Death Index lists her birth date as June 22, 1886. All records obtained from http://www.ancestry.com.

44. The exact date of their marriage is listed on the ship manifest of the Belgenland. Mabel Hinkle cites citizenship through naturalization by marriage on June 8, 1921. The date of their marriage is also listed in the biographical notes for Clarence Hinkle in the National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, vol. 49 (New York: James T. White & Co., 1966), 387.

45. Antony Anderson, "Of Art and Artists," Los Angeles Times, October 9, 1921. Copy in Hinkle scrapbook. Anderson erroneously refers to the exhibition as the Eighth Annual Exhibition. However, paintings identified in the article are from the Twelfth Annual, among them no. 83, The Lotus Flower, and no. 84, Little Mother, both by Donna Schuster, and no. 105, Her Finishing Touches, by Karl Yens. The Eighth Annual Exhibition of the California Art Club was held October 4­17, 1917.

46. Robert Perine, Chouinard, An Art Vision Betrayed: The Story of the Chouinard Art Institute 1921-1972 (Encinitas, Calif.: Artra Publishing, 1985), 16-19.

47. "This and That," Laguna Life, December 16, 1921, p. 4, col. 2: "An interesting group of paintings by Clarence K. Hinkle was shown last Sunday afternoon at the Chouinard School of Art, 2606 West Eighth Street, Los Angeles. This is the first of a series of at home exhibitions to be held at the school. These exhibitions are open to all interested, and will hereafter occur on the first Sunday of each month during the school year."

48. "Some Small Pictures," Laguna Life, December 16, 1921, p. 8, col. 3.

49. Antony Anderson, "Of Art and Artists," Los Angeles Times, January 29, 1922, pt. 3, p. 23. Anderson referred to their December 1921 exhibition at the Friday Morning Club but noted that they were "not yet amalgamated into a solid and inseparable group. They had no local habitation, no name. Now they have even a seal, a clever design of Edouard Vysekal, a tree with eight limbs (or arms), each blossoming into a five-petaled hand holding [a] brush."

50. Ibid. The Group of Eight would continue to exhibit together off and on during the 1920s. Their most important exhibition was held at the Los Angeles Museum in Exposition Park, July 20-August 28, 1927, for which a small catalogue was published.

51. Laguna Life, April 7, 1922, p. 12, col. 3: "C. K. Hinkle representing the Chouinard School of Art, accompanied by Mrs. Hinkle, was here for several days this week, arranging for his classes in outdoor painting, which will start in July."

52. "News Notes of Arch Beach," Laguna Life, June 23, 1922, p. 15, col. 2.

53. Fern Burford, South Coast News, March 1, 1929; and Marian Munson Forrest, "In the Studios," Laguna Beach Life, April 2, 1926, p. 4, col. 6. Forrest tried to visit him that day but he "was not at home and I wandered through his wild tangle of garden and up the steps that lead to his home. The view well repaid me for the extra steps. But no artist or any human could be found on the place. Evidently on a sketching tour." The address of the Hinkle residence was 184 Nyes Place.

54. Antony Anderson, "Points of View on American Show," Los Angeles Times, undated clipping in Hinkle scrapbook. See also Antony Anderson, "Our Own American Painters at Pan-American," Los Angeles Times, January 3, 1926.

55. Henri's work was well known in California. He exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art in May 1914 and remained in California for the summer, painting portraits in La Jolla and exhibiting them in September. He exhibited at both the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego. Noted patron and philanthropist William Preston Harrison championed Henri's work, entertaining the artist and his wife at a dinner party in Los Angeles in September 1922: Virginia Woods, "Society," Los Angeles Times, September 15, 1922, pt. II, p. 8. It was also at Harrison's entreaty that Henri exhibited at the Pan-American Exhibition. In a letter to the Los Angeles Times, Harrison stated that Henri, Gari Melchers, Childe Hassam, Frederick Frieseke, George Luks, Gifford Beal, and Gardner Symons sent work as a personal courtesy to him: William Preston Harrison, "The Balch Prize and the Pan American," Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1925, p. C39. Henri visited Otis Art Institute in March 1925, and it is likely that Hinkle may have also met him around that time: "Master Portrait Painter Vacations in Southland," Los Angeles Times, March 25, 1925, p. 8. There is a photograph of Henri with Roscoe Shrader and Edouard Vysekal, and the accompanying caption states that the artist had visited "yesterday." The first definitive book on Henri was written by Nathaniel Pousette-Dart and published in 1923.

