The Plein Air Scene

by Sarah Beserra

Scott Burdick, Sarah in Catalina, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches


California Plein Air News

by Sarah Beserra


Autumn in Paris

A stint in Europe was a rite of passage for many early California painters one hundred years ago. The Academie Julien in Paris and other art academies were the destinations for ambitious painters when "all things European" was the order of the day. No artist was considered "finished" until he or she had copied paintings in the Louvre or absorbed the lessons of the Impressionists and their peers. With the imprimatur of a continental education, the returning painters found increased respect. A regional school of art was born -- California Impressionism -- which flourished here for over 30 years.

"Masters of Light" is the first international exhibition of California plein-air paintings to tour Europe. This landmark exhibition, comprised of 58 California Impressionist paintings, is assembled from the Irvine Museum collections and loans from important private collections.

Artists represented include most of the greats -- Franz Bischoff, Maurice Braun, Benjamin C. Brown, Colin Campbell Cooper, William Ritschell, Guy Rose and other top names. The exhibition has been in the planning stages for four years. It will debut at the Mona Bismarck Foundation Museum in Paris, just across the river from the Eiffel Tower. The show will continue there through December 14, 2002 when it will travel to Krakow, Poland, and Madrid.

A full-color book with essays by Irvine Museum Executive Director Jean Stern and Dr. William H. Gerdts, American Impressionism authority, will accompany the exhibit. For details call: (949) 476-2565.


Pay Strong Feted

Ray Strong, veteran landscape painter and a founder of Santa Barbara's OAK Group, was honored recently with the "Wilderness Spirit Award" presented by the Wilding Art Museum in Los Olives. Strong, who is approaching his centennial year, was also recognized by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors for his decades of service to the county. A retrospective of his work closed at the Museum in September.

Strong studied and taught at the Arts Students League in San Francisco with such greats as Maynard Dixon,
Frank Von Sloun and George Post. Among his many accomplishments are bird and animal murals which hang in the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and, until recently, San Luis Obispo Natural History Museum. Those murals were recently rescued during a remodel and now reside in the State Parks collection.

A 30-page color catalog was published in conjunction with the exhibition. Art historian Gloria Rexford Martin, Dennis Power, Executive Director of the Oakland Museum, Dr. Michael Whitt, co-founder, along with Strong, of the MALT show and OAK Group painters Larry Iwerks and Arturo Tello made contributions to the book.

For more on Strong see:


Hughes Book Imminent

Edan Hughes, author of Artists in California, 1786-1940, has donated his upcoming edition along with all future income and publishing rights, to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. Hughes is putting the finishing touches on the third and final edition of this important text.

Long considered an indispensable reference for collectors, the book has been updated and enhanced, and will be more comprehensive than before. The Crocker is in the process of raising funds for the project. The two-volume set will sell for about $175.

To reserve an advance copy contact Scott Shields, Curator of Art at: (916) 264-5423; or to contribute to its publication contact the Membership Office at (916) 264-5802.

© Sarah Beserra, 2002

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Sarah Beserra is Editor and Publisher of The Plein Air Scene - a monthly newsletter on plein air painting in California. Please see the website for The Plein Air Scene for email address and phone number.

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