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Joshua Meador Point Arena Lighthouse
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Joshua Meador
Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery Monthly - May 2013
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Linda Sorensen Drakes Bay Overlook
Drakes Bay Overlook
Linda Sorensen, Oils
Kathi Hilton at her Reception in Palm Desert Apr 13 2013
Kathi Hilton's Q & A at the
Palm Desert Historical Society

April 13, 2013

Thomas P Cambell Thumbnail
Director of NY's Metropolitan
Museum encourages curators
to be storytellers

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Kathi HIlton at the Palm Desert Historical Society's reception for her, April 13, 2013 Kathi Hilton's Q & A at the Palm Desert Historical Society,
Aprl 13, 2013

Kathi is an exquisite desert painter and so much more. She's a touchstone to to an era, the magical days when gifted painters first beheld the majesty of the Mojave.

Kathi's father was desert painter and desert legend, John W. Hilton. In an extraordinary question and answer session, she recalls fondly the notable visitors her father hosted at his gem shop, including artists Maynard Dixon and Jimmy Swinnerton, Gen. George Patton, industrialist Howard Hughes, and later on at his studio in Twentynine Palms, actor James Cagney.

The Palm Desert Historical Society's reception for Kathi on April 13 included a lively Q & A session with an engaged, inquisitive and enthusiastic audience. Fans were quite interested in Kathi and her painting, but also in the insights she alone can offer regarding the wondrous times of the Hilton gem shop in Thermal, and all the colorful desert stories and characters of her youth. Below are excerpts from that Q & A.


From the Audience: How long was John over there (Hawaii)?

Kathi: Oh quite a long time because he died there, one block from the beach (Lahaina, Maui).

He and Barbara found the house over there on an Easter morning, and they were visiting and were walking, and as they were walking by, this guy was hammering the “For Sale” sign in the ground, and Barbara loved it. And Dad was having trouble with glaucoma and the desert sand and reflection was really hurting him, so they figured they would probably move to Mexico, but she wasn't too excited about Mexico because she didn't understand the language, and boy, the tropics in Hawaii, that set it off. It was a home where you actually own the land, which is almost unheard of in the islands, but he bought the land, and eventually they put a swimming pool in because Barbara had to swim her laps.

She was an "aquacade" choreographer. She did most of the Esther Williams shows. So she had to have a swimming pool and she also had to have a ballet bar because she was a dancer so the Hawaii house had that and it had a guest house. It was a really nice place. It gave my dad the tropics. He could do a lot of work with the plants. He was a horticulturist as well. He developed a new type of plumeria, the “Hiltonia.”

He has an oak tree named after him and a land crab. He did a lot of research in a lot of different areas. Mr. Scheffler who did work with macaws was a good friend of his and he would come down and stay in our home in Mexico, and they went out looking for birds. He was a real renaissance man.

From the Audience: He did a lot of work with gems too.

Kathi: Oh yes, he worked for a company in Los Angeles as a young man and designed jewelry. Then, when I was young about ten years old, he taught me how to facet cut. But of course his father, my grandfather, called themselves pack rats and they said I was born licking a rock. Its a lot prettier when it is wet.

Listen in: 36 minutes: click and adjust the volume
Rainbow Falls and Red Ginger John W Hilton Hilo Hawaii
John W. Hilton, Rainbow Falls and Red Ginger,
Hilo, Hawaii 20 x 16 Available, through
Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery (click image)

From John W. Hilton's album, Hilton Sings, his song Stake Me a Claim, written in honor of all prospectors, but sung by John at the graveside of his friend, Death Valley Scotty. Photos in this video includes the album cover artwork by John, a photo of Death Valley Scotty, the portrait of Death Valley Scotty by John Hilton's friend,
Orpha Klinker, a photo of Orpha Klinker,
and a photo of Scotty's Castle.

From the Audience: Did he just do the one album?

Kathi: Yes, they have a CD of it, Dad's music. Its very interesting because it has songs he has written and also Indian songs on it, as we were very close to the tribes. He did fire eating and I witnessed a cleansing, and it's been an exciting life.

From the Audience: Oh my gosh Kathi, you have said you loved Maynard Dixon's voice. Did he really have a lovely voice?

Kathi: Oh yes, one of those voices which would make a child (Kathi exhales a sigh of relief) feel ... "This is an adult who's not going to get mad at me and ball me out. Its OK to be here." Because I come from the era when a child was to be seen and not heard. It was nice to have an adult who would listen to me.

Hal Rover: Let me interject here for a moment. I'm Hal from the Historical Society, and I made a few phone calls and got very lucky. I didn't think Kathi was coming, and I called her one day and she asked, “Is it OK if I come?” And I said, “Sure is!” This has all happened and we're very happy about it.

So tell us if you will, how did you come to be called Kathi?

Kathi: A lady in Twentynine Palms sold art supplies. You might have heard of her husband Henry Mockel, and he did beautiful watercolors of the flora of the desert, just beautiful wildflower paintings and has published a book on it. When it came time for me to buy my own oils, I went to her and she asked, “How are you signing your name?” And I had just had my first show and had signed my paintings with my recent married name, and my Dad had changed that, he said he wanted me to sign my paintings “Hilton.” And she said, “You know, there are a lot of Kathys, you ought to be a little different, and she suggested using the “i.” So then the bank account had to be changed.

