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  • by William Pinney

Dinner to Celebrate the Life and Art of Peter Alexander

On March 19th the Jonathan Club hosted a dinner to celebrate the life of Peter Alexander (1939-2020). We enjoyed the company of his second wife Claudia Parducci and son Pietro Alexander, his gallerist Craig Krull, studio manager Curt Klebaum, and several artist friends. After dinner, they reminisced about his life and work, and we watched a video about him that was commissioned by the Club.

Peter was a Resident Artist Member of the Club from 2006 to 2012. This membership category has since been retired, but at the time, artist members paid dues the form of artworks. Many of his works are on display at the Beach Club.

Peter was born in 1939 to a well-to-do family in the oil business, who were fourth generation Southern Californians. They lived in Newport Beach where sun, ocean and the outdoors dominated life. Like many before and since, he took up surfing and became familiar with the materials and techniques used in board construction. Also, he recalled observing avivid nighttime meteor shower over the beach that he said informed his art for the rest of his life.

His early career interests centered on architecture. He studied at University of Pennsylvania with stints at the Architectural Association in London, UC Berkeley and USC. He gained practical experience, drafting plans for successful west coast architects. Ultimately, deciding that art would be his life’s passion, he enrolled in the art department at UCLA, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1965 and a masters in 1968.

Based on his boyhood experience with surfboard resins, he used them to create translucent sculptures with architectural shapes. These were so mesmerizing and original that he quickly became a critically and financially successful artist. He was part of the Light and Space art movement in the burgeoning West Coast art scene in the late 1960s and 70s.

Jennifer Gunlock (JAF), Bruce Richards, Claudia Parducci, Craig Krull, Grafton Tanquary

His career changed direction abruptly after the resins’ toxicity put him in the hospital. He became a painter, but he continued the themes of color and light in other medias including oils, acrylics, urethanes, and even works on black velvet canvas.

Admirers of his art should not miss a posthumous exhibit in preparation for this fall, which will bring together the themes of his life’s work. A few works he loved by other artists will be used to illustrate his oeuvre. The Jonathan Club is lending one work from its collection for this show which will be open in September at the UC Irvine Institute and Museum of California Art.

Click on this link to see the 10-minute video about Peter Alexander. Thank you to Grafton Tanquary who led the organization of this unique event, and also to all that attended and made the evening so successful.

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