56. Stanton Macdonald-Wright, "An Open Letter from a Modernist," Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1925, p. 35. Other members included artists who, by today's standards, are certainly not considered modern, among them Edgar Payne, Julia Bracken Wendt, and Karl Yens.

57. Antony Anderson, "Modern Art Workers Hold Unusual Show," Los Angeles Times, March 14, 1926, p. 37.

58. "Laguna Beach Artists Plan New Building," Long Beach Press-Telegram, December 31, 1926. In the early years of the art association, the artists exhibited their works in a one-room board-and-batten building on the grounds of the Laguna Beach Hotel. They quickly realized that they needed a larger, more permanent, and preferably fireproof building. Howard Heisler sold the property to the association for $4,000 and immediately forgave $2,000 as a gift. Throughout the 1920s, the artists worked tirelessly to raise money for the project.

59. "All Laguna Backs Art Gallery Drive," Laguna Beach Life, October 21, 1927.

60. Minute books of the Laguna Beach Art Association, July 12, 1927. Copies in archives of Laguna Art Museum. "Artists Colony is Praised for Helping City," Laguna Beach Life, October 21, 1927; and "Artists Exhibit Fine Paintings to Help Fund," clipping not dated, same page in Hinkle scrapbook.

61. Minute books of the Laguna Beach Art Association, September 23, 1928.

62. Anna H. [sic] Hills, "Laguna Artists Win 3 Prizes in San Diego Show," undated clipping in Hinkle scrapbook, probably from June or July 1928. Other Laguna artists winning awards were Elanor Colburn for her figure painting Primitive Mother (Laguna Art Museum Collection, Gift of Ruth Colburn Peabody, 1976.001); Ruth Peabody for her watercolor The Pet Cockerel; John Hubbard Rich, honorable mention for Rosita; and Karl Yens, honorable mention for his watercolor Jewels of Nature.

63. Hazel Boyer Braun, "Local Exhibitions," The (San Diego) Evening Tribune, March 3, 1928. The exhibition of the Bentley Collection traveled to several U.S. cities. See the Exhibition History in this volume.

64. Antony Anderson, "Life and the Arts," South Coast News, March 29, 1929.

65. Fern Burford, South Coast News, March 1, 1929.

66. Records concerning their active lifestyle suggest that they were comfortable financially. Few records of sales of Hinkle's work or of dealer representation exist (occasional works were shown at Dalzell Hatfield, plus one more extensive showing in 1944). The Hinkles spent over a year traveling in the United States, Europe, and Canada between June 1930 and November 1931. In addition, Robert Perine states in his book on the Chouinard Art Institute that Hinkle had a "moneyed wife," although there is no citation for this fact. Perine, Chouinard, an Art Vision Betrayed, 50.

67. South Coast News, November 1 and 29, 1929.

68. Written on the slide image of a painting of the hammock is "Our camp at Palm Springs -- hammock." The Hinkle estate had 572 slides of paintings, many with notations, probably written by Mabel Hinkle. (There are notes that relate to the memorial exhibitions for Hinkle.) The notations provide dates and additional information that have been an invaluable resource in research. Gary Breitweiser of Santa Barbara loaned the slides to me, which were scanned by my intern, Amanda deLancellotti. The notations were recorded with assistance from the museum's assistant librarian and archivist Lindy Narver.

69. Arthur Millier, "Southern California Art, Local Work Seen at Its Best in Tenth Annual Painters' and Sculptors' Exhibition," Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1929, pt. 3, p. 9. See the Exhibition History in this volume.