Kathi Hilton and Hal Rover the Palm Desert Historical Society
Palm Desert Historical Society's
Hal Rover and Kathi
Kathi Hilton discussiong her painting
Kathi discusses her painting with desert enthusiast David Ames (blue) and audience members

I had been Katherine and Katy, Kat, you name it. But the strangest thing was when I was 24, I found out that my first name is really not Katherine, its Mildred. (Laughter) And I didn't believe it! My mother had to tell me, and I sent for my birth certificate, and sure enough its “Mildred Katherine.” But everything in my life has been Katherine. I'd have to go back and change passports and college records and everything else.

Kathi's Paintings and Bronzes in Palm Desert
Kathi's paintings and bronzes on display

Hal Rover: And when did you start painting and what brought you to it? Did your Dad insist?

Kathi: No Dad was in Hawaii. At the time, I had just gone through back surgery. I had a double fusion at Loma Linda and I was very very disappointed, and felt I didn't have anything to live for. I was using my Dad's pool in Twentynine Palms for exercise, and my friend (Uta Mark) would come over and go out to the pool with me. Uta and I would change in my Dad's painting studio. And she got mad at me because I was so depressed. And she said, “You know, things like this run in the family,” and she pointed to a blob of paint my Dad left sit there when he left for Hawaii. She said, “You ought to try that.” I said “OK,” and there was an empty board there. And I didn't know that the paints there weren't the ones he really used, so I created a very vivid painting. I did a moonlight on Palm Canyon. It just came out. She had taken a nap, and when she woke up, she said “That's pretty good.” Before she took me to my home, we stopped by the Art Guild, and she said, “Lets go over here and see what they think.” And they got real excited and without knowing I wasn't born with a palette knife in my mouth, they booked me for an art show based on my first painting.

Kathi Hilton Beckoning Palms
Kathi HIlton Beckoning Palms 24 x 36
Available, through the Palm Desert Historical Society or Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery
(click image)

And the other things I didn't know what the laws were for the profession. They figured I was a professional so they booked me as a professional. And I asked, “When?” and it was in three months. And it was in September, I was to open the gallery for the year, just like I did this year.

I sat up night. I was fostering girls for San Bernardino County, I would have to paint after they were in bed, and Uta would come over and visit with me. I would sit there and paint away and we would talk a hundred miles and hour and I did 32 paintings, and a lot of them were full sheets of masonite, 4 foot by 8 foot. I don't even know where they all are. But I progressed. I got it all out of me as I was going around the room, you could tell, and when Dad came to see the show, he said I had made the mistakes it had taken him thirty years do the same. It was at this time he said, “You were born with the professional name 'Hilton.' Use the name of 'Hilton'.” That's when I started signing “Hilton.”

James Cagney and John W Hilton hanging out in the studio
James Cagney spending studio time
with John W. Hilton

Hal Rover: Your Dad had an active life. The Man Who Captured Sunshine is loaded. It's just a great story. Its by Kathy Ainsworth, a biography of John Hilton. On the back is a picture of Jimmy Cagney and your dad. So they were together in Twentynine Palms?

Kathi: Yes.

Hal Rover: Can you relate to us, were you involved then during the era of the gem shop and Valerie Jeans?

Kathi: Yes, that's where I was born and I would catch the school bus in front of Valerie Jeans.

Cover, The Man Who Painted Sunshine by Katherine Ainsworth
Jacket art, The Man Who Painted Sunshine
by Katherine Ainsworth

Hal Rover: Did you go to school in Indio?

Valerie Jeans Date Shop

Kathi: Yes, Indio was where the schools were. My brother and I, Russell (owner of Valerie Jean's) probably thought that starving artists kids don't get enough food. My mother couldn't figure out why we wouldn't eat breakfast. Well we would go early over to Valerie Jean's. Russell would be making his date cake, and of course he was the inventor of the date shake, and he would make us a date shake, and he would add eggs and orange juice.

I mean it was delicious, and we'd have a big slice of date nut bread before school. And it was years, I mean I was 24 years old before I finally admitted to my mother why I didn't eat breakfast. (Laughter.)

From the Audience: (from the back) Do you have the recipe?

Kathi: I do for the date cake. Its really good! The trouble is you have to make a big sheet full.

Hal Rover: Your dad knew General Patton?

Kathi: Yes

Hal Rover: And somehow they got together at the hotel in Indio? How did that come about?

Kathi: I guess Dad was down there at the time. Patton was trying to find a place to train his men in a place that was like where they were going. The desert of course was the ideal place. He had asked people around well where can we find someone who can tell us where a good place would be. They said, well, Johnny Hilton knows every place. So he (Patton) asked my dad. He said, “I want a place as close to hell as you can get on this earth.” My dad said, “I know just the place.”

Patton and Jeep
Patton and World War II era Jeep ... Kathi has a photo of John Hilton and Genaral Patton leaning over the hood of a jeep reading a map. We hope to post that photo in the near future.

