California Holiday: E. Gene Crain Collection

March 17-July 7, 2002

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This exhibition focused on the achievements of the California School, a loose association of artists based in Southern California that was part of the Depression-era American Scene movement. Rex Brandt, Phil Dike, and Millard Sheets, who were central players in the movement, figured prominently in the exhibition. While the exhibition constituted a visual history of a particular time and place, it also represented the social and aesthetic concerns of the collector E. Gene Crain.
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Sparked by a love of art and fueled by close friendships with artists of the California School, Mr. Crain has amassed a collection of remarkable quality and focus, centering on watercolors of the Southern California landscape. The collection began in the 1960s, when Crain met Rex Brandt at the artist’s home in Corona del Mar. That day marked the beginning of a thirty-nine year relationship with the man who would become his mentor and one of his closest friends. Through Brandt, Crain met Dike and Sheets, with whom he also formed close friendships. These three artists introduced Crain to the many possibilities of painting in watercolor and became his guides in developing the collection. This exhibition was a small selection of paintings from the E. Gene Crain Collection, which now holds over 900 works.