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High Sierra Art

November 17, 1990

The "California Light" Impressionism show is a remarkable collection of painting by artists highly skilled in capturing the unique unspoiled beauty of early California as no other artists--before or since, foreign or domestic--have done. Their best work is anything but "Ho-Hum" (Oct. 17, by Cathy Curtis).

For example: Curtis' comment on Edgar Payne as an "indoor" painter of the High Sierra from "recomposed outdoor sketches" into "idealized visions." I submit, as a backpacker who has spent many hundreds of days and nights at the altitudes in the Sierra (9,000-11,000 feet) which are the subject of his paintings, that he alone was the master in capturing on canvas the essence of the "Range of Light" and the "Gentle Wilderness," which are the fascination of those who love these places. His deep blue-green lakes, regal white bark pines and the unique granite faces and snow chutes of the peaks reaching up to 14,000 feet from the Owens Valley are not "recomposed" or "idealized visions." Earlier artists enhanced the Sierra with "Alp-like" features that Edgar Payne ignored. Edgar Payne captured the Sierra on canvas as Ansel Adams did with camera--with understanding and realism.

I urge those who love the incredible uniqueness and beauty of unspoiled California to see the show and judge the level of praise and thanks that (guest curator) Patricia Trenton and the Laguna Art Museum deserve for a fine interpretive catalogue and stunning show.

DONALD CROCKER

Alexandria, Va.

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