Pioneers Portray the Past & Present at California Art Club’s 106th Gold Medal Exhibition

Because I have a hard time articulating some of my deepest feelings through words,
I create art instead. I hope that viewers can sense what is most important to me when
they see my work. I don’t hide secret meanings in my art. Each Piece is deeply personal,
yet universal. I try to create images that are beautiful, uplifting, and relatable.
— Artist Ben Hammond


For more than a century, artists, connoisseurs, collector, patrons and enthusiasts have convened for California Art Club’s Annual Gold Medal Exhibition in honor of the pioneers of the California Impressionist Movement. In recent years,  The Autry Museum of the American West has housed the exhibit/event that now welcomes and encourages a variety of well-known and emerging styles, beyond the Plein Air movement for which the organization is famous. The goal is for Gold Medal artists to us classical methods, some nearly forgotten, to address modern themes.

Once again a variety of small and large sculptures textured the landscape of paintings. Overall, the clash between classic subjects and historical anomalies against long lost environmental treasures and urban realities made for a wonderful commentary on the disciplined beauty or blindness of the past, and the unbridled determination to find strength and beauty in the uncertainty of the present future.

The exhibition has a long history of having no theme, this is an homage to the 19th-century art salons of Europe, in order to encourage artists to be bold and render what they consider to be their greatest work to date. Among the most striking of the many hundreds of artistic treasures were “Princess of Van Nuys,” “Virgil’s Lute,” “Queen of Knossos,” “Green Bug,” “Vitruvian Juxtapose,” and “A Common Thread.”

Pieces are made available for purchase for the first time at the private kick-off reception, which was held in April. This event gives members and collectors the first look at all the pieces in the exhibition and first shot at snagging a masterpiece for their private collection before the general public has access. However, one need not be a member of California Art Club to get a good look at these modern masterpieces.

For more information on the art, events and programs that California Art Club offers, visit

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