Sullivan Goss
Celebrating 34 Years
of 19th, 20th and 21stCentury American Art
Check out our YouTube channel Follow us on Instagram? Check out our Pinterest Boards Follow us on Twitter? Friend us on Facebook
dotted line dotted line dotted line dotted line dotted line dotted line dotted line dotted line dotted line
dotted line dotted line dotted line dotted line dotted line dotted line dotted line dotted line

Ray Strong


American Landscape Painter

by Jeremy Tessmer

Ray Strong had been a landscape painter, muralist and poet since he was just eight years old. His landscapes are among the best representations of the California coast and Oregon. As a founding member of the Oak Group, Strong influenced an entire generation of painters in Santa Barbara County.

Table of Contents

I. Biography

Strong was born in Corvallis, Oregon in 1905. While he attended high school, Strong began painting plein air with Clyde Keller of Portland. Realizing his passion for art, Strong enrolled first in the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco (now the San Francisco Fine Arts Institute). Strong then went to New York, and studied with Frank Vincent DuMond at the Art Students League.

In the early 1930s, Strong returned to San Francisco where he helped organize the Art Students League of San Francisco. There he studied and taught with Maynard Dixon (1879–1938), Frank Van Sloun (1879–1938) and George Post (1906–1997), and eventually opened an Artist’s Cooperative Gallery. During the Depression, Strong painted murals for the WPA. Some of his 1930s paintings are now in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

In 1960, Strong and his wife Elizabeth, moved to Santa Barbara, California, for "the birds and the banks." Strong had been commissioned to paint the backgrounds to dioramas in the Bird Hall of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, as well as some paintings for local bank. Until his death in 2006, Ray Strong was recognized as one of the leaders of the preservationist painters collective, The Oak Group in Santa Barbara County.

II. SGTV Video

"Ray Strong's Cronkhite Coast"
Produced by Nathan Vonk
Narrated by Frank Goss

This video documents the research done by the gallery to identify the scene in a recently acquired painting by the artist.

To watch this video click on the image to the left.

III. An Analysis of the Artist's Work

Ray Strong's paintings of the California and Oregon landscape are astonishing in their feeling for the rhythms of natural form. Where his first paintings from the 1930s and 1940s belong to the American Scene painting tradition, his subsequent work documents his affection for the western land. His most successful works place him in the lineage of fine American landscape painters of the twentieth century along with his friend and fellow painter, Maynard Dixon.

Shanties and Shacks
c. 1940s
21.5" x 27.5"
Oil on canvas
Private Collection

This painting shows the transition from Ray Strong's Scene tradition painting to his developing interest in the landscape. With buildings jutting out at odd angles into the background and with waving grasses, the artist's interest in compositional rhythm becomes evident as well. According to the artist, the area is Mendocino. Ray and his wife, Betty, stayed there during summers when a friend of theirs was out of town.

Ranch by the Bay
32.5" x 54.25"
Oil on canvas
Private Collection

Ranch by the Bay is considered by many to be the definitive painting by Ray Strong. It is characterized by undulating, grass-covered hills, sweeping clouds and a quiet bay, subjects often found in Ray Strong’s paintings. Sullivan Goss acquired this work in 2007 from Richmond, California, where it had remained hidden in a private collection for over 60 years. The work’s style, technique, composition, age and signature are all consistent with the artist's best work.

IV. Collections

  • Boggs Colleciton, Shasta State Park, Shasta, CA
  • Lassen, Rainier, and White Sands National Parks
  • Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, CA
  • V. Solo Exhibitions

    by Stephanie Kostezak

    Researcher Stephanie Kostezak has investigated the artist's Solo Exhibitions for a forthcoming book on Ray Strong. The artist's first exhibition was held in 1925 at the Palo Alto Library and received a a marvelous review which is linked below. At the time of this show, the artists was just 20 years old. Ms. Kostezak has located nearly 80 solo exhibits some of which are recorded here.

