Show Preview | Artistic Eden

Pasadena, CA
Pasadena Museum of History, through January 11

Lisa Bell, Descanso Koi, oil, 16 x 20.

Lisa Bell, Descanso Koi, oil, 16 x 20.

This story was featured in the December 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

In October, nearly 350,000 acres of land in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles was designated as a national monument. But the natural splendor of the San Gabriel Valley and the charming city of Pasadena is no secret to the fine artists exhibiting in Contemporary Masters, Artistic Eden IV. The exhibition is the fourth of its kind cosponsored by the Pasadena Art Gallery Association and the Pasadena Museum of History, where it opened in October and remains on display through January 11, 2015. On Sunday, December 7, the museum offers free admission to the show, and several exhibiting artists are in attendance.

“The focus this year has been to include scenes of everyday life—highlighting the ethnic diversity of the area,” says Karen Hackett, co-owner of Tirage Fine Art Gallery, a gallery association member. As it has in the past, the exhibition includes oils, acrylics, pastels, and watercolors; photography and sculpture are included for the first time this year.

Artists from all over the country were invited to participate in the show, so long as their contributions depict life in the San Gabriel Valley. The gallery association and the museum juried 99 works from 75 artists into the show. These contemporary pieces pair with a dozen historical paintings from the museum’s collection and private collections to complete the exhibition.

Christina Ramos, Tres Hermanos, acrylic, 40 x 60.

Christina Ramos, Tres Hermanos, acrylic, 40 x 60.

Pasadena arrived on the fine-art scene a hundred years ago as the frequent subject of paintings during the heyday of California Impressionism, and it continues to inspire today. “It’s got an amazing variety of architecture, trees everywhere, and it’s nestled in the mountains. It’s the best place to live in Southern California,” says local watercolorist Joseph Stoddard. His painting PASADENA TRAIN STATION earned the Museum Purchase Award from the last biennial exhibition in 2012. This year Stoddard highlights another of the town’s landmark buildings in GAMBLE HOUSE, depicting the residence considered the finest expression Craftsman style in America. His second work for the exhibition, HILL HOUSE, shows colorful dwellings populating a mountainside. “I wanted something that would grab your eye and express that perfect summer morning in Pasadena,” he says.

The Southern California light also calls to Los Angeles-based Ezra Suko, who takes frequent sketching and plein-air painting trips to Pasadena. “There’s a lot of atmosphere there, and there’s a softness to the light, particularly at sunset,” he says. In his oil painting SUNSET ON DEL MAR, he portrays that city street with a purple-blossomed jacaranda tree in full bloom. “It was just a great moment in springtime with a warm feeling in the air, in the sky,” he says of the evening that inspired him.

Even artists from beyond the state lines have captured the California lifestyle, including Oklahoma still-life artist Kelli Folsom. Her compositions AFTERNOON CHRYSANTHEMUMS and IN GOLDEN LIGHT highlight warm tones and oranges, which are so typical of this picturesque Southern California locale. —Ashley M. Biggers

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Featured in the December 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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