Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on March 7, 1887, Norman Stiles Chamberlain began his art training in his early teens under Mathias J Alten. Chamberlain joined Alten and his family on a voyage to Europe on the Camparia on August 24, 1910; first to study his craft in Paris then on to the Hague School of Dutch artists, he spent 1910-11 working in the Netherlands amidst the settings favored by the Maris brothers, Jozef Israëls, Willem Roelofs, and even Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan‘s early work before moving to Laguna Beach and Los Angeles, CA in 1918. Mr. Chamberlain’s first painting in Laguna Beach is called North of Laguna painted in 1914. Mr. Chamberlain was very active in the Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Laguna Beach Art Communities as well as Taos, New Mexico. Working with Alson Clark and exhibiting locally, success came almost immediately through the patronage of Mrs. Henry E. Huntington, the force behind the collection at the Huntington Library. After traveling in Mexico and spending a year in France at the Académie Matisse, he lived briefly in Taos, NM before settling in Laguna Beach, CA where he lived for his remaining years.
Mary Pottenger Chamberlain is a descendent of Artist and Inventor Robert Fulton and Norman Stiles Chamberlain is a descendant of John Alden and William Brewster, Mayflower Compact members.
Awards and Recognition
Mrs. Henry Huntington Award, 1923, Adobe Flores
Smithsonian Institute, Jewel of the Smithsonian, Corn Dance, Taos, NM and WPA Mural Panel, Shipping and Construction, Huntington Park, California Post Office
L.A. County Museum, Relay Race at Taos Pueblo 1934
Los Angeles Museum Exhibition Park, May 4- June 4, 1923
American Magazine, 1925
Instructors, Mentors and Patrons
- Mathias Alten, Chamberlain traveled to Europe with Alten’s family for 18 months around 1910
- Studied in France at School of Matisse in the 1920s
- Alson Clark, mentor
- Nicholi Fechin, NSC traveled with and lived with NF in Taos, NM before coming to California, good friends.
- George Hurrell, now famous for his Hollywood Star photography, Chamberlain helped him get his start in Laguna.
- Notes show Mrs. Henry Huntington paid NSC to travel to Mexico to paint for her benefit
WPA Wall Murals
Smithsonian recognized WPA 1934 Treasury Relief Art Project in Huntington Park Post Office Mural plus four other murals in Selma, California, Riverside High School.
1887: Mar. 7. Born in Fennville, Mich. Laguna Beach Life, 8-21-1924. March 7: Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940.
“Twenty-five years ago Norman S. Chamberlain … won a five-dollar first prize offered by The Grand Rapids Herald for the best painting done by a school child of a picture appearing in the newspaper. Then and there Norman Chamberlain confided to his parents and friends that he’d given up wanting to be a streetcar conductor or a circus performer. Instead he was going to be an artist. … At present his home is in Pasadena, Cal.”
– G.R. Herald (June 3, 1923)
comments on Huntington prize just won in 1923.
“At the age of 14 he entered art school and there worked hard for seven long years.”
– Laguna Beach Life, Aug. 21, 1924.
1907: Painted 4 street musicians/singers crooning to light at window – 10 X 19 – oil on paper and waves crashing on rocks, oil on paper, 21 X 14, owned by Stephen Hoffius
1907: Painted tree by brook, owned by Virginia May
1908: Entered several paintings in the Illinois State Fair contest, Springfield, as an amateur. Won $74.00: First prize for oil of animal or bird, oil of fruit or flower still life, best collection of oil paintings, watercolor of animal or bird, best pastel; second prize for oil of figure or portrait, oil of landscape, watercolor of landscape. Also entered in show is Joseph Horner, Jr., also of GR.
1910: (March 28) Mother Esther Jane Stiles Chamberlain dies.
Mathias J. Alten “leaves for Europe with his wife, three daughters, and his student Norman S. Chamberlain (1887-1961), sailing on August 24 on the Camparia of the Cunard Line. In Holland he [MA] paints people, homes, canals, seascapes, and landscapes.”
– Mathias J. Alten: Journey of an American Painter (GR: GRAM, 1998), p. 123. (Stayed 1 1/2 years.)
“Together they visited the art galleries, attended art school in Paris, and then painted in Belgium, Holland and Northern Germany.”
– Laguna Beach Life, 8-21-1924
Painted Windmill in Countryside by Stream, owned byDave and Kaye Chamberlain
“… In the spring, Alten travels with his family to Scheveningen, a quaint fishing village and resort on the North Sea. There he paints the huge work horses that haul the large herring boats to the seashore. Alten later boasts that while he was in the Netherlands he ‘painted every day but one, and then it was too cold.’
“… Before returning to the United States, Alten takes the family on a trip to Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Germany. They return in late summer on the Kaiserin Augusta Victoria of the Hamburg America Line, the family to Michigan and the artist to Old Lyme, Connecticut.” Mathias J. Alten: Journey of an American Painter (GR: GRAM, 1998), p. 124
NSC painted birdhouse oil, “No. 30: An Artist’s Garden Katwijk on the Ru [Oude Rijn?] (Janet C. Peterson).
