plein air painting

CSU Summer Arts Workshop

July 11-15, 2011 - Representing the Figure: Drawing and Painting
I'll be one of four instructors this summer at CSU Fresno Summer Arts program presenting painting workshops along with F. Scott Hess, Yu Ji, and Samantha Minear.

Though the title focuses on the figure as a subject, we'll also be focusing on still life and landscape in my class. These workshops are open to anyone - you don't need to be enrolled in the CSU system to participate, and there are many opportunities for scholarships available.

For more info, click the image above for a larger version or click here.

Cape Cod Exhibits

A Window on Provincetown, 12" x 12", Oil on canvas mounted on panel, © Eric Merrell

Paintings from the recent group trip to Cape Cod and Provincetown will be presented January 15 - February 28, 2011 in  Creative Convergence: Cape Cod, exhibited at the Cape Cod Museum of Art (60 Hope Lane, Dennis, MA 02638) and Addison Art Gallery (43 Route 28, Orleans, MA 02653). A reception will be held on Saturday, February 19, 2011, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the museum. You can read a little bit about the trip in one of my previous posts here. Check out the show online or in person via the gallery website; it should be very interesting to see each artist's approach to painting the small art colony of Provincetown.

This first piece above was painted on one of the rainy days we had. I loved the cool light outside and the (relative) warmth we had painting inside. On most of these days we painted from a model, but on the last rainy day I decided I wanted to do this unique view of the P-Town shoreline.

Moored on a Mirror (Cape Cod Bay), 12" x 12", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Far across the water, past the moored sailboat, you can see the thin sliver of Cape Cod. The title was partly inspired from a conversation I had with local artist and Hensche student Hilda Neily, about how Provincetown light is unique in that it is surrounded on three sides by water.

Shaped by the Sea (Provincetown Dunes), 12" x 16", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

When the sun came back I headed out to the dunes with Ian Factor. As soon as I sketched my thoughts into my sketchbook I knew I was hooked on this composition. Something about the undulating shapes kept my eye moving, stopping occasionally at a spot of color. It became an analogy of sorts for our trip - artists moving restlessly around the peninsula while painting all day, pausing for a bite to eat or a quick cup of coffee, and moving on to the next location.

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.

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.

Paintings from Joshua Tree

See more paintings and photos from the trip on Facebook. Roaring_Rock_s

The Roar of Time, 14" x 11", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Joshua_Nocturne_s

Joshua Nocturne, 10" x 10", Oil on board, © Eric Merrell

Near_Desert_Hot_Springs_s

Near Desert Hot Springs, Afternoon, 10" x 11", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Fallen_s

Fallen Joshua Tree, 10" x 10", Oil on board, © Eric Merrell

After_the_Storms_s

After the Storms, 14" x 14", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Keys_View_s

Out Over the Desert, 10" x 10", Oil on board, © Eric Merrell

After_the_Fires_s

Fire Victims, 11" x 14", Oil on canvas mounted on panel, © Eric Merrell

Hidden_Valley02_s

Hidden Valley, 10" x 8", Oil on canvasboard, © Eric Merrell

Lack_of_Shade_s

Lack of Shade, Midday, 10" x 11", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Ending on a High Note in the Desert

Less_Traveled_s The Road Less Traveled, Joshua Tree, 14" x 14", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Eric_DHS-s

As the end of the residency approaches, I'm trying to get in everything I wanted to work on. July was windy and then really hot, but August has been beautiful. Mostly in the 90's during the day and in the 70's at night. Just awesome. I wonder if this bodes badly for September? I've worked on broadening my approaches, trying some new things, exploring new places. I think I have some 70-odd paintings. (I haven't been able to shoot very many of them yet, but will at some point for a future post.)

Some of the best memories: out looking for a spot to paint the full moonlight, I stopped along the road in Lost Horse Valley. As I stood there in the moonlight, I started to notice a shape or two flitting about in the half-darkness: bats. Then I noticed a few more. After my eyes adjusted, although only a handful were ever visible at any given moment, you could sense the hundreds of bats flying all around you, sometimes only a foot away. I don't know if something with the moon brought out more bugs, or that they naturally congregate there, or something else. But it was so quiet, the only sound was of the approaching bats' clicking, echolocating, like the sounds of a few marbles bouncing quickly onto a tile floor.

