Full of energy on its 95th birthday, Carmel Art Association is opening the doors to its past with the 95 Year Historic Show. The exhibit showcases the work of the many, many late artists who have been part of the organization since its founding in 1927.
The exhibit is fully digitized and all the pieces – over 500 of them, from early California to mid-century modern – are available for viewing and sale online, equipped with a search engine. That’s thanks to the work of Grace Wodecki, CAA’s graphic designer and marketing associate, who joined the nonprofit in 2020 to increase CAA’s online presence and make its treasures accessible all over the world. “With an online exhibit, there is no limit,” she says. “No physical space is needed.”
Still, there’s also a physical component. About 80 works from the show are currently hanging on CAA’s walls – paintings, prints and sculptures. Another 60 will join them by December. (The rest is stored in an annex; people can call to view it.)
Some of the pieces were donated to CAA; in other instances, the gallery has pieces on consignment. Such is the case with painter Freeman Sargent (1912-1990), who was a member in the ’50s and ’60s before he moved to the Bay Area. His son is left with many of his works in storage and 10 of his pieces are part of the 95 Year show. Some are oil landscapes of Cannery Row and Monterey Bay, but it is perhaps Sargent’s watercolors that are more intriguing – works such as “Tied Up,” a view from Fisherman’s Wharf.
Celebrating a birthday is nothing new for CAA. In fact, the gallery does it every five years. There was the 90 Year Historic Show in 2017, after which Gallery Manager Sally Aberg immediately started to work on the next one.
Wodecki’s personal favorite of the exhibit is Moira Wallace (1910-79), a Carmel-born painter, muralist, printmaker and designer. Her best-known commission was a mural for the Del Monte Hotel ballroom in Monterey, a 360-degree painting of Balinese dancers. “She was a flapper girl,” Wodecki says. “Her works look like something done in the ’80s; they were made in the ’20s.”
What will the 100-year show look like? CAA still has countless treasures to share. “We are looking forward to the next five years,” Wodecki says.