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BBH Gallery Sign May 2008
Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery Monthly

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: Art@BodegaBayHeritageGallery.com | www.BodegaBayHeritageGallery.com

In this issue: (click on each article or scroll down)

- The Extraordinary Life of Harry Cassie Best 1863 - 1936
- 103 years ago, Laura Bride Powers wrote about the local art, The San Francisco Call, August 20, 1905

- Linda and Dan visit The Art Institute of Chicago: Homer Winslow and Edward Hopper Exhibits
- A Giant New Power Line May Soon Bisect Borrego Springs State Park
- Gallery Notes
- Neighboring galleries, "What are they up to these days? "
- Museum links: Current exhibits relating to Early California Art

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New at the gallery ...
Banner 19 Century

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The Extraordinary Life of Harry Cassie Best 1863 - 1936

One of his paintings of Mount Shasta graced Theodore Roosevelt's White House. His success as an artist allowed him to paint natural scenes throughout the West, Hawaii, and Europe. His Yosemite Valley Gallery was one of the must-see stops for early 20th century visitors to the new park, a gallery he willed to his son-in-law, photographer Ansel Adams.

Unfortunately, we cannot find a photograph or self-portrait of California painter, Harry Cassie Best. If you know of one, please email us and let us know!

Without such an image and left to my imagination, I picture Harry as lean man, comfortable and experienced with the outdoors. I see him smiling, with a well weathered face and a sparkling eye that never lost its awe of the majestic sights of California, or his willingness to share that vision with others.

He came to the Pacific Northwest from Canada with his brother, Arthur William Best 1859 - 1935. As young men, they toured Oregon and Washington as part of a traveling band of musicians. Arthur played the clarinet and Harry played the fiddle, but in time, both would lay their instruments aside and pick up palette and brush and become accomplished painters. Harry’s passion for painting is rooted in when he first saw Oregon’s Mt. Hood. Inspired, he painted the great volcano in all seasons, and as he painted, his skills increased.

When the band disbanded, Harry and Arthur moved south to San Francisco. Harry tried his hand at political cartooning for San Francisco newspapers, while Arthur concentrated on his painting and teaching. In time, Arthur established the Best Art School in San Francisco, and Harry once taught a sketching class there. From his San Francisco base, Harry ventured

around the state and painted California’s natural wonders. He was quite impressed with Mount Shasta. He created a number of works featuring the great mountain. In 1914, George Wharton James, editor of Out West Magazine, wrote a short biography of Harry, and in that article, he was the first to call Mount Shasta “the California Fuji.”

Best took his paintings of western scenery on the road, including his paintings of Mount Shasta. Along the way, he staged a one man exhibition in Washington DC’s Cosmos Club, and managed to impress a very important guest. President Theodore Roosevelt bought one of Harry’s paintings, and later wrote Harry, “I appreciate very much your painting, the ‘Afterglow on Mount Shasta,’ and shall give it the place of honor in my home. I consider the evening twilight on Mount Shasta one of the grandest sights I have ever witnessed. Kindest regards to Mrs. Best and little Virginia Best. Yours Truly, Theodore Roosevelt."

Harry Cassie Best Shasta

Earlier in his career, Thaddeus Welch invited Harry to accompany him to Yosemite. Harry was so taken by the valley that he sought out permission to build an artist studio in the valley. Harry painted the exterior of the building to resemble stone. From his studio, he would create paintings of Yosemite for the sparse tourists to the area in the first years of the twentieth century.

In late 1901 when Harry was an old bachelor of 37, he met Anne, a twenty-two year old. Within two months, a wedding was held at the base of Bridalveil Falls. Early in 1904, their daughter Virginia was born. For the next 16 years, the happy family would summer in Yosemite, and winter in the southland. In 1920, Anne developed tuberculosis and died. Virginia, now a young blue eyed blonde sixteen year old, took over the domestic duties of the household. At this time, Harry expanded his Yosemite studio to include a darkroom, gallery, and year-round living quarters.

