- by William Pinney
Anna Hills Acquisition for the Jonathan Art Foundation
On April 1, 2019 the Jonathan Art Foundation acquired Desert Gold, painted by Anna Hills in 1924. JAF has our own Dick Oxford to thank for this new addition to our exceptional collection. Additional funds were raised by JAF, making this very much a group effort. This is a good model for our continued acquisition program.
In selecting this artist, JAF pursued an acquisition strategy to fill a paucity of works by female artists. With her excellent reputation, Hills’s work has always been a priority, but little is large enough for effective display. The acquisition committee was fortunate to find Desert Gold—a scene depicting Whitewater, California, at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains—as it is in exceptional condition, and at 24 x 32 inches, is one of her largest works. A reception event is planned for June 5th at 6:30 p.m. to officially unveil Desert Gold at the Jonathan Town Club.
Anna Hills (1882-1930) was one of the highly talented artists who put Laguna Beach on the map as a premier art colony during the early twentieth century. Born in Ohio, she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Woman’s School of Art in New York. Like many artists of her generation, Hills continued her studies in Europe. Her longest period was spent in England, at St. Ives, Cornwall. Returning to the U.S., she moved west in 1912 and established herself in Laguna Beach.
Once in California, she responded to the bright light and rich, colorful landscape. She remarked that she had to retire her “European” palette and start over with brighter colors. She traveled widely and became particularly attracted to the desert landscape. She worked primarily in oil, using brushes and palette knifes. Her palette knife work is highly distinctive.
Hills also became a well respected teacher, welcoming many art students to her studio from around the U.S. A founding member of the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1918, Hills was one of its most dynamic and progressive leaders and was a driving force in creating and funding the first permanent LBAA gallery. Hills died in 1930, shortly after the gallery’s opening.