The paintings selected for this exhibition represent personal favorites of collector E. Gene Crain, including watercolors by artists Rex Brandt, Phil Dike, Phil Paradise, Millard Sheets, Robert E. Wood and Milford Zornes .
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 Phil Dike and Millard Sheets with whom he also formed close friendships.
The collection focuses on the achievements of the California School, an association of artists who came of age during the Depression-era American Scene movement. It serves as a visual history of a particular time and place, with an emphasis on images of the land and sea of Southern California, Crain formed firm friendships with each artist, and an intimate understanding of each work of art.
Reflecting on the experiences he has had in nearly fifty years of collecting, Crain says the paintings allowed him to isolate “a section of time and a section of land, and a section of people that were related to the time and the land.” This personal focus, he says, “may be important to people one hundred years from now... people who are from California, who are serious about it and its history,” who will be able to revisit “a time when Southern California was certainly as close as it’s ever going to be to Shangri-la."
Copyright © California Heritage Museum. All rights reserved.