A year after Anne died, a young amateur photographer came by and asked permission to play Harry’s parlor piano -- one of two in the valley. The photographer played well - and years later would walk into the famed Ahwanee Hotel unannounced and play their grand piano - but in 1921, Harry’s piano was the best in the Valley. But Harry's piano wasn't the only attraction. Once the young photographer caught sight of Virginia, his visits were more frequent. In time, another wedding

Harry Cassie Best Kilauea

took place in the vallery, and that is how a proud Harry Cassie Best became the father-in-law of Ansel Adams. When Harry died in 1936, his Yosemite studio and gallery became the Ansel Adams Gallery.

Harry’s career was quite successful, and allowed for extravagant travel to Europe and Hawaii. In Hawaii he created a painting of an erupting Halemaumau Crater inside the Kilauea caldera, a painting similar to works created by his contemporaries, David Hitchcock and Jules Tavernier. A print of his Kilauea painting is displayed on the rim of the crater, at the Volcano’s visitor’s center museum. The painting is similar to one done by artist John W. Hilton in 1968 called Nascent Lava during a short re-eruption of the same crater.
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Last month, we featured a reprint of an article entitled, Some Work of San Francisco Artists Interest All Lovers of Pictures by Lucy B. Jerome, published in the The San Francisco Call, June 13, 1909. We received some positive feedback from readers, so here's a similar article, this time by Laura Bride Powers which shows how the San Franciscans of a hundred years ago loved and supported their local artists, feeling free to be a bit critical in the process.
The San Francisco Call Bannerhead
Interesting Exhibit of Water Colors and Oils by Local Artists
By Laura Bride Powers
The San Francisco Call, August 20, 1905, Page 19

“Out of Town” has been the abrupt proclamation on many a studio door during the dog-days (fog days would perhaps be more in line with truth), but the flight of artists from town has brought to us a lot of good things from field and forest, from woodland, marsh and mountain. And where, good friends, in all the world does nature show herself in more varied forms and moods and personalities than here in this pocket ‘twixt the Sierras and the Sea?

In this great showplace of the expressions of nature, every painter can find his affinity -- that which most allures him -- whether it be the wooded mountain, hooded in amethyst mists; or the shady canyon whose breast is cooled with the spring that leaps from the mountain’s side; or the valley below, whose pregnant soil yields millions of yellow heads of grain, nodding to the summer breezes; or the deep redwood groves, where the woodwardia grows, the handmaiden of the stately sequoias: or a bit of lagoon with spectral eucalyptus hovering in the distance like the shades of the departed; or a bit of the sea, the wild, blue sea, with a crooning cypress beside it, swaying with the wind-blasts, like a human thing, fate battered; or the red-brown marshes, besplashed with green, embedding a bit of blue sea. All these -- and infinitely more -- are the hereditary properties of California artists and art lovers. They belong to the seeing ones by gift of God, and no Rockefeller nor Morgan nor other money king can take it from them -- the sole wealth of a lot of happy fellows who pity the poverty of the rich who have not eyes to see.
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That the painters hereabouts have been o’er busy, a visit to the interesting little exhibit at 119 Geary street gives evidence.

Here are some clever bits -- and a few rather indifferent bits -- of recent work from C. Chapel Judson, Sidney Yard, H. W. Hansen, Henry Raschen, Harry Seawell, C. D. Robinson, John Gamble, James Griffin, L. P. Latimer, Giuseppi Cadenasso, H. R. Bloomer, Will Sparks, C. Rodgers, Carl Dahlgren, Gordon Coutts, T. H. Guptill, C. P. Neilson, C. Jonnevold, M. Burrall, Nels Hagerup, H. D. Gremke, E. W. Currier, Eugen Newhaus, Harry C. Best, K. W. Newhall, Sarah Bender de Wolfe, A.B. Scott and M. Herrick Ross.

Now, not all of these are in the painter’s best form, notably one of John Gamble’s, “Wild Flowers Near Willow Camp,” a commission of which I would not have accused this clever chap if he hadn’t acknowledged its parentage. It is on the same lines as much of his best work, but he must have painted it on an off day or in the dark. However, he may be forgiven on the delicacy and beauty of his “Soda Bay,” which shows him in his usual good form. But don’t do it again, will you, Mr. Gamble? Back to the Top

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Linda and Dan visit the Art Institute of Chicago
Art Intstitue of Chicago
Chicagos Silverman Hotel

Linda and Dan visited the Chicago Art Institute, and took in some of the excitement of "Artropolis,"viewing exhibits at Chicago's famed Merchandise Mart presented by galleries from all over the eastern United States and Europe. They stayed at the Silversmith Hotel one block off Michigan Avenue on Wabash, a fine boutique hotel conveniently located a two short block stroll from the Art Institute. The hotel, a historic building, has been renovated to highlight its arts & crafts past.