And it was at that time the sand temperature was 140, and those men trained in full dress wool uniforms, the winter uniforms in the desert heat. But they (Hilton and Patton) were close. I'm still looking for that picture of dad and Patton together. I had one where they were leaning over a jeep looking at maps. I do have a picture, a long long narrow one of the base, and I have a picture of Patton which sits in my studio. Yes, between that and when they did the calcite mine.

Patton Memorial Museum
George S. Patton Memorial Museum

From the Audience: Twentynine Palms didn't have any cactus?

Kathi: Well it wasn't Twentynine Palms, it was Desert Center. And they have a museum up there by the way.

Hal Rover: Ya, the Patton Museum. About 40 miles from here on I-10, in Chiriaco Summit. They still have Spam sandwiches at that restaurant. (laughter)

Audience comment: I love Spam! (more laughter)

From the Audience: That place was burglarized. Did they ever recover his revolver.

Hal Rover: Dan, is there anything you'd like to relate. You've been nice enough to have her collection at Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery and to bring it down here for us.

Dan Rohlfing: As a gallery we focus on old California paintings, and of course we got to know the desert painters such as Swinnerton and Hilton, and through John W. Hilton, we learned of Kathi Hilton. I called her up, and there she was. A friendship developed and we've had her paintings in the gallery now for quite a while, and she's our second best seller.

From the Audience:
What's the name of your gallery?

Dan Rohlfing: Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery.Com.
Kathi Hilton Symphony in Sand
Kathi Hilton, Symphony in Sand 36 x 48
Available, through the Palm Desert Historical Society or Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery
(click image)

Kathi: Look it up on the internet. Its the best spread on me you can find. Dan does a great job for all the California artists.

Gary Fillmore Shadows on the Mesa
Shadows on the Mesa
by Gary Fillmore
of Cave Creek, Arizona's Blue Coyote Gallery
Available from Blue Coyote Gallery
(click image)

Dan Rohlfing: And Gary Fillmore has a lot of great history on his site too. The research there is deep and interesting.

Gary Fillmore: Like Dan's gallery, I focus on early California art too. (Blue Coyote We specialize in California desert painters and also early 20th century Arizona artists. One of the reasons is there was a lot of overlap. Artists who spent a lot of time here also spent a lot of time in Arizona.

Some of the research Dan was talking about, I've written a couple of books. One is on Marjorie Reed who is thought of a lot as a western painter, but what a lot a people don't know is that her career took off in Palm Springs back in the 1930's. Earlier on in her career, she was a plein air painter. Kathi, you told me she was your baby sitter.

Kathi: Yes, she was my babysitter.

Gary Fillmore: Another book I wrote was just published this last year (Shadows on the Mesa, Artists of the Painted Desert and Beyond) and featured a lot of artists who were from this area at one time or another. Once upon a time, I don't know if you all know where Monument Valley is in Arizona, arguably the most filmed and photographed backdrop in the history of movies. In the early 1920's, there was only one place to stay if you wanted to go there. It was called the Wetherill Colville Guest Ranch. Everyone from Maynard Dixon, to Carl Oscar Borg, to Gunnar Widfors to Jimmy Swinnerton, everybody of note who painted in Arizona in the early 20th century stayed at the ranch.

I got to become friends with the grandson of the people who owned that ranch, and he still has the guest registry. And it was customary for the artists when they signed in to take a half page or full page and leave a painting, a sketch. And really what it is is a microcosm of all the artists who painted in the desert in the early 20th century. Your father wasn't among them, but I think he came along a little later. He knew a lot of the same people, but I never saw his name on the registry.

He was the young one and they were trying to help him. They're the ones who told him to leave the brush alone and go to a knife because he was too tight. His paintings were still tight with a knife.

Hal Rover: Is that the reason you started with a knife? Once you start with a knife, do you ever go back?

Kathi: No, the only thing I do with a brush is, besides painting the wall, is watercolors.

From the Audience: How much time do you spend painting now?

Kathi: Now? Well, it depends on the demand. When I paint, I'm kind of taken over by it. I kind of go away and paint until I'm done on it. Now, I'm painting a couple times a month. But when I start, I stay on a painting for three days or so. And I'll be painting at 3:00 o'clock in the morning and I'm still sitting there humming away to my music painting.

From the Audience: Do you do many watercolors?

Kathis Paintings in Palm Desert
Kathi's paintings along with a nocturne
by John W. Hilton from the
Palm Desert Historical Society collection
Kathi Hilton Enchanted Oasis
Kathi Hilton, Enchanted Oasis 16 x 20
Available, through the Palm Desert Historical Society or Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery
(click image)

Kathi: Every once in a while, I enjoy them, but the oil is my love. I have people ask me what I like best and I always tell them its whatever I'm working on at the time.

Hal Rover: There was a place on the North Shore called Desert Camp. I guess Ed Ainsworth started it. Ed of course was a Los Angeles Times reporter who got all the desert artists together somehow on the north shore of the Salton Sea, and they all used to go there. Maynard Dixon, Clyde Forsythe, Nicolai Fechin … lots and lots of people went through there. Do you have a recollection of that?

