Los Angeles, CA
Autry Museum of the American West, April 2-24
This story was featured in the April 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
More than a century ago, a cadre of prominent painters came together to establish the California Art Club. Today the club continues to thrive as an artistic home to respected painters and sculptors throughout the Golden State and beyond. This month the organization’s annual Gold Medal Exhibition kicks off with the Artists’ Gala, a ticketed event on Saturday, April 2, at the Autry Museum of the American West. Attendees can view 228 recent artworks by emerging and established artists, as well as an exhibit titled California Impressionism: The Gardenia High School Collection, featuring works by early club members, such as Franz Bischoff, Edgar Payne, and Jack Wilkinson Smith.
For the first time, the club has decided not to present the large number of awards normally associated with the show. According to organizers, there were concerns that such honors had become detractions from the presentation of the artwork, particularly when there are so many works of high merit worth recognizing. The only awards bestowed this year are purchase awards.
The decision allows viewers to better appreciate how classical fine-art techniques are embraced by different generations of today’s artists, according to Elaine Adams, the club’s executive director. “As one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most active fine-arts organizations, we focus our efforts on fostering a dialogue about traditional fine arts,” Adams says. “And our Gold Medal Exhibition, a showcase of multiple genres of the highest quality representational art, provides an ideal platform for the continuation of this discussion.”
Among the more than 150 prominent participating artists are Mian Situ, Jeremy Lipking, Dan Gerhartz, Dean Mitchell, Joseph Todorovitch, and Jean LeGassick. LeGassick’s painting WHAT A LITTLE SUNLIGHT WILL DO, on view in the show, was created from a location study painted during a pack trip into California’s John Muir Wilderness. “The painting depicts the dramatic moment when the first morning sunlight climbs above the surrounding peaks and illuminates the cliffs across Fifth Lake,” LeGassick says. “And since it’s often quite chilly at night, that means that the warming rays of the first light are especially welcome. Hence, the title: from dark to lightness and from cold to warmth. This is a visually beautiful scene enhanced by all the wonderful things a little sunlight can do.”
Andrea Mosley, a member of the club’s mentoring program, shows her painting MAIL ORDER BRIDE, a meditation on the freedoms that are part of being an American, including the economic opportunity to succeed through hard work. Having come from a family of immigrants, Mosley says she recognizes that this isn’t true in all countries—economic pressures can force a person into desperate actions. “In MAIL ORDER BRIDE, through body language and expression, I try to capture that feeling of hopelessness—a woman tries to project confidence and sexuality while actually being afraid,” she says. “How would it feel to marry a stranger for convenience or opportunity and risk the unknown consequences of the decision?” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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