Los Angeles

Eclectic L.A. - Four Perspectives

These paintings will be exhibited along with a few more of mine at American Legacy Fine Arts (ALFA) in Pasadena, CA, as part of the exhibit "Eclectic L.A. - Four Perspectives." One of the fascinating parts of Los Angeles is it's history, which it always seems to be trying to sweep under the rug as the city tries to reinvent itself daily or weekly with shinynewfacades and such. The truth is, L.A. has a great amount of history: colorful, storied, and widely varied to suit any interest, but Hollywood and it's parade of celebrities make all the noise and so receives all the attention. Swing by the Artists' Reception on November 10, 2012 from 4 – 6 P.M. and see another side of Los Angeles.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

In "Eclectic L.A." you'll also find work by these three fellers: Scott W. Prior, Tony Peters, and Alexander Orlov. The exhibition runs from November 10 - December 8, 2012.

Hollywood Reservoir, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

Hollywood Reservoir, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

Striking a Note: Sunset on the San Gabriel Mission Campanario , 12" x 12", © Eric Merrell

Striking a Note: Sunset on the San Gabriel Mission Campanario, 12" x 12", © 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!

The New Year @ LAAFA

The winter semester at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art in Van Nuys, California starts next month, and the Landscape Painting Class will be in full swing again beginning Saturday, January 16th, 2010. The class runs for eight consecutive Saturdays, and class size is kept small so students will receive plenty of individual instruction. LAAFA is offering an Early Bird Special if you sign up before January 4, 2010.

In these classes you will learn how to paint what you see, not what you think you see. Learn how to interpret in terms of paint, using light and color to create form. Color relationships, design/composition, simplifying, and the benefits of painting on location will be discussed, as well as how to design and build a painting that carries an emotional impact. Make an investment in your art – gain confidence and knowledge that will inspire all areas of your creativity.

At the Edge (The San Gabriels), 16" x 16", Oil on panel, Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

As artists, we need to be able to interpret what we see and understand what we paint. Ample time is given to demos by the instructor as well as individual painting time. All experience levels are welcome. Limited space is available – call 818/708-9232 or visit www.laafa.org to register your space today!

For more information, please visit www.ericmerrell.com and click on Workshops.

The First Black American Art Exhibit in Los Angeles, 1929

tanner_s This painting [above] by Henry Ossawa Tanner, now in the collection of LACMA, was not part of the 1929 CAC exhibition at the Hollyhock House, but was purchased directly from the artist when Harrison was in Paris in 1918. Harrison was a well-known Los Angeles collector. [1]

You can find the following short essay by yours truly published in the Summer 2009 issue of the California Art Club Newsletter. Here is a list of the exhibiting artists.

The First Black American Art Exhibit in Los Angeles, 1929 © By Eric J. Merrell.

Obscured by the years and smog of Los Angeles is an historic event: the first black American art exhibition in the city, which was shown in the California Art Club rooms at the Hollyhock House [the CAC's headquarters from 1927-42, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright], in late 1929. Assembled and premiered in Chicago by William Edouard Scott (1884-1964) and then brought to Olive Hill in Los Angeles with the combined efforts of CAC President Edwin Roscoe Shrader (1878-1960) and Dr. Elzora Gibson of Los Angeles,[2] the exhibition was only possible at the Hollyhock House, as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) would not host a black artist for another six years. In 1935 Beulah Ecton Woodard (1895-1955), founder of the Los Angeles Negro Art Association [in 1937], became the first black American to have a solo exhibition at LACMA. [3]

