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I Love You, California

An Exhibition Expressing the Beauty and Radiance of California Impressionist Paintings

Maurice Braun The Land of Sunshine, n.d. Oil on canvas, 50” x 70”

Casa Romantica Executive Director Berenika Schmitz first came across the California Impressionist collection of Peter and Gail Ochs in 2014, while participating in the executive leadership program created by the Fieldstone Foundation, which the Ochs founded to empower nonprofit leaders. “The inspiring environment that the Ochs created with their incredible private collection, hung on the walls, motivated my desire to share this ultimately invigorating experience with our community. I knew they had lent out a few works at a time to other art institutions, and I think I surprised them when I requested almost 30 paintings for an exhibition.” After a meaningful dialogue with Schmitz, the Ochs agreed to loan many of their landscape paintings for the exhibition, “I Love You, California: The Peter and Gail Ochs Collection” exhibition at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente. Comprised of 25 landscapes, this display features the Ochs’ most prized artworks; while its renowned “plein-air” artists include Frank Cuprien, Joseph Kleitsch, Jean Mannheim, Granville Redmond and William Wendt. When Peter and Gail Ochs moved to Orange County from eastern Pennsylvania in 1968, they already had impressive understanding of classic and modern art. Peter grew up with artistic relatives, and both Gail and Peter enjoyed attending museums in Philadelphia. When they moved here nearly 50 years ago, south Orange County was still primarily farm and 46 ART

ranch land. Yet as they saw the area develop, they were drawn to California Impressionist paintings, to works displaying the natural beauty of our state during a bygone era. This style, they explain, “…captured a unique period of time in California history, a time of major growth and change as people by the tens of thousands began to pour into the relatively uninhabited southern part of the state.” California Impressionism originated in Southern California in the early 20th century in Laguna Beach, Pasadena and other SoCal locations. Painters here used the light, broad brush strokes and pure, bright colors of their earlier French counterparts to depict the picturesque scenery, much of it urban. Yet the California version concentrated on the magical southland light and on bucolic landscapes. Many artists came to the southland from Europe as impressionism there gave way to a variety of newer modern art movements. They settled here, formed art colonies and used local landscapes as subjects of their artwork. Their paintings express reverence for the beauty of the area while preserving on canvas the land in its pristine state. These vibrantly colored works are also reflections of the influences of these newer art movements, including post-impressionism. The Ochs began acquiring California Impressionist paintings in 1985. They had viewed these works at the Laguna Art Museum, and then sought out art dealers who carried this type of art. They

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