I had the opportunity last night to attend a private reception at the Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University which was very impressive. Mark and Janet Hilbert began collecting California Scene paintings in 1992 and the collection has grown to over 1,000 pieces. As the collection grew Mark and Janet decided they wanted to find a means to preserve and share their collection. They eventually developed a relationship with Chapman University in Orange, California and helped to build the Hilbert Museum of California Art. Earlier this year the Museum opened in a beautiful new temporary building at 167 North Atchison Street in Orange. The Museum will eventually move north several blocks to a large old Orange packing warehouse that the University owns which will be a larger space with other venues. Last night's reception was for members of the Pacific Club.
I found it very interesting to listen to Mark describe his collection. It was fascinating to see what made him gravitate towards different pieces and how passionate he and his wife are about the collection. He definitely is a good steward for the work, almost like a proud adoptive parent. I know I always want people who obtain my work to share my passion for the image & print as I do.
I have long enjoyed the work of Millard Sheets and other California Scene painters. I think partially because the paintings often are similar to photographs, I usually like the subject matter (often they are of grittier scenes which I know I gravitate towards), they document my parents' generation which I enjoy, and I know a big part is that I appreciate the skill these artist had. Sheets is my favorite of the group and I have to say I have not seen a watercolor like his San Dimas Train Station before. How Sheets was able to capture the lighting in watercolor is just amazing. I have limited painting experience but enough to know what he was able to do with his brush is not an easy thing.
Chapman's President Jim Doti was also at the event last night and it was great to see how excited and supportive he was about the Hilbert Museum and art in general as it relates to education. Gordon T. McClelland did a very nice job curating this exhibition and I can easily say the trip up to the museum was well worth it. The museum is literally right across from the Metrolink / Amtrak station so easy to get to from San Diego and Los Angeles. Old town Orange is right there and great restaurants like Felix's are an easy walk.