My easel and umbrellas were quite battered by the winds, and knocked over a few times. One evening, though, in the lower Colorado desert, I set up to work about 20 feet to the side of a large wash. After painting a bit, I heard a noise like a car approaching in the distance. As it grew closer, the sound distinctly became the rushing wind, barreling down the mountains - straight through the wash. From my vantage, I could see the smoketrees and creosote in the wash straining under the onslaught; but the only thing that reached me was a nice cool breeze. As this tended to happen every so often, I grew accustomed to it and congratulated myself for being clever enough to avoid painting in the wash, my original intention. As I heard another gust approaching, I must have reached over to grab a tube of paint, or brush, or something - I don't recall what - but as soon as the wind hit the wash this time, it made a quick turn and blasted into the easel from the one weak spot. Though it was tied down, the easel was still thrown a few feet, and the palette skidded face-down across the sand, leaving streaks of yellow and orange on the desert floor. I decided to call it a day, and laughed while I cleaned everything up. Not much of the paint was salvageable.

Palette_s

Southern_Desert_Horned_Lizard_s

I can't wait to return home now and sort through everything from the residency. Already have many ideas from the sketches and notes.

Tony Peters, San Diego

TP-TP_s I drove down to San Diego recently to scope out some new locations and paint with fellow artist Tony Peters. Tony and I went to Art Center together awhile back, and have been in a couple of exhibitions together, so it was great to catch up. We talked quite a bit - the journey of art, ideas and inspiration, artistic philosophies, etc. - when your work demands that you spend most of your time working solitarily, it's great to have a meeting of the minds (and some drinks). Tony has a lot of great ideas that he puts into his work, and has been developing a very personal approach. He's also a collecting nut when it comes to art books. If you don't know Tony or his work, check out his blog when you have a chance, as there are a lot of good thoughts to peruse.

Peters_s

Looking Outward, 32″ x 48″, Oil on canvas, © Tony Peters

We sketched over at Torrey Pines State Park most of the time and stopped by the harbor too; I did a sketch around sunset overlooking Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve before I made my way back home.

Artist Residency in the High Desert

LunaMesa_s I recently learned that I've been selected for the Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency program, which will take place in July and August. We (I believe there are a few other artists, but not sure how many) are provided with a place to stay out in the rugged desert landscape, surrounded by cholla and jackrabbits, close by the National Park.

Although this time of year is super hot, I love the area and paint there often (and the houses have swamp coolers); this will allow me to really spend some time with the landscape and explore other places too. I hope to get back down to the Salton Sea again, and also to paint some desert moonrises. A moonrise over the Salton Sea would be spectacular! I'm thinking I'll need to organize my days to avoid the heat: up super early to work, hide out under some cacti during midday, and get back to painting when the sun drops a little lower in the sky. On the checklist: plenty of water and sunscreen, and of course umbrellas. The paintings below are from the Hidden Valley area of Joshua Tree National Park.

NearAndFarJoshuaTree_s

Near and Far, Joshua Tree National Park, 24" x 20", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Renewed Confidence_s

Desert Sunset, Joshua Tree National Park, 16" x 16", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell, Private Collection

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.

East Coast Ideals/West Coast Concepts*

ramona_s Ramona and I have just returned from a great trip out to Boston and Cape Cod, our first time to Massachusetts. The Cape is a really fascinating place with a long history of art, still going strong today. California could learn a few things about aesthetics from the area.

We flew out for the openings of Painting New England Together at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, MA and Paintapalooza at Addison Art Gallery in Orleans, MA. (Lots of photos are online on Facebook.) I've got to give a big California Thank You to everyone out there for making our stay so hospitable - Paul and Pharr Schulenburg, Peter and Kathleen Kalill, Jeff Bonasia, and Helen Addison along with Domonic Boreffi over at Addison Art Gallery for their huge effort in making this all happen. It was really wonderful meeting everyone at the receptions.

