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  • by William Pinney

The Story Behind a World-Class Art Collection

The Jonathan Art Foundation webcast a live presentation to the Jonathan Club membership about an art collection created over the last 125 years since the Club was founded. This production was organized over several weeks, and it was broadcast on November 15th using three newly acquired webcast cameras by the Club’s IT staff.

The highlights of the 50-minute webcast were the remarks made by Rich Reitzell that covered the history of the Impressionism movement that started in Paris in the 1880s and which migrated globally in the next 30 years.

He described the cadre of world-renowned American artists that brought the movement to California and who created a magnificent body of work by painting the relatively untouched landscapes of the Golden State in the early 20th century. The collection is as much a time capsule of a bygone era as it is a sample of the best work by the best artists of the day. Jack Wilkinson Smith’s Mountain Glacier (1922) was described by some art professionals as possibly the finest painting in the whole collection. Rich added some little-known facts about the artists to shed some personal color about their lives. For instance, Granville Redmond’s loss of hearing in his early childhood meant that he never learnt to talk. His strong friendship with Charlie Chaplin led to several acting roles in silent movies.

Later in the webcast Dale Harbour-Day, Dick Oxford and Elizabeth Van Denburgh described their roles in leading acquisitions of art for the Art Foundation in both our traditional oeuvre and in the contemporary art market for the Beach Club. This last purchase was Andy Warhol’s Sunset which hangs at the Beach Club. With support of another lead investor and the Jonathan Art Foundation, we could contemplate another high profile contemporary art purchase in the future.

Judy Jenkins described her work in the Foundation’s Outreach program to show the collection to the public at large and to lend important works to curated museum shows which frequently travel around the country to multiple locations. She also described a major event at the Town Club for visiting western art painters who were exhibiting at the Autry Museum in February 2020. The multiplier effect of showing the collection to such a group will strengthen the collection’s reputation and perhaps influence the “next Guy Rose” of the 21st century.

Jennifer Gunlock, the Art Foundation’s Collections Manager, made a cameo appearance, and was thanked for her hard work in managing, presenting, lighting, preserving and insuring the collection and supporting the board in its oversight activities.


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