70. "Clarence Hinkles Will Go to Europe Soon," South Coast News, May 16, 1930, p. 3, col. 3. Krauth moved to Southern California in the 1920s. The Krauths also had residences in 29 Palms, so one can assume that Clarence and Mabel Hinkle developed a close friendship with the couple when they would visit the area. There are several estate slides of paintings done in Rockport, Massachusetts, two of which are dated 1930.

71. Hinkle was quickly notified about her death. His telegram was read at the June 19 board meeting. Copies in archives of Laguna Art Museum.

72. "Artists Leave as Artists Return," South Coast News, July 3, 1931, p. 24, col. 2. Mr. and Mrs. Krauth reported to the paper that the Hinkles would arrive in New York in September and visit family in Canada (Mabel's family) before motoring home to Laguna Beach. See also New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, ship name Belgenland, List of United States Citizens, accessed on http://www.ancestry.com. Mabel Hinkle cites citizenship through marriage on June 8, 1921.

73. "Chouinard Art School Opens Soon," Los Angeles Times, August 30, 1931, p. C3. The article mentions that Dike and Hinkle had just returned from Europe. Hinkle had, in fact, not yet arrived home.

74. Arthur Millier, "Brush Strokes," Los Angeles Times, January 24, 1932, p. B14.

75. Millier, "Our Artists in Person"; "Hinkle Praised," South Coast News, June 16, 1933, p. 11, col. 3.

76. "Mr. and Mrs. CK Hinkle Home from Taos," South Coast News, November 3, 1933, p. 13, col. 1. See also "Now in Taos," South Coast News, June 30, 1933, p. 11, col. 4; "From Taos," South Coast News, July 14, 1933, p. 10, col. 6; "Lease is Taken on Hinkle Home," South Coast News, July 28, 1933, p. 11, col. 5; and "Hinkles Honored at Dinner Party," South Coast News, November 3, 1933, p. 3, col. 2.

77. Unidentified clipping in Hinkle scrapbook, reproduction of the painting identified as "Still Life" and "Honorable Mention, Pasadena 1930." Also clipping of review by Arthur Millier, Los Angeles Times, January 26, 1930, which mentions the award with the title as "The Breakfast Table."

78. Arthur Millier, "State Painters Compete," Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1930. In 1936 Hinkle's mother's hometown of Muncie, Indiana, announced receipt of the painting, which had been touring with the exhibition Painting & Sculpture from 16 American Cities. The artist gave the painting in honor of his late aunt, Grace Keiser Maring, who had bequeathed $25,000 to the city of Muncie for its public library. The Grace Keiser Maring branch was dedicated in 1930. The painting was hung in the branch with much fanfare and laudatory press coverage. The library graciously loaned the work to this exhibition. Undated clipping in Hinkle scrapbook, "Painting Given to the Library, Oil by C. Keiser Hinkle Gift to Maring Branch." The article states that Hinkle was residing on 2020 Avecapo [sic] in Santa Barbara, which is where Hinkle was living from the summer of 1935 until the spring of 1937. Grace Keiser Maring (née Clara Grace Keiser) was the younger sister (by ten years) of Hinkle's mother, Roberta. Mrs. Maring died October 10, 1926. Beach Grove Cemetery records. See also "Maring Branch 10 Years Old," October 17, 1940. Clipping in Hinkle scrapbook, newspaper not identified.