“Mr. Chamberlain held his first exhibition of European subjects in the Press building in 1911, after a year’s painting in The Netherlands.” GR Press, June 1927
1914: Painted “Near Laguna” each, 16 X 20, oil. AskArt sale October 21, 2004; also March 30, 2015
Painted “North of Laguna,” purchased 2015 by Dave Marriner for $4,200.
1915: Son David James born
1916: Painted Woodlands Indians mural (12’ wide by 4’ high) for Nipigon Inn (Cheboygan, Michigan, owned by brother Glenn R. Chamberlain, Sr. Hung behind desk ca. 1916-1964. In 2012 mural owned by Janet Chamberlain Peterson.
1917: Painted “Northern New Mexico,” 18” X 20”, oil, signed, dated. AskArt sale October 21, 2004
“In 1917, after a few years during which other things were taking first place in his life, he came to California and settled in the wonderful San Gabriel valley…. With Alson Clark as his friend, advisor and teacher he has studied especially the interesting problems of the old Spanish architecture to be found in and about Southern California.” Laguna Beach Life, 8-21-1924 (Alson Clark first went to California in January 1919.)
1918: Son John Alexander born September 18
Was one of exhibiting artists included in the Laguna Beach Art Association’s first exhibit, July 27, 1918. Ruth Lilly Westphal, Plein Air Painters of California: The Southland (Irvine, Cal.: Westphal Publishing, 1982), p. 123.
1920: Son Benjamin Brewster born
“In 1921 he returned to painting, studying two more years in California under Alson Clark, one of the giants of southern California early twentieth-century art.”
– The West as Art. Also word for word in Five L.A. Artists in the Collections of the L.A. County Museum of Art.
Painted “Mission San Gabriel,” 15.7” X 19.7, oil, signed. AskArt sale October 21, 2004
Painted “Fisherman’s Cove, Laguna Beach.” Eventually gave to Genevieve Daniels “for posing for him.” letter on back identifies it as Del Valle house. (Sandra S. Daniels member of Laguna Art Museum Board of Trustees: Nancy Dustin Wall Moure and Joanne L. Ratner, A History of the Laguna Beach Art Museum (Laguna Beach, Cal: Laguna Art Museum, 1993).
1923: Showed at Painters and Sculptors Club of LA. May 4-June 4; showed “Adobe Flores”: Nancy Dustin Wall Moure and Phyllis Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. Before 1930 (LA: Privately printed, 1975).
(approx.) Clarence Hinkle painted Mabel Hinkle (his wife), Tessa Chamberlain, Ben Chamberlain as a baby. Owned by Willo Chamberlain.
“The [Mrs.] Henry E. Huntington prize offered for the best picture by an artist who had not previously received a prize in this museum [Los Angeles Museum] went to Norman Chamberlain for his painting of the historic Adobe Flores.” Photo of painting reproduced. American Magazine of Art, July 1923, pp. 392, 395. “Adobe Flores”(Martin Medak: 38 x 51) purchased by Mrs. H, presented to the museum. Laguna Beach Life, 8-21-1924. For histories of the building, see Loretta Schertz Keller, “Historic Adobe Flores Set Adrift in Modern Surroundings,” L.A. Times, May 16, 1990; Cecilia Rasmussen, “At Flores Adobe, history stands solid,” L.A. Times, March 11, 2007: B2. In 2007 the house was owned by Greg and Jane Burzell of Laguna Beach. Nancy Van Vels has second image of Adobe Flores; Michael Johnson’s gallery has had a third.
“Currently of Pasadena, Cal.” GR Herald, June 1923. Became friends with John Burnham, who spent time at NSC’s studio. Robinsons to Ethel, 11-1956. (John Burnham [1883-1956] was the third child [third son?] of architect Daniel H. Burnham, who was himself a watercolor painter. Years later John Burnham would provide NSC with a residence and job at Rancho Santa Fe.)
