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A Woman's Touch: Selected Women Artists in California

May 26 - September 18, 2004

(above: Marion K. Wachtel (1876-1954), Matilija Canyon at Sunset, watercolor on paper, 25 1/2 x 19 3/8 inches)


A Woman's Touch: Selected Women Artists in California, an exhibit at The Irvine Museum, opens May 26 and continues through September 18, 2004. Far from being limited to a dilettante role, women artists in California were important figures in the early part of the twentieth century and excelled in landscape painting, as well as portrait, figural, and still-life. Moreover, they set the standard in such diverse media as oil painting, watercolor, and sculpture. (right: Donna Schuster, (1883-1953), On the Beach, c. 1917, oil on canvas, 29 x 29 inches)

As one of the founders of the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1917, Anna A. Hills (1882-1930) played a key role in organizing and, later as its president, in charting the course of this important association. A popular art teacher, she helped guide the careers of numerous artists of the period, most notably George K. Brandriff (1890-1936). A Woman's Touch: Selected Women Artists in California, shows several works by Hills, including the small and charming outdoor sketch entitled By the Roadside Near El Toro, 1914.

One of the most popular artists whose works are often displayed at The Irvine Museum is Jessie Arms Botke (1883-1971). Her elegant and brightly colored paintings of exotic birds and plants stand out for their sheer power to dazzle the eyes of the viewer. Nationally known as one of the important American Art Deco painters, Botke's works shimmer with color, graceful line and exquisite detail, and are often times accompanied by large areas of gold leaf as part of the design.

Not all California painters were inspired by the French Impressionists. Starting in about 1914, a group of progressive artists, usually women, began to show works of strong modernist principles. Among these were Mabel Alvarez (1891-1985), Elanor Colburn (1866-1939), Meta Cressey (1882-1964), Helen Forbes (1891-1945), Donna Schuster (1883-1953) and Elsie Palmer Payne (1884-1971). Their bold use of color and line is in stark contrast to the realistic appearance of the Plein-Air paintings usually associated with this period. (left: Elanor Colburn, (1866-1939), Bathing Baby, 1930, oil on canvas, 36 x 33 inches)

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(above: Anna Hills (1882-1930), Fall, Orange County Park, 1918, oil on board, 14 x 18 inches)


Resource Library editor's note:

For biographical information on artists referenced in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists

Rev. 8/27/09

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