Sullivan Goss, Ltd. assembled this exhibition of paintings by women artists of Santa Barbara and the Central Coast area of California for debut at a Gala Dinner Benefit for CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Mediation) of Santa Barbara on April 26, 2003. Subsequently the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation displayed this collection at the Presidio from June 25th to August 3, 2003. After some mofifications to the Exhibit these paintings were displayed in the Montecito Gallery of Sullivan Goss, Ltd. The exhibit was co-curated by Dr. Robert Emmons and Frank D. Goss.
This exhibition celebrates the achievements of a wonderful group of painters who could speak in the language of paintings, but who were not heard. Women artists in the early years of this era could not vote, could not join many orgaizations, and could not be members of the most significant art clubs. In the case of many of these artists, most of them painted without the social recognition given to their male counterparts. They were refused from the better schools, not allowed to paint certain topics, not permitted to enter contests featuring professionals (aka males)and were generally discouraged from entering a career which was considered difficult even for males who were thought better suited to creative expression. Even when they were sufficiently talented and determined, and prevailed against these odds, they were not permitted to sell paintings, a practice considered too servile for woman. Many of these artists did not lack talent, many fought for genuine training, some were given to spirited work of a substantive nature. But they were often not heard.
This exhibition has organized in order to recognize the contribution of early women artists who lived and worked in the area north of the San Fernando Valley and south of Carmel who because of their gender, the restrictions of their locale and unique time in which they lived have not received the attention their work deserves.
During the last twenty-five years of the 1800's and the first fifty years of the 1900's women artists of Santa Barbara and the Central Coast were socially and geographically isolated from the major cities of California.
Today the Central Coast is connected by airports, a rail line, one freeway and several highways. During the period between 1875-1950 commercial air service did not exist or, once available, was of limited influence on the population. Rail service did not connect San Francisco to Los Angeles until after the turn of the century. The only freeway to serve the region was not completed until after the era in question. The population of the Central Coast, in some ways became an island community, cut off from the influence of major cities by the distance between itself and the centers of commerce located in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The only regular form of transportation connecting Santa Barbara and the two major cities of California was a two lane road.
Today this portion of the Coast is connected by television, radio, newspaper, telephones and the internet. However, during the period examined in this exhibit newspapers, telephone and the radio were the principal means of communication. None of these media was an effective tool for conveying the lexicon of the art world - paintings. Both Los Angeles and San Francisco had art museums by the turn of the century. Santa Barbara's celebrated museum was not established until 1941 when it took over a space vacated by the city's post office. The opportunity for influence and exchange which an international museum engenders was lost on Santa Barbara's population.
However, wonderfully successful painters came of age, matured and completed their careers without ever receiving recognition outside of the Central Coast.
The most influential art schools in California were located in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The largest and most sustained colonies of artists were concentrated in and around these cities. Los Angeles was home to the famous Jedson, Otis and Chouinard Art Institutes. San Francisco boasted older art schools including the San Francisco Art Institute and the San Francisco School of Art and Design.
This exhibit identifies the recognized women leaders of the Central Coast art world during these key years. It also features women artists of merit who may have previously been overlooked from this early period.
It is the intent of this project to offer the most comprehensive exhibition of Central Coast Women Artists ever assembled. This web page will become the record of the exhibition for generations to come.