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BBH Gallery Sign

Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery Monthly
February 2008 News, Articles, and Opinions
from the world of California’s Heritage Art

1580 Eastshore Road, PO Box 325
Bodega Bay, CA 94923, 707-875-2911 (map)
email: BBHGallery@BodegaBayHeritageGallery.com

In this issue:

- Milford Zornes: An American Artist, Riverside Art Museum ... Happy 100th Birthday!
- Gallery Notes
- It's official! Historical Commissioners approve Rancho Dos Palmas, by Jennie Kelly
- Hilton’s Art & Gem Shop Still in Danger by Jennie Kelly

- Thanks to Dan Taylor and Santa Rosa's Press Democrat
- Up coming Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery exhibit, California Style Watercolors
- Museum links: exhibits relating to Early California Art

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Milford Zornes B & W Photo

Milford Zornes: An American Artist
Riverside Art Museum

Happy 100th Birthday!

Linda and I really enjoyed our visit to the Milford Zornes (1908 --) exhibit, presented on the occasion of his 100th birthday. (The Birthday celebration was held at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, and photos of the event are reported in the Pasadena Star-News.)

The location of this exhibit was a treat in itself. The Riverside Art Museum is located in the historic Mission Inn District, in an old stylish YWCA building designed by famed architect Julia Morgan. It combines Mediterranean and Classical architecture. Originally, the first floor had a swimming pool, an open air atrium, and a gymnasium. The second floor housed offices and bedrooms, and on the roof were gardens, a fireplace, and a badminton court. Can you imagine what a swank place it was in the 1930's?

Since those days, the old YWCA was sold, and came into the possession of the Riverside Art Museum. The downstairs pool and gymnasium have been converted into two large galleries with high ceilings, with smaller galleries upstairs. The open air atrium has been glassed over, and has second floor windows and balconies overlooking large indoor plants.

To this day, this Julia Morgan building is a reminder of what good design can accomplish, and that architecture is an art.

Now to the paintings of Milford Zornes. Nearly thirty full sized framed watercolors filled the large exhibit hall. The scenes were of the desert southwest, Mexico, the California Coast and some from beyond. The color, the sweep of shapes, the flow of composition were all unmistakably Zornes. In painting after painting, you're reminded of what Milford Zornes brought to watercolor painting. Previous artists used watercolor to colorize drawings. Zornes blocked in his shapes, created his composition, used the paper's own color to come through as part of his composition, and then knew when to stop. He taught his students that adding detail was the beginning of degradation. His drawings are simple yet complex, and quite an adventure for the eye. Contrasts of light and shadow challenge the viewer, yet please at the same time.

Viewing a large number of these works at one time shows the range of this artist, yet each painting is unmistakably a Zornes.

If you're near Riverside, or even if you're not, you'll be pleased to have made the trek. This exhibit is a true double delight. Gordon McClelland curated the exhibit, and a new book will be issued soon, but was not available when we visited.

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Gallery Notes

Our "Painters of the Desert" booklet is available. If you would like a copy, email us your address and we'll be pleased to mail one to you.

Coming to our gallery, a rare John W. Hilton painting of Rainbow Bridge near Lake Powell (24 x 36, oil on masonite) will be available soon. Check back to John W. Hilton's page on our site. It is to arrive soon and we will post photos sometime Wednesday, February 6th.

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The following two articles are by Jennie Kelly of Thermal, California. She is working to preserve John W. Hilton's home at Rancho Dos Palmas, near the Salton Sea, and the gem shop in Thermal, CA.

IT’S OFFICIAL! Historical Commissioners
approve Rancho Dos Palmas Application
the preservation of Rancho Dos Palmas,
January 2008 by Jennie Kelly

A restored historical schoolhouse in Temecula was the site for the January meeting of the Riverside County Parks & Open Spaces District’s Historical Commission. At this meeting, the application submitted by the East Valley Historical Society was brought up for a vote and approved, even though the Bureau of Land Management requested such consideration be postponed until March.

Rancho Dos Palmas was a part-time home to John W. Hilton in the 1930s. His daughter, Kathi Hilton-Garvin, reports that her father provided his labor in exchange for building materials and groceries for his small family. One of his early landscapes graced the walls of the adobe great room and is now owned by heirs of the ranch’s owner. The area near Rancho Dos Palmas was a favorite spot for all of the early desert landscape artists. In fact, a little cabin at Dos Palmas was home to Barry Atwater and his wife in the ‘40s. Owner Ray Morgan built the cabin as a retreat for the Atwaters so he could paint the beautiful desert landscapes at his door.

