Emil Kosa Jr., “Cloverleaf Confusion,” 1950s, watercolor on paper. The Hilbert Collection.
Familiar LA scenes dominate the new Hilbert exhibition. Emil Kosa Jr., “Cloverleaf Confusion,” 1950s, watercolor on paper. The Hilbert Collection.

Hilbert Museum at Chapman Spotlights New Los Angeles Area Scene Paintings Exhibition is curated by father-son art experts Gordon and Austin McClelland.

The Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University focuses on vibrant paintings of everyday life in 20th century Los Angeles and its surrounding region in a major new exhibition, “Los Angeles Area Scene Paintings,” continuing through May, 2020.

The Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University will focus on vibrant paintings of everyday life in 20th century Los Angeles and its surrounding region in a major new exhibition, “Los Angeles Area Scene Paintings,” continuing through May 2, 2020.

Curated by California Scene painting experts (and father-son team) Gordon T. McClelland and Austin D. McClelland, the show will feature more than 70 paintings created between the early 1900s and the present day by acclaimed California artists, including Millard Sheets, Emil Kosa Jr., Rex Brandt, Lee Blair, Dorothy Sklar, Barse Miller, Luvena Vysekal, Arthur Beaumont, Roger Kuntz, Edward Biberman, Hardie Gramatky, Eugenie Fisher, Ralph Hulett, Burr Singer, Ben Abril, George Gibson, Tony Peters, Bradford J. Salamon and many more.

All the works in the exhibition are from the collection assembled by museum founders Mark and Janet Hilbert of Newport Coast, many of which have been gifted to the Hilbert Museum.

A 144-page hardcover exhibition catalogue, Los Angeles Area Scene Paintings, by curators Gordon and Austin McClelland, has been published and will be available for sale at the museum.

Phil Dike, “Sunday Afternoon in the Plaza de los Angeles,” 1939, oil on canvas. The Hilbert Collection.
Phil Dike, “Sunday Afternoon in the Plaza de los Angeles,” 1939, oil on canvas. The Hilbert Collection.

The museum will also open a new exhibition in its American Illustration gallery – “A Fine Romance: Images of Love in Classic American Illustration” (November 2, 2019-May 2, 2020) – curated by Hilbert Museum director Mary Platt from pieces in the Hilbert Collection, featuring original magazine illustrations by Joe De Mers, Jon Whitcomb, Joe Bowler, Gwen Fremlin and other acclaimed illustrators of the mid-20th century.

The current exhibition in the Animation and Movie Arts gallery, “The Magic and Flair of Mary Blair,” featuring concept art by the renowned Disney artist, has been extended by popular demand through the end of 2019.  The museum’s Permanent Collection galleries will also feature newly selected works from the collection, as well as old favorites.

Rex Brandt, “Wilshire Boulevard,” c. 1960, watercolor on paper. The Hilbert Collection.
Rex Brandt, “Wilshire Boulevard,” c. 1960, watercolor on paper. The Hilbert Collection.

An Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2019 from 6 to 8 p.m.  The reception is open-house style, free and open to the public.

The Hilbert Museum is open Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is located at 167 N. Atchison Street in Orange, across from the Orange Metrolink train station. Admission is free. Limited free parking is available in front of the museum, with a permit obtained at the front desk.

There is also plenty of free parking in the City of Orange’s new Old Towne West parking structure located at 130 N. Lemon Street, just one block east of the museum. For more information, the public can call 714-516-5880 or visit www.hilbertmuseum.org.

About the New Exhibitions

Los Angeles Area Scene Paintings

“Over the past 100 years, the Los Angeles area has transitioned through many changes,” explains Gordon McClelland, who co-curated the exhibition along with his son Austin. “During that time, there were many talented artists who lived in this region – many drawn here to work in the booming movie industry – who produced visual art that captured the look and feel of what was happening around them.  Some preferred working in oil paints, others in watercolor. Today the works they produced are valued both as fine art and as a visual documentation of bygone times.”

Some of the iconic landmarks depicted in the paintings include Los Angeles City Hall, the Capitol Records tower, the Hollywood Bowl, the Goodyear Blimp station in Carson, and the amazing mid-century concrete-sculpted forms of the interweaving freeways. Historic locations such as Olvera Street, Chinatown, the old Victorian-era homes that once crowned Bunker Hill, the Angels Flight incline railway and the Griffith Park observatory became inspiration for these artists.

“Taken all together, this exhibition becomes almost a time-travel experience through L.A. over the last century,” McClelland says.

The California Scene painting movement, which flourished from the 1930s through roughly the 1970s (with some notable examples after that period), focuses on scenes of everyday life in the Golden State. In both oils and watercolors, California artists portrayed daily life around them in cityscapes, rural scenes, populated landscapes, portraits.

The movement encompassed such genres as social realism and regionalism. These styles flourished strongly in the Los Angeles area, where innovative artists portrayed not only the beauty and vitality of the diverse and burgeoning metropolis, but also the realism and sometimes downright grittiness of everyday life in the city.

A Fine Romance: Images of Love In Classic American Illustration

Love is in the air in this assemblage of amorous illustrations drawn from The Hilbert Collection’s impressive selection of classic American illustrations, curated by Hilbert Museum director Mary Platt. Many of the works in this exhibition were created to illustrate romantic fiction in the pages of popular “women’s magazines” of the 1940s to the 1960s – McCall’s, Redbook, Good Housekeeping – as well as in the Saturday Evening Post and other periodicals.

The exhibition features works by Joe de Mers, Pruett Carter, Gwen Fremlin, Joe Bowler, Jon Whitcomb and other acclaimed artists from this classic era of American illustration.

About the Hilbert Museum

The Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University was established thanks to the generosity of Mark and Janet Hilbert of Newport Coast. The Hilbert Collection – which includes oils, watercolors and drawings of everyday life in the Golden State – is a significant repository of 20th-century representational art by California artists.  The collection also includes American illustration, as well as animation and movie art from Disney Studios and others, to spotlight the fact that many California fine artists were drawn to the state by work in the movie industry.

The Hilbert Museum is a top-rated Southern California attraction on Yelp and TripAdvisor and was named 2018’s Best Museum in OC Weekly’s annual “Best of Orange County” awards. The museum will undergo a planned expansion, with construction set to begin in 2021, that will triple its exhibition space from 7,500 square feet to more than 22,000 square feet.