Janet Blake on Phil Dike
Thursday, June 29
Included with museum admission
The museum’s curator of historical art gives a talk in conjunction with Phil Dike: At the Edge of the Sea.
Phil Dike grew up in Redlands, California, and studied at the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles from 1924 to 1927. Returning to Los Angeles, he taught at Chouinard for a year before traveling to Europe and studying for a year in France at the American Academy of Fontainebleau. He resumed teaching at Chouinard in 1931; then, in 1935, he became a color coordinator and story designer for Walt Disney Studios, contributing to such animated classics as Fantasia and Snow White. His tenure with Disney lasted until 1945. With an educational background that was grounded in realism, Dike was a prominent member of the California regionalist movement of the 1930s and 1940s. A close friend of artist Rex Brandt (1914–2000), the two founded the Brandt-Dike Summer School in 1947 at Brandt’s home in Corona del Mar. In 1950, Dike joined the faculty of Scripps College and the Claremont Graduate Schools. At this time, he abandoned a strictly realist approach and began to abstract his forms. By the 1960s, his work had reached nearly pure abstraction. The dominant subject matter of his work was the sea and man’s relationship to it. Bustling beach and harbor scenes dominated his subject matter in the 1930s and 1940s. However, as his work became more abstract, the human elements were reduced to mystical forms, and the elements of sky, sea, and sand were reduced to striated, textured patterns. Dike retired from teaching in 1970 but continued to make his home in Claremont. As a professor emeritus, he influenced many young artists long after his retirement. In his last decades, Dike, a sensitive man, also wrote poetry that expressed his feelings about the sea and man’s relationship to it.
About Janet Blake
Janet Blake is the Curator of Historical Art at Laguna Art Museum. In addition she has been the curator for the E. Gene Crain Collection since 1981. Her field as a scholar is the history of California art from 1900 to 1950, with a focus on American impressionists in California and the regional or American Scene artists of the 1930s and 1940s. Her exhibition Early Artists in Laguna Beach: The Impressionists was shown at Laguna Art Museum in 1986, and in 1991 she co-edited the book American Scene Painting: California, 1930s and 1940s with Ruth Westphal. In 2007, Blake curated a major retrospective of the work of Millard Sheets at the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts at Fairplex in Pomona. Since joining Laguna Art Museum in 1998, she has worked on several of the museum’s outstanding exhibitions. In 2008 she assisted Will South with the major retrospective on William Wendt, and wrote the chronology of the artist’s life for the accompanying book; in 2009, she was one of the curators of Collecting California: Selections from Laguna Art Museum; and in 2010 she curated E. Roscoe Shrader, accompanied by a book on the artist for which she wrote the main essay. Her major retrospective exhibition on Clarence Hinkle was shown at the museum in 2012, accompanied by a comprehensive book on the artist. Rex Brandt: In Praise of Sunshine, her most recent exhibition, is the culmination of years of study of the artist whom she personally knew from 1981 until his death. Janet holds a BA in art and art history from California State University, Long Beach.