The December 1929 issue of the California Art Club Bulletin casually mentions that "there will be [Henry Ossawa] Tanner's work among this representative collection." [4] The exhibit was described as consisting of "seventy canvases of the leading negro artists of the United States" and also included sculpture, etching and photography, receiving coverage in the local papers. Hanging alongside the highly-decorated Tanner was work by three local artists, Constance Phillips, Paul R. Williams (1894-1980), and A. F. Taynes (Williams and Taynes were also important architects), along with two other artists from Indiana: John Wesley Hardwick (1891-1968), whose exhibited works included Jesus of Nazareth and landscapes, and organizer William Edouard Scott. Scott was an artist of international distinction, whose notable The House Behind the Cedar was exhibited, as well as other paintings. Artist William McKnight Farrow (1885-1967) exhibited "delicately melancholy" landscapes, Hale Aspacio Woodruff (1900-1980) presented landscapes and "scenes of Paris," and Albert Alexander Smith (1896-1940) showed etchings, while K. D. Ganaway contributed photography to the group. Curtis McHenry and Arthur Taylor both exhibited "naive" works in the form of wood carvings and paintings, including a "curiously carved and decorated box mounted on a carved stick and surmounted by a nude figure" by the former and a painting of "a tiger in the desert"  by the latter. [5]

The Sunday reception was opened at 3:00 p.m. with an address given by Francis William Vreeland (1879-1954) of the CAC, followed by Dr. H. Claude Hudson (1886-1989) [6], President of the Los Angeles Branch of the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP) and California State Assemblyman Frederick Madison Roberts (1879-1952), the first black man to be elected to that body. A short musical program was presented by Eugene Edgar Page, composer and pianist, and Evelyn Warren, soprano. [7]

Dr. Gibson, a guest at the November 1929 meeting of the California Art Club, spoke and asked "in a plea for the abolition of racial prejudice, told  of the all-negro art exhibition to open in the Club rooms on December 1st [1929, running for two weeks]. [8] It comes direct from San Diego, and will be the first of its kind for Los Angeles." [9] At the same meeting, Richard E. Mann, student and relative of the famous tenor Roland Hayes (1887-1977) [10] sang a number of spirituals and "filled the rooms with...rich and stirring rhythms." [11] A schedule for the December Forum of monthly CAC events includes a lecture on December 9th by one of the local exhibitors, prominent architect Paul R. Williams, titled "The Negro in Art." [12]

On the last page of the December 1929 CAC Bulletin is a closing quote from Dr. Gibson: "Color of the skin does not count - only character and the qualities of the human soul is important." [13]

_______________________________________________

[1] Author's email with Ilene Susan Fort, the Gail and John Liebes Curator of Armenian Art, LACMA, 11/25/2008

[2] Exhibitions, December at the Clubhouse, California Art Club Bulletin, Dec. 1929, Vol. IV, No. 12, p.4

[3] Sarah Schrank, Art and the City: Civic Imagination and Cultural Authority in Los Angeles, U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2008, p.178 #110; U. of Missouri, Museum of Art and Archaeology Collections: http://maa.missouri.edu/news/newsrelease-maudelle.html

[4] Exhibitions, December at the Clubhouse, loc. cit. William E. Scott traveled to France in 1909 and 1911 as part of his artistic training; while there, he studied with Henry Ossawa Tanner, one of the leading black American artists of the day (www.AskART.com). This may help explain Tanner's participation in the exhibition.

[5] Arthur Millier, Negro Art Attracts, Los Angeles Times, December 8, 1929, 21.

[6] Dr. H. Claude Hudson was elected President of the L.A. branch of the NAACP in 1924 and served ten consecutive years. The Dec. 2, 1929 L.A. Times article mistakenly refers to him as "Dr. H. V. Hudson." http://www.naacp-losangeles.org/history.htm

[7] Exhibitions Opened at Art Center, Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1929, A8; Negro Artists' Work to be Seen, Los Angeles Times, November 29, 1929, A2.

[8] Exhibitions Opened at Art Center, loc. cit.

[9] November Meeting, California Art Club Bulletin, op. cit., p.2

[10] Roland Hayes was a tenor who was the first African American to win international fame as a concert performer. http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1671

[11] November Meeting, loc. cit.

