gardena image.jpg

Experience the Arts!

The Fresno Art Museum was honored to host the traveling exhibition GIFTED: Collecting the Art of California at Gardena High School 1919-1956. It closed June 28, 2020 in the midst of the Pandemic. Even though the Museum was temporarily closed to the public during most of the run of this exhibition, we continued to share this amazing collection of nearly 70 paintings by early California artists along with some fun facts about the history and artistry behind the collection. This exhibition chronicles the history of a lesson in art appreciation for a Southern California high school that matured into what is widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding collections of California Impressionism in the country. 

For some brief context on the exhibition read on:

From 1919 to 1956, each graduating class of Gardena High School would purchase a work of art as a parting gift to the Student Body. The artwork bought or donated would come from well-known artists of the era and often reflected historical content from that year and the local community. The Gardena High School population was largely a farming community during that time. Historical events and community life are just a few topics that can be discussed when viewing this beautiful collection of art.

GIFTED: Collecting the Art of California at Gardena High School, 1919-1956 is organized by the GHS Art Collection, Inc, in association with the Gardena High School Student Body and curated by Susan M. Anderson.

Do these scenes look familiar?

The initial paintings selected by the early graduating classes were California landscapes. A large amount of the landscape paintings in the collection were painted in the Arroyo Seco area, which is near Pasadena where many California artists settled during the early 1900s.

These artists are now called California Impressionists even though they may not have considered themselves as a part of the Impressionist movement. They set out to capture the vivid colors and intense natural light of Southern California while working outdoors, and at the same time adopting the loose brushwork and some bold color harmonies of Impressionism and Post-impressionism.  

For a larger view and more details on the individual artworks and artists, click the image.

Morning at Montrose.png Class of 1919

Ralph Davison Miller
Valley of the Santa Clara, 1918
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches
On the Road to San Gabriel.png Class of 1920

Jean Mannheim
On the Road to San Gabriel, 1920
Oil on canvas
48 x 36 inches
Rockbound.png Class of 1921

Edgar Alwin Payne
Rockbound, 1921
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches
Morning at Montrose.png Class of 1922

Hanson Duvall Puthuff
Morning at Montrose, 1922
Oil on canvas
28 x 36 inches


“We have two hundred dollars; will you take it?”

That was the question posed to the artist Jack Wilkinson Smith by the Class President of Winter 1923, despite the fact that the class had not yet met to deliberate and vote on the work. The students were immediately interested in the unfinished painting sitting on the artist’s easel during a studio visit by a group of seniors from Gardena High School. As the story goes, told by the former Gardena High School Librarian, Smith grinned and replied “Yes.”  

Many artists were encouraged to contribute to the Gardena High School collection because it was a place where their art could leave a legacy and contribute to art education.

For a larger view and more details on the individual artworks and artists, click the image.

Lingering Snows.jpg Class of Winter 1923

Jack Wilkinson Smith
Lingering Snows, 1922
Oil on canvas
32 x 42 inches
The Magic Moment.jpg Class of Summer 1923

Jean Mannheim
The Magic Moment, 1923
Oil on canvas
28 x 36 inches
Along the Arroyo Seco.jpg Class of Summer 1924

William Wendt
Along the Arroyo Seco, 1912
Oil on canvas
40 x 50 inches


This was the first non-landscape painting selected for the Gardena High School Art Collection. 

As you can see from the images collected before the summer of 1924, this painting was a departure from the usual. Art circles in Southern California at the time focused almost exclusively on plein-air landscapes. The artist, John Hubbard Rich, was a part of a group of artists in Los Angeles who were developing a broader approach to style and subject matter by incorporating portraiture, still life, and genre painting. The woman in the painting appears to be of Hispanic descent. There was a large Hispanic community at Gardena High School, and it may have prompted the students' selection of this painting.

For a larger view and more details on the individual artworks and artists, click the image.

1924S-Rich-40x30-The-Brass-Bowl-sm.jpg Class of Summer 1924

John Hubbard Rich
The Brass Bowl (or Senorita Lusoriaga), 1922
Oil on canvas
40 x 30 inches



Let's adventure down the Museum’s Concourse.

