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California Artists - the wilderness in their blood


The artists who came to California during the Gold Rush years and towards the turn of the century all held one thing in common - they - like all of their fellows journeying to California at the time, had strong adventuresome spirits. In an artist, this meant they would be a person who delighted in the challenge of exploring new places - dramatic places in nature ... as well as places only human thought could take them. In our reading section we can learn about the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, and Jack London - all world-renowned writers who were ardent travelers in search of exciting adventures. California was a place filled with adventure.

Famed writer and Transcendental philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson would exclaim to John Muir, upon visiting Yosemite Valley in 1871, "This valley is the only place that comes up to the brag about it, and exceeds it. " and Scott M. Momoday, a renowned Native American writer recently said " The west is a place that has to be seen to be believed, and may have to be believed to be seen. "

California's landscape, and Yosemite in particular, indeed embodied natural wonders that, upon the early years of their discovery, left talkative writers speechless and made European-trained painters run raving with their arms "flailing like a madman". Even artists, who already lived in a world of their own imagination, found California's landscapes and experiences often beyond words or belief.

Let us now explore a selection from the artistic accomplishments of California's history in the period of 1860-1910.

San Francisco and The Bohemian Club

The Adventurers Club

The Adventurers Club study unit will explore many artists and thinkers including:

Carlton E Watkins - photographer
Albert Bierstadt - painter
Eadweard J. Muybridge - photographer
Ralph Waldo Emerson - writer and transcendental philosopher
William Keith - painter
Thomas Hill - painter
Xavier Timoteo Orozco Martinez - painter
Jack London - writer
Joaquin Miller - writer