[12] Ibid., p.3

[13] Ibid., p.4

The Oldest in California

rancho-camulos_s Rancho Camulos ["Home of Ramona"]; Built 1843, Piru, California; 11" x 14", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Since I've been interested in history, it was only a matter of time before I started discovering and painting the historic adobes around southern California. Most date back to the early 19th century, with the oldest I've found so far having been built c.1806 in what is now Long Beach (this is, of course, excluding the twenty-one California missions built earlier). It's a great way to study fleeting light and color while keeping your values in check, as most of the adobes have white-washed exteriors.

hugo-reid-adobe_s

Hugo Reid Adobe; Built 1839, Arcadia, California; 11" x 14", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

san-gabriel-mission-museum_s

Mission San Gabriel Museum; Built 1812, San Gabriel, California; 11" x 14", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Each building is usually very modest, but many have great stories attached to them, each different from the next. For example, Rancho Camulos was one of the locations that Helen Hunt Jackson visited on her tour of California, prior to writing her famous novel Ramona; the real rancho was included in the book as the fictional Ramona's home. Subsequently, it became a huge tourist destination in the early 20th century when the book became incredibly popular - everyone wanted to see where Ramona "lived." It still retains a good sense of what old California probably looked like - tucked in the Santa Paula Valley between expansive orange groves, with cacti and roses blooming around the property.

At another, the Juan Matias Sanchez Adobe in Montebello, California, I met Bud Sanchez, the grandson of the adobe's namesake, Juan Matias Sanchez (1808-1885). Bud's grandfather and father both lived to an old age, marrying more than once and producing many descendants. The amazing story that Bud told was that his father was still in school when Lincoln was President! His grandfather would have been about 52 at the time.

There are more and more adobes I'm discovering as I drive around California, each with a unique history that is still with us today. Possibly even more astonishing is that so many are still around, that they haven't succumbed to earthquakes or other natural disasters, or been destroyed by development. Many were dilapidated and run-down not so long ago. (See more of the adobe paintings on my website, under Paintings > Adobes.)

There's a State Park in Downtown L.A.?

Painting at LASHP Yes, and I went painting last week at the relatively new Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP) and met some of the rangers. We chatted for a little bit, they snapped some pictures and put up a short post on me - check it out and leave some comments on the LASHP blog. From their posts it looks like the park is well-used and features lots of events. Although still in progress, there are about 13 acres available for public use now; in the photo below, it is the large green swath that stretches from near the skyscrapers of downtown L.A. to the Broadway Street bridge at about the middle of the photo. Chinatown and Olvera Street are within walking distance.

The park is a nice (free!) spot to paint with views of the bridge, downtown L.A., and some of the hills leading up to Elysian Park. Later in the afternoon there are lots of folks out running, walking dogs, etc. Although nearly finished for the season, the flowers in the park are pretty spectacular, too. There were still poppies and sunflowers blooming last week. I loved the slower pace and open space of the park, in such close proximity to the hectic freeways and industrial areas. There are even a small group of goats in the park right now!

lashp1_s

I neglected to mention earlier another blogger whom I met while out painting in Pasadena this spring in the Arroyo Seco, Petrea and her husband John of Pasadena Daily Photo. They also took some nice photos, and  frequently feature all sorts of intriguing and well-written stories about the Pasadena area and life. Send them a hello when you stop by -

Birth of the California Art Club: Its Founding and First Annual Exhibition

This is the second cover article I've written for the California Art Club Newsletter (the first being my interview of Evelyn Payne Hatcher in June 2001, daughter of Edgar and Elsie Payne). Thanks to Peter and Elaine Adams, and Jean Stern of the Irvine Museum for their help and contributions in writing this. Disclaimer: I've added citations and notes at the end of this article that are not included in the print copy due to space, but I felt were important here to elaborate on some of the details. CAC Newsletter, Spring 2009 issue

Birth of the California Art Club: Its Founding and First Annual Exhibition

© By Eric J. Merrell

John Hubbard Rich (1876-1954), The Idle Hour, 1917, o/c, 14" x 14", Collection of the Irvine Museum

"Twas a dark and stormy night. The lightning zig-zagged and the heavens fell down in torrents. But Hotel Ivins, on Figueroa and Tenth Streets, was ablaze with many lights, nevertheless, and the artists' reception held there last Monday night was a tremendous success, social as well as artistic." Thus wrote the first art critic of the Los Angeles Times, Antony E. Anderson (1863-1939), nearly 100 years ago on February 1, 1911 describing the momentous first exhibition of the California Art Club (CAC).

