America's Wilderness in Art

October 20, 2001 - January 20, 2002

October 4, 2001

Los Olivos, CA ~

The American wilderness, as seen through the eyes of artists over the last two centuries, was featured in a new exhibition at the Wildling Art Museum in Los Olivos, which begun on October 20. More than 30 works by well-known artists, including John James Audubon, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Charles Russell, and Ansel Adams, were exhibited.

The show, “America’s Wilderness in Art”, was designed to showcase the range of artistic styles, mediums and subject matter used to portray the various aspects of the American wilderness encountered during settlement of the continent. Sponsor of the show was the Wildling Art Museum, a new museum dedicated to promoting a greater understanding and appreciation of wilderness through art. A “wildling” is any wild plant or animal.

“The Museum is located in the historic Keenan-Hartley House, the oldest house in Los Olivos,” said Penny Knowles, the museum’s executive director. “While we have had four small exhibitions already, the artwork to be shown in this new exhibit is representative of what we would like to have ultimately in our permanent collection.”

Guest curator for the exhibition was Marlene Miller, a founding director of the museum and owner of the Arlington Gallery in Santa Barbara. “Our mission is unique among museums, and the art community has been extremely supportive of our goals,” said Miller. “Private collectors, art dealers and museums from as far away as New Jersey and Virginia have agreed to loan us works for the show.” The exhibition invitation was underwritten by Rio-Vista Chevrolet and the Santa Ynez Inn.

Among the earliest works to be exhibited was a painting of Marsh Hawks by William G. Williams, a graduate of West Point who accompanied John C. Fremont on topographical explorations of the Cherokee country in the Southeast during 1836-37, and a portrait of Major Stephen Long, attributed to Titian Ramsey Peale, who accompanied Long on his 1820 expedition into the Great Plains. There were scenes of wilderness from every corner of the nation, from the Cypress Swamp in Florida to Canyon de Chelly, Yosemite Valley and the Oregon coast. A dramatic painting, “Proud Elk,” by Carl Rungius and sculptures of buffalo, pumas and a mountain sheep by Arthur Putnam and Charles M. Russell were also be included. A monograph with essays on the history of the exploration and development of the continent and the role that artists played in recording it, co-authored by Miller with her husband, Warren, was available.

There was be an opening reception from 2-5 p.m. on October 20, 2001, and the exhibition ran through January 20, 2002. The Museum was located at 2329 Jonata Street in Los Olivos, between Mattei’s Tavern and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Hours were Wednesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 11-5 p.m.