Flora and Fauna: Beth Van Hoesen Prints

Exhibits // Flora and Fauna: Beth Van Hoesen Prints

Jun 28 - Aug 19

Overview // Staff at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (SLOMA) often remark, “Every day can be like Christmas morning” because gifts to SLOMA have a way of coming at random times, from unexpected places, by previously unknown benefactors. “It’s a kind of magic—making it fun to answer the phone and open the mail,” laughs Ruta Saliklis, curator and director of exhibitions.

One such morning happened in November 2016. Out of the blue, an executor of the E. Mark Adams and Beth Van Hoesen Adams Trust sent an email offering SLOMA a selection of Beth Van Hoesen prints and drawings as a donation. SLOMA staff quickly replied “Yes, thank you,” knowing it would be a valuable body of artwork—and could be a significant addition to its permanent collection. Soon thereafter, SLOMA was gifted 41 limited edition or artist proof intaglio prints unframed and unmatted, drawings and two rare paintings by Beth Van Hoesen.

The next obvious question was how could SLOMA share this outstanding artwork with its many visitors without wear and tear on the artwork, and exposure of the works on paper to sunlight, plus the wherewithal to mount an unbudgeted exhibition?

The generous Van Hoesen Trust managers answered by lending 14 framed artworks matching the prints SLOMA has in its collection, and donating 11 more Beth Van Hoesen hand-pulled prints that may be sold to benefit SLOMA. With that, the exhibition entitled Flora and Fauna: Art by Beth Van Hoesen was calendared to be shown on June 29 through August 19, 2018—the first opportunity to view the Beth Van Hoesen’s artwork gifted to SLOMA almost two years ago.

Beth Van Hoesen (1926–2010) was a major figure in 20th century printmaking, and a masterful draftsman and close observer of nature. Born in Idaho, she moved to California with her family at a young age, and graduated from Stanford University in the late 1940s with a B.F.A.. After both study and travel in Mexico and France, she settled in San Francisco in the late 1950s and married artist Mark Adams. They bought a 1910 firehouse in the Castro neighborhood, where they established their studios and lived for the next 46 years.

Van Hoesen’s soft-spoken but evocative imagery received vast critical acclaim, with some of her most beloved drawings and prints featuring animals. Her artwork was displayed in solo exhibitions around the West, and in a traveling exhibition at museums across the U.S. during the 1980s.

Her art has been the subject of several books, and she received several prestigious art awards, including the 1993 Distinguished Artist Award from the California Society of Printmakers. Her drawings and prints can be found in the permanent collections of dozens of museums around the country, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Modern Art in New York; Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; San Jose Museum of Art; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Stanford University Libraries; University of California, Berkeley Art Museum; Victoria and Albert Museum in London; Williams College in Massachusetts; and now the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

Details // Banner images (left to right): California Poppies and Flamingo Sleeping, Beth Van Hoesen.