79. Reginald Poland, "Noted Paintings New Addition to Park Collection," The San Diego Union, July 31, 1934. See also "C. K. Hinkle Sells Work," South Coast News, August 24, 1934, p. 21, col. 4; "San Diego Buys Work by Hinkle, Colorist: Dillwyn Parrish," Art Digest 9 (1934): 14; and Scribner's Magazine, vol. 105, no. 5, May 1939, cover, Dillwyn Parrish, "Portrait of a Scenarist." A brief biography of Hinkle appears on p. 4. The painting was also reproduced in Art Digest, October 1, 1934. Writer Dillwyn Parrish and his young wife, actress Gigi Parrish, were living in Laguna Beach. Gigi posed in the nude for Hinkle. One such work is Idling, exhibited at the Thirteenth Annual Painting and Sculpture Exhibition, Los Angeles Museum, Exposition Park, and reproduced in the Los Angeles Times, May 8, 1932, p. B18. There is also an untitled painting that is identified as Gigi. Dillwyn went to Hinkle's studio one morning to tell him that Gigi would not be coming because she was ill, and Hinkle persuaded Dillwyn to pose instead. Poland erroneously reported that Gigi Parrish was Dillwyn's sister. While living in Laguna Beach, the Parrishes' marriage was rocky, and Dillwyn fell in love with a neighbor, who he married after he and Gigi divorced. Information from Wikipedia entries for both Gigi and Dillwyn Parrish. The painting of Dillwyn Parrish was deaccessioned and later sold to Robert Veloz by Butterfields on June 11, 1997.

80. Nellie Strong Capron, "World of Art," South Coast News, July 16, 1935, p. 4, col. 3.

81. Nellie Strong Capron, "World of Art," South Coast News, September 6, 1935, p. 6, col. 1. The fact that the Hinkles had no children contributes to the lack of detailed biographical notes about them.

82. While their house in Montecito was being built, the Hinkles lived at either 2020 Anacapa Street or 2020 Green Lane, a block away. The 1936 Santa Barbara City Directory lists their address as Anacapa, whereas a note on the slide image of the painting Girl Sweeping states that the house is at 2020 Green Lane. This is also noted on the back of the painting.

83. "Society Notes," "Visit Santa Barbara," South Coast News, April 6, 1937, p. 3, col. 5. The Hinkles received Mr. and Mrs. William F. Pitts. Millicent Pitts was curator of the Laguna Beach Art Association Gallery and hoped to bring back one of Hinkle's paintings for exhibition. The Pitts visited again in May. "Social Events of the Week in & About Laguna," "Entertained at Santa Barbara," South Coast News, May 18, 1937, p. 3, col. 3.

84. Martin A. Petersen, "Colin Campbell Cooper," in Plein Air Painters of California: The North, ed. Ruth Lilly Westphal (Irvine, Calif.: Westphal Publishing, 1986), 62.

85. H. L. Dungan, "Winners Exhibit in Gallery," Oakland Tribune, September 5, 1937. Mention of the award with a reproduction of the painting is in the catalogue for the Oakland Art Gallery's Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings, March 6 to April 3, 1938. Copy in Hinkle scrapbook.

86. Ibid. Dungan did not write favorably about Hinkle's figural works: "And I like Hinkle's mountains, equally well, viewed from across the gallery. They are amazing examples of what a trained man can do well with paint. Equally amazing are his paintings of the human beings, as examples of what a good artist should not do. But to paint a Hinkle landscape ought to be enough for any one man." The article was pasted in Hinkle's scrapbook with the third sentence, critical of the figural works, cut out.

87. Arthur Millier, "Brush Strokes," Los Angeles Times, November 28, 1937, p. C9. Copy in Hinkle scrapbook. Laguna Beach has consistently been dated 1929; however, the date noted on the estate slide image is 1926­27.

88. Margaret Ely Webb, "Artist Studies Aspects of California Sunshine," Santa Barbara News-Press, December 5, 1937. Clipping in Hinkle scrapbook.

89. "California Art Club Awards Announced, First Honor for Portraits," Los Angeles Examiner, December 1, 1938; and "Prize Paintings," Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express, December 3, 1938. Both papers reproduced the painting. It was also Hinkle's entry in the 1940 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco and was reproduced in the catalogue. See the Exhibition History in this volume.

90. Paul Tanner, "Muskavitch Bestowed Renewed 'Life' on Many Crocker Gallery Pictures," Sacramento Union, October 1, 1939.

91. "Museum of Art Officially Incorporated with Early Opening Due," Santa Barbara News-Press, December 29, 1939, p. 7. The article was accompanied by a photograph of the officers and directors.

92. Donald Jeffries Bear (1905­1952) served as director for twelve years, until his untimely death at age forty-seven on March 16, 1952. He wrote numerous essays, newspaper articles, and catalogues, lectured, served on juries, and painted as well.