Painted “Flint Ridge” (?) 7” x 6” (“Flint Ridge was a wild hillside area near our “Arroyo Seco” [river flowing from Mt. Wilson through Flint canyon, Pasadena, So Pasadena, into Highland Park where it joins the L.A. river]. Would have been a popular outdoor painting spot. It is now a very high rent district adjacent to the hillside next to the Rose Bowl usually referred to as La Canada – Flintridge.” – Lori Rusch email, September 11, 2007)
Painted Coastal/Figure/Horse team, oil. AskArt sale October 21, 2004
1924: Showed “The White Wall” at Painters and Sculptors Club of LA. April 4-30: Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
Paints old houses, their gardens, the beach in summer, the mountains, desert. In August he had just returned from a two-month stay in and around Chicago where he spent much time in the art galleries. Liked Rembrandt’s “Portrait of a Young Girl” at Chicago Art Institute, Zorn. Painted the portrait of the daughter of John Burnham in a garden of hollyhocks. (“Burnham was from an old Chicago family and took Norman with him to Chicago to sketch and study with one summer.” Robinsons to Ethel, 11-1956) Planning a trip to Mexico City in October with Alson Clark and one or two other painters, gathering material for a one-man exhibit at the Anderson galleries in Chicago (early 1925). (“Alson Clark told Arabella Huntington that NSC wanted to go to Mexico.” – Lori Rusch email, September 11, 2007) Member of the Laguna Beach Art Association, serves on its board of directors, active member of the Painters and Sculptors Club of LA. Laguna Beach Life (8-21-1924) shows “Passing Summer,” made in San Juan Capistrano canyon, and has been exhibited in the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. Member of the board of directors, Laguna Beach Art Association. “Active, sincere, unsatisfied, always searching for a finer means of expression, one may predict much for his future.” Anna A. Hills in Laguna Beach Life, 8-21-1924
“Mrs. Huntington continued to be of benefit to the artist when … she sponsored a five week trip to Mexico, commissioning him to paint several canvases for her there.”
– The West as Art. Also word for word in Five L.A. Artists in the Collections of the L.A. County Museum of Art. Alson Clark painting, “Carmen Gate, Mexico City,” CS Monitor, Nov. 21, 1934
Painted Flores Adobe, tree and caged bird in foreground, owned by Nancy Van Vels
“Work has started on two buildings for Norman Chamberlain at the head of Thalia Street [Laguna Beach]. One is to be a studio and the other a dwelling.” Being built by Mackey Builders and Roy Ropp (whose daughter is the third little girl under the umbrella in painting owned by Martin Medak; Derry Chamberlain is first). Laguna Beach Life, 11-28-1924.
Show April 3-30: Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
Painted “Eucalyptus Landscape,” 18” X 22”, oil, signed. Artprice sale June 11, 2002
1924-25: Exhibited “The White Wall” in WP show (?). Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
“He went to Palm Springs with Henri De Kruif (also from Grand Rapids) in the winter of 1925 where he aspired to build a studio village, but of that idea we hear no further comment.”
– The West as Art, 1925.
“Norman Chamberlain has been on the desert painting for some weeks. He brings back some new ideas and unusual views.”
– Laguna Beach Life, 4-10-1925.
Sold “Temple Hills” to Joseph S. Thurston, who owned property in Laguna Beach. Had hung in the April exhibit at the Art Gallery.” Laguna Beach Life, 4-10-1925.
In April, exhibited “Bridal Cloisters” at the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art. Laguna Beach Life, 4-10-1925.
Guests at the studio: Mr. and Mrs. Fred Reynolds of Claremont and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Gerber of Fremont, Michigan. Saw NSC’s “delightful mission pictures.” Laguna Beach Life, 4-10-1925
April 21, Father Newton Licortus Chamberlain dies.
June 5, exhibition at the Art Gallery, Laguna Beach Art Association, includes “The Blue Boat” by NSC, “as delightful a thing as Mr. C has hung in many a month. It is tantalizingly elusive. One wants to know more about the picture…. The scene is a quiet one, so far as externals go, but underneath there is an undercurrent of glittering witchery. So is the ‘Blue Boat’ a scene of necromatic fascination.” with shack, sea. Laguna Beach Life, June 5, 1925. (“Blue Boat,” 25” X 30” oil, owned by Dan Chamberlain, grandson of NSC’s brother Lee.)
June, M/M NC “motored to Palm Springs this last week to get some pictures of Mr. C’s that have been hanging in the big hotel at the Springs. W.H. McFetridge of San Diego wants them for a few weeks so that he can make a choice for his brother’s home in Baraboo, Wis.” Hotel was closed, so they returned to Laguna Beach without having picked up the paintings. Laguna Beach Life, 6-26-1925.
June, Profiles of Laguna Beach artists includes: “NC is even less interested in writing for a newspaper than anyone I have ever seen, so it was quite necessary to pry any and all information out of the noted artist, whose pictures are at once the despair and envy of the younger generation of artists.” Laguna Beach Life, 6-26-1925.
Contributed to the California Art Club annual show at the Museum of History, Science and Art. LA Times, 10-18-1925, The West as Art. Oct. 1-Nov. 1; showed “Sorrento Pointe”: Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
October-November: “Mrs. NC told the [Laguna Beach] P.T.A. that her husband had decided to give the school a painting which will be put in the room having the best attendance of mothers at the P.T.A. meetings for the month…. A motion was passed that the children of the schools be given every opportunity to become familiar with the artists’ work in LB and that arrangements be made to this end.” Laguna Beach Life, 10-16-1925. “The picture now hangs on the wall in the room occupied by the first and second grades.” Laguna Beach Life, 11-20-1925. Marriner family later would own. (See also 1933 gift of painting to grammar school.)
