The Good Life, California Watercolors, 1930-1950: Selections From the Mark and Janet Hilbert Collection
May 1, 2014 - Jul 20, 2014
The Haggin Museum is delighted to present The Good Life, an exhibition of California watercolors of the 1930s through 1950s selected from the collection of Mark and Janet Hilbert.
The Good Life is not a show about being fantastically rich, but about the pleasures of an ordinary life in the idyllic setting and climate of California during the period 1930 to 1950. The paintings depict the blessings of life in California despite the hardships of the Depression.
The majority of paintings in The Good Life are on loan from the collection of Mark and Janet Hilbert of Newport Beach. Pasadena natives, the Hilberts have built a superb collection of watercolors that show life as it was when Southern California's population was a great deal smaller and its towns and cities perhaps more charming than today.
The Hilberts describe how the collection began by chance more than fifteen years ago.
"We were decorating a weekend house in Palm Springs and happened to buy an inexpensive watercolor from the '40s. After looking at it for several months we began appreciating the richness and beauty of the medium. This period of California art was nicknamed the California Style by those artists. We soon found this period bristled with a great variety of examples depicting California as it once existed."
In the 1920s, Southern California experienced tremendous growth. During this period, an inspired group of young artists began producing watercolor paintings, which pictorially captured what was happening around them. Much of the interaction between artists took place at the Chouinard Art Institute and the Art Center School in Southern California. Before long art critics throughout America began referring to this new art movement as the "California Style" or "California School" of watercolor painting.
The Good Life depicts views of Newport and Santa Monica Beach, Elysian Park in the mid 1930s, train stations in Los Angeles and San Bernardino, and views of family farms and small town settings.
Among the artists represented in The Good Life are Standish Backus (1910-1989), Rex Brandt (1914-2000), Phil Dike (1906-1990), Dong Kingman (1911-2000), Nat Levy (1896-1984), Barse Miller (1904-1973), Paul Sample (1896-1974), Milford Zornes (1908-2008) and many others.