  • 1925 "Ray Strong: Sketches & Studies", Palo Alto Public Library, Palo Alto, CA
  • 1932 "Landscapes of Keene Valley and the Upper Ausable Lake Country", Keene Valley Congregational Church, Keene Valley, NY
  • 1936 "Ray Strong", Berkeley Women's City Club, Berkeley, CA
  • 1940 "Ray Strong Paintings", Stanford University Art Gallery, Stanford, CA
  • 1946 "Ray Strong: Exhibition and Sale of Paintings", Elfstrom Galleries, Salem, OR
  • 1955 "Paintings by Ray Strong of Mill Valley", Rotunda Gallery, City of Paris, San Francisco, CA
  • 1961 "Journey Into Violence", Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1975 "Ray Strong - Retrospective; 'Along the Way' 1924-1974", Los Robles Gallery, 167 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301
  • 1985 "California Landscapes", Arlington Galleries, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1990 "Ray Strong: Art of the Diorama", Santa Barbara Natural History Museum Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2003 "Ray Strong: Endurance", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2005 "Ray Strong: 100 Years", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2007 "Ray Strong: Hidden Treasures", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2011 "Ray Strong: Heaven, Earth, and Everything in Between", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2013 "Ray Strong: A Legacy in Landscape", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2015 "Ray Strong: American Artist", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • VI. Group Exhibitions

    Researchers are investigated the artist's Group Exhibitions for a forthcoming book on Ray Strong. As they are compiled some will be recorded here. The remainder will be published in the new monograph.

  • 1929 "Exhibition by Junior Artist Members", National Arts Club, New York, NY
  • 1934 "National Exhibition-Public Works of Art Project", Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC
  • 1934 "Monthly Contemporary Exhibition", Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA
  • 1939 "California Art Today", Golden Gate International Exhibition, Treasure Island, CA
  • 1948 "Elfstroms Third Anniversary Exhibition", Elfstrom Galleries, Salem, OR
  • 1950 "Artists of Oregon, Annual Exhibition", Portland, OR
  • 1969 "Bay Region Paintings, Scultpure & Prints by Alfred Frankenstein", Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, CA
  • 1982 "Roosevelt's America: New Deal Paintings from the National Museum of American Art", National Museum of Art, Washington, DC
  • 1992 "Oasis: Santa Barbara Artists in Support of California Desert Protection", Rotunda: Senate Office Building, Washtington, DC.
  • 2003 "The Eighth Annual Small Images Show", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2004 "Ranchos and Rolling Hills", Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Point Reyes, CA
  • 2004 "In Search of America: Art of the American Scene", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2005 "Anima Mundi", Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA
  • VII. Ray Strong's Murals

    by Gabriel Melgar

    Researcher Gabriel Melgar has investigated the artist's public and private murals and dioramas for a forthcoming book on Ray Strong. Mr. Melgar has identified over 30 mural projects consisting of more than 70 painted panels across the United States from New York City to San Diego, California.

  • 1931 "Keene Valley (NY) Parish Murals, Congressional Church", Keene Valley, NY
  • 1934 "Skyline Boulevard Hills", Roosevelt Junior High School, San Jose, CA
  • 1934 "Peace or War", Roosevelt Junior High School, San Jose, CA
  • 1935 "Mt. Lassen Before Eruption, Mt. Lassen After Eruption", Lassen National Park, CA
  • 1938 "San Gabriel County", Post Offices of San Gabriel, CA
  • 1943 "Life Through the Ages", Children's Junior Museum of Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA
  • 1951 "Ideograph", College of Marine, Mill Valley, CA
  • 1951 "Greater Kudu", Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA
  • 1969 "Forces Gone Wild", Santa Barbara County Administration Building, Santa Barbara, CA
  • 1982 "Chaparral Habitat", Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, Santa Barbara, CA

  • Lifting Clouds, Morning Light April, 1980
    18" x 36"
    Oil on board
    Private Collection

    VIII. Education & Affiliations

  • 1985 Co-founder, Oak Group
  • 1965 Co-founder, Santa Barbara Art Institute, Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • 1934-36 WPA
  • 1934 San Francisco Art Students League
  • 1926 Art Students League, New York
  • 1924 California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco (now the San Francisco Fine Arts Institute)

  • Previous | Next
    Drakes Estero
    Marin Headlands
    May Morning
    Point Reyes Ranch
    San Marcos
    Santa Cruz Island Coastal Range
    The Great Divide
    Toro Canyon Rock
    Twilight, Bodega Town
    Previous | Next