Laguna Beach Art Association: The Founders

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Joseph Kleitsch, The Drug Store, c. 1925, oil on canvas, 40 x0 40 inches, Private collection

Laguna Beach Art Association: The Founders
June 24, 2018 – January 13, 2019

Laguna Art Museum is preparing an exhibition celebrating the centennial of the Laguna Beach Art Association. This is a tremendous milestone in both the history of the art association and the art colony in Laguna Beach. The exhibition will be part of a year-long celebration marking the museum’s history and legacy, honoring those early artists who influenced the fabric of the developing community and surveys the evolution of the art association through the 1930s.

Art associations were a phenomenon of the late nineteenth-century, both on the East and West Coasts. But no two art associations were alike. The Laguna Beach Art Association was a pioneering organization, whose inception helped determine the fortunes of the Laguna Beach art colony and its artists. It grew from a relatively small organization to one that included hundreds of members throughout the country. Attendance records at exhibitions were impressive. Its leadership was devoted to promoting art in Southern California, but it also traveled its exhibitions to cities outside of California, and it championed arts education in schools. The Laguna Beach Art Association charted its own course, but its development and struggles were also a mirror of artistic and economic issues that confronted many art colonies in the early twentieth-century. Its membership included Laguna luminaries—those artists who exhibited on the national and international fronts—as well as many artists whose reputations never extended far beyond the local confines.

Although monographs have been published on several members of the art association—and some scholarship has focused on aspects of the organization—this will be the first large-scale, critical study to focus exclusively on the art association’s growth and development. The exhibition will include over sixty paintings, including a number of works by major artists that were seen in the original exhibitions.