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Upon a Painted Ocean: An Ode to the California Coast

Our tribute to the California Coast is entitled Upon a Painted Ocean, in reference to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem about the sea, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, published in 1798.  It reads, in part:

Day after day, day after day, we stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.

Contrary to the tragic theme of the poem, our exhibition celebrates the splendor of our sun-filled coast.  To that end, Upon a Painted Ocean features works by important historical artists as well as by contemporary painters.

In addition to spectacular scenes of idyllic beaches, the exhibition includes several paintings of Santa Catalina Island, Coronado Beach, the rocky cliffs of Big Sur, views of San Francisco Bay, and two historic vistas of Crystal Cove, one of which shows the cove as a movie set, used as such since the early 1920s.

Guy Rose, the most famous of the California Impressionists, is represented by two seascapes, one of Monterey and the other of Laguna Beach. Point Lobos, usually associated with foggy, overcast mornings, shows the unique rocks and cliffs under a bright overhead sun.  By contrast, Lifting Fog shows Laguna Beach, noted for its bright sunny days, just emerging from the morning fog.

On display are important historical works by Rex Brandt, Frank Cuprien, Granville Redmond, Edgar Payne, Ruth Peabody, Arthur Rider, William Ritschel, Donna Schuster, George Gardner Symons, Elmer Wachtel, and William Wendt.

Additionally, the exhibition presents works by notable contemporary artists, such as John Cosby, Rick Delanty, Dennis Doheny, Andy Evansen, Gregory Hull, Kim Lordier, Jesse Powell, Gayle Garner Roski, Jeff Sewell, and Bryan Mark Taylor.

Suggested Books

California Light

Painting California

Enchanted Isle: A History of Plein Air Painting in Santa Catalina Island

Selections from The Irvine Museum

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