Anderson's enthusiasm for Los Angeles' developing art scene was expressed in his description of the CAC's opening reception at the Club's art gallery located in the Hotel Ivins as the height of the city's social calendar: "The handsome new gallery of the California Art Club, its walls a subdued riot of harmonious colors and the gleaming gold of picture frames, was thronged with men and women...Many of these are well-known, some of them are distinguished - painters, sculptors, poets and story writers, with a sprinkling of gilded youths and golden girls whose doings are daily chronicled in the society columns of the newspapers."

"Indeed, the gallery, with its shifting groups of buzzing people, presented such a metropolitan appearance, such a well-remembered first night aspect, that I stopped on the threshold in  pleased amazement. Was I dreaming? Had I suddenly been transported to New York or Chicago, or was this really Los Angeles? I rallied from my stupor, and recognizing good friends to right and left of me, realized that art had come to stay in Los Angeles, that our atmosphere was no longer mere "hot air," and that our artists were up and doing. My surprise and pleasure were echoed on every side. Without a doubt the present exhibition of the California Art Club is the most important ever held here."[1]

The formation of the California Art Club began in 1909, two years prior to its first exhibition, and grew out of a fifty-member organization known as the Painters' Club of Los Angeles. The Painters' Club was founded in March 1906 to serve a burgeoning population of artists arriving to Los Angeles during a time when the city consisted of approximately 281,000 residents. As reported in Antony Anderson's column "Art and Artists" in the March 25, 1906 issue of the Los Angeles Times, the Painters' Club was formed for the "mutual betterment in their craft and for good-fellowship," and brought artists together through meetings "every fortnight" and presented artwork for friendly critique.[2]

Franz Anton Bischoff (1864-1929), Carmel Rocks at Sunset; o/c, 30" x 40", Paul and Kathleen Bagley Collection

One significant difference between the California Art Club and the Painters' Club was in the makeup of their membership: The Painters' Club did not include women, sculptors, or members who lived outside of Los Angeles; while the California Art Club included all of these. On December 12, 1909, a small cadre of the newly disbanded Painters' Club reorganized themselves, and, as reported by Anderson, "...the new club, which will be wider in scope that the old," rose out of the ashes that same month. The California Art Club's membership guidelines were broadened to include women as well as artists who lived outside the state - as far east as New York - and the new club grew quickly in size and stature.[3]

The Painters' Club also had predecessors, beginning with the Rambler's Sketch Club (circa 1881), founded in Richmond, Indiana.[4]  The self-taught Indiana-born artist, Albert Clinton "Pops" Conner (1848-1929), was one of the founders of the Sketch Club, which later metamorphosed into the Richmond Art Association (founded 1898, but had exhibited artwork in local schools as early as 1896) and then became an integral part of the Richmond Art Museum.[5]  After Conner moved to California he became the first President of the Painters' Club of Los Angeles and was also later elected an Honorary Member of the California Art Club, as well as being an active exhibitor.[6]

Antony Anderson was born in Norway on May 1, 1863. He studied painting at the Art Students League in New York City and at the Art Institute of Chicago under George de Forest Brush (1855-1941) , Gari Melchers (1860-1932), and Frederick W. Freer (1849-1930). He was at one time associate editor of Boys World. Upon moving to Los Angeles in 1903, he came the first art critic for the Los Angeles Times, and worked in that post for twenty-three years, eventually relinquishing his position to British-born artist and art critic Arthur Millier (1893-1975) in 1926. Anderson died on March 12, 1939 in Hermosa Beach, California. Although mainly known as a critic, his artwork includes landscapes, portraits, and figure studies.

