San Diego Museum of Art

photo: John Hazeltine

Balboa Park, San Diego, CA



Pacific Arcadia: Images of California, 1600-1915

Oct. 30, 1999 to Jan. 9, 2000


A groundbreaking exhibition showcasing the changing imagery of the California dream opens at the San Diego Museum of Art this fall. Juxtaposing paintings, drawings and photographs with maps, prints and advertisements, Pacific Arcadia: Images of California, 1600-1915 investigates the ways in which California was promoted to outsiders and idealized by those who had a stake in its development. The exhibition, organized by the Iris & B. Gerald Canter Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, ( see Pacific Arcadia: Images of California, 1600-1915) and made possible by Ford Motor Company, runs Oct. 30, 1999 to Jan. 9, 2000.

"This stunningly beautiful exhibition looks at the roots of the California dream, and examines how far back they go," said Don Bacigalupi , PhD, director of the San Diego Museum of Art. "Pacific Arcadia takes visitors on a fascinating journey from the 17th century, when mapmakers imagined California as an island off the west coast of North America, to urban images of early 20th century neighborhoods and markets."

"California has been thought of as a land of promise and opportunity for hundreds of years," said D. Scott Atkinson, SDMA Curator of American Art. "For five centuries, the images of the state's natural wealth, commercial possibilities, progressive society and magnificent scenery presented California to the world as the ultimate fulfillment of the American Dream, and the works of art in this exhibition embody this ideal."

Pacific Arcadia includes approximately 250 objects, almost 50 of which are paintings considered to be among the most important examples of the art of early California. The objects are divided into six themes:

Pacific Arcadia has been organized by Claire Perry, Curator of American Art at the Canter Arts Center, Stanford University. Perry has also authored a 300-page book that accompanies the exhibition.

Images from top to bottom: Charles H. Nahl ( 1818-1878), Miners in the Sierra, c. 1851-52, oil on canvas, National Museum of American Art; Union Pacific Railroad Company, California Calls You, 1913, poster, California State Railroad Museum; Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), Seal Rocks, 1872, oil on canvas, Private Collection.


Read more about the San Diego Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine.

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

rev. 10/26/10

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