California Art Club Reignites Artistic Fire, Techniques

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Photo courtesy California Art Club Stender Sweeney (left), Cathy Crowser, Peter Adams, Elaine Adams and Don Baker, pictured at the California Art Club’s headquarters on South Grand Avenue in Pasadena, are looking to grow a network of artists.
Photo courtesy California Art Club
Stender Sweeney (left), Cathy Crowser, Peter Adams, Elaine Adams and Don Baker, pictured at the California Art Club’s headquarters on South Grand Avenue in Pasadena, are looking to grow a network of artists.

The making of art involves a lot of blending, whether it’s colors, media or styles.
For the leadership of the California Art Club, that also includes classical technique and modern direction.
“The skills, the craftsmanship were disappearing,” said Elaine Adams, executive director of CAC, speaking about when she and husband Peter joined the organization in 1993. “They (other local artists) were very isolated. By bringing these artists together, the club has given them a freeing spirit to express themselves.”
With Peter as president, the two now run the organization they’ve spent 24 years being a part of and have a renewed focus on growing the network of artists in the state. As of Sunday, the organization has brought back its general membership meetings.
Artist Mian Situ spoke to CAC about Chinese culture in the U.S. — a theme represented in his paintings — Sunday at the University Club of Pasadena. In an interview preceding the meeting, Elaine called him “one of the most prominent Chinese-born artists in America.”
The Adamses hope to regularly provide these opportunities for CAC’s members.
“The general membership meetings are, and will be in the future, a critical element of the outreach to attract new artists and patrons alike,” said Stender Sweeney, a Pasadena resident and CAC member. “We are so excited about re-engaging with our core constituents around supporting art in our communities.”
“We’re creating our own new art identity with all these skills and backgrounds being shared,” Elaine said. “You can definitely recognize the art we’re making as art being made today.”
The CAC had experienced a bit of a lull period since the couple joined and have recently ramped up efforts to produce a quality newsletter, sponsor strong exhibits and revive these monthly meetings. The more artists they can attract into joining, the better it will be for all involved, they said.
“We’re trying to keep skills alive and grow,” Elaine said. “We’re trying to evolve but keep some boundaries. Artists working alone cannot grow. They really need the community.”
Peter said one of his goals is to build a foundation of classical artistic technique for the newer generations of artists to master as they work with more contemporary concepts and media.
“These skills usually take a long time to learn,” he said. “Five-to-six years of concentrated study, whereas a typical classroom setting, at 45 minutes, just doesn’t work.
“We are trying to uphold the standards of the 19th century,” Peter added.
Elaine added to her husband’s point, saying she hopes to connect with younger aspiring artists to give them the tools they need.
“What we’re finding is, with the new generation coming up now, they really want to know how to draw,” she said. “They want to be able to express themselves. We see a growth in demand for traditional academic and classical skills.”
In other goals, Elaine said she hopes to put together a documented history of San Gabriel Valley art and its history. In working toward that, she has focused on that subject in recent newsletters.
Sweeney, who joined CAC in 2015, said that local art history has a permanent place in his heart and memories.
“As a child, one of my favorite memories was visiting El Molino Viejo in San Marino,” he said. “I am so proud to have our permanent gallery there to educate and inspire young artists. It is such an important element in connecting our history and traditions in Southern California to the art world.”
Sweeney added he has strong support for the Adams’ leadership of CAC, saying, “They truly inspire all of us with their vision and passion for the art world we love so much.”
The CAC was formed in 1909 and, to hear the Adams talk, it was “a real powerhouse in Los Angeles” throughout the 1930s. There are various chapters throughout the state.
For more information, visit
californiaartclub.org.

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