Orange County Museum of Art

Newport Beach, CA



Gold Rush to Pop


Gold Rush to Pop features over sixty paintings highlighting the history of California through the eyes of its artists. This exhibition opens on October 17, 1998 and will remain on view through January 24, 1999. Guest-curated by art historian Nancy D. W. Moure, this comprehensive examination of California art history includes seaside and desert landscapes, scenes of immigration, urban development, World War II, technology, the civil rights movement, and commercial culture.

This extensive exhibition provides visitors with a fresh understanding of the significance of California's art--in the context of world history as well as from the singular perspective of the American West Coast. Beginning with works delineating fhe first forays by artists into the California wilderness alongside the gold miner, and continuing through stunning landscape paintings capturing the unique light and space of California, this exhibition offers a unique opportunity to understand the history of California through paintings by artists who lived and worked in the state.

The state's temperate climate and diverse topography of snow-capped mountains, seashore, deserts. and farming valleys have inspired travelers and residents alike. Artists such as William Wendt, Maurice Braun, and Guy Rose depicted the lush and dynamic landscapes of California's wilderness. The Impressionist style, which embraced light, air, and color, appealed to California artists who felt it reflected the state's' ambiance and scenery.

Additional paintings examine urban living, first in San Francisco and later in Southern California. The artists living in Northern and Southern California developed different responses to their different local conditions. Gold Rush to Pop exhibits these interpretations side by side.

California artists were touched by critical historical events that affected the nation--the post-World War I economic boom, the stock market crash in 1929, and the aftermath of the Depression. Tokio Ueyama's The Evacuee records historical events that depict the changes brought on by World War II, such as the Japanese internment camps in Central California. Artists such as Phil Dike, Rex Brandt, Otis Oldfield, and Alfred Ramos Martinez concentrated on American subjects, reflecting the climate, lifestyles, and attitudes of their immediate environment. During the Depression, artists faced economic constraints and sought to find meanigful subjects in their immediate surroundings.

Art movements such as Modernism and Surrealism were interpreted and embraced by California artists. Stanton MacDonald-Wright developed "Synchromism," a modern movement characterized by brilliant color, formal innovation, and subjective emotion. Helen Lundeberg and Lorser Feitelson were influential proponents of post-Surrealism and painted dreamscapes incorporating simultaneously dissimilar subjects. Modernist painters such as Sam Francis and John McLaughlin represented distinct styles of California abstraction. In the 1960s California had a significant role in the Pop Art movement with nationally prominent artists from Northern and Southern California such as Ed Ruscha and Wayne Thiebaud. Pop art celebrated images of consumerism and popular culture.

California's participation in the civil rights movement--from sit-ins at the University of California, Berkeley, the Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; Black Panthers in Oakland; and Women's Liberation--produced artistic dialogues on these important struggles. The exhibition also examines Asian and Chicano perspectives and their interpretations of California culture and history. Shifts in immigrant population in the 1960s brought influential artists from diverse cultural backgrounds to the forefront.

Several paintings demonstrate how artists presently respond to the high-tech, culturally complex communities that now comprise the contemporary California scene. Examinations of personal identity and social and political issues reflect the unique California perspective. Gold Rush to Pop culminates with artists' anticipation of the imminent new millennium. As technology advances, so will the reach and impact of California art and artists.

This exhibition is sponsored by The Irvine Company; The Exhibitionists Council; and Wells Fargo Foundation joined by Wells Fargo Real Estate Group, Wells Fargo Commercial Banking Group, and Wells Fargo Private Client Services; First American Title Insurance; and Camilla Chandler Frost; with additional support from the Friends of the Exhibition.

Top to bottom: Maruice Braun, California Valley Farm, c. 1920, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 inches, courtesy of Joseph Moure; Maynard Dixon, Forgotton Man, 1934, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 inches, collection of Museum of Art, Brigham Young University; Thomas Hill, Yosemite Falls, 1885, oil on canva, 54 x 36 inches, collection of Dr. and Mrs. Edward Boseker.

rev. 11/26/10

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