1952-01 Los Angeles Events: Society Goes 'Modern'

Republished by Jean Jarvaise on Dec 28, 2016 at 10:45 PM in Article Archives 1940s to 1970s in Article Archives 1940s to 1970s

By Arthur Millier in ART DIGEST, January 1st, 1952

Art Digest: Los Angeles Events: Society Goes 'Modern'

LOS ANGELES: If the California Water Color Society has ever presented a livelier show than its 31st annual, which was at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art last month, I can't recall it. The tone was overwhelmingly "modern," with semi-abstraction rampant. One of our better representational painters told me he took one look at the jurors' names and hastily dashed off an abstract. It got in.

Yet not one of the selectors - Loren Barton, Noel Quinn, Clinton Adams, Jan Stussy and Burr Singer can be labeled "abstract," so I can't believe that this explains the show's modernity. And the award jurors, Sueo Serisawa, Rico Lebrun and that fine illustrator, Pruett Carter, gave the Society's $250 purchase award to a brilliant landscape by Dan Lutz, Kalamazoo Lake, which, while an emotional report on nature, is far from abstract. More probable is what the society's board said in its published statement, that, as in all the art shows its juries have judged in the past 15 years, the majority of the pictures submitted were "modern," with the minority being "conservative."

The board added what most critics realize, that " the descriptive, conservative picture needs, nowadays, a tremendous amount of authority to withstand comparison with works in which vitality, because of the freshness and momentum inherent in the new trends, is startlingly evident." Its modernity but the imaginative vision and the freshness of execution which abound. The stereotyped California watercolor of the 1930s, painted outdoors with a bold but heavy hand, has vanished.

Again and again I feel like calling a picture-Maitland Stanley's yellow Sunday Bridge, Fujita's red Pomegranate, J. Jarvaise's tender evocation of childhood called Ride the Pink Horse and Francis de Erdely's Tables t07' Two, to mention but a few -a poem. Color and design are both better handled in. the average work than in that earlier time, but the prevailing glow comes from the feeling recreated. Those who remain faithful to near realism are experts. George Gibson with ' Cotnerat Gaffer-s (a corral filled with animals), Henry Gasser, whose fine tonal color pervades Portegee Colony, and Ejnar Hansen, whose masterly portraiture delineates an ascetic-appearing artist's head, are all masters in theIr field, as is Maurice Logan who paints a Shack in full wet washes. An exhibition of 55 of Turner's watercolors from England with a number of his oils from this country and Canada was supposed to open at the Henry E. Huntington Art Gallery December 19, centennial of Turner's death. Opening was delayed due to non-arrival of the British works, but the show should be on by now. It is t he first of a series of special exhibitions planned by TheoPrizes totaling $575 were given by dore Heinrich, curator. the SOciety of Motion Picture Art Directors, Cole of California, M. Grumbacher, Inc., Winsor & Newton, Inc., Delwin Brugger, M. Flax, Duncan Vail and F. Weber. They were won by Richand Haines, Noel Quinn, Frank La ne, Robert Dranko, Edward Betts, Sada mitsu Fujita, David Cytron and Joan Irving. [See page 28.] The important thing to me about this show- which will be seen in other California cities early this year- is not Feeling that they have scored a victory via the City Council's recommendation for separate "traditional" and "modern" City-sponsored eXhibitions, the people who sparked t he recent "art fracas" here are now readying an assault on the Los Angeles County Museum demanding the same concession. As one of their spokesmen put it to the council, "There are only two kinds of art: American art and un-American art." Simple, isn't it?