A Century of California Women Artists – 100 Years of Women Painters West at Brand Library & Art Center

A Century of California Women Artists – 100 Years of Women Painters West. Photo Courtesy of the Brand Library & Art Center.

Vast Array of Women Artists Offer Inspired Perspectives at The Brand Library and Art Center

Brand Library & Art center, Glendale
THrough January 8, 2022

Written by Genie Davis
A Century of California Women Artists – 100 Years of Women Painters West, is a vast, diverse, and beautiful collection of work on display through January 8th at Glendale’s Brand Library and Art Center. And, after the exhibition ends, Women Painters West, the organization behind its coordination will continue its vital, impressive work.

The show itself features a fascinating smorgasbord of art. There is the glorious, blossoming mixed media of Annie Clavel’s “Le Jardin de la Reine;” the passionately detailed pencil and acrylic of Buena Johnson’s “Ancestral Crown;” the exciting energy of Betzi Stein’s “One Big Eye” collage; and the galvanizing image created by Pam Douglas in “Greeting,” a mix of charcoal, clay, foam core and fabric. They represent a terrific but small portion of the exhibited work, which features 100 contemporary artists responding to the work of 100 past-member artists along with 25 original paintings on loan from museums and private collections, created by some of those past-members such as Mabel Alvarez, Kathryn Woodman Leighton, and Elsie Palmer Payne.

The graceful paper-cut work of Lorraine Bubar is a response to the charming illustrations of Corinne Malvern; Bonnie Butler’s impressionistic floral responds to the lush work of Clare Robinson Ford’s “California Roses.” Susan Chuka Chesney’s deftly satiric “Metro Mona Lisa” expresses what she terms her “kinship” with Dorothy Sklar’s “Toonerville,” while a compelling connection to the Laguna Beach-area landscape inspired Victoria Dean’s painting linked to the work of Evylena Nunn Miller. The experimental landscape work of Joan Foster, as evocative as a dream, is a response to the work of Dorothy Baugh. Ellen Glick’s splendid portraiture is a response to that of Mabel Alvarez. Exhibition coordinator Diane Karpel’s own lustrous landscape was inspired by Orpha Klinker and described by Karpel as “the residue of experience.” Indeed, part of the attraction of this exhibition is that so many of the works seem steeped in that sense of the experiential.

It is a disservice not to include each one of the works, but time and space being the restrictive concepts that they are, spend an afternoon as the New Year is ready to commence in viewing the stunning body of work for yourselves. As excellent as the exhibition is, Women Painters West is perhaps even more fascinating, a multi-generational group of some 200 member artists.

According to Karpel, as the coordinator of the exhibition and the organization’s treasurer, and its programs and meeting presentations chair, A Century of California Artists “commemorates the heritage, challenges, and accomplishments of our organization for the last 100 years. One hundred members chose an artist of the past as inspiration and responded with a painting of their own. Our intention was to cultivate and promote an under-recognized market of women in the arts and exhibit how far we have come.”

She describes the group itself as having “educational, benevolent, fraternal and charitable objectives. It awards scholarships to art students, assists community art programs and enriches and enhances members professional opportunities. Because we have maintained an active exhibition schedule, this was an opportunity to be recognized and honored nationally at a prestigious art center as a role model for 21st century artists.”

She describes the exhibition as the “first of its kind,” but representative of the group’s long existence and extensive art pedigree. “No other group would have the resource and heritage of 100 years of past artists. This has been a 4-year project to research and find the artists and paintings that we could work from.” Karpel says she felt fortunate in that the exhibition was also able to showcase 25 paintings from members of the past, found in the archives of local art museums and private collectors.

The vast show is just the start for Women Painters West in the years ahead. “There is always room to grow and learn from our past and look for new and exciting ideas for the future,” Karpel asserts. “The world of art is dramatically changing, the life of galleries is diminishing and, of course, the pandemic has altered all our lives. Women Pointers West does have three exhibitions a year. We actually have a Summit meeting planned in February to discuss our hopes and goals for the next 100 years.”   

The exhibition is on view now through January 8, 2022, at Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale, with the gallery open Tuesday-Thursday 11am-8pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-5pm. The closing reception is Saturday, January 8th from 3-5pm. 

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