Charles Percy Austin (1883-1948), San Juan Capistrano Mission, 1927; o/c, 30" x 36", Collection of The Irvine Museum

During his tenure at the Los Angeles Times, Anderson was a diligent recorder of city life and cultural events in the young metropolis, commonly including the titles and vivid descriptions of the artwork on view. Although there exists no record of a first meeting[7]  of the California Art Club, in his article describing the demise of the Painters' Club of Los Angeles, Anderson revealed in the next paragraph that there would be a successor "to be called the California Art Club." He informed readers that Charles Percy Austin (1883-1948) would be Secretary and Frank Rennsselear Liddell (1864-1923) would serve as the first President.[8]  Austin was a student of John Henry Twachtman (1853-1923) at the Art Students League in New York and is today renowned for his paintings of Mission San Juan Capistrano. Liddell, originally from Wisconsin, settled in Los Angeles in 1883 where he was a banker and self-taught plein-air landscape painter. Although Anderson continued his weekly column throughout this period, the next mention of the CAC wasn't until February 1910.

Despite the brief lapse in coverage, the CAC had been busy. When we next hear about the young club, Anderson reported on their second meeting, held at Franz Bischoff's studio at 320 Pasadena Avenue, Pasadena (now South Pasadena) on the 5th of February. At this meeting seven new members joined the group. Both John Hubbard Rich (1876-1954) and Robert Leicester [Rob] Wagner (1872-1942) joined as Active Members. Mauritz de Haaff (1877-1948), Allen Durand (1865-1939), William A. Matern (1867-1923), Frederick Roland Miner (1876-1935) and Jack Wells enlisted as Associates. In addition to the new members there were four others present who apparently were already members; they were Franz Anton Bischoff (1864-1929), Carl Oscar Borg (1879-1947), Aaron E. Kilpatrick (1872-1953) and William Wendt (1865-1946).[9] Bischoff, Borg, and Wendt are probably familiar to the reader. However, Aaron Kilpatrick, who may be less well-known, was also an artist of merit.

Aaron Kilpatrick (1872-1953), Eucalyptus Trees, 1909, o/c, 36" x 48", Collection of The Irvine Museum

Born in 1872 in St. Thomas, Canada, Kilpatrick was educated in the public schools of Winnipeg and moved to the United States in 1892. He had settled in southern California in 1907 where he established a successful commercial art business. He studied with William Wendt and often accompanied him on month-long painting excursions. When he was fifty years old, Kilpatrick sold his business and devoted the rest of his life to painting fine art. He received national acclaim as a fine artist and was elected an Associate of the prestigious National Academy of Design. Also at the second meeting of the California Art Club, a constitution similar to that of the Chicago-based Society of Western Artists (est. 1896) was adopted to gain prominence for the artists and to allow travelling exhibitions. A permanent exhibition committee was established, consisting of Wendt, Wagner, Bischoff, Borg and Austin.[10]

By the end of its second month, the Club elected their first Honorary Members, they were Antony Anderon, Hector Alliot (1862-1919) and Everett C. Maxwell. Alliot was an internationally-known art critic, director of the Southwest Museum, and the first art history professor at the University of Southern California. Maxwell was a popular western fillm writer, whose works include the 1925 silent version of Northern Code and the 1928 film, The Old Code.[11]  The membership then numbered approximately sixteen.[12]  The next few monthly meetings were held at various locations in the Los Angeles area, including at members' homes and studio, Kanst Gallery and Blanchard Hall.

