Arroyo Seco

101st Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition

A Place of Clarity; Crystal Lake, San Gabriel Mountains, 30" x 30", Oil on canvas, © Eric Merrell

"A Place of Clarity" will be part of the upcoming California Art Club's 101st Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition opening March 31, 2012 at a new exhibition venue: The Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 95614 (in Griffith Park). The Artists Gala Reception will open the exhibition on Saturday, March 31 from 6-9 p.m.

This was painted at Crystal Lake, one of my favorite new locations to paint in the San Gabriel Mountains, way back up Highway 39 out of Azusa. This area has been closed for about 9 years, since the 2002 Curve Fire which burned much of the area. Crystal Lake is apparently the only natural lake in the entire San Gabriel range, being fed from snowmelt and rainfall. As I painted there over last summer, I did notice the water level drop significantly over the months of warm weather. It's a popular place for fishing, too.

This is a special place, and feels more like the Sierras. These kelp-like plants grew very rapidly (kelp is not a freshwater plant, however, so I don't know exactly what it is, but it very much resembles kelp!) Fun to paint them growing out of the watery depths into the sunlight, swaying with the slight breezes over the surface of the water.

Here are some old photos of the Crystal Lake area.

Here is an interior shot of the secret Neutra studio where I worked on the painting in an undisclosed neighborhood in Los Angeles... :)

Down to Earth Sinks the Sun; The Arroyo Seco, 9" x 12", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Also in the exhibition is a small painting of dusk in the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, looking towards South Pasadena with the last of the sunlight hitting some trees in the distance.

Palm Desert and Pasadena events

This Too Shall Pass - Arroyo Seco, 9" x 12", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell (Private collection)

I'll be giving a short presentation about my work at 1 pm on Saturday, October 15, 2011 at the Henderson Community Building, 72559 Highway 111 at El Paseo (Entrada del Paseo) in Palm Desert for the 6th Annual Desert Garden Community Day, presented by the Desert Horticultural Society, the City of Palm Desert, and the Desert Garden Center in Palm Springs. The events will be a combination of artists and their work along with workshops about desert landscaping. The Palm Springs Art Museum is not far from there, so stop by and make a day out of it!

On Sunday October 16th I'll be exhibiting new paintings of the historic Arroyo Seco along with other artists from the California Art Club. The exhibition will take place from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm at La Casita del Arroyo, 177 S. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, CA  91105 [map].

Pasadena's Arroyo Seco

This Sunday, March 14, I'll be part of an exhibition at La Casita del Arroyo in Pasadena, California. It will only be up for that one day from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., so please stop by and check it out if you can. There will be some good artwork to see and it should be a nice day to explore the trails in the Arroyo. La Casita del Arroyo, 177 S. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, CA

Spring in the Arroyo, 14" x 14", Oil on panel, Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

Christmas in the Air, 14" x 14", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

"The California Art Club and the La Casita del Arroyo Foundation join forces for the fifth exhibition and sale of plein air paintings of the Arroyo Seco, Southern California's most celebrated canyon."

"The exhibition will feature new original artwork by renowned contemporary-traditional fine artists who will paint on location during the week prior to the exhibition to document the environmentally-sensitive Arroyo Seco, which includes the historic Colorado Street Bridge.  Proceeds from the sale of the paintings will benefit the California Art Club's educational arts programs and La Casita's conservation efforts."

Planted by Streams of Water, 11" x 14, Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Having the Determination to Push Through the Surface, 12" x 12", Oil on panel, Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

Christmas in the Air

Christmas in the Air (The Arroyo Seco), 14" x 14", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! Wishing you a peaceful holiday season with all the enjoyment it brings and none of the stress that tends to accompany. I'm looking forward to plenty of good things in the new year for everyone out there. I was able to get outdoors briefly last week to paint amidst all the bustle of the season, and found this great spot along the Arroyo Seco in South Pasadena. You can see all the colorful trees in the distance - of course, no comparison to Maine! - but see, California does have seasons, also evidenced in the multitudinous vineyards up and down the state.

Since this time of year lends itself to reflection, I thought this would be a good time to quote one of my favorite prose poems by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008).

REFLECTIONS

On the surface of a swift-flowing stream the reflections of things far are always indistinct; even if the the water is clear and has no foam, reflections in the constant stream of ripples, the restless kaleidoscope of water, are still uncertain, vague, incomprehensible.

Only when the water has flowed down river after river and reaches a broad, calm estuary or comes to rest in some backwater or a small, still lake - only then can we see in its mirror-like smoothness every leaf of a tree on the bank, every wisp of a cloud and the deep blue expanse of the sky.

It is the same with our lives. If so far we have been unable to see clearly or to reflect the eternal lineaments of truth, is it not because we too are still moving towards some end - because we are still alive?

[Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Stories & Prose Poems, Translated by Michael Glenny, The Bodley Head, 1971, p.232]

Since I didn't have a photo of a partridge in a pear tree, I'm substituting a cat in a persimmon tree. Merry Christmas!

Happy 100th Birthday CAC!

One Hundred Years! It's an amazing feat for any group, let alone an art club where the demands of the career as well as individual temperaments generally keep members working in isolation. Today marks the Centennial of the California Art Club. The founding of the club was first reported by Antony E. Anderson in the Los Angeles Times on December 12, 1909, one hundred years ago to the day. The early meetings took place along the banks of the Arroyo Seco in South Pasadena and throughout greater Los Angeles, and included artists like Franz Bischoff, Aaron Kilpatrick, and William and Julia Wendt. The CAC's predecessor, The Painters' Club of Los Angeles (1906-1909), had limited its members to male painters in the L.A. area. With the founding of the new club, the rules were widened to allow women, sculptors, and others living as far away as New York City to join. Throughout the CAC's storied history it has embraced time-honored techniques found in the grand traditions of painting and sculpture, molding them into contemporary relevance; at the same time it helped to present such progressive events as the first black American art exhibition in Los Angeles (1929) and the first G.I. Arts & Crafts exhibit (1946, also in L.A.), and maintained a venue to present exhibits of diverse themes and backgrounds.

