California Women in Long Beach

Sharon Ellis, Winter, 1994
There has been increasing scholarly and museum interest in uncovering the history of women modernists in California. The Long Beach Museum of Art's "Decade by Decade: Women Artists of California" is drawn from the institution's under-exhibited permanent collection. It combines a surprisingly strong representation of major figures with lesser-known contemporaries.

Arranged chronologically, "Decade by Decade" starts with a Mabel Alvarez from 1925. The selection skews heavily toward painting, with a few sculptures, drawings, and prints. A photography show from the LBMA collection is planned for later in the year.
Ruth Gannett, untitled, 1948
New to me is printmaker and book illustrator Ruth Gannett (1896-1979). She's represented with a small 1948 lithograph of fern fiddleheads. It holds its own in a room of big, AbEx-inspired paintings.
Helen Lundeberg, Still Life with Folded Paper, 1961
LBMA owns seven works by Helen Lundeberg, of which two are on view. Still Life with Folded Paper is hard-edge update of the classic California still life of tissue-paper-wrapped oranges (created by the wife-and-husband team of Alberta Binford McCloskey and William J. McCloskey).
Florence Arnold, Sea and Sky, 1959
Less well known is Florence Arnold, who studied with Karl Benjamin and clearly learned a thing or two from John McLaughlin.

"Decade by Decade" merits more attention than it's gotten, given how rarely these objects are shown. Also on view are works by Agnes Pelton, Claire Falkenstein, June Wayne, Joyce Treiman, Beatrice Wood, Helen Pashgian, Joan Brown, D.J. Hall, Alison Saar, Sharon Ellis, Astrid Preston, and Margaret Honda.
D.J. Hall, Like Mother, Like Daughter, 1978-79


Anonymous said…
I admit I'm impressed by the technical skill and finesse of artists like DJ Hall, as opposed to those works that are way too abstract and oh-so-hip artsty-artsy-avante-avante. But I still get a case of visual diabetes when I see pre-Raphealite works or, of course, stuff from the Thomas-Kincaide school of art.

Regardless, the visual style that will dominate the Lucas Museum in Expo Park probably will manage to fill a void going back a long time. Even more so since another void is opening up in the (ohkay...wait for it) mid-Wilshire district---referring to more than just the Marciano.