On July 16, members of the CAC exhibited their works in the First Annual Art Exhibit of the Chautauqua Association of Southern California, which opened in the galleries at the Long Beach Public Library and continued through September 15, 1910 with free admission to the public. This was a multi-group exhibition which consisted of sixty-three pictures,[13] with one wall dedicated to work by CAC members. This was the first time members of the CAC exhibited together and was acknowledged as a group since the club's formation about eight months prior. Five new members appeared for the first time in the exhibition: Benjamin Chambers Brown (1865-1942), Valentine J. "Val" Costello (1875-1937), Hanson Duvall Puthuff (1875-1972), John [Jack] Wilkinson Smith (1873-1949)[14]  and Julia Bracken Wendt (1868-1942).[15]

Hanson Duvall Puthuff (1875-1972), Topanga in the Spring; o/c, 24" x 36", Collection of The Irvine Museum

There is a possibility that Julia Wendt was also a founding member of the CAC, probably along with her husband William, and may have had a hand in the demise of the Painters' Club. The men-only Painters' Club had, on at least two occassions (Aug. 24 and Dec. 8, 1908; PC Minutes), visited the Wendt house and admired the works of both Julia and William. Although only William was a member, Julia was exhibiting just as frequently as her husband and probably more frequently than many of the other Painters' Club members. In Anderson's December 12, 1909 column, he made a comment about women in the new CAC: "Apparently women will not be debarred from membership in the new club. But will they really be admitted? They certainly won't stay out if there's a loophole for getting in." This seemingly negative comment provoked two letters to the Editor of the Los Angeles Times. Along with a "Lydia Pinkham" (Anderson didn't believe this to be the author's real name) whose letter was reproduced in Anderson's column of January 9, 1910 (The Ladies Once More), Julia Wendt wrote a letter to Anderson that was reprinted in the December 26, 1909 column (An Open Letter), taking issue with Anderson's comments and strongly supporting women artists. Although we don't know what provoked Anderson to make the comment, it is interesting to note that this exchange took place within the first two weeks after the CAC had supplanted the Painters' Club. Years later, Julia was "introduced as [a] pioneer member" of the California Art Club at a 1932 party held at the CAC's Clubhouse, the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Hollyhock House, as recorded in the August 1932 issue of the CAC Bulletin.[16]

A little more than four months after the Chautauqua Association exhibit, the California Art Club opened their first Annual Exhibition on January 30, 1911 to great acclaim in the California Art Club Gallery and Club-Room, located in the Hotel Ivins in Los Angeles: "All [of] this is [a] performance well worth taking note of, for it means that our prophecies are coming true, that Los Angeles is really becoming an art center - and that from today it is up to us to make our work keep pace with our abilities," wrote Antony Anderson.[17]

The CAC has a fascinating history and has experienced many twists and turns and ups and downs. The California Art Club of the present is now kicking off three years of centennial celebrations. From 2009 through 2011 the Club's two "100-year" anniversaries include the founding of the Club in 1909 and its first major exhibition held in 1911. In many ways the CAC has never been in better shape than it is today. The founders would be pleased to know that today the California Art Club has a membership of more than 2,000 artists and patrons, as well as offices with four full-time employees and four consulting staff members, many dedicated volunteers and committees, and a new research art library. In addition, the Club has Chapters in San Diego, Orange County, Malibu/Ventura County, Santa Barbara and San Francisco. The Club is exhibiting members' works continuously at the California Art Club Gallery at The Old Mill in San Marino, the Blinn House in Pasadena, and at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, as well as curating exhibitions at numerous museums. To celebrate the Centennial, the CAC announced a logo competition open to all members and a book based on the history about the first 100 years of the CAC is currently underway. Indeed, as Antony Anderson remarked nearly 100 years ago, "...art [has] come to stay..."

Benjamin Brown (1865-1942), Autumn Glory; o/c, 25" x 30", Collection of The Irvine Museum

___________________________________________

[1] Antony Anderson, California Art Club, Los Angeles Times, February 1, 1911 (All of Anderson’s columns were published under the “Art and Artists” title. I have used the subtitles here in citing specific sections within each weekly column.)

[2] Antony Anderson, The Painters’ Club, Los Angeles Times, March 25, 1906, VI2

[3] Ibid.