“Eighteen pictures by eight painters make up the October show at the Ebell Club[, L.A.]…. NC’s ‘Laguna Sycamores’ and ‘Camel Rock’ are painted with that freedom and looseness so characteristic of this painter, and with all his refinement of color.” Also in show: William Wendt, Jack Wilkinson Smith, Anna Hills, Roscoe Shrader, Hanson Puthuff, Carl Oscar Borg. L.A. Times, 10-18-1925.
October 25 juried show. “Summer Morning” won Honorable Mention in Pan-American Exposition. Letter from Edward B. Butler, Pasadena, to NSC, congratulating him on his piece, which he thought the best in show. (Willo Chamberlain claims NSC’s son John gave to his daughter.) (Chamberlain family in Michigan has slide of painting that claims it won Honorable Mention in a show.) 2012: offered for $75,000 by David Hoy Gallery, LB.
October: “NC has been painting near Palm Springs for the last week.” Laguna Beach Life, 10-30-1925.
November: “Frank W. Cuprien and NC went to Santa Ana last Monday to hang the new show in St. Ann’s Inn.” Laguna Beach Life, 11-20-1925. (Laguna Beach Art Asso. maintained permanent, changing exhibition there until inn was sold in 1930. Moure and Ratner, A History of the Laguna Beach Art Museum.
1926: “NC is to hold an exhibit of his newer pictures in the Grace Nicholson shop in Pasadena from February 1 to 14.” Laguna Beach Life, 1-15-1926
“NC returned from Palm Springs last Wednesday, but returned there in a day or so for another month…. Mr. C has just completed a studio there which he will use as a base for his sketching tours.”
– Laguna Beach Life, 3-5-1926
Exhibited “Puddle Ducks” with the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California in their annual exhibitions at the Museum of History, Science and Art (April 9-May 23). Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
April: “M/M NC have sold their beautiful studio home at the head of Thalia Street, Arch Beach, to Mrs. W.W. Fogg of Pasadena. … Mr. C … has planned a trip abroad for some time and it is probable that M/M C and two of the children, John and Benny, will go to Europe in September to remain for a year. They hope to return to LB.” Laguna Beach Life, 4-23-1926.
April-May: “NC will hold a show at Bernay’s in LA for two weeks. He is sending over about fifteen canvases.” Laguna Beach Life, 4-23-1926.
Review of Bernays show in L.A. Times, May 2, 1926: “The exhibit ranges from very finished canvases to sketches, left as fresh and vibrant as he caught them from nature. In the painting of blue hills seen across the desert with its sky full of joyous little clouds, in the tawny sycamore against a warm landscape at noon, or the remarkable impression of cactus on the smoky desert sands, he has left his pattern of color spots frankly open to view.
“In the luminous shadow of San Juan Capistrano’s ancient cloister, looking out upon the sunlit gardens of the padres, he has brought his method to a high pitch of refinement, reaching a surprising strength without the use of strong color.
“In two paintings from the Adobe Flores, the method is smoothed out a little, but it is still the pattern that is our principal source of pleasure in them.
“Charming and delicate is a canvas in blue from the beach, while several color notations have just enough human interest to make them intelligible as well as aesthetically enjoyable.
“If you enjoy happy color you can scarcely fail to find something here to interest you.”
June: Pictures in the June-July exhibition of the Laguna Beach Art Asso. at the Art Gallery: includes NC’s “Boat Canyon.” Laguna Beach Life, 6-11-1926.
Painted in France. The West as Art, 1982. (Family has photo of Norm “trying to read an article in French on the war debt. Norman S Chamb, Juan Les Pins, St. Rue Bricka, Villa Mauricenne. Spain/there 6 mo/year”; also Marriners have undated photo of Norm at studio of Henri Matisse)
Painted Dirk/Vickie Hoffius painting of European-looking urban scene.
Summer: “During the year there have been exhibitions by the American Painters and Sculptors sent here from the Art Institute of Chicago.” Summer exhibit included at least one piece by NSC. GR Press, May 7, 1927, p. 5.
“Norman Chamberlain, who has become one of the promising American painters is represented by two pictures, ‘Adobe Flores,’ a quaint little house with bright sunlight casting lovely patterns of tree shadows over adobe walls, and another painting of a portico in Spanish architecture, also an interesting study in light and shadow. The pictures were lent by the artist’s brother, Glenn Chamberlain.” G.R. Art Gallery, sponsored by G.R. Art Association. (“and exhibited in the Hackley Art gallery in Muskegon and in Holland. It is possible it may be shown in Madison and Oshkosh, Wis.” GR Press, Dec. 3, 1926) Mathias Alten and several others also exhibiting. GR Herald, December 2, 1926 identifies the second as “San Capistrano Mission.”
1927: March 9, married Mary Page Cobb Pottenger (b. Nov. 18, 1896, so nine years younger than NSC; his former student)
June 1-30: One-man show, G.R. Art Gallery, 230 Fulton St. E. 26 paintings, most from France. GR Press, June 5, 1927, p. 3. Also in show “Summer Morning,” of Laguna Canyon: $500; “Genevieve,” Laguna Beach: $500. All others $250-400. Catalog brochure. Review in GR Press, June 1927. First visit to GR “in 10 or 15 years.” GR Press, June 3, 1927. Show includes “Billy,” not for sale, a portrait of an English girl painted at Juan les Pins, Fr., now at Women’s City Club, GR.