93. Donald J. Bear, "Clarence Hinkle Is First 'Soloist' at Art Museum," Santa Barbara News-Press, October 12, 1941.

94. "Unique 'Preview' Gallery Will Be Featured at Museum of Art Here," probably Santa Barbara News-Press, marked in ink 1943, clipping in Hinkle scrapbook.

95. It is interesting to note that Hinkle exhibited one of his own works in the preview gallery in May 1944.

96. Verne Linderman, "Is It Art, or Is It Fun? Adult Students at Santa Barbara Museum Find It IS Both," Santa Barbara News-Press, October 31, 1943.

97. Kenneth Ross, "About Art and Artists," Pasadena Star-News, March 11, 1944. This is the first mention of a commercial gallery showing of his work, although the Laguna Beach Art Association functioned as a sales gallery for its artist members through the late 1960s. La Cumbre Peak, located in the Santa Ynez Mountains north of Santa Barbara, is the highest mountain peak (3,995 feet) near the city.

98. "Clarence Hinkle Paintings Hang at Art Gallery," South Coast News, June 13, 1944, p. 2, col. 2.

99. "Prize Winning Oil Paintings," Los Angeles Herald-Express, October 13, 1944. The painting is reproduced with a caption stating that it took the first cash prize in oil paintings at the California Art Club exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum.

100. Grace Pagano, ed., with an introduction by Donald Bear, Contemporary American Painting: The Encyclopaedia Britannica Collection (New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, 1945), entry no. 54, Clarence Hinkle, not paginated.

101. The painting was deaccessioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and sold at a Sotheby's auction in November 1977. Note from Sotheby Parke Bernet auction catalogue, Sale 217, November 8, 1977, Lot 267. "Mrs. Hinkle states it was painted about 1944. It is supposed to be Clarence Hinkle and what he imagined would have been a relaxing afternoon with his picnic basket . . . location of painting is Santa Barbara near the beach." Letter from Vance E. Kondon to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 7, 1970.

102. Alfred Frankenstein, "At City of Paris," San Francisco Chronicle, May 26, 1946. David Vaughan (1890-1975) had lived in Laguna Beach from 1939 to 1946 when he moved to Costa Mesa. He had been given a one-man exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 1945, where it is likely Hinkle met him. Farwell Taylor (1905-1970) lived in the Bay Area from about 1930 until his death. Information accessed from the website http://www.askart.com.

103. Alma May Cook, "L.A. Art Exhibit Tomorrow," Los Angeles Herald-Express, October 18, 1947.

104. Santa Barbara News-Press, October 23, 1949. Newspaper clipping with reproduction of painting with caption, found in Hinkle scrapbook.

105. "Santa Barbara Artists at Work, Clarence Hinkle -- To See Is a Challenge to Paint,'" Santa Barbara News-Press, January 1, 1956.

106. Donald Bear, "Large Hinkle One-Man Show Vigorous, Varied," Santa Barbara News-Press, February 3, 1952. This would be Bear's last article about Hinkle. He died one month later.

107. Ibid.

108. "'Bold Brush . . . Rhythmic Form,'" Los Angeles Times, August 3, 1952, pp. H4, H26. See also Virginia Stewart, "Our Contribution to American Art," Los Angeles Times Home Magazine, August 3, 1952, pp. H8, H26. Reproduction of Hinkle's Spring on the Kern with caption noting that Hinkle was "one of the deans of our California painters, noted for still lifes, landscapes and color."

109. "Hinkle Work in Metropolitan Museum Show," Santa Barbara News-Press, November 2, 1952.

110. Phil Dike, "Foreword," A Retrospective Exhibition of Clarence Hinkle (Claremont, Calif.: Scripps College, 1955), exh. cat., not paginated. Dike's admiration for Hinkle never wavered. Twenty years later he called him "the best teacher I ever had . . . . one of the greatest artists California has ever produced." Kathy Baugh, "Capturing the Essence of a Fleeting Image, Phil Dike's 50-Year Love Affair with Art," Orange County Illustrated, April 1977, p. 31.