Peg Leg Memorial Plaque

Kathi: I have a recollection of the bonfires. Every New Years, they'd all get together and of course, get drunk. But the whole idea was that on New Year's Day, they all would go out prospecting trying to find Peg Leg's gold mine. But that night, they would have a huge bonfire, and everybody would gather 'round it. They would tell lies. I mean there is no other way to say it. They would tell stories. There was a lot of talent and they were really good actors. I remember one guy crawling on the ground and telling how he had found a horny toad and he had to kiss the horny toad and use the skin to make a shoe and for me, a ten or eleven year old -- this was really vivid.

But dad started doing something at those bonfires that continued for quite a number of years. He'd make profit off it in the long run. He brought paintings he didn't like which he had done and threw them on the fire. After the second year, people were ready to grab those paintings before he threw them on the fire. He thought it was a good sales technique, and did it for quite a long time.

From the Audience: So he was really selling them?

Kathi: Yes, his brain went click, money! He'd throw a couple and then sell the others.

Kathi: I had a lot of encouragement as a kid from a lot of very very talented people. And it all rubbed off.

From the Audience: You mentioned the calcite mine.

Yes, I have memories of the calcite mines. Because we moved from across the street behind Valerie Jean's so the Army could take over our area because it was large and I can remember every Saturday morning my mother would make enchiladas for all the guys that were mining. So they became very close friends, and I was like the little sister they left behind. So they spoiled me rotten. I can remember whole boxes of Hershey Bars that was almost as big as I was.

John Hilton at the calcite mine
John Hilton (left, with the hat) at his calcite mine
John Hilton's Calcite Mine
The center of John Hilton's calcite mine
Photo is from Katherine Ainsworth's
The Man Who Painted Sunshine

And there was one man who became very close with him (dad) who was just a sweet person, and when he was shipped out, he would send me letters, to Katy, and each letter would have a sea shell in it, because he knew I loved shells. And of course in those days, they couldn't tell you where they were. But after the war, the letters quit after a while and I'm sure he had gone home or had lost. After the war, my dad took those shells to somebody who knew about them, and we could trace, island to island of where he had been, and where he had moved around. So it was a good thing he didn't tell me where he was. That was quite a shell collection. I don't know where it is anymore.

Hal Rover: Who do you think influenced your dad most of all the desert painters?

Kathi: Off the top of my mind, Swinnerton comes. But he was influenced by almost all of his good friends. I know, like I said, he was the younger one that these other guys where going to help, and its just kind of like Dad and Bill Bender, Bill was the younger and Dad encouraged him, and had him try something different other than what he was doing. He was able to find he could do these characters. It was a beautiful thing.

Hal Rover: So did you know Maynard Dixon and all those people when your dad was working with them in those times? They were in and out of the area doing art shows.

Always. Our house was an open house. Everyone liked my mother's cooking. Those were interesting times with very interesting people. The founders of Palm Springs, Dad was here when people came out here for their health, and there were no swimming pools or golf courses. He always told them that you can't take the dunes away. And it was proven because when we did take the dunes away, they just moved. And they would take over the roads and everything else.

Jimmy Swinnerton with humorist Will Rogers
Jimmy Swinnerton with another great friend of the California desert painters, humorist Will Rogers
John W Hilton Chiles on a Blue Plate
Red Chiles on a Blue Plate
John W. Hilton still life, 1938. A gift to his wife Eunice at the occasion of the birth of their daughter Kathi. It hung in their kitchen in Thermal, CA and gazed out over the many guests who availed themselves of the famous Hilton hospitality and the fiery flavors of Eunice's cooking.
Kathi is offering this painting through
Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery. It should hang in a fine kitchen again. (click image)

Hal Rover: There are some black notebooks back there by Steve, five big ones that came from the Shadow Mountain Club. It started in 1961. One of them shows a picture of your dad and the headline is “John Hilton Hosts his 29th One-Man Show.” So he had been all over New York and where else.

Hilton House Party
A crowded good time ... a Hilton house party (the early years) with John and Eunice sitting on the bed with Maynard Dixon leaning, wearing a black hat.

Kathi: Well Dad had been a member of the La Jolla Art Association and he showed there, in fact we showed together there, and of course here in Palm Desert at the Desert Magazine Building. He did a lot of shows. When he went to New York, it was the apex of his career, and he had an almost complete sell out the first time.

John Hilton offering a painting at the White House
John Hilton, guest at Ike's 2nd inaugural, 1957, presenting Twentnine Palms Oasis which was displayed on the wall of Ike's Oval Office.

Dad was quite a talker. I inherited a little bit of it. He went on radio and TV while he was there in New York, and I think one of the most amazing things that happened was that a lady called in to one of the talk shows he was on and said, “Oh your paintings are very beautiful, but those aren't real colors." And it just hit my dad the WRONG WAY. And he told her she better quit drinking her martinis and go out when the sun was setting and she'd see it even in New York.

And that lady called back the next day, and apologized, because even in New York, she could see a sunset. She didn't believe it.

From the Audience: Now Kathi did your dad paint onsite, or did he do it by memory like you do, or a variety of the two … just a secret between the two of us.

(Laughter) He did it from memory. You'll see pictures of him, one of them in National Geographic standing up there painting away. Do you know what the problem is with that, especially with oils?