First, we will take a cool drive to the coast in Franz Bischoff’s painting of Point Lobos, near Carmel, with its twisted cypress trees, sheer cliffs above a surging sea, and ethereal fog. It’s a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. Though this is oil on canvas, Bischoff first became famous as a painter of roses on porcelain. 

Next, let’s journey to the far reaches of the American Southwest. The artist, James Guilford Swinnerton, shows us The Betatakin Ruins. Betatakin, which means “house built on a ledge” in Navajo, is a scene of a preserved cliff dwelling built into an enormous alcove by ancient Anasazi people between 1267 and 1286. Swinnerton traveled to the American Southwest so often that a remote rock formation in Monument Valley, Arizona was named after him.

Let's continue our outing in Arizona and head to Carl Oscar Borg’s sweeping view of the Grand Canyon receding into the misty distance. Borg considered the Grand Canyon his home. The artist painted in Arizona and New Mexico each spring from 1916 to 1932. Borg documented the Hopi and Navajo tribes' daily activities before acculturation destroyed their way of life. 

For a larger view and more details on the individual artworks and artists, click the image.

A-Cool-Fog-Drifting-2.jpg Class of Winter 1925

Franz A. Bischoff
A Cool Fog Drifting, 1924
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches
Betatakin-Ruins-3.jpg Class of Summer 1927

James Guilford Swinnerton
The Betatakin Ruins, c. 1927
Oil on canvas
60 x 48 inches
Grand-Canyon-4.jpg Class of Winter 1927

Carl Oscar Borg
The Grand Canyon, c. 1927
Oil on canvas
30 x 34 inches



Making art a priority!

Gardena High School introduced a course in art appreciation that would develop over the years into a full-fledged program required for graduation. This materialized because in 1928 Principal Whitely decided to act on a suggestion from the husband and wife artists, Hanson Puthuff and May Longest Puthuff. The idea was to invite eighty to one hundred well-known artists to send paintings to an annual invitational Purchase Prize Exhibition. In addition to sending groups of seniors to galleries and artists’ studios in Los Angeles, the art world would come to the students. The result would be the creation of the annual two or three-week exhibition.

An important component of the Purchase Prize Exhibit was the annual dinner. It was served by the senior students, and the profits from the dinner supported the purchase of the works of art. It is fitting that Hanson Puthuff’s painting, Mountains of Majesty, won first prize in the inaugural Purchase Prize Exhibit in 1928.

For a larger view and more details on the individual artworks and artists, click the image.


Class of Winter 1928

John Frost
Desert Twilight, c. 1928
Oil on canvas
27 x 32 inches


Class of Summer 1928

Hanson Duvall Puthuff
Mountains of Majesty (or Hills of Majesty), 1928
Oil on canvas
36 x 40 inches


Class of Summer 1929

Maurice Braun
California Hills, c.1924
Oil on canvas
36 x 42 inches


Class of Winter 1929

Clarence Hinkle
Quiet Pose, c. 1918
Oil on canvas
36 x 30 inches


We know what you are thinking, but no this is not Willy Wonka.

The artist Carlo Wostry painted Beethoven as a young composer before he had gained international renown. Wostry was a history painter who valued resources to accurately depict his work. The artist used a model wearing clothes that once belonged to Beethoven in front of a house in Hetzendorf that once belonged to the composer.

This painting is one of the most popular in the collection among the Gardena High School alumni today. Three graduating classes tried to purchase the painting before Wostry agreed to sell it for a fraction of the value. The artist originally asked for four thousand dollars for the painting but ultimately sold it to the senior class for four hundred dollars. It is suspected the class of 1930 was successful in purchasing the painting because Wostry needed to travel back to his studio in Austria-Hungary to complete a commissioned work. 

For a larger view and more details on the individual artwork and artist, click the image.


