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California Impressionists show opens at Irvine Museum

California Impressionists show opens at Irvine Museum
A painting by William Wendt from 1912.
(Courtesy Irvine Museum)

The Irvine Museum has opened an exhibition of paintings by California Impressionists that depict open air scenes from around a century ago, when the Golden State still was underdeveloped and uncrowded.

The exhibit of 48 paintings by 28 artists has an environmentally friendly undertone and features works by men and women who painted in the Laguna Beach and Newport Beach areas, including Plein Air stylists Anna Hills, Guy Rose, William Wendt, Arthur Rider and Curtis Chamberlin.

“A lot of that land is no longer open space,” said Jean Stern, the museum’s executive director. “It’s been developed into cities, shopping centers and freeways. We want to preserve the open land that still remains.”

Titled “Paradise Found: Summer in California,” the show opened June 16 and runs until mid-September. Sixteen paintings in the show are from the museum’s permanent collection, and the rest come from private collections.


Six of the paintings specifically depict pristine coastal scenes in and around Laguna and Crystal Cove, which modern-day locals may recognize.

Four of the six were painted in Laguna: “Incoming Tide” and “Lifting Fog” by Rose (1867-1925), which he painted, respectively, in 1917 and 1916; “Laguna Village” by Rider (1886-1976); and “Old Coast Road” by Chamberlin (1852-1925).

According to Stern, a noted California art historian, Chamberlin’s 1915 painting depicts an unpaved stretch of what is now Coast Highway in South Laguna, and Rose’s “Lifting Fog” was painted in the vicinity where Bluebird Canyon abuts the coastline.

The last two paintings were done in Crystal Cove: “Near Laguna” by Rider (1886-1976) and “Crystal Cove” by William Wendt (1865-1946).


Although Hills (1882-1930) was one of the founders of the Laguna Beach Art Assn. in the early 1900s and twice served as its president, she did not paint her “Summer in the Canyon” picture — one of the paintings in the exhibit — in the Laguna area, museum officials noted.

Twitter: @ImranVittachi

If You Go:

What: “Paradise Found: Summer in California”

Where: Irvine Museum, 18881 Von Karman Ave., Irvine

When: Through Sept. 20

Museum hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Closed on Sundays and Mondays


Cost: $5 for general admission. Students, seniors and children get in for free. Free admission on the second Wednesday of the month

Information: (949) 476-2565 or