“… In June, Norman Chamberlain, Alten’s former student, in Grand Rapids for a month-long exhibition of his French paintings at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery, announces that he will be traveling after the show to paint in New Mexico. It is likely that he and Alten travel together to Taos in July. There Alten paints more than forty paintings depicting Native Americans (Taos and Apache) as well as landscapes and adobe dwellings in the Taos valley. He also paints Irving Crousse’s [sic] Garden (fig. 64) at the adobe home of his friend Eanger Irving Couse (b. Saginaw, Mich., 1866-1936), one of the founders of the Taos Society of Artists. Mathias J. Alten: Journey of an American Painter (GR: GRAM, 1998), p. 129 “Mr. Chamberlain soon will join his friend Nicolai Fechin, the Russian painter, and go to Taos, N.M., for the remainder of the summer, returning to California in the fall.” GR Press, June 1927 (Fechin was divorced in 1927 and left Taos, moved to NY and then Santa Monica, where he opened an art school, traveled and painted through Arizona and NM, died in Santa Monica in 1955. Many works at Fechin Institute in Taos.) (Willo claims they lived next door to Fechin, in Mabel Luhan’s house. According to JCP, 6-20-2017)
Painted landscape – Taos? – oil on canvas – 29 X 23 – owned by Stephen Hoffius (sticker on back explains that GRC owned it in 1949).
Painted Native American women gathered in groups. Owned by Nancy Van Vels.
Registered at The Inn June 20 from “Palm Springs, California.” July: NSC and children David, John, and Ben stayed at “Seagull,” Point Nipigon, Mich. Nipigon Breeze. August 28: David registered at the Inn.
Did not exhibit with the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California in their annual exhibitions at the Museum of History, Science and Art. The West as Art.
According to Laurela Sharp, reference librarian, Pasadena Public Library, quoting a 1927 article in the Pasadena Star News, NSC “has returned after a year of painting in Southern France to reopen life classes at the Stickney Memorial Art School.”
1928: Exhibited “Dessert” [“Desert”?] with the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California in their annual exhibitions at the Museum of History, Science and Art (April 6-May 17). Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
Contributed to the California Art Club annual at the Museum of History, Science and Art, Nov. 8-Dec. 16; showed “Village by the Sea”: Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930. “NC, doubtless a result of his French sojourn, searches for more positive design in his ‘Village by the Sea.’” LA Times, 11-18-1928.
July 1: Registered at The Inn, Point Nipigon, Cheboygan, Mich.
August: exhibited “Mediterranean Garden” in 10th Annual Exhibition of Laguna Beach Art Association. Also Nicolai Fechin, Henry de Kruif. Laguna Beach Art Association Tenth Anniversary Sourvenir, 1918-1928 in Local History Room, LB Public Library.
“M/M NC had Miss Eleanor Spencer to dinner Thursday.” Laguna Beach Life, 11-30-1928.
December: “Mrs. NC and children had a few days in L.A. last week-end. Mr. C and several friends attended the concert at the Community clubhouse Friday evening.”
– Laguna Beach Life, 12-14-1928.
December: “M/M NC will have a Christmas dinner for relatives and friends including M/M E.W. McAfee, Mr. C’s sister from Los Angeles (Myrta and Emile), and M/M H.M. Robinson of Palm Springs (Nonnie and Harry).”
– Laguna Beach Life, 12-21-1928.
1929: Address: Laguna Beach, Cal. Dictionary of American Painters Sculptors Engravers, 1983. Manzanita Drive, School Hill. (Laguna Beach South Coast News, 2-15-29, quoted in Janet B. Dominik, Early Artists in LB: The Impressionists (1986).
Exhibited “Eighteen” with the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California in their annual exhibitions at the Museum of History, Science and Art (April 5-May 30). Mary Pottenger showed “Harvest.” Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
“Mrs. NC and Mrs. Hulda Burke Beich spent a few days in Hollywood this week at the Roosevelt Hotel….” South Coast News, 5-10-1929. (The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, now restored and very elegant, still operates on Hollywood Blvd. across the street from where limos line up on Oscar night.)
“David Chamberlain, son of Mrs. NSC, is home from Palm Springs, where he attended school. He is here for the summer vacation.” South Coast News, 5-24-1929.
“David Chamberlain, son of Mrs. NSC, has gone to Michigan with his aunt for the summer. They will be located at the Straits of Macinac [sic].” South Coast News, 6-21-1929. They were at Point Nipigon, Cheboygan, Mich., owned by brother GRC Sr.
Sept. 8: “5th Annual party of Chamberlain clan,” Point Nipigon: Norm not included, though Emile and Myrta McAfee of L.A., Harry and Nonnie Robinson of Palm Springs, and David Chamberlain of Palm Springs attended. Journal of the Inn, Point Nipigon.