East Valley Historical Society representatives attended the Historical Commission board meeting to witness the long anticipated granting of the application. While the Bureau of Land Management did not appear at the Board meeting, BLM Field Manager John Kalish did submit a letter requesting that the matter be postponed until the March meeting. County Parks Department Manager Paul Frandsen supplied Commissioners with a copy of their request and asked that they consider postponing the vote for two months to accommodate the wishes of the Federal Agency. A rather lively debate ensued with Historical Society representative Jennie Kelly vigorously opposing the requested delay. In the end, the Commissioners voted unanimously (with one abstention) to approve the application.

The application will now be forwarded to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors for their approval before moving on to the California State Office of Historic Preservation for consideration at the state level. The East Valley Historical Society wants to thank Fourth District Supervisor Roy Wilson and his staff for their support and dedication to the preservation of Rancho Dos Palmas.

Most of the vast Dos Palmas Valley in North Shore is a Preserve managed by The Bureau of Land Management. The Nature Conservancy acquired the property from private owners in 1989. Several years later it was transferred to public ownership with BLM being the lead agency overseeing management of the 22,000+ acres. The site includes a number of natural oases, the site of the historic Dos Palmas stage stop, numerous large ponds built and used by the previous fish farm, and the 40-acre headquarters compound.

The site of the old stage stop was located near the original Dos Palmas Oasis. The Butterfield Stage Line operated on the Bradshaw Trail in the 1860’s and included regular stops at Dos Palmas where water was always available. During the many years of private ownership dating back to the late 1920’s, owners revered the stage stop’s historical significance and meticulously maintained the site along with the other structures. Sadly, following public acquisition, the building foundation of the stage stop became overgrown and possibly bulldozed over during a wild lands fire in the vicinity.

After management was entrusted to BLM, the headquarters site and buildings fell into disrepair. In addition, all of the casitas had been razed by The Bureau of Land Management. The only structures remaining were the bunkhouse and original adobe and wood frame ranch house. These, too, were scheduled to be torn down by BLM, but have been spared due to the diligent efforts of the East Valley Historical Society and its supporters.

Hilton’s Art & Gem Shop
Still in Danger
by Jennie Kelly, Thermal, CA

Kathi Hilton and Jennie Kelly
Artist Kathi Hilton and Jennie Kelly

Kathi Hilton and Portrait of John W Hilton
Kathi Hilton donated this
portrait of her father by "Poncee" to Jennie Kelly. The painting hung in the Rancho Dos Palmas house and according to Kathi is "now going home."

The historic Art & Gem Shop built by famed desert landscape artist John Hilton continues to cling tenuously to life. Located across from the historic Valerie Jean Date Garden, construction began back in 1931. This building was constructed by John Hilton starting in 1931 with the help of his Cahuilla friends. During the 25 years he lived there with his family, he went from a starving artist to "The Man Who Captured Sunshine."

A recent call from the owner’s agent requested a written lease agreement within a week. The agent indicated that Code Enforcement had previously given them a deadline of January 20th to begin restoring the rock and adobe buildings or tear them down. The owner was seeking a lease proposal so they can decide if they will tear them down or lease them to the fledgling East Valley Historical Society. 

An emergency call for help from Historical Society supporters went out immediately. Numerous suggestions came back within hours. Fourth District Supervisor Roy Wilson’s office contacted Code Enforcement and learned that there was NO demolition order pending. A well-worded email to the owners explained our “good luck” that there had been a misunderstanding and there was no order to demolish the buildings. With this, we bought more time but a workable solution is still needed.

The East Valley Historical Society is requesting suggestions to address this time-sensitive issue. They can be reached at evhistoricalsociety@earthlink.net or 760-393-1312.

* * * * *

Thanks to Dan Taylor and Santa Rosa's Press Democrat
Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery is included in an article about West Sonoma County Art Galleries

"Destination Art" by Dan Taylor
was published in The Press Democrat.

Here is the link to the online version. The Bodega Bay neighboring galleries, Local Color Gallery and The Ren Brown Collection, were also included. We greatly appreciate this favorable coverage.

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Coming in March and April '08

California Style Watercolors
Paintings inspired by the Chouinard School,
often called the WPA Syle

Milford Zornes Mt San Antonio Midsized Thumbnail
Milford Zornes, Mt. San Antonio

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Links to Current Museum Exhibits Relevant to Early California Art

Special Exhibit: Milford Zornes: An American Artist

California Mission, October 23 - March 15, 2008

Permanent Exhibit: Early California Art
Edwin Deakin: California Painters of the Picturesque
Jan 28 - April 20, 2008

The Monterey Cypress: Celebrating an Icon
Masterworks of California's Painting
by Armin Hansen, Xavier Martinez, William Ritschel,
Art of Central California
Dec 22, '07- Jun 22, '08
Permanent gallery of historic art (closed for renovation)
The Art and History of Early California Dec '07 - ongoing
Art Students League of Los Angeles 1906-33

Santa Rosa
Rotating history gallery

Grace Hudson permanent collection
San Francisco
de Young Museum: American Painting Collection
Palm Springs
Permanent collection: American Desert Painters