Class of Summer 1930

Carlo Wostry
Beethoven, 1905
Oil on canvas
59 x 59 inches



Bringing Art to the People

Gardena High School’s senior classes of 1931 and 1932 were the first groups of students to suffer the effects of the Depression. The students were determined to continue adding to their collection despite economic difficulties. Their success was possible because of the greater involvement of the Gardena community. Local clubs and civic groups helped with the fundraising and organizing of the Purchase Prize Exhibit. The idea of bringing art to the people was a common theme during the Depression era.

The hard work of the Gardena community and their “art for everybody” movement allowed the students to purchase Kathryn Leighton’s painting Chief Bullchild, the collection's first painting by a woman. Leighton was hired by the Great Northern Railroad to paint 22 portraits of the Blackfeet elders which they used to promote tourism in a cross-country tour. At the time, the Blackfeet tribe suffered widespread poverty and deprivation on the reservation. Leighton is said to have accomplished some seven hundred Native American portraits over the years. 

The man in the painting is George Bull Child. He was a pictograph artist and noted weather dancer who copied the earlier work of tribal artists onto deerskin robes as a means of upholding and recording the vanishing traditions of his people. 

For a larger view and more details on the individual artworks and artists, click the image.


Class of Winter 1931

Dan Sayre Groesbeck

Loading the Barge, c.1924
Oil on canvas
29 x 48 inches




Class of Winter 1932

Kathryn Woodman Leighton
Chief Bullchild, c. 1928
Oil on canvas
44 x 36 inches


mt-lowe-in-winter.jpg Class of Summer 1932

Benjamin Chambers Brown
Mt. Lowe in Winter (or Opalescent Morning, Mt. Lowe, California or Snow on Mt. Lowe), 1925
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches



If you could choose any artist throughout history to create a portrait of you, who would you choose?
What medium would you prefe

Max Wieczorek used pastel painting on paper to create the Portrait of Ted Shawn. This was the first donation to the Gardena High School Collection that was not a class gift because the Class of 1933 had difficulty raising money for a second purchase. Another portrait of Ted Shawn by Wieczorek is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. 

Wieczorek was the head of the design department for stained-glass windows at Tiffany before he established a career as a pastel painter of portraits. Ted Shawn formerly served in the military during WWI before he became a pioneer of American modern dance. The portrait shows Shawn in his military uniform, on the left upper corner it reads Ted Shawn MCMXVIII and in the right upper corner it reads Anno Aetatis Suae XXVI which means “in the twenty-sixth year of his life.”

For a larger view and more details on the individual artwork and artist, click the image.



Gift of the artist to GHS, 1933

Max Wieczorek
Portrait of Ted Shawn, 1918
Pastel painting on paper
37 x 25 inches




AYE, AYE, Captain! Which ship would you rather be on? I hope you don't get seasick.

William Ritschel’s Making Port is being tossed about at sea with the shore just visible in the distance, highlighting the power of the sea in man’s struggle against nature. Ritschel spent several years in the Imperial German Navy before becoming an artist.

Joe Gleason’s Head Winds shows a crew's struggles to secure the sails as water gushes from the deck, while more waves loom in the background. Gleason was also a sailor and worked for the Hollywood studios on films whose plots involved sailing and clipper ships. 

Armin Hansen’s Before the Wind depicts a small fishing vessel with two fishermen fastening the sails before the onslaught of a storm. Hansen got first-hand experience on boats when he signed on as a crew member of a trawler in Belgium, taking his paints with him.

Arthur Beaumont’s Task Force is a large United States Navy ship pushing through rough seas during World War II. During that war, Beaumont illustrated ships and battle scenes for outlets like National Geographic at the request of the War Department.

For a larger view and more details on the individual artworks and artists, click the image.


Class of Summer 1933

William Frederick Ritschel

Making Port, 1917
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches




Class of Summer 1935

Joe Duncan Gleason
Head Winds (or Storm at Sea),c. 1935
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches



Class of Summer 1939

Armin Carl Hansen
Before the Wind (or Crossing the Bank in a Gale or Crossing the Banks), c. 1912
Oil on canvas
29 x 36 inches


Beaumont-4.jpg Class of Summer 1946

Arthur Edwaine Beaumont
Task Force (or Destroyer Task Force), c. 1945
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches



Show us what you’ve got!