The wind blows, and it brings dust and it brings flies, and it brings you name it. I tried it once, once only. I was down at Lake Havasu, and that painting, the mood of it changed so much from morning till afternoon, that the only thing that was halfway decent was the tree I was sitting underneath, because the light changed so much.

From the Audience: It doesn't sound like painting was his main thing anyway, was it, he liked everything.

Kathi: Oh, he loved everything. He was a gemologist, he was into botany.

Hal Rover: Plants are named after him in Mexico.

From the Audience: Did you go to Mexico with him?

Kathi: At the age of three, they took me to Mexico, to Alamos? My grandparents disowned him. “You don't take a child down there,” and I was the healthiest child in the world. By the time I was about six, they got mad at me, because I hadn't learned Spanish. And so, they quit speaking in English to me for three months, and they gave me the phrase, Como siama? Como siama? It means “what is it called?” And it has been with me ever since. I was speaking with someone today in Spanish.

Later on when I went to high school, I was asked to teach a conversational class to my classmates. The school would go to Cuernavaca in the summers. It was one of these progressive schools where you could graduate early, don't ask me why. I was at UCLA at 16, but I would go down as translator for and run the household that they rented. So I learned a lot there.

Kathi Hilton with a portrait of her dad, artist John W. Hilton
Kathi with a portrait of her dad, John W. Hilton
From John W Hilton's Sonora Sketchbook

And later on I worked for a doctor, and then had to learn all the medical terms. I have very fond memories of all of those experiences.

From the Audience: Kathi, what was your favorite place in Baja?

Kathi: Oh, the Bay of the Angels, I liked the Bay of the Angels. But my very favorite is Alamos. That's on my bucket list. I got to go back! And its safe over there, not on the cartel side of the mountain.

When I was a kid in Alamos, every year the men would pack up some burros and go over the Sierra to Chihuahua, and there were Mormon settlements there. And they would come back with these huge, and I mean huge, cheeses for the whole community. And we'd all share this cheese that they would bring from the other side of the mountain. It was pretty neat.

And, I had a horse and friends, that was my favorite place!

From the Audience: Tell us about your dad and the 49er Days.

Kathi: Oh yes, you know, he was the one who started the art show there. And have you ever heard the song, “the 49ers?”

Hal Rover: Its on his record album. What's the story on that, do they meet every year in Death Valley?

Kathi: In November. The did the art show on the patio of the inn. And they went back to the inn the last three years because they were remodeling the information center. And if any of you go to Death Valley, you ask for the Hilton paintings. I understand they are not on display. I'm trying to get them back up. I want to know what they're doing because there is a beautiful one of my dad's of the sand dunes of Death Valley and on the other side was one of mine looking down into Death Valley.

Dan Rohlfing: Both those paintings are on Kathi's page on our website. And a gentleman who bought one of Kathi's paintings some years ago called us and told us the Hilton paintings weren't there. So he was worried and gave me this urgent call and I called Kathi. So, now you're checking into it?

From John W Hilton's Sonora Sketchbook
From John W Hilton's Sonora Sketchbook
Above are three sketches from John W. Hilton's Sonora Sketchbook. While there, John sketched the town, its people, and the surrounding countryside. Back in California, he wrote stories using his original sketches as illustrations.

Kathi: Yes, I'm checking into it, and I'm anxious to see what's going on.

Dan Rohlfing: They were at the Furnace Creek Visitor's Center behind the front desk.

Kathi: It was right opposite the information booth, right behind the desk. Everybody who came in, that's what they saw. And actually there are two more of mine that size somewhere down there, and my husband had placed on the back of them a note saying, “If these are not on public view, they are to be returned to the artist.” So, I got to follow up on it.

From the Audience:
Kathi, I was just talking to Dan about the Sonora Sketchbook that your dad wrote, and we were talking about how your dad wrote the way he painted, so vividly.

John W. Hilton's Painting
John W. Hilton's painting at the
Death Valley Visitor's Center in Furnace Creek
Kathi Hilton's painting Death Valley Visitors Center
Kathi Hilton's painting at the
Death Valley Visitor's Center in Furnace Creek

And I remember his description of the flowers outside Alamos after the rains. I remember one that he talked about that was like, it was like a poinsettia with a six foot stem. Did he paint any of the flowers?

Kathi: You know, I don't remember any of them. He might have sketched them, and he did do color sketches, but most of the sketches were black and white, done with charcoal.

From the Audience: Well the way he described the flowers in the valley around Alamos, oh, they were so gorgeous. He said they were like jewels on green velvet.

I know one of the things that was so exciting to me, there would be a lily, a pink lily that actually grew up between the cobblestones in the town, and would literally be everywhere.

And along the side by the “cagajon" (horse manure), they would stay up, and you would walk through these lilys.

From the Audience: One last question. Kathi, can you confirm that people used 66 as a landing strip in to your dad's gem shop?

Kathi: Yes. I'll tell you who used to use it.

From the Audience: Patton?

Kathi: Also Howard Hughes. He used to come in and he would bring, this goes to show you how good a cook my mother was, he would bring live lobsters from Maine, and he would come in so that Eunice could cook them for him. And when you think back, at the type of man he was and what he had, to want simplicity and friends, that he would come down to Thermal, and be with friends, and have this lady who made the right kind of drawn butter that had a little bit of fresh garlic in it, so he could dip his lobster tail in.

