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Drawing from Nature: Early Northern California Landscapes
The work of over a dozen talented landscape painters from the last hundred years glows in an art and history exhibit organized by the Grace Hudson Museum. Running through January 23, 2000, "Drawing from Nature: Early Northern California Landscapes" features the work of artists such as Giuseppe Leone Cadenasso, Percy Gray, Lorenzo Latimer, Mary DeNeale Morgan, Virgil Williams and Theodore Wores, and charts the interconnections between these artists. (left: front cover of exhibition brochure with photograph of Raymond Yelland's landscape class: School of Design (Hopkins Art Institute), c. 1895, courtesy of the California Historical Society (FN-23522)
Overarching all is the beauty of Northern California lands at the turn of the last century.
Exhibited paintings and sketches come from both private collectors and institutions such as the Hearst Gallery at St. Mary's College in Moraga and the California Historical Society in San Francisco. Many of the chosen works have never before been on public display. Rounding out the show are historic photos, manuscripts and memorabilia.
Artists in the new exhibit share a link with the organizing Museum's namesake, Grace Carpenter Hudson. Most were either her fellow students or her art instructors at the California School of Design.
Exposure to art training in the San Francisco Bay Area, either as teacher or student, proved a defining point in the professional lives of many of the artists featured in the show. By the outset of the 1870's, artists flocked to San Francisco, the "Paris of the West," attracted by the area's beautiful scenery and gentle climate, as well as the generous patronage of San Francisco's nouveau riche. As early as 1871, a group of these artists had created a society to bring together "all who have any desire to encourage the progress of fine arts," the San Francisco Art Association. The all-male Bohemian Club, with its similar goal of stimulating and improving cultural life, was formed the following year. Both organizations became the focus of the city's artistic and literary community. (left: Grace Carpenter Hudson, Mendocino Streamside, n.d., collection of the Grace Hudson Museum)
One of tire San Francisco Art Association's principal aims was the founding of an art school, a goal realized with the establishment of the California School of Design in 1874, the first art school west of the Mississippi. One of its early students was Grace Carpenter Hudson, from the rural countryside of California's Mendocino County, who attended from 1880-1884. At that time, the School of Design was the only art school known in the United States or Europe to offer a landscape class in which teachers actually took their students outside to sketch, rather than drawing from already existing work or from memory. Advertisements for the School emphasized its instruction in "drawing from nature."
While Grace Carpenter went on to achieve fame as a painter of American Indian portraits, many of her School of Design teachers, fellow classmates and later colleagues became well-known landscape artists. "Drawing from Nature" celebrates their artistic achievements. It also honors their vision of beautiful Northem California, from Lorenzo Palmer Latimer's stately redwoods to Manuel Valencia's panoramic view of the Napa River, to the monumental majesty of Christian Jorgensen's Yosemite pass. (right: Manuel Valencia, The Alameda Marshes and Oakland Estuary, c. 1888, collection of the Grace Hudson Museum)
This exhibit is made possible, in part, by the California Arts Council, a state agency, the Sun House Guild, and the Christopher Queen Galleries in Duncans Mills.
Grace Hudson Museum is located at 431 South Main Street, Ukiah, CA. The Museum is a division of the City of Ukiah's Department of Community Services. Hours and fees are available through the museum's website. (left: Winter view of Grace Hudson Museum. Photo © 1999 Grace Hudson Museum.)
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