Over the past century, the club has counted among its members Sir Winston Churchill, architect Richard Neutra, illustrator Dean Cornwell, artists Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Sergei Bongart, Nicolai Fechin and Theodore N. Lukits, as well as many distinguished guests and speakers: the Mexican muralists David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco, conductor Leopold Stokowski, violinist Xavier Cugat, architects Frank Lloyd Wright and his son, Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. (And of course, most of the well-known Southern California artists throughout the years, too numerous to mention in this post but listed online here).

In recognition of this milestone, I thought I'd link to my article on the Birth of the California Art Club, originally published this past spring. Here's to the next hundred years!

The California Art Club will be publishing a large coffee table art book (due out in early 2011) with Rizzoli Publishers to commemorate the Centennial, and will be full of paintings by historic and contemporary members of the CAC. Purchase your copy here.

The new logo above was designed for the Centennial by CAC Associate Artist Member Stan Prokopenko.

Bischoff's Bright Idea

This is the second article on the history of the California Art Club that I've researched and written, which will be published in the upcoming Winter 2009 issue of the California Art Club Newsletter. If you would like a hard copy of the Newsletter, let me know and I can get one to you. To see more of the history of the CAC that I've been researching, click here.

Bischoff’s Bright Idea

© By Eric J. Merrell

When the conversation turns to color, and continues on to the painting of flowers, the name of Franz Arthur Bischoff (1864-1929) is not far away. Born in Bohemia, he first traveled to Vienna to study art before immigrating to America in 1885.[1] In the United States, he began working as a china decorator in New York City before moving to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and then Fostoria, Ohio, continuing to work in the same vein. In 1892 he relocated to Michigan, where he produced ceramic work as well as taught china painting in Detroit and Dearborn. When he moved to Pasadena in 1906 he brought with him a reputation as one of the greatest china painters of his time.[2] In a few short years Bischoff would be rivaled only by Paul de Longpré (1855-1911) in his distinction as a floral artist.[3]

hist_bischoff_s

Bischoff was a member of the Painters’ Club of Los Angeles (albeit a late joiner, becoming a member on September 7, 1909, a mere three months before that group disbanded[4]) and then an early and integral member of the new California Art Club, hosting club meetings at his studio in South Pasadena[5] and exhibiting extensively with them.[6] His personal sense of color is evident across the breadth of his work (he added landscape painting to his oeuvre upon his arrival in California[7]), as much a signature of authenticity as his own name.

Franz Bischoff in his studio; Courtesy The Irvine Museum

In 1911, a unique idea gave Bischoff further press and rippled through the art community. The Pasadena Daily News reported that Bischoff had come up with “something entirely new in the way of painting flowers.” He had painted a few new still life pieces - nothing new here - but his most recent floral paintings showcased “great California blooms with the glow of the electric light full upon them.”[8] The article goes on to credit Bischoff with originating the idea, and stimulating viewers’ thoughts with his three paintings of roses lit by an electric light. “…Those who have seen them declare that for illusiveness, delicacy and beauty, nothing can parallel them.” Some of these new paintings would be included in his upcoming fall exhibition.[9]

Post Script: As a way of illustrating how significant this idea was at the time, there is another story involving electric light, which comes from the Painters’ Club a few years earlier: William A. Matern (1867-1923), an Associate Member of the Painters’ Club, donated an electric bulb and shade to that group on February 2, 1909. It was motioned, seconded and unanimously carried to send him a thank you letter.[10] The Secretary, Martin Jacob Jackson (1871-1955) [11], suggested that the Club present Mr. Matern with an illuminated testimonial - Jackson to donate the work, and other members to contribute to the frame and materials.[12] Such was the importance of an electric light bulb to early 20th century artists.

[1] Edan Milton Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940, Third Edition, p.107

[2] Ibid., p.108

[3] Art and Artists, Pasadena Daily News, July 1, 1911, 8:1-2

[4] Minutes, The Painters’ Club of Los Angeles, September 7, 1909

[5] Antony Anderson, California Art Club, Los Angeles Times, February 13, 1910

[6] California Art Club Annual Exhibitions (1911-12, 1915-19, 1921-26), and Spring Exhibitions (1917-19)

[7] Artists in California, loc. cit.

[8] Art and Artists, loc. cit.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Minutes, op. cit., February 2, 1909

[11] Ibid., December 1, 1908

[12] Ibid., February 2, 1909

Plein Air Paintings of the Arroyo Seco

Sunday, October 5, 2008 from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The California Art Club and the La Casita del Arroyo Foundation are joining forces for the second year in a row to present a special exhibition and sale of plein air paintings of the Arroyo Seco, Southern California's most celebrated canyon.

The exhibition will feature new original artwork by renowned contemporary-traditional fine artists, including Peter Adams, Eric Merrell, Junn Roca, Jason Situ, and Yisun Wei, who will paint on location during the week prior to the exhibition to document the environmentally-sensitive Arroyo Seco, which includes the historic Colorado Street Bridge.  Proceeds from the sale of the paintings will benefit the California Art Club's educational arts programs and La Casita's conservation efforts.