[4] Conner and his brother Charles Conner (1857-1905), along with Frank Joseph Girardin (1856-1945) and Micajah Thomas Nordyke (b. 1847), founded the Rambler's Sketch Club and soon added John Elwood Bundy (1853-1933) to their group. Another group by the same name was founded 1914 in Washington, D.C., by Charles H. Seaton (1865-1926), Winfield Scott Clime (1881-1958) and Edwin H. Cassedy; they soon included Benson Bond Moore (1882-1974) and later August H. O. Rolle (1875-1941), Edgar Hewitt Nye (1879-1943), and Henry Hobart Nichols, Jr. (1869-1962). This group later became the Washington Landscape Club in 1920. (http://www.nev.com/art/bbmoore/index.htm)

[5] Email to author from Shaun Dingwerth, Executive Director of the Richmond Art Museum, Sept. 11, 2008; http://www.AskART.com

[6] Antony Anderson, The Painter From Indiana, Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1911, pg. III22
2

[7] We can infer from the other known meetings that a first meeting probably took place on or around Jan. 5, 1910 at an unknown location. There were four other artists present at the second meeting (referred to as such by Anderson) on Feb. 5, 1910 who weren’t mentioned in Anderson’s Dec. 12, 1909 article along with Liddell and Austin, so they must have joined at some point in between. At least initially, meetings took place on the 5th of the month.

[8] Antony Anderson, Exit the Painters’ Club, Los Angeles Times, December 12, 1909, III17

[9] Antony Anderson, California Art Club, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 13, 1910, III11

[10] Ibid.

[11] Though he wasn’t a member of the Painters’ Club, Maxwell appears in their Minutes of Oct. 19, 1909: Mr. Everett Maxwell, who was “furnished gratuitously by Mr. Blanchard,” was to serve as Curator for the Second Annual Exhibition of the Painters’ Club, held at Blanchard Art Gallery.

[12] The Anderson column begins by saying that the club “has decided to enlarge its membership, and has sent invitations to many of the prominent painters and sculptors in Los Angeles and Pasadena to join the new organization.” Though producing unknown results, this could have included Ralph F. Mocine, Benjamin C. Brown and others who appear with the club shortly afterwards. (Antony Anderson, Art Notes, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 27, 1910, III14)

[13] Only 53 works are listed; also, some CAC member names are undecipherable in the article.

[14] John W. Smith and Jack W. [Wilkinson] Smith appear to be the same person – during his years with the PC and early in the CAC he went by “John,” later going by “Jack.” In fact, the Painters’ Club roster lists “John Smith, c/o Varney + Green [Billboards], San Pedro” – the faintly inscribed “John” is crossed out and boldly rewritten “Jack.” Jack W. Smith also later worked for Pacific Outdoor Advertising during the Depression. (Edan Hughes, Artists in California 1786-1940, Vol. II, p.1036)

[15] Originally, the opening was July 8 and the venue was to be “the beautiful galleries of the Carnegie library.” Both of these were subsequently changed. (Antony Anderson, Coming Exhibition, Los Angeles Times, June 12, 1910) Many of the other exhibitors in the Chautauqua exhibition – listed by Anderson specifically as not belonging to the CAC, as he reviewed CAC work and non-CAC in two separate columns - eventually became CAC members in the following years. Some were even early members of the Painters’ Club – William Swift Daniell (1865-1933), Norman St. Clair (1863-1912) and possibly “W. E.” (W. A.?) [William Alexander] Sharp (1864-1944). They too will eventually join the CAC. (Antony Anderson, Exhibition at Long Beach, Los Angeles Times, July 24, 1910, III11; Antony Anderson, At Long Beach, Los Angeles Times, July 31, 1910, III14; The exhibition list of participating CAC and other artists and artwork is available online here: http://www.californiaartclub.org/history/founders2.shtml#July)

[16] Gage Cuts the Cake, CAC Bulletin, Aug. 1932, Vol. VII, No. 8

[17] California Art Club, Los Angeles Times, February 1, 1911; op. cit.