“… Later he [Mathias Alten] travels to Southern California and paints several scenes of waves crashing on rocks at Laguna Beach. Likely he visits and paints with Norman Chamberlain, who had settled in Laguna Beach.”
– Mathias J. Alten: Journey of an American Painter (GR: GRAM, 1998).
(Thanksgiving): Photo taken Snow Creek Canyon, Palm Springs: David, Ben, John, Norm.
1930: “A number of artists own homes in the village [of Palm Desert] among them Gordon Coutts, Alson Clark, Norman Chamberlin [sic], Harry Wagoner, John Burnham, Marius De Brabant, and George Friederich Gleich. Nicolai Fechin often occupies a studio home adjoining John Burnham’s.” Arthur Millier, “Desert Art Center Grows,” LA Times, 4-27-1930.
Exhibited “Ranchos Taos” with the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California in their annual exhibitions at the Museum of History, Science and Art (April 4-May 25). Mary Pottenger showed “Tony.” Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
Painted harbor scene owned by Dave/Kaye Chamberlain. San Pedro, Cal.?
June 26: Registered at The Inn, Point Nipigon, from Grand Rapids, Mich.
1931: Mary Fulton Chamberlain born (Feb. 15, 1931).
1931: Painted landscape offered by Burchard Galleries, St. Pete FL 18422
1931: Mary Pottenger showed “Gala Girls of Ethiopia,” California Art Club’s Exhibition. Their address: 350 South Harvard Blvd., LA.
1932: First Laguna Beach Art Festival. August.
1932: Tessa Chamberlain lived in Laguna Beach (co-owned Mad Hatter Tea Room, 218 Laguna Ave). City Directory. Willo Chamberlain, Oct. 2006: Tessa known as a very good cook, French dishes learned from their months in France, restaurant very popular. She apparently met future husband Stark Davis there. Mad Hatter included a gallery that featured Zorns and Millard Sheets and others.
after 1932: Traveled into the Palm Springs area and nearby San Bernardino mountains with Clifton Sawyer (Stickney School) and the Wachtels to paint. Biography of Clifton Sawyer at www.edanhughes.com.
1933: “M/M Joseph Thurston announc[ed] their intention of presenting to the [LB] school a large and beautiful oil painting to be hung in the grammar school auditorium. It is the work of NC and shows the hills and the old road through the canyon back of the school building.” South Coast News, 11-17-1933. (See also 1925 gift of painting to LB P.T.A.)
1934: No longer listed in Who’s Who in American Art, nor does his name appear in any of the area annuals. Probably about this time he returned to France and worked for a year. (?) The West as Art.
1934: Exhibited “Purification Ceremony” with the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California in their annual exhibitions at the Museum of History, Science and Art (May 4-June 17). Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
1934: Painted “Relay Race at Taos Pueblo” (Collection of L.A. County Museum of Natural History). The West as Art. (Displayed in new West Wing of Palm Springs Museum, 1982. Peg Bertsch to Babs & Stu, 3-19-1982.)
1934: Painted “Indian Ceremonial” mural at S. Pasadena Middle School. 626-441-5830. Two panels by gym door.
1934: Painted “Corn Dance, Taos Pueblo,” 50.25” X 40.25”, oil. Owned by Smithsonian Am. Art Museum, transfer from U.S. Dept. Labor. (2006: on exhibition.)
1934: Painted three-panel screen. Owned by Chamberlain family. Indians and burros.
1934: Included in exhibition of more than 100 PWA artists at LA Museum. Seven galleries, but exhibit was closed March 1 to July 1 for lack of funds. “The finest exhibition of southern California art ever placed under one roof…. Mr. Chamberlain had a one-man renaissance when he painted his “Hopi Corn Dance,” and “Relay Race, Taos Pueblo.” “A Southland Renaissance,” Christian Science Monitor, 3-17-1934. Article illustrated by NSC’s “Relay Race, Taos Pueblo.” Exhibited “Corn Dance. Taos Pueblo,” The Relay Race. Taos Pueblo,” and “Harvest Festival. Taos Pueblo.” Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
1934: Exhibited “Landscape” in PPSC show (?). Mary Pottenger showed “Ancestors.” Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
1935: Exhibited “Adobe Flores” (loaned) with the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California in their annual exhibitions at the Museum of History, Science and Art (April 25-June 6). Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
1935 (August): Took position with Treasury Relief Art Project as master artist, assuming responsibility for designing Huntington Park mural, hiring relief artists as assistants. Six panels: Indians and Friars, Pioneers, Train in the 90s, Modern Industry, Air Service, and Shipping and Construction. The last panel is in the Univ. of Maryland collection, part of a model for exhibition purposes. The Public as Patron. Announced in LA Times, 12-15-1935: NC to be assisted by Ivan Bartlett and Jean Swiggett (1910-1990).
1935: Tessa Chamberlain lived in Laguna Beach (co-owned Mad Hatter Tea Room.) City Directory.
