Orange County Museum of Art

Newport Beach, CA



California Paintings 1910-1940: Selections from Mills College Art Museum

October 21 - December 31, 2000


"California Paintings 1910-1940" was organized by Adjunct Curator Ann Harlow from the collection of Mills College Art Museum in Oakland. The exhibition includes many paintings that have been shown rarely, if at all, in recent decades. Among them are canvases by many acclaimed California Impressionists, including Maurice Braun (1877-1941), Anne Millay Bremer (1868-1923), Clark Hobart (1868-1948), Jules Eugene Pages (1867-1946), Joseph Raphael (1869-1950), Granville Redmond (1871-1935), Matteo Sandona (1881-1964) and William Wendt (1865-1946). (left: Anne Bremer, Ravenlocks, c. 1920, oil on canvas, 30 1/2 x 25 inches, Mills College Art Museum, Estate of Albert M. Bender)

Mills College Art Gallery, as it was called until recently, opened in 1925. For ten years it was the only museum in Northern California collecting the work of living artists. More than half of the works in the exhibition were acquired in the first two years of the museum's existence, either donated by prominent Bay Area art patron Albert M. Bender or by the artists at his request. (left: Helen Forbes, Julia, Paiute Indian, c. 1930)

In 1925 Impressionism, as it has been broadly defined in American art, was the mode favored by most California artists. They typically painted outdoors ("en plein air"), capturing views of the state's coastline, hills and mountains in bold brush strokes and blight or light colors suggestive of sunshine and optimism. But Tonalism, with its much more subdued colors and somber mood, was still an important force, especially in Northern California. The exhibition includes important Tonalist works by Giuseppe Leone Cadenasso (1854-1918), Xavier Timoteo Martinez (1869-1943), Gottardo Fidele Piazzoni (1872-1945) and Will Sparks (1862-1937). The simplified forms of mural painting are reflected in canvases by Rowena Fischer Meeks Abdy (1887-1945), Jessie Arms Botke (1883-1971), Ray Boynton (1883-1951), Maynard Dixon, (1875-1946), Florence Lundborg (1871-1949) and others.

Works reflecting the Regionalist tendencies of the 1930s include watercolors by Claire McCarthy Falkenstein (1908-1997), Dong Kingman (1911-2000) and George Booth Post (1906-1997), as well as canvases by Albert Barrows (1893-1958), Katharyn Hole (1898-1985) and Elinor Ulman (1909-1997). Several works reflect California's proximity to Mexico and the Southwest. Both Xavier Martinez and Alfredo Ramos Martinez (1872-1946) were natives of Mexico who emigrated to California but often painted Mexican subjects such as their depictions of Mexican women in this exhibition. Will Sparks' moonlight view is of a building in Ensenada. Paintings by Maynard Dixon and Helen Katherine Forbes (1891-1945) depict American Indians. (left: William Wendt, Wandering Meadows, 1923, Mills College Art Museum, Gift of Mills College Club of Southern California)

"California Paintings" 1910-1940 provides an enlightening cross-section of the eclectic art activity in the state as its artists explored modernism within a regional context. It is accompanied by an eight-page catalog with color illustrations and a scholarly essay by Ms. Harlow focusing on the California art world of the 1920s. (left: Granville Redmond, Marin County, c. 1915, Mills College Art Museum, Estate of Albert M. Bender)

Other painters in the exhibition include Gertrude Partington Albright (1883-1959), Bertha Elizabeth Stringer Lee (1873-1937), Francis John McComas (1875-1938), Karl Eugen Neuhaus (1879-1963), Lee Fritz Randolph (1880-1956), Florence Alston Williams Swift (1890-1977) and Emilie Sievert Weinberg (1882-1958).

The exhibition is on view in the Pick Laudati and Small Sculpture Gallery of the main museum located in Newport Beach.

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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

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