California Art Club Has Long Legacy in Santa Paula

California Art Club Has Long Legacy in Santa Paula

On July 15, 2017, the California Art Club returns to the Santa Paula Art Museum. Golden State Splendor marks the second pairing of the Museum and the historic club, which has been producing breathtaking exhibitions since 1909. The contemporary group exhibition features paintings and sculpture that illustrate the beauty of the Golden State, from seascapes and landscapes to charming scenes of both rural and city life. Fifty-five of the Club's current artist members are included in the exhibition which runs through November 5, 2017. But the California Art Club's partnership with the Museum is only the most recent event in its long history in Santa Paula...

According to Executive Director Elaine Adams, the California Art Club (CAC) was established in 1909 by the early California Impressionist painters, and evolved from the Painter’s Club of Los Angeles, which was founded in 1906 as an informal group of male artists. A significant impetus that helped form the California Art Club was the objective to allow women artists to participate in group exhibitions and in fellowship. Instrumental in the founding of the CAC were the artists Franz Bischoff (1864-1929), Carl Oscar Borg (1879-1947), Hanson Puthuff (1875-1972) and William Wendt (1865-1946).

Under the early leadership of William Wendt, the California Art Club quickly became a powerful and prestigious institution that was recognized as a cultural authority on the west coast. The Club’s membership included such luminaries as Edgar Payne (1883-1947), Granville Redmond (1871-1935), Guy Rose (1867-1925), Jack Wilkinson Smith (1873-1949) and Marion Wachtel (1876-1954). With the success of the CAC’s quality group exhibitions, the supporting “Patron” membership grew to include many of Southern California’s leading citizens. However, after the 1929 stock market crash, World War II, and the onset of international modernism, the Club’s status and membership declined. In 1942, the CAC had to give their prestigious headquarters, Hollyhock House, to the City of Los Angeles. But the California Art Club did not completely perish. It was able to continue as a small group of professional artists and amateur painters.

Here in Santa Paula during that same period, local banker and artist Douglas Shively convinced the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce to sponsor an annual art show and competition. Offering “purchase prizes,” the show attracted some of California’s best artists, including members of the California Art Club. In fact, the first Santa Paula Art Show in 1937 was judged by artist Ralph Holmes (1876-1963), who served as the California Art Club’s 16th president from 1939 to 1941. Over the ensuing decades, over two dozen CAC artists - including Holmes, Paul Lauritz, John Hubbard Rich, Al Dempster, Ejnar Hansen, and others - have been honored with awards in the Santa Paula Art Show. Their winning artworks were purchased and now belong to the famous Santa Paula civic art collection. A selection of these works are currently on view at the Santa Paula Art Museum.

Today, the California Art Club survives as one of the oldest, largest and most active leading professional art organizations in the world. Similarly, the Santa Paula Art Show continues as the oldest juried art show in California. The Santa Paula Art Museum is proud to be continuing such a long and valuable creative friendship.

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