The museum featured two exciting special exhibits, and even though the other galleries were undergoing major renovations, managed to have much of its famed collection available as well. Paintings by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Georgia O'Keefe and Grant Wood (American Gothic) plus many many more await the art lover in you. If you want a real treat, take a trek to Chicago and see America's greatest art museum.

Now for the exhibits. Both Homer and Hopper were rugged American individualists. They worked as illustrators and were extraordinary watercolorists.

Winslow Banner

Winslow Homer 1836 - 1910 This exhibit is the largest collection of Homer's watercolors in the past twenty years. Homer did not like the rules associated with oil painting, and favored watercolors where he experimented and made his own rules. His compositions in watercolor seemed more complex than his oils. He painted in widely different environments, from the cloudy coast of Maine and the Adirondack Mountains of New York to the bright sunshine of the Caribbean. His scenes were bold, strong compositions, fresh looks filled with light, and with Homer's experimentation. In some of his work, he would hint at tragedy rather than describe it. The drama of circling sharks speaks more to the soul than the strike. There is an exhibition book done with Yale University Press.

This exhibit is being exclusively shown in Chicago, but is worthy of a much wider audience. The Art Institute explains that the nature of watercolors is that they are vulnerable to fading when exposed to light for long periods of time, and for that reason, the show isn't going on the road.

Edward Hopper 1882 - 1967 This is the most extensive exhibit of Hopper's work, a truly American realistic style, addressing the urban realities of people who live closer together yet are increasingly further apart. The stark clean lines of architecture, the highly contrasted lines of color, frames within frames, light and shadow and bright and dark are all utilized as structural beams to show the boundary lines between the individuals. The characters in his work may be part of a larger society, but Hopper shows his characters alone in their own thoughts, insulated and isolated from the world around them, alienation in an urban setting.

Hopper's clean lines and empty spaces show us an America which no longer exists. The complexity of our internet driven, cell phone ringing life style just doesn't seem to fit into a Hopper canvas. Yet, his America isn't one for which we feel nostalgia, a simpler time longed for. His America haunts and challenges us, for the isolated non-interactive individuals in his work still are around today. It's as if we could climb onto one of the stools in that late night diner, and be as unnoticed and alone as the people already there.

Prior to Chicago, this exhibition visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Back to the Top

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A Giant New Power Line May Soon Bisect Borrego Springs State Park

Borrego Springs State Park preserves pristine desert lands west of the Salton Sea. It is located near the site of John W. Hilton's calcite mining operations during World War II, and was the scene for his painting, "Fall in the Canyon" pictured below. If we could conjure up the ghosts of the painters of the California desert such as Swinnerton, Dixon, Buff, Hilton or Forsythe, artists who showed us the vitality and beauty of this land, I doubt if any of them would be pleased.

Governor Schwarzenegger has dumped fellow Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood and his Kennedy Clan brother-in-law Bobby Shriver from the California State Parks Commission. It isn't too much of stretch to connect that Schwartzenegger's action could well have been an attempt to sidestep the pair's potential objection to a new freeway through San Onofre State Beach and the power line through Borrego Springs State Park. It seems that the preservation of publicly owned and popularly treasured lands has taken a back seat to the economic needs of some powerful special interests. Alternative routes for the power line have been offered, but San Diego's electric utility San Diego Gas and Electric Company reports that alternative routes are too costly. To complicate the matter, The U.S. Energy Department recently named Borrego Springs as one of two electric transmission corridors vital to national security - meaning federal regulators themselves could trump any parks commission decision to block the new line. Read more in the SF Chronicle | Back to the Top
John W Hilton Fall in the Canyon
"Fall in the Canyon" John W. Hilton

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Gallery Notes

Gail Packer Thumbnail With sadness, the artists of Local Color Gallery announce the passing of one of their own. Intaglio etchings artist Gail Packer passed away April 6, 2008.
Information on her life and art can be viewed on the Local Color Website.