William Price was a mostly self-taught painter who became a professional and prolific artist in Laguna Beach, California during the 1920s, best known for his landscapes. Price executed this painting almost entirely using a palette knife.

Everyone has their own style and preferred tools. Be the next William Price! Look out your window and recreate what you see using the materials you have. Share the art you have been working on! Tag us on Facebook or Instagram @fresnoartmuseum in your posts and stories, we want to see your work!

For a larger view and more details on the individual artwork and artist, click the image.


Class of Winter 1933

William Henry Price
Towering Peaks, Sierras 
(or Towering Peaks), 1933
Oil on canvas
39 x 33 inches


Some #MuseumSunshine for an everyday celebration of earth!

Agnes Pelton painted a blooming smoke tree with the San Gorgonio Mountains in the distance. Pelton’s work was notably drenched in light. We could all use some lustrous sunshine to celebrate the earth every day!

For a larger view and more details on the individual artwork and artist, click the image.

Desert Royalty.jpg

Class of Winter 1942

Agnes Lawrence Pelton
Desert Royalty, 1940
Oil on canvas
26 x 36 inches

We LOVE a monochromatic outfit!

William Frederick Foster depicted a beautiful monochromatic look in his painting Girl in Brown. Foster successfully interpreted various textural qualities throughout the portrait. During interviews with Gardena High School alumni in an episode of the KQED Los Angeles public television program Visiting with Huell Hauser, the story is told that the painting had become very dirty during its time in storage. Once it was cleaned in the late 1990s, conservators and alumni were surprised to discover that the Girl in Brown was holding a hat. 

The woman in the painting is suggested to be Foster’s estranged wife, Audrey Marye. Susan Anderson, exhibition curator and author of the GIFTED catalogue mentions this because the sitter is in turn-of-the-century attire and the couple had long been separated by 1930. With that information, it calls into question the date of the painting's completion which is said to be 1930. For more behind-the-scenes information like this, check out the exhibition’s catalogue for sale through the link below. 

For a larger view and more details on the individual artwork and artist, click on any of the images below.

Girl in Brown.jpg

Gift to GHS, 1934

William Frederick Foster
Girl in Brown, c. 1930
Oil on canvas
51 x 36 inches


Details below:

Girl in Brown close up 1.jpg Girl in Brown close up 2.jpg


A short story on how NOT to transport artwork 

It was reported in Gardena’s local newspaper that the original Class of Winter 1934's class gift selection was Pyramids of the Desert by Charles L.A. Smith. The story goes that one of the winning paintings for that year flew out of the open-bed GHS truck and was destroyed after a student picked it up from Los Angeles. The piece was assumed to be Pyramids of the Desert because no record of it being in the collection exists beyond the initial selection. Fortunately, the artist was generous, and Monterey Pines by Charles L.A. Smith was the replacement. This is why we always make sure the artwork is securely tied down before we transport it!

Monterey Pines takes the viewer to sunny Pebble Beach. Take a walk down to the shoreline among the pine and cypress trees. At the end of the walkway, you will be able to feel the breeze coming from the lavender and blue Pacific Ocean. Make sure to watch out for the golfers and sand traps along the way! 

For a larger view and more details on the individual artwork and artist, click the image below.

monterey pines 2.jpg Class of Winter 1934

Charles L.A. Smith
Monterey Pines1934
Oil on canvas
39 x 46 inches


Happy Mother’s Day to all types of moms and mother figures!

This painting, Day’s End by Loren Roberta Barton, shows the strength of a mother with her baby after a long working day. The painting may refer to a time when the United States invited temporary workers from Mexico to fill a labor shortage in agriculture from 1942 to 1964. These women who joined the agricultural labor force with their families lived in tents and makeshift homes like those shown behind them. Paintings like these help to convey the hard work and strength of motherhood. 

For a larger view and more details on the individual artwork and artist, click the image below.

Day's end.jpg

Class of Summer 1947
Loren Roberta Barton
Day’s End, c. 1947
Oil on canvas
36 x 40 inches

Anyone up for some international travel through art? We will also be time-traveling, if that entices you more.

