Members of the California Art Club were invited to participate in the first of what sponsors hope to be an annual event - painting the Sights of Santa Ana. On June 28, 1997 eighteen artists checked in for the beginning day of the week-long event in Santa Ana, California at the Bowers Museum, a participating sponsor. The following Sunday, the artists' work were shown and sold in the Bowers courtyard. Sales were brisk with local residents enthralled with the beautiful depictions of some of their town's historic and most loved sites.
A favorite site to paint was the Bowers Museum which several artists used as subject matter as they competed for prize money of $2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second place and $1,000 for third place. A watercolor of the front bell tower of the Bowers was awarded second place to Alhambra artist John Bohnenberger.
First place was awarded to Laguna Beach artist Ken Auster for his heavily atmospheric depiction of "Fourth Street," downtown Santa Ana. This oil painting was of the main street crowded with autos and exhaust smoke with the historic Spurgeon tower just visible in the background. Ken, who has a studio in Laguna Beach, is well-known also for his surf paintings.
Third place was awarded to Tim Solliday from Altadena for his depiction of an historic home, now used as law offices by sponsors Gene and Ann Andres. Tim is a Signature Member of the California Art Club. All three award winners sold their winning paintings as well as others. The winning paintings were placed on display at the Bowers Museum.
The following artists won honorable mention awards: Myrna Barnes, J. Alfonso Colocho, David Damm, Bruce Sanford Day, Gerald Rahm, Donald Hildreth and Jove Wang.
Judges for the event were Jean Stern, Director of the Irvine Museum, and art writers and historians Nancy Moure and Janet Blake. Art dealer and auctioneer Richard File volunteered his time to appraise plein air paintings for members of the public who wished to bring them to the show.
Local residents of Santa Ana were enthusiastic about having the plein air artists in their community. Many of them offered to house artists and a few artists accepted the invitations. Local artists from the Santa Ana artist's village hosted a dinner at the Santora Building Art Galleries. Later in the week, there was a cocktail reception for the artists, friends and sponsors.
Photos by Ann Avery Andres
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