Behold the Day: The Color Block Prints of Frances Gearhart at The Pasadena Museum of California Art

The Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) is proud to present Behold the Day: The Color Block Prints of Frances Gearhart, an exhibition examining the remarkable contributions of color block print artist, Frances Gearhart. Embedded in the time and place of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Gearhart’s work personifies a handcrafted aesthetic and conveys a sense of directness, immediacy, and strong visual impact while depicting a clearly ideal, Californian subject matter.

Frances Gearhart
Frances Gearhart, “Untroubled Waters”, 1931. Color block print, 10.5 x 9 in. Jonathan and Thim Scheer

Frances Gearhart was a leader in the American Printmaking movement and, in particular, color block printing. The artist lived with her sisters May and Edna in Pasadena, and all taught in the Los Angeles Public Schools. The Gearhart sisters all studied art and all became artists in their own right, although Frances was by far the most gifted and the best known. Although Gearhart began as a watercolorist, she found her voice as an artist in color block printing. The artist’s Pasadena home and gallery was a meeting place for the Print Makers Society of California of which Gearhart was a pivotal member.

David Kiehl, Curator of Prints of the Whitney Museum of American Art, lamented at his recent lecture at the Huntington Library, Printmaking Now: Cycles of Tradition, Innovation, and Change, “We know far too little of the printmaking which occurred west of the Mississippi between the two world wars. These stories need to be told before we can piece together the quilt of print making in America.” Frances Gearhart is one of these critical untold stories – distinctly American, distinctly western, and extraordinarily strong in subject matter, strength of image and balance of color. In her prints, Gearhart celebrated the California landscape – its mountains, trees, lakes and coastline.

Although Gearhart had exhibitions at the Smithsonian and was included in important group exhibitions, Behold the Day: The Color Block Prints of Frances Gearhart is the first retrospective of her oeuvre. Curated by Susan Futterman and Roger Genser and featuring over sixty of her block prints and ten watercolors, the exhibition is the most comprehensive look at the artist’s legacy and influence, including never before seen prints. Also on view will be the prints from the previously unfinished and unpublished children’s book Gearhart co-authored with her two sisters, entitled, Let’s Play. The book, now published will be available at the PMCA bookstore.

About the PMCA: The Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) is dedicated to the exhibition of California art, architecture, and design from 1850 to the present. Informed by the state’s rich mixture of cultures and inspired by its impressive geography, California art has long been defined by a spirit of freedom and experimentation. PMCA exhibitions and educational programs explore the cultural dynamics and influences unique to California that have shaped and defined art in all media.

PMCA Information: For information, the please call 626-568-3665 or visit the website: www.pmcaonline.org

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