The road was used and definitely the side road. Everybody in my family, except me, held a pilot's license.

Howard Hughes and Ida Lapino in Palm Springs
Not exactly a photo of Howard Hughes landing his plane on the highway, but here is a Palm Springs photo of Howard Hughes accompanied
by Hollywood actress Ida Lupino.

And when my brother learned how to fly, he took my great-grandfather up. He'd come out to California by train from Mignot, North Dakota, 90 years old. He enjoyed flying so much, he cashed in his train ticket, and flew home. And, he lived another sixteen years.

Kathi's page at Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery | Blue Coyote Gallery, Cave Creek, AZ | The Palm Desert Historical Socitey | Back to the Top

Director of New York's Metropolitan Museum,
Thomas P. Campbell encourages curators to be storytellers

Thomas P. Campbell goes about his job with passion, raising the often unheralded position of museum curatorship to an art form.

"Nothing replaces the authenticity of the object presented with passionate scholarship. Bringing people face to face with our objects is a way of bringing them face to face with people across time, across space, whose lives may have been very different to our own, but who, like us, had hopes and dreams, frustrations and achievements in their lives."

Thomas P Campbell
Thomas P. Cambell, curator of the Metropolitan Museum of New York

Below Thomas Campbell offers an entertaining and enlightening on-line TED-talk about his philosophy of museums and their exhibitions.

Thomas P. Campbell: Weaving Narratives in Museum Galleries
Ted Talks: March 2012 - 16 min, 37 sec

Bacchinal by Titian
A Bacchanal by Titian, 1523 - 1524
Thomas B Campbell Tapestries in the Baroque Cover

As Director of the Metropolitan, Thomas Campbell wants visitors to feel comfortable, open to experience the museum with a contemplative mind, willing to observe and commune with the art without layers of intimidation or elitism. He wants to create a safe zone where observation is enjoyed, were curiosity can thrive and ideas can expand.

Thomas P Campbell Curator Tapestries of the Baroque
Thomas P. Campbell, curator of "Tapestriy in the Baroque"

"Nothing compares with the presentation of significant objects in a well-told narrative, interpreting complex ideas in a way which retains the integrity of the subject, yet unpacks it for the general audience." This is how Thomas Campbell views his job.

The Metropolitan Museum | Thomas P. Campbell's talk on Ted Talks | Back to the Top

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News from our Gallery
  • Gallery Hours are 11:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., Wednesday through Sunday. We are also available for scheduled appointments, especially for those who wish to view the gallery on Mondays or Tuesdays. Please call Dan at the gallery and schedule a visit, or call him on his cellphone, 510-414-9821.
  • The Bolinas Museum presents through June 23, Historical Paintings of Coastal Marin ... landscape paintings on loan from private collections and from the Museum's permanent collection by prominent artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who were drawn to the beauty of Coastal Marin including Ludmilla and Thaddeus Welch, George Demont Otis, and Percy Gray among others.
  • In Campbell (east of San Jose) Ainsley House is offering an exhibition through June 30th of Francis Cutting paintings entitled The Painter Around the Corner: Francis Cutting, A California Impressionist. Cutting was a lifelong resident of Campbell, but also maintained a studio and home in Pacific Grove. He created landscapes throughout California and Oregon, but is most known for his cottage scenes of Pacific Grove.
  • Beginning April 6, The Petaluma Arts Center features Mars-1, Damon Soule and Oliver Vernon, and a large scale mural on the Phoenix Theater by North Bay artist Ricky Watts. Santa Rosa's Press Democrat features Ricky Watt's mural on the wall of the Phoenix Theater in their Saturday, March 30th edition.
  • Plan ahead! Bodega Bay's Fireworks and Block Party are July 5.
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What's showing in Bodega Bay?
Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery Sign Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery
1785 Coast Highway One, Bodega Bay,
CA 94923, 707-875-2911 | Map & Location
Celebrating Early California, Western and American Art
- original paintings by famous artists of the past
Now showing ... "New to Us," Recently acquired works by Joshua Meador
plus Bodega Bay resident artists
Jean Warren (watercolors), Diane Perry (photography), and Linda Sorensen (oil paintings)
Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery Exterior
Reb Brown Sign Thumbnail

The Ren Brown Collection
"Established in 1989 and specializes in contemporary art from both sides of the Pacific.
Now showing ...
TOKO SHINODA | Back to the Top

Ren Brown Collection

Local Color Gallery

Local Color Artist Gallery
"Botanicals and Birds" through June 2
featuring artists Victoria Kochergin, Elizabeth Peyton, Vi Strain and Nancy Wheeler

Gallery Hours, daily 10 AM to 5 PM
1580 Eastshore Dr., Bodega Bay
707-875-2744 |
| Back to the Top

J C Henderson Neptune's Ocean
What's showing nearby?
in Sonoma, Napa & Marin Counties
Christopher Queen Gallery

IN DUNCANS MILLS Christopher Queen Galleries
Now Showing ... Animal Fare, through July 7
recpetion May 5

