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America's Wilderness in Art


The American wilderness, as seen through the eyes of artists over the last two centuries, will be featured in a new exhibition at the Wildling Art Museum in Los Olivos, beginning October 20, 2001. More than 30 works by well-known artists, including John James Audubon, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Charles Russell, and Ansel Adams, will be exhibited.

The show, "America's Wilderness in Art", is designed to showcase the range of artistic styles, mediums and subject matter used to portray the various aspects of the American wilderness encountered during settlement of the continent. Sponsor of the show is the Wildling Art Museum, a new museum dedicated to promoting a greater understanding and appreciation of wilderness through art. A "wildling" is any wild plant or animal.(left: Maynard Dixon (1875-1946), "Shadows at Short Creek, Arizona," oil on board, Lent anonymously)

"The Museum is located in the historic Keenan-Hartley House, the oldest house in Los Olivos," said Penny Knowles, the museum's executive director. "While we have had four small exhibitions already, the artwork to be shown in this new exhibit is representative of what we would like to have ultimately in our permanent collection."

Guest curator for the exhibition is Marlene Miller, a founding director of the museum and owner of the Arlington Gallery in Santa Barbara. "Our mission is unique among museums, and the art community has been extremely supportive of our goals," said Miller. "Private collectors, art dealers and museums from as far away as New Jersey and Virginia have agreed to loan us works for the show." The exhibition invitation has been underwritten by Rio-Vista Chevrolet and the Santa Ynez Inn.

Among the earliest works to be exhibited are a painting of Marsh Hawks by William G. Williams, a graduate of West Point who accompanied John C. Fremont on topographical explorations of the Cherokee country in the Southeast during 1836-37, and a portrait of Major Stephen Long, attributed to Titian Ramsey Peale, who accompanied Long on his 1820 expedition into the Great Plains. There will be scenes of wilderness from every corner of the nation, from the Cypress Swamp in Florida to Canyon de Chelly, Yosemite Valley and the Oregon coast. A dramatic painting, "Proud Elk," by Carl Rungius and sculptures of buffalo, pumas and a mountain sheep by Arthur Putnam and Charles M. Russell will also be included.

A monograph with essays on the history of the exploration and development of the continent and the role that artists played in recording it, co-authored by Miller with her husband, Warren, is available.(right: John Fery (1859-1934), "Blue Lake (Glacier Park), oil on canvas, Collection Wildling Art Museum)


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Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 6/3/11

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