1936: Exhibited “Rain” with the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California in their annual exhibitions at the Museum of History, Science and Art (Mar. 6-Apr. 27). Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
1936: Painted P.O. murals. Painted for the lobby of the Huntington Park P.O. for the Treasury Relief Art Project (part of U.S. Treasury Department, funded by WPA). The West as Art. “Norman Chamberlain was given a Treasury contract for a mural in the lobby of the Huntington Park Postoffice. He did a fine panel depicting California Mission Indians. He was then given the job to design and supervise a continuous mural for the whole lobby, showing our history in terms of transportation, the actual painting being done by two artists on the Treasury Art project, Jean Swiggett and Ivan Bartlett…. Chamberlain says it will last, too, because expert craftsman Joseph Sutter prepared the canvas, ground the colors and mounted the work on the walls.” Unknown clipping, Laguna Beach newspaper? Huntington Park mural displayed at the Corcoran Museum, Washington, D.C.
For PWA he painted murals in Riverside HS (Pasadena Middle School), 1st Natl Bank (Pasadena; demolished), Huntington Park P.O. Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940. “The Land of Irrigation,” Selma, Cal. P.O., installed 1938. (Riverside High school is located 80 miles from Los Angeles, on the way to the Palm Springs area.) John Chamberlain in 1980 interview claimed Mary Pottenger Chamberlain, on operating table, convinced doctor to exchange surgery fee for mural in doctor’s Palos Verdes home.
1937 (March 20): Chamberlain family gathered in Hermosa Beach: Norm, Glenn, Myrta, Kit, and Nonnie. (photo owned by SGH)
1937: Exhibited C.G.A. Who Was Who in American Art, 1975.
1937: Notes by GRC Jr.: Painted Taos horses, now owned by Janet Peterson.
While in Taos, saw George Welsh (mayor of Grand Rapids, Mich. 1938-1949) “dressed in Indian garb and having a time with a badly sunburned lower lip. That was about Aug. 1-6th sometimes.” Norm, Hermosa Beach, to M/M GRC Jr., 10-2-1940.
1938: “The Land of Irrigation” featured on page 1 The Selma Irrigator, 3-24-38. Unveiled lobby of Selma Post Office. Fresno Bee, 2-20-38 (includes photo).
1938: Exhibited “Harvest Dance” in AWP show (?). Moure and Moure, Artists’ Clubs and Exhibitions in L.A. before 1930.
1938: Photographed by mural panel by George Hurrell. (Stephen Hoffius and Elizabeth Chamberlain have prints.)
1940 (10-2): Norm to M/M GRC Jr.: “I have been humped over my drawing board quite incessantly up to a week ago in mural designs….” 245 26th St., Hermosa Beach, Cal.
1940 census: Norm: 53, “May L” 37 then 45 was put in brackets, Derry 8. (On the actual page it says Mary, the transcriber just made a mistake.) They lived at 245½ 26th Street in Hermosa Beach, as they had in 1935. Occupation: Mural Painter (“Wage or salary worker in Government work”). Owned the house, worth $3000. Weeks worked in 1939: 0. Income: 0. Income other sources: yes.
1941: Notes by GRC Jr.: Norm’s last visit to Point Nipigon, Cheboygan, Mich.
1941: “M/M NC of Hermosa Beach visited their son, Ben, and their nephew and niece, M/M Earl F. Chamberlain, Friday.” South Coast News, 6-27-1941. (Earl and Lucille, son of Romine, father of Carl.)
1941: “NC … is returning to Laguna to make this his permanent home here once more, after an absence of 12 years in Hermosa Beach.” South Coast News, 8-12-1941.
1941-43: “Helped at sales carnivales” Source?
1942: June: “Four paintings by NC, Laguna artist, have been hung in the library for the month of June…. One painting is a beach scene, the others were painted at Taos, New Mexico. Recently one of the paintings hung in the library for Lucille DeLano Chamberlain, also a member of Laguna art colony, was sold to an enthusiastic art patron.” South Coast News, 6-2-1942. Lucille DeL C: second wife of Earl Chamberlain.
1942 (7-8): Norm, Laguna Beach, wrote to M/M GRC Jr.
1942: (10-14): Norm to M/M GRC Jr: “We are all huddled together in this little board house down in the center of the village (3-7 Mermaid St., Laguna Beach, Cal.) where we can reach out for our necessities and watch the jeeps flash by. With the new helmets the crew look like triplets with sun bonnets out for an airing with the brakes off.” Congratulated Gee and Muriel on birth of David Bruce. Fixing up the Hermosa Beach house for new tenant. “So we are quite happy and watch the passing convoy with as little strain as possible. I think I feel the measure of it for having studied the reason more thoroughly than some, and there is a reason for our wars that is not all our blame, but what faults are ours begin to bubble to the surface and explode in our faces.”