3 miles east of Hwy 1 on Hwy 116 on the Russian River |707-865-1318| Back to the Top

Self Portrait of Xavier Martinez
Bobbi & Ron Quercia

IN DUNCANS MILLS Quercia Gallery
""NO BUOY VERBOTEN," Childhood Mythological Memories
Jose Maro Alvarado through May 30
Hours: 11am-5pm, Thur - Mon (707) 865-0243 | Back to the Top

Quercia Gallery Duncans Mills
Annex Galleries Santa Rosa IN Santa Rosa The Annex Galleries
specializing in 19th, 20th, and 21st century American and European fine prints
now showing ... Stanley William Hayter and the influence of Atelier

The Annex Galleries is a member of the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA). | Back to the Top
Lee Youngman Photo Thumbnail
Lee Youngman

IN CALISTOGA the Lee Youngman Gallery
Featuring the work of contemporary painter Paul Youngman,
and the works of famed painter, Ralph Love (1907-1992) | Back to the Top
Left ... Lee Youngman, Right ... Paul Yougman

Paul Youngman

Jeanette Legrue and her painting Lillies Thumbnail

IN TOMALES Tomales Fine Art
Host artist Janette LeGrue
Featuring local and national, award-winning artists:
Anne Blair Brown, Christin Coy, Timothy Horn, Debra Huse, Jeanette Le Grue,
John Poon, Randall Sexton, Brian Mark Taylor, and Antoinette Walker. /  
Open most weekends 12-5pm, and by appointment (707) 878-2525. | Back to the Top

Tomales Fine Art Gallery
Linda Ratzlaff

IN GRATON Graton Gallery

Rik Olson ~ "A Look Back" Paintings, block prints & wood engravings.
Also on display are Guest Artists Judy Hutchison, painting and Phil Wright, photography
Show Dates: April 9 - May 19, 2013
Upcoming: Soo Noga & B K Hopkins
with Guest Artists
Show Dates: May 21 - June 30, 2013, Reception: Saturday, May 25, 2-5 pmGraton Gallery | (707) 829-8912  |
9048 Graton Road, Graton CA 95444 | Open Wednesday ~ Saturday 10:30 to 6, Sunday 10:30 to 4

Bodega Landmark Gallery Thumb IN BODEGA Bodega Landmark Gallery Collection
17255 Bodega Highway Bodega, California USA 94922 Phone 707 876 3477 | | Back to the Top
BBHPhoto Dennis Calabi
IN PETALUMA Calabi Gallery
Sebastopol's own famed master conservator Dennis Calabi brings his rare knowledge and experience
to present a tasteful and eclectic array of primarily 20th century artwork.

now showing: "Intimate Enigmas" abstract stone sculpture by Easton, through July 7

144 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA 94952 Call 707-781-94952 |Back to the Top
Right ... Yellow Eye (Protest) by Robert Pearson McChesney, 1946, Oil on Masonite

Easton Crustacean Dancing Dream 144
Easton, Crustacean Dancing Dream, American Alabaster
Vintage Bank Petaluma Thumbnail IN PETALUMA Vintage Bank Antiques
Vintage Bank Antiques is located in Historic Downtown Petaluma, corner of Western Avenue and Petaluma Blvd. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Warren Davis and the rest of the team at Vintage Bank Antiques has assembled a spectacular inventory of paintings. From the 18th Century to Contemporary Artists. We have paintings to suit every price point and collector level.
If you have a painting for sale, please consider Vintage Bank Antiques. Contact Warren Davis directly at
101 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA 94952, ph: 707.769.3097 | Back to the Top
Petaluma Arts Council Art Center IN PETALUMA Petaluma Arts Council
"... to celebrate local artists and their contributions and involve the whole community
Cosmic Terrain, Damon Soule and Oiver Vernon and a large scale mural by Ricky Watts.
through June 2 | Back to the Top

Petaluma Art Center
Photo:Anita Diamondstein
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Links to current museum exhibits relevant to Early California Art
The Greater Bay Area

The Walt Disney Family Museum
This museum tells Walt's story from the early days.
(on the Parade Grounds) 104 Montgomery Street,
The Presidio of San Francisco, CA 94129
-- view location on Google Maps

Disney Museum Exterior Thumbnail San Francisco
de Young Museum
Girl with a Pearl Earring:
Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis

Jan 26 - Jun 2

De Young Museum Thumbnail
San Francisco
California Historical Society

Curating the Bay
Apr 7 - Aug 25

California Historical Society Thumbnail

San Francisco
Legion of Honor

Permanent European and Impressionist Paintings

Opening June 1, "Impressionists on the Water"

San Francisco Legion of Honor Museum
San Francisco
Contemporary Jewish Museum
Kehinde Wiley, The World Stage: Israel
through May 27
-The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats

San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum Thumbnail

Oakland Museum of California

ongoing Gallery of California Art
-showcasing over 800 works from the OMCA's collection
-Summoning Ghosts: The art of Huag Liu

Oakland Museum Thumbnail

San Francisco

Lebbeus Woods, Architect through Jun 2
Garry Winogrand, through Jun 2

Selections from the SFMOMA Collection

Santa Rosa
Sonoma County Museum
-Tools as Art: the Hechinger Collection
of Contemporary Art - through Jun 2