Alexey Steele is Taking Over Los Angeles!

alexey-carnegie_s On the evening of February 7th, artist Alexey Steele gave a lecture at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, California, which accompanied that museum's acquisition of his monumental drawing "Quiet Steps of Approaching Thunder." Before the talk, Alexey's good friend Maksim Velichkin set the mood for the unveiling with a piece for cello. I thought this would be a great place to recount some of the ideas Alexey (born in Kiev, Ukraine) brought up during the course of his lecture, as I've always loved his perspective. [Once you've met Alexey, you'll recognize his infectious laughter and palm-searing high-fives ANYWHERE.]

Art is very integral to the Russian way of life - when everything else in a society fails, art is still there and speaks to Truth. In many ways, art can be a tool of survival. Alexey contrasted this deep connection of Russians to their art with that of the American relation to art, the latter being one primarily of decoration today.

A living breathing Art needs public interaction to communicate, which is where museums fill their greatest role. Although acknowledging the need for galleries and collectors, he lamented that once a piece is acquired for a private collection it is no longer accessible to the public. 

The Russian idea of art deals very much with opposites: life/death, male/female, light/dark, advancing/retreating, etc. 

An idea first has personal relevance to the artist; it is only later that it may have relevance on a larger stage.

Art is communication. 

While he offered some explanations for his piece now in the Carnegie collection, Alexey was intentionally vague about defining everything. Using realism to communicate the unseen, the four-headed seraphim-esque figure is not completely visible to the viewer, and not everything is necessarily literal; to see one of the hidden faces, you would necessarily lose sight of another one as the figure rotated. This hints at those unexplained parts of normal life - nothing is ever completely seen or completely understood, but Art can give us a piece of the picture.

Moni Simeonov (violin) and Pepron Pilibossian (piano) performing Sevdana by Georgi Zlatev-Cherkin

I also have to mention Alexey's fantastic studio where he recently hosted another music concert with Classical Underground. Originating about a year or two ago as a small gathering of artists and musicians just hanging out at the studio and playing music all night, it has developed quite a following, usually boasting a few hundred devoted fans at each monthly performance. After a potluck prior to the concert, everyone sits back to enjoy the performances, which are now being taped and filmed. (Jeremy Lipking has some good photos from an earlier performance over at his blog.)

Apart from all the great musicians there (some are a part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic), there is a cadre of artists who frequent these concerts (some visiting from out of town),including Peter Adams, Glenn Dean, Logan Hagege, Dan McCaw, Ignat Ignatov, Stephen Mirich, Daniel Pinkham, Tony Pro, Christopher Pugliese, Rodolfo Rivademar, Katya Walker, and Aaron Westerberg. Here are all of the musicians for the February 9th performance, as they were the reason we were there in the first place (in order of appearance): Radu Pieptea (violin), Mikael Oganesyan (piano), Alexander Suleiman (cello), Yana Reznik (piano), Marina Kesler (mezzo-soprano), Maksim Velichkin (piano), Carter Larsen (piano), Indira Rakhmatullaeva (cello), Eduardo Delgado (piano), Moni Simeonov (violin), Pepron Pilibossian (piano), and Harout Senekeremian (piano).

Landscape Painting @ LAAFA

The Fall Semester at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art in Van Nuys, California is beginning next week, and the Landscape Painting Class will be in full swing again beginning Saturday, October 25th. It runs for eight consecutive Saturdays (excluding the Thanksgiving holiday) through December 20th. The class size is kept small, so students will receive plenty of individual instruction. 

In these classes you will learn how to paint what you see, not what you think you see. Learn how to interpret nature in terms of paint, using light and color to create form. Color relationships, design/composition, simplifying, and the benefits of painting on location will be discussed, as well as how to design and build a painting that carries an emotional impact. Make an investment in your art - gain confidence and knowledge that will inspire all areas of your creativity.

Focusing Intensity, 18" x 20", Oil on board, © Eric Merrell

As artists, we need to be able to interpret what we see and understand what we paint. Ample time is given to demos by the instructor as well as individual painting time. All experience levels are welcome. Limited space is available - call 818/708-9232 or visit www.laafa.org to register your space today!

For more information, please visit www.ericmerrell.com and click on Workshops.