12395 - 20170219 - Exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art illustrates the evolution of the California coastline - Pasadena, CA - 25.09.2016-19.02.2017


Roger Kuntz, Interior with Figure (from Girl Against the Light series), 1966. Oil on canvas, 40 x 48 inches. Gary Lang Collection.
Even before California became a state in 1850, artists responded to the diverse views and experiences of the 840 miles of coast. Continuing its tradition of showcasing the breadth of California art, the Pasadena Museum of California Art is presenting In the Land of Sunshine: Imaging the California Coast Culture. Illustrating the evolution of the landscapes, lifestyles, and industries of the California coastline from the mid–1800s to present, the exhibition assembles approximately 90 oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings and prints as well as magazines, posters, photographs, and other ephemera.

“Like the coastal communities of Newport Beach, Balboa Island, Laguna Beach, and San Francisco, Pasadena has attracted and inspired a significant number of artists, yet the creative outputs vary from sea to Seco,” says Gordon McClelland, the exhibition’s curator and an acclaimed California art historian and writer. “Pasadena is just far enough away from the shoreline that when artworks depicting and created on the Pacific Coast are viewed there, they take on a fresh, inland context and a distinct meaning.” 

On view in the PMCA’s Main Gallery, In the Land of Sunshine celebrates the varied artistic visions and interpretations of the coast and culture as well as the way industry and society shape the landscape and its people, giving California its mystique and defining it as a coastal haven. Borrowing its name from The Land of Sunshine, a Los Angeles periodical published from 1894 through 1923 that portrayed a potent and alluring illustration of the Pacific Coast, the exhibition showcases art that bloomed in the dazzling California sunlight. The historic and contemporary works from In the Land of Sunshine depict the commercial practices of the fishermen, canning operations, and cargo ships alongside the leisure lifestyles of the surfers, sailors, and sport fishermen.

Organized chronologically and by medium, the works trace the formal and historical developments occurring within the state. Moving from early representational views of an idealized West to Joseph Duncan Gleason’s traditional fundamentals of beauty, Alson S. Clark’s impressionistic scenes of the shoreline, and Marion Wachtel’s light-infused watercolors, the exhibition segues to Phil Dike’s playful abstractions and Roger Kuntz’s captivating oscillation from representation to abstraction in his large-scale works. In addition to galleries dedicated to watercolors and oil paintings, the surf culture gallery punctuates fine art with ephemera related to the Southern California beach lifestyle. With Alexandra Bradshaw’s dynamic 1930s-era watercolor of surfers in Laguna Beach, Bill Ogden’s more recent fantastical and hypnotic ocean paintings, and the 1960s psychedelic surrealism of Rick Griffin, the surf gallery highlights the influence of California’s free spirit on mid-twentieth-century culture. The exhibition closes with contemporary work demonstrating the continuing dynamism of the Golden State with the energetic and synesthetic watercolors of Keith Crown and unpopulated urban landscapes by Suong Yangchareon.

The distinct physical and cultural aspects of California’s coastal development have visually stimulated and emotionally inspired artists for over 150 years. The highly creative works in In the Land of Sunshine celebrate the wide variety of artistic approaches used to capture the ever-changing look and mood of the Pacific Coast’s communities. They demonstrate the influence of California as both an artists’ haven and a center of industry and culture.

In the Land of Sunshine: Imaging the California Coast Culture is organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art and curated by Gordon T. McClelland.