Sonoma County Museum Thumbnail

Santa Rosa
Charles M. Schultz Museum

"Mid Century Modern" through Oct 27

Charles M Schultz Museum Santa Rosa

Hearst Art Gallery
Carnival ...
July 14
150th Anniversary of St. Mary's College,
Best of the Permanent Collection

Hearst Art Gallery Thumbnail
Mission San Francisco de Solano Museum

featuring the famed watercolor paintings
of the California Missions
by Christian Jorgensen

Mission San Francisco de Solano in Sonoma CA

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

551 Broadway, Sonoma CA 95476 (707) 939-7862

-Roger Shimomura" Minidoka on my Mind
through Jun 16

Sonoma Museum of Art Exterior Thumb
Grace Hudson Museum

The Hupa People
through May 5
Points of Encounter: Catherine Woskow and Larry Thomas
through July 28

Grace Hudson Museum Bolinas
Bolinas Museum

featuring their permanent collection,
including Ludmilla and Thaddeus Welch, Arthur William Best, Jack Wisby, Russell Chatham, Alfred Farnsworth.
(thumbnail right ... a portion of Elizabeth Holland McDaniel's Bolinas Embarcadero. The green roof building on Wharf Street is the Bolinas Museum)
Elizabeth Holland McDaniel Bolinas Embarcadero thumbnail

Walnut Creek
Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts

Peaceable Kingdom: Animals Real and Imagined
Mar 3 - May 19

Lesher Ctr for the Arts Walnut Creek CA

San Jose
San Jose Museum of Art

approximately 2,000 20th & 21st century artworks including paintings, sculpture, new media, photography, drawings, prints, and artist books.

San Jose Museum of Art Thumbnail

Monterey Museum of Art
Henri Matisse: Improvisation, through May 19
Facing Forward: through June 9

Monterey Museum of Art

Palo Alto
Cantor Art Center at Stanford University

Rodin! The Complete Stanford Collection

Cantor Art Center at Stanford University
Crocker Art Museum
Permenant Collection
through May 5 Sacramento
Capitol Museum

Governor's Portrait Gallery
Permanent Exhibits

Capitol Museum Sacramento Thumbnail
Stockton's Treasure!
The Haggin Museum

"if you've not visited yet, you must go!"
-Largest exhibition of Albert Beirstadt paintings anywhere,
-Joseph Christian Leyendecker,
(Norman Rockwell's mentor)
see our Newsletter article, April 2011
Southern California (and Arizona)

Los Angeles
Los Angeles Museum of Art

Art of the Americas, Level 3:
Artworks of paintings and sculptures from the colonial period to World War II— a survey of of art and culture
& "Levitated Mass"

Los Angeles County Museum of Art Irvine
The Irvine Museum
Lasting Impressions: Twenty Years of the irvine Museum, the museum's most popular
and important impressionist paintings ..
   through Jun 6
Irvine Museum Thumbnail

Santa Barbara
The Santa Barbara
Museum of Art

Van Gogh to Munch: ongoing
Scenery, Story, Spirit: ongoing
California Dreaming, through Jun 16

Santa Barbara Museum of Art Thumbnail

Palm Springs
Palm Springs Art Museum

Permanent Collection
American 19th century Landscape Painting

Palm Springs Art Museum Thumbnail
San Diego
San Diego Museum of Art
Permanent Collection
San Diego Museum of Art Thumbnail

The Huntington Library

American Art Collection

Paintings by John Singer Sargent,
Edward Hopper, Robert Henri, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, William Keith, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Hart Benton and many more.

Huntington Library Art Collection Pasadena

Norton Simon Museum

-Permanent collection, European paintings

Norton Simon Museum Pasadena Pasadena
Museum of California Art

-California Scene Paintings, 1930-1960, through Jul 28
Pasadena Museum of California Art Exterior thumb
Prescott, AZ
Phippen Museum

Shadows on the Mesa
through Jun 16

Phippen Museum Entrance Hwy 89
& Beyond
Seattle, WA
Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Art Museum

Portland, OR
Portland Art Museum

Permanent Collection: American Art

Portland Art Museum Thumbnail

Washington D.C.
The Renwick Gallery

Permanent ... Grand Salon Paintings
from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Renwick Gallery Washington DC Chicago, IL
Art Institute of Chicago
Permanent collection:
the Impressionists
Art Institute of Chicago Thumbnail
Cedar Rapids, IA
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
Grant Wood: In Focus

is an ongoing permanent collection exhibition.

Cedar Rapids Museum of Art Bentonville, AR
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Washington D.C.
The National Gallery

Permanent collection
American Paintings

Tha National Gallery Washington DC Thumbnail

Philadelphia , PA
The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art Thumbnail
Philadelphia , PA
Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Campus
Opening May 19
Barnes Foundation Campus Philadelphia Brooklyn, NY
The Brooklyn Museum
American Art
Permanent Collection
The Brooklyn Museum Thumbnail
New York , NY
The Whitney Museum of American Art

The largest selection of works by Edward Hopper
The Whitney Museum of American Art New York