Newport Beach honors watercolorist Rex Brandt with special plaque

The house and art studio Joan Brandt Scarboro grew up in has long been demolished, but this weekend she got a chance to come home in Corona del Mar.

On Saturday, Scarboro and her sister Shelley Brandt Walker attended the unveiling of a plaque honoring their father, the renowned watercolor painter Rex Brandt.

Next to the Goldenrod Avenue footbridge, Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill unveiled the monument to the man who designed the city's official seal.

"Rex Brandt and [wife] Joan Irving Brandt certainly enjoyed a unique and exceptional relationship with the city of Newport Beach," Hill said before revealing a short stone pedestal with bronze lettering commemorating the site of Brandt's studio, known as Blue Sky.

Scarboro and her sister spent their childhood at Blue Sky, which started as a 30-foot by 30-foot house their grandfather dubbed "the chicken coop."

The property, which is now divided into four residential lots atop a bluff, became a draw for artists across the country who wanted to learn from Brandt.

In the years after Brandt's death in 2000, the studio was demolished, according to Scarboro.

"When they scraped Blue Sky, we lost all sense of home," she said.

Scarboro said the monument, designating Blue Sky's site as a historic point of interest, now gives her family a focal point to return to.

"I can't tell you how wonderful it is," Scarboro said. "Artists are not known for being recognized by their communities. To have this kind of community recognition really just touches us deeply."

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