1943 (9-1): GRC to Norm, “My proposition is for you to let me know by an early mail, after careful figuring, how much material would cost you — paint, canvas, frames, wear and tear on brushes, etc. — would come to for an average picture. When you have given me about that idea, I want to invest up to $100 in such equipment and have you get busy and make paintings (or water colors if you prefer) that will use up that much money. I would want you to naturally use your own judgment as to what you wish to paint and how you wish to paint it, but would like to have you keep in mind that modified modernism in your work, such as the painting I now have from you, will get more sales than anything extreme will do no matter how tempting it is to do it. My thought in all of this is to get you enthusiastic over the idea of creating a modest estate or legacy, if you will, for the benefit of your family when you are gone.” “Best sort of insurance policy.” “I suggest that Mary be made the Treasurer of this so there will be no temptation to use this money for anything else whatsoever.”
1943 (9-10): Norm to GRC: “swell idea of yours. … I have given a great share of my time the past two years in helping the gallery here back on its hind legs and out of debt.”
1943 (9-20) Congrats on birth of Dirk Hoffius: “be too busy from now on.”
1944: NSC to GRC, 1-24. “The days are so exciting and full now with Johnny home.” Paint in the canyons every day. “And so life is at its best around sixty, I say. No great longing, no hot lips no one to watch you make mistakes. Just watch the world whirl by and wonder at it all.”
c. 1945: Painted Apples and milk pitcher still life, 43” X 53”, watercolor on paper. Artprice sale December 12, 1996. Martin Medak owns similar watercolor.
1947 (Spring): Chamberlain family gathered in California: GRC Jr. wrote up wild train exit by GRC Sr. on March 8. Lena Chamberlain, Mrs. GRC, died February 6, 1947.
1950 (January): GRC, Sr. letter: “From Remington” painting (like Frederick Remington) NSC “gave it to me some 35 years or so ago.”
1950 (Spring): Chamberlain family gathered in California: Norm, Glenn, Myrta, Mary P., and Nonnie. (photo owned by SGH, processed April 20, 1950; aboard motorboat Ocean Breeze).
1953 (4-16): Mrs. Harry M. Robinson (Aunt Nonnie), Hermosa Beach, Cal., to Wallace M. Chamberlain: “The family record came today…. Of course I am glad to get the document mostly for Norm as he has nothing to prove the date of his birth. This record was made just after he was born. Mother was 43 and it would seem as tho at that age her mind would be pretty clear as to the birth of us children.”
1956 (1-20): NSC, Corona del Mar, to M/M GRC Jr.: “Derry of course lives next door with her wonderful kids and very fine husband who works too hard but loves it all. We have lots of garden and three lawns to care for plenty fruit vegetables berries and chop chop to do. … Get up to see Nonnie and Harry every two weeks…. I have many pupils who are so very good to me and thoughtful.”
1956: (11-21): Mrs. Harry M. Robinson (Aunt Nonnie), 315 26th St., Hermosa Beach, Cal., to Gee and Muriel Chamberlain: “Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We had hoped to have Norm and Mary with us but Norm cant get away from his estate as all the rest of the help is going and The Burnhams are away for the holiday.” Jim Chamberlain just visited with the Smiths; Derry glad to meet him, they’re about a day apart in age.
1956: (Nov.): Mrs. Harry M. Robinson (Aunt Nonnie), Hermosa Beach, Cal., to “Ethel”: Details of Norm employed as “head gardener” 1/2 time for John Burnham, Rancho Santa Fe, 100 miles from Hermosa. “[Norm] has had for over 25 years a very wealthy friend a John Burnham by name who came to Norm’s studio when he had one in Pasadena. Burnham had some talent for painting and it was the basis of their friendship…. Anyway they are down there, have a nice apartment with fire place and all the wood they need, a small greenhouse which they have converted into a studio and a salary of $100 per month, also utilities…. They want to keep this job for two years.” (Burnham, son of Daniel Burnham, noted architect, died in 1956.) (Mariana McDonald purchased Rancho Santa Fe from Burnham estate and still owns it. 2012)
1960 (1-4): NSC to M/M GRC Jr. “I am slowly recovering from my operation this fall hope to be o.k. soon but I go on painting and gardening every day!”
1961: Died July 17, 1961, Orange County, Cal. Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940. He had been a resident of Corona del Mar before moving to the Hillhaven Convalescent Hospital in Santa Ana.
1982: Included in “The West as Art: Changing Perceptions of Western Art in California Collections,” Palm Springs Desert Museum, Feb. 24-May 30. “Relay Race at Taos Pueblo.”
2004: NSC “Portfolio #3” located and purchased by Martin Medak.
1994-2005: Included (front cover) in “Romance of the Bells: The California Missions in Art,” works from the permanent collection of the Irvine Museum. Romance of the Bells, The California Missions in Art (1994) with exhibition book; The Mission San Juan Capistrano, the Mission San Luis Rey, Santa Barbara Historical Society Museum, Bakersfield Museum of Art, Monterey Museum of Art, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Riverside Museum of Art, University of San Diego Museum, Redding Museum of Art, and The Irvine Museum.