111. Seldis, "Hinkle's Retrospective." The exhibition was also reviewed by Arthur Millier, "Clarence Hinkle Works Shown," Los Angeles Times, May 1, 1955, pt. IV, p. 7; and Jarvis Barlow, "Art Matters," Pasadena (Calif.) Independent, April 24, 1955.

112. Millier, "Clarence Hinkle Works Shown."

113. Dike, "Foreword," A Retrospective.

114. Arthur Millier, "Critic Looks Back on 30 Years of Art in L.A.," Los Angeles Times, April 1, 1956.

115. "Exuberant Show at Claremont," Los Angeles Times, February 2, 1958, p. E5. The article lists all fifty-eight artists, stating, "The virtuosity and originality of the growing ranks of California painters are displayed in the exhibition."

116. Arthur Millier, "California Watercolorists," Los Angeles Times, May 11, 1958, p. L23.

117. "Arthur Millier, Artist, Ex-Times Critic, Dies at 81," Los Angeles Times, March 31, 1975, pt. 3, p. E9. The obituary stated that when he retired from the Times in 1958, he moved to San Luis Obispo and continued his career as an artist. Millier was especially known as an etcher. He died on Sunday, March 30, 1975.

118. "Santa Barbara Artists at Work, Clarence Hinkle." Hinkle was quoted as follows: "Goya's frescoes are almost a 'must' for anyone who wants to see realism painted and not lose its structure and pattern, painted so loosely yet powerfully."

119. Seldis, "Hinkle's Retrospective."

120. Paul J. Karlstrom, ed., On the Edge of America: California Modernist Art, 1900­1950 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 166. Karlstrom considers Hinkle to have been one of the most influential modernists of the 1920s and 1930s, especially because of his teaching at the Chouinard School of Art.

121. "Art World," Alma May Cook, May 1930, unidentified clipping (probably Los Angeles Herald-Examiner), Hinkle scrapbook. The exhibition at Ilsley covered several years of work. Cook wrote: "From the early brilliant color of his paintings in the first gallery, through his successive experiments in grays and the juxtaposition of color as well as light and shade, to his more recent paintings, with broad handling working out the same problems that the impressionists attack with dots and dashes, this exhibition is fascinating and decidedly worth while."

122. Hinkle in Pagano, ed., Contemporary American Painting (1945), text accompanying plate 54, not paginated.

123. Clarence Hinkle in Grace Pagano, ed., with an introduction by Donald Bear, The Encyclopaedia Britannica Collection of Contemporary American Painting, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1946), text accompanying plate 57, not paginated.

124. Notations on slides 75, 79, 212, 214, 216, 218, 219, and 333 as "color study." Slides from the Hinkle estate, digital copies in archives of Laguna Art Museum.

125. James W. Foster, Jr., foreword to Clarence Hinkle, 1880­1960, a Memorial Exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, September 20 to October 16, 1960.

126. Ibid.

127. Millard Sheets, "A Tribute," in Clarence Hinkle, 1880­1960.

128. Millard Sheets/Phil Dike, "A Tribute," in 45th Anniversary Exhibit, Laguna Beach Art Association: Clarence Hinkle, A Memorial Exhibit, February 1963. The tribute by Sheets was from the 1960 retrospective in Santa Barbara. The tribute by Dike was taken verbatim from the catalogue of the 1955 retrospective at Scripps. Dike and Sheets never wavered in their admiration and respect for Hinkle. In 1982 they penned short comments in Gene Crain's copy of Plein Air Painters of California: The Southland, edited and published by Ruth Westphal. Dike wrote, "One day his work will receive the respect it deserves."

 

About the author

Janet Blake is Curator of Collections at the Laguna Art Museum.

 

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The above text was reprinted in Resource Library on June 23, 2012 with permission of the Laguna Art Museum, which was granted to TFAO on June 20, 2012.

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Marni Farmer, Director of Communications, Laguna Art Museum for her help concerning permissions for reprinting the above text.

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