Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA)

Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA)
OMA occupies the venerable 1934 former City of Oceanside City Hall designed by pioneering San Diego architect Irving Gill and the Frederick Fisher designed Central Pavillion opened in 2008.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Historic World War II Watercolor Exhibition

Phil Paradise, Evening on the Home Front

Barse Miller, Waving Goodbye and Good Luck

Painting World War II: The California Style Watercolor Artists is an historic first examination of the paintings by California Style artists on the subject of WWII. Each painting tells an intimate and in turn, dramatic story offering a fresh perspective on World War II. This perspective is a mix of two things: first, a passion for using watercolor in spontaneous and expressive new ways, and second, with the influence of WWII, a rich sense of old fashioned “We are all in this together” patriotism.

Forged in the Great Depression, California Style watercolors form an important West Coast chapter of American Regionalist art. Examining a broad survey of everyday life, these artists created a visual record of the unfolding local history of California beginning in the mid 1920s and extending into the 1970s. California Style watercolors form the largest body of paintings in this Regionalist vein.
Many of the original California Style artists were already too old, or had wives and children so were not eligible to enlist. Eager to contribute, when asked they welcomed the opportunity to use their artistic skills for the war effort. In May 1943 the U.S. Government established an official Combat Art Program inviting 42 of the nation’s finest artists to participate. Californians Millard Sheets, Barse Miller and Ed Reep were among this group. Barse Miller was assigned rank of Captain and head of the Combat Art Section in the South Pacific. Millard Sheets traveled with the Air Force to the India- Burma theatre. Ed Reep served in the North African and Italian Campaigns. Other artists enlisted or were drafted and when their skills were discovered they were given assignments to create watercolors of their experiences as enlisted personnel.

Four months after its creation, the Combat Art Program was suddenly defunded by Congress and abruptly dropped. Some artists were given new titles as war artists within their respective branches of the military and created large bodies of artwork for those entities. Artists Millard Sheets, Barse Miller and Paul Sample were hired as artist-correspondents for Life Magazine and created watercolors which were sent back home for publication, to help satisfy the public’s desire for images of events overseas. These watercolor paintings were among the few full color images of the war the American public viewed. In the September 1941 issue of The National Geographic Magazine, just before Pearl Harbor, Arthur Beaumont created an 8 page full color insert profiling the great ships of the Navy. This article was so well received in November 1942 he created a second 16 page portfolio of watercolors featuring the Army on maneuvers for the magazine.
Other artists featured in the exhibition include Standish Backus, Lee Blair, Rex Brandt, Nick Brigante, Robert Caples, Watson Cross, Edmond James Fitzgerald, Duncan Gleason, Hardie Gramatky, John Haley, Dong Kingman, Erle Loran, Louis Macouillard, Charles Morimoto, Ben Norris, James Patrick, Charles Payzant, and Milford Zornes. Painting World War II: The California Style Watercolor Artists is curated by Glen Knowles, a professor of art at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster. Knowles has curated seven exhibitions on the history of California Art and has a great passion for California Style watercolors. The exhibition will be on view April 18 through October 3, 2010.

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