Norman Stiles Chamberlain photographed by George Hurrell.
EARLIEST DAYS OF THE LAGUNA BEACH ART COLONY
Plein Air Painters of California, The Southland (page 122-123)
By Thomas Kenneth Enman and Ruth Westphal
By 1917, thirty or forty artist were residing in the village, including Wendt, Cuprien, Hills, Griffiths, and Payne. It was Edgar Payne who was largely responsible for the idea of forming the Laguna Beach Art Association in order to establish a gallery which would promote the exhibitions and sale of the artists’ paintings. At his studio on Glenneyre Road, a group of artists formed the organization which began with 150 members, thirty-five of them artists. The objectives were, one, to maintain a permanent art gallery, two, to advocate the knowledge and interest in art and, three, to create spirit of cooperation and fellowship between painter and public.
With permission to use the old Town Hall, which was in the eucalyptus grove adjacent to the old frame hotel, the artists remodeled the building and opened the first art gallery on July 27, 1918. That the first exhibition was highly successful is indicated by the signatures of over two thousand visitors in the guest book. The early roster of exhibiting artists included such names as Benjamin C Brown, Norman Chamberlain, Elanor Colburn, R. Clarkson Coleman, Leland S. Curtis, William Swift Daniell, Alice V. Fullerton, Arthur Hill Gilbert, Paul Lauritz, Evylena Nunn Miller, Edgar Payne, Hanson Puthuff, F. Clark Schmidt, William Wendt and Karl Yens. In the spring of 1920 the Association was incorporated as a non-profit organization.
As members increased, the lack of space in the gallery was evident. Anna Hills was appointed fund raiser for the new building. A committee of three was appointed-William Wendt, Elanor Colburn and Thomas Hunt-to select a site. At first they favored a tract in Laguna Canyon where the Irvine Bowl is currently located. However, Wendt convinced the other two that the site should be at the corner of old Coast Road and Cliff Drive. Howard G. Heisler, who owned the property, sold it to them for the very attractive price of three thousand dollars. The prominent architectural firm of Myron Hunt and H. C. Chambers of Los Angeles was selected to design the gallery. It was built at a cost of twenty five thousand dollars, and opened in 1929.
Many of the founding members and officers of the Laguna Beach Art Association are listed in the Artist and Writers Directory found in Norman Stiles Chamberlain’s Estate owned by David (Grandson) and Nancy Marriner.
Derry, Age 5, photographed by George Hurrell.