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Scenic View Ahead: The Westways Cover Art Program, 1928-1981

The Irvine Museum presented Scenic View Ahead: The Westways Cover Art Program, 1928-1981, one of the largest exhibitions of works from the Westways cover art program ever mounted. Westways is the member magazine of the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The cover art program began in 1928, with the Auto Club commissioning paintings from major artists working in Southern California for the cover of each issue of its member magazine. With 55 artworks on view, The Irvine Museum’s exhibition traces prominent styles of art through most of the twentieth century, such as California scene painting, Pop Art, and assemblage art.

Started in 1909, Westways was originally called Touring Topics. One of its early editors, Phil Townsend Hanna, began the program to commission art in 1928. His move reflected a shift in the magazine’s content from automobile-related topics to a broader interest in cultural and recreational activities. The magazine’s covers were intended to mirror the breadth of interests and backgrounds of its readers, the Auto Club members.

Curated by Auto Club historians Matthew W. Roth and Morgan P. Yates, Scenic View Ahead features the work of plein air masters Alson Clark, Maynard Dixon, John Frost, and Donna Schuster, as well as renowned watercolorists Rex Brandt, Phil Dike, and Maurice Logan. In its final decades, the cover art program expanded its scope to include graphic artists such as Jan Sawka and Merle Shore, who designed posters, album covers, and sets for films and theater, as well as illustrators like Paul Hogarth. Although the magazine turned to photography for its covers after 1981, the remarkable original works of art that were created during the program offer an artistic and cultural journey through the region’s history.

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest member of the AAA federation of motor clubs, has been providing service since 1900. Today, the Auto Club’s members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and highway and transportation safety programs. More information about the Auto Club is available at www.aaa.com.

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To see The Irvine Museum Collection’s entire collection of high-quality books, cards and prints, please visit the bookstore.