Current Exhibitions

Botke Birds and Blossoms

March 3, 2018 through July 8, 2018

The late Santa Paula artist Jessie Arms Botke (1883 – 1971) remains one of the most treasured decorative painters of the 20th century. Botke’s richly colored and detailed paintings of birds and flora are particularly prized among art collectors. Botke Birds and Blossoms, an original exhibition produced by the Santa Paula Art Museum, provides a new perspective on Botke’s historic artworks as it explores how her early career as an interior decorator influenced the style and subject matter for which her paintings became most famous. 

The exhibit’s fresh take on Jessie Arms Botke’s work is revealed in over 30 large-scale oil and watercolor paintings that have never before been exhibited. Jessie Botke’s talent for illustrating birds and blossoms originated during her time as a wall decorator and tapestry “cartoonist” (designer) at interior design firm Herter Looms in New York. It was there that she was exposed to a great variety of artistic mediums including medieval and Renaissance tapestries, Flemish still life painting, Japanese panels, and gold leaf. In comparing Botke’s later paintings with images of some of her earliest projects and inspirations, Botke Birds and Blossoms offers a better understanding of Botke’s art.

Museum visitors are also given a glimpse into the artist’s creative process through her sketches and studies of flowers and birds, as well as Botke’s personal paintbox and handwritten letters. A full-size reproduction of one of Botke’s murals is also on view and makes a great backdrop for photos! Botke Birds and Blossoms will be on view through July 8, 2018.

Setting the Scene: Hollywood Animators and Background Painters in the Santa Paula Civic Collection

February 3, 2018 through June 17, 2018

The Santa Paula Art Museum has gone Hollywood with its current exhibition Setting the Scene: Hollywood Animators and Background Painters in the Santa Paula Civic Collection. The exhibit features fine art paintings from the famous Santa Paula Civic Collection by artists who worked behind-the-scenes at Disney, MGM, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox during the Golden Age of Hollywood. 

Since the 1930s, film and animation studios have played a leading role in the lives of many California artists and have been influential in the development of what is recognized as the “California Style.” Nowhere is this more evident than within the Santa Paula Civic Collection, a historic collection of artworks established in 1937 and owned by the City of Santa Paula. Setting the Scene displays some of the best works from Santa Paula’s collection. While the art on exhibit was not created for the movies, it includes personal works by Disney background painters like Al Dempster, Basil Davidovich and Charles Payzant, who lent their talents to animated features such as FantasiaPinocchio, Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty. The exhibit also stars artists like George Gibson, once head of MGM’s scenic design department and lead scenic artist for The Wizard of Oz, and Emil Kosa, Jr., who designed the original 20th Century Fox logo and won an Academy Award in 1964 for his work on Cleopatra.

The colorful exhibition explores the relationship between the artists’ fine art paintings and their commercial work for film. Viewers can learn more about the history of painting in motion pictures, the process of creating an animated feature, special effects, and the people behind some of the most iconic movie scenes ever filmed. Visitors to the exhibit are also invited to write or illustrate a scene from their own story to add to a community-made storyboard. Setting the Scene is on view through June 17, 2018.