Our first location is a busy street in Shanghai. The lively brushstrokes give the painting a sense of movement appropriate for the scene. The title Where East is East alludes to one of the last silent films from 1929. The artist George Thompson Pritchard documented his world travels through his paintings. 

Our second location will take us to the southwest of England to the county of Cornwall. The artist Walter Schofield gives us the image of a Cornish Inn. Schofield took up residence in this same county for over a year, so it is easy to believe he is giving us an authentic look. The Impressionist influence is clear with his build-up of masses of color infused with light.

Our last location will be in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Like the two previous artists, the artist Alson Clark completed this painting after extensive traveling, in this case, in Mexico. The view is of the city’s rooftops with the 16th-century Cuernavaca Cathedral in the distance.

For a larger view and more details on the individual artworks and artists, click the images below.

East Photo 1.jpg

Gift of the Faculty to GHS, 1935
George Thompson Pritchard

Where East is East, c. 1935
Oil on canvas
30 x 36 inches

Cornish Inn Photo 2.jpg

Class of Summer 1936
Walter Elmer Schofield
Cornish Inn, c. 1929
Oil on canvas
30 x 36 inches

After the shower photo 3.jpg

Class of Winter 1938
Alson Skinner Clark

After the Shower, Cuernavaca, (or Cuernavaca), 1923
Oil on canvas
36 x 40 inches


Some GOOD news during your scrolling. 

Who has been fostering or adopting pets during this shelter in place? According to the President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, the rates of fostering have increased by 90 percent during April in some cities.

Donald R. Smith was a modernist artist who created this decorative, vibrant painting. The woman and the two cats dominate the scene, and in the background, the clouds appear far off in a golden sky. Many visitors to the Museum commented that this painting reminded them of a scene from the 1937 Disney film Snow White.

For a larger view and more details on the individual artwork and artist, click the image below.

cats at play.jpg Gift to GHS, 1934
Donald Richard Smith
Cats at Play, 1934
Oil on canvas
50 x 40 inches


Relatable Art That Crosses Generational Lines

Elanor Colburn created this painting during the Great Depression amid the looming threat of World War II. A woman holding a baby looks left towards a gold mining camp of the past, and a man holding a pickaxe looks right towards the future of airplanes and the new materials and technologies being used in the aircraft industry. The Gold Rush had helped shape California economically in the past, and the aircraft industry would help shape California economically during the Depression and World War II.

This mural depicts a narrative that reoccurs throughout our lifetimes—the notion of looking at the past to learn from it and appreciate it, but also looking toward the future and new opportunities.

Are you able to relate this narrative to your present-day?

For a larger view and more details on the individual artwork and artist, click the image below.



A Gift to GHS, c. 1936
Elanor Ruth Eaton Gump Colburn
Gold—The New Era, c. 1934
Oil on canvas
60 x 96 inches


Matching Game!

Can you pair the correct title and artist with the paintings below? Click the image for the answers. How many did you get correct?


1. Every Cloud Has Its Silver Lining (c.1942) by Emil Jean Kosa, Jr.

2. Spring Plowing (c.1948) by Cornelis J. Botke

3. Sierra Alta (c.1941) by Peter Nielsen

4. Nearing Home (c.1914) by George Thompson Pritchard

Post 17 painting A.jpg Post 17 painting B.jpg
Post 17 painting C.jpg Post 17 painting D.jpg

Susan Anderson, exhibition curator and author of the Gifted catalog, mentions GHS students might have chosen these rural farm scenes to add to their art collection because they lived in an agricultural community. In 1942, Japanese tenant farmers were evacuated from Gardena because of the Japanese relocation during WWII. Gardena students took care of the acres of produce while their neighbors were incarcerated. 

GIFTED: Collecting the Art of California at Gardena High School, 1919-1956 is organized by the GHS Art Collection, Inc, in association with the Gardena High School Student Body and curated by Susan M. Anderson.

We will continue to add images from GIFTED to this page over the coming weeks.

If you can't wait for more, you can purchase the catalog now!

Just click the image below to order.