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We spent some time up in Provincetown (P-Town) and saw the studios of Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) and Henry Hensche (1899 - 1992). We got to check out the small but nice collection at the Provincetown Art Association & Museum, and visited the historic Beachcomber's Club too, of which a number of the guys in our exhibition are members of. [Two artists who were members of both the Beachcombers Club as well as the California Art Club: Richard Edward Miller (1875-1943) and Christian von Schneidau (1893-1976).] I made a good effort to seek out work by Hawthorne and Hensche while we were there - they're hard enough to come by on the east coast, and virtually nowhere to be seen out in California. That search led me to Vose Galleries in Boston, which has been a leading gallery in that area for six generations(!). We met Carey Vose, and she and the staff were kind enough to pull out some amazing paintings by Hawthorne, Paul Dougherty (1877-1947), and Childe Hassam (1859-1935) that they had. You definitely need to stop at Vose if you're going to Boston; it's really much more like a museum than a gallery.

 

detail of "Still Life" by Hawthorne

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 Looking forward to our next trip back east! Who knows, maybe there will be a sequel - Paintapalooza: P-town.

 

*I borrowed this title from a 1997 exhibition that focused on the artistic lineages of the Boston School and the California Impressionists.

American Art Collector; Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)

aac1_s The February issue of American Art Collector has a great story of the Maine trip and upcoming exhibitions, including lots of images. It should be out on newsstands soon if it isn't already. And still plenty of time to book your tickets to Boston!

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Christina's World, 1948, © Andrew Wyeth, tempera on panel, 32" x  48", Museum of Modern Art, NYC

Relatedly, but on a much sadder note, I've just learned that Andrew Wyeth, one of the greatest American artists, just passed away last night or early this morning at the age of 91. You can read about him and his life here and here. The small town our group of artists stayed at up in Maine is where Andrew lived. Paul Schulenburg, one of the guys on the trip with paintings in the upcoming exhibitions (including a painting of Andrew's studio) put it nicely: "Although we didn't get to meet him on our visit, it was nice to know he was around."

"Paintapalooza" at Cape Cod Museum of Art, Addison Art Gallery

the-proximity-of-a-town-monhegan_s The Proximity of a Town, Monhegan, 12 1/2" x 16", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Happy New Year to everyone; a new year filled with Art, Music, Food, Family, and Gingerbread, all the good things in life and not necessarily in that order. We really are living in the best period of history, with lots to be thankful for. The gathering of artists at Port Clyde, Maine in September 2008 (see my previous posts about the trip here and here) will be the focus of two concurrent exhibitions on Cape Cod early this new year. The first, opening at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, will feature a painting from each of the artists and will run from January 17 – March 22, 2009 at the museum. A reception will be held on the evening of February 13.

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Anchored in Good Foundations, Port Clyde, 20" x 24", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell; Exhibited at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA.

The second part will be at Addison Art Gallery, with the opening reception on Saturday, February 14 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the gallery (President’s Day Weekend) and continuing through March 15, 2009. This exhibition will feature many more works from the twelve artists on the Maine trip. See the gallery’s page for the exhibition here, and click on the photos of the artists to see more of their artwork in the exhibition. Book your travel plans now, as there will be a lot of great art to see! Hope to see you there.

You can see a slideshow of the six paintings I will be sending for the exhibitions, online here.

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Eric Merrell and Glenn Dean, Monhegan Island, Maine, September 2008.

The California Art Club's 98th Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition

aspirations-of-man Aspirations of Man, 22" x 28", Oil on canvas, © Eric Merrell

You've probably noticed by now that I exhibit with and write quite a bit about the California Art Club. I first encountered the group sometime in spring 2000 when I took a term off from Art Center College of Design where I was enrolled (and later graduated in 2001). Luckily for me, there was a landscape class at ACCD at the time I was there, and I had a great time painting at all sorts of locations with Mike Hernandez (unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge and from a couple of first-hand accounts, there are no landscape classes there currently). I must have taken this class a couple of times as an independent study just to allow me time to work outdoors. Anyhow, I began to get involved and exhibit with the CAC before I left school and soon realized that many of my goals were paralleled by theirs. So, almost nine years later, I'm excited to announce that I've been elected to Artist Member of the California Art Club! Their idea of juried membership levels are loosely based on the National Academy of Design in New York City (fun fact - William Wendt (1865-1946), the 2nd and 4th President of the CAC, was elected as an Associate member of the National Academy [ANA] in 1912, the only member in Los Angeles at the time, but he never reached Full Academician [NA]). I've always thought that one of the best aspects of groups like these is the camaraderie one encounters, the myriad artists, gallery and museum directors, framers, historians, collectors, patrons, art lovers, etc.; it's an incredible network of people.

Along these lines, I've just learned that my painting Aspirations of Man has been accepted into the California Art Club's 98th Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition, to be held at the Pasadena Museum of Art April 26-May 17, 2009. (See a history of the Gold Medal Exhibitions.) This piece is from a solo painting trip I took to France from September through December 2002, showing the 14th c. Pont Valentré at Cahors. It was really cold by the time I got to the city (I spent Thanksgiving there, which is somewhat depressing without friends and family, with only a Sandwich Americàin and a bottle of wine instead of a turkey...the "sandwich" consisted of a hamburger and two eggs stuffed inside a pita, topped off and overflowing with french fries(!)). I had bought myself a jacket by this point, since the warmest layer I had brought with me from home was a sweatshirt. Three months is just about the right amount of time to spend working alone, you really get to know yourself and only start to get homesick towards the very end. It was an awesome trip, and I ended up coming home with 60-70 sketches.

I keyed the painting really cold to strive for that crisp air and chilly wind. The type of weather that lets you know snow is coming.

The Ever-Changing Landscape

coral-trees-sunset-effect Coral Trees - Sunset Effect, 12" x 16", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

coral-trees-june-moonrise Coral Trees - June Moonrise, 12" x 16", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

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Coral Trees - Midday Effect, 12" x 16", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

coral-trees-in-the-gloaming Coral Trees - In the Gloaming, 12" x 16", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

These were mostly painted consecutively, one day after the next, in June 2008. I did this to observe the ways in which the light changed subtly in a consistent environment (avoiding too much seasonal change). The moonrise was first, where I found the composition; as I waited for it to rise, I admired the changing light of the setting sun. There were so many moods, changing completely every 10 minutes or so, and as I liked the arrangement I thought it could provide a great way to study the light at different times of the day. It wasn't so much that the light changed, but the landscape itself changed.

Local Color - The Movie

Nikolai Seroff [Armin Mueller-Stahl] and Johnny [Trevor Morgan] in Local Color

A new movie, Local Color, by artist and director George Gallo will be hitting theaters nationwide on November 7th. Modeled on real events in the director's life as he struggled to learn to paint, it follows an 18-year old in the 1970's who desperately wants to learn representational painting, albeit during a period when an unsympathetic art world considered it passé. After learning that an old Russian artist lives locally, he eventually convinces the old man to mentor him, and the younger artist sets forth to tackle the trials of outdoor painting. The humor, frustration and pursuit of passion put this film on a level of humanity that anyone can relate to. Click on the image above to go to the official site of Local Color to watch trailers, read reviews and more.

The California Art Club will be hosting special previews of the movie on October 12th at the Rialto Theater in South Pasadena, as well as on October 26th at the Women's City Club of Pasadena. Visit their website for more information. Director George Gallo is an Out-of-State Artist Member of the California Art Club.

This is a great time in which we are living - there are many art forms which are embraced, and which inform each other - and there is relatively little struggle between the forms for superiority, as was the case in the past. The elusive criteria sought by the viewer to understand and judge a piece for themselves, though - this should be the level of an artist's integrity, or lack of, visible in every artwork if looked for in the right place.

This movie can be viewed in many different lights - but is also important historically. It documents a time not too long ago when representational painting literally fought to stay alive by the efforts of a small handful of artists, represented by Nikolai Seroff. I don't believe the movie is saying "We need to reinstate the status quo of representational painting as it was before," but rather "This is our history, we still have a seat at the table, and representational painting still has much more to say."