Bodega Bay dot com logo

See Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery on Video
BodegaBay.com recently produced a fine video, featuring Bodega Bay sights and businesses. With a full film crew in tow, they recorded our Desert Show and interviewed Dan on camera. The video is also on YouTube.com.
Our Previous Exhibition Booklets are available for the
"California Style WPA Watercolors" & "Painters of the Desert" exhibits.
Booklets will be available soon and can be requested for our new exhibit,
Early California Art: 19th Century Painters of Northern California

Our Archives page
previous gallery exhibits and monthly newsletters.

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What are our neighboring galleries up to these days?

Local Color Gallery Local Color Gallery
Glassworks '08: Saturday April 5 - May 18
Linda Reed, Nancy Roberts, Mary Oudeman, Dell Jacoby, Sher Morris Tice
Blue Whale Center (same Building as Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery)
1580 Eastshore Road, Bodega Bay, 707-875-2744
Ren Brown Collection The Ren Brown Collection
located an hour north of San Francisco in Bodega Bay.
The gallery was established in 1989 and specializes in contemporary art from both sides of the Pacific. On Hwy 1 just a short stroll from the other two galleries.
Current Show: work by Daniel Kelly, Katsunori Hamanishi, Ryohei Tanaka, Seiko Tachibana, Robert DeVee & other gallery artists.
West County Design Center West County Design offers fine wood tables, polished concrete vanities, counter tops and furniture, glass, ceramic, wood, metal, custom and limited edition art and furniture for home & office.
Of special note, the photography of Jerry Dodrill is on exhibit as well.
14390 Highway One • Valley Ford, CA 94972 • 707.876.1963
(Across from the Valley Ford Hotel and Rocker Oysterfeller's Restaurant)
Christopher Queen Gallery Christopher Queen Galleries in Duncans Mills on the Russian River presents its annual "Frugal Collector" show (through April 27th), this year featuring contemporary tonalist painters. And of course there are the Early California gems upstairs.
Also in Duncans Mills is the Quercia Gallery, presenting new sculptureal vases by Bobbi Quercia, and a show of quiet and "Seed to Bloom" - subtle paintings by Ron Quercia - just the thing to bring a sense of calm and beauty to our home environments. Its just a short stroll and one easy flight of stairs up from the Christopher Queen Galleries.

The Quicksilver Mine Co. 6671 Front St. (Hwy. 116)
Downtown Forestville PHONE: 707.887.0799
New Work at Quicksilver: Shane Weare April 4—May 11, 2008
Chiyomi Taneike Longo Artist Reception: Saturday May 17, 4—6pm

Linda Ratzlaff

Graton Gallery
9048 Graton Road, Graton, California (707) 829-8912
Current Show: "Beyond Expressions" Soo Noga & Guest Artist Susan Sohl
April 1 - May 11: Reception: Saturday April 5, 2008 ~ 3 to 6 pm

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Links to Current Museum Exhibits Relevant to Early California Art and beyond
Oakland Oakland Museum of California
Permanent gallery of historic art
(undergoing renovation until 2009)
The Art and History of Early California Dec '07 - ongoing
San Francisco de Young Museum
de Young Museum: American Painting Collection
Monterey Monterey Museum of Art
Men, Ships and the Sea: Masterworks of California Painting by Armin Hansen and William Ritschel
Dec 22, '07- Jun 22, '08
The Monterey Cypress: Celebrating an Icon

December 22, 2007 – June 22, 2008
The John H. Marble Gallery of the Art of Central California
Ukiah Grace Hudson Museum
Grace Hudson permanent collection
Santa Rosa Sonoma County Museum
Rotating history gallery
Sacramento Crocker Art Museum
Permanent Exhibit: Early California Art
San Diego San Diego Museum of Art
Georgia O’Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle
May 24–September 28, 2008
Irvine The Irvine Museum
Abundance of Color: California Flowers in Art
through August 23, 2008
Seattle Seattle Art Museum
Inspiring Impressionism: The Impressionists
and the art of the past
June 19 through September 21, 2008

Pasadena Pasadena Museum of California Art
California Art Club's
97th Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition
April 27 - May 18, 2008
Palm Springs Palm Springs Art Museum
Permanent Collection: American 19th-Century Landscape Painting, and American Desert Painting

Chicago Art Institute of Chicago
Edward Hopper Exhibit (through May 10)
Winslow Homer Exhibit (through May 11)

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