Art & Literature

GIS & Mapping


Base Camp

Introduction to the Arts

For America - and the rest of the world - the new State of California in the mid to late 1800s was an unfamiliar - and exotic - unexplored frontier. California, as a mysterious land of dramatic landscapes, picturesque missions, ranchos and vaqueros ( cowboys ), and rugged islands, caught the publicís imagination. During the 1850s-1890s, artists and writers came to California form all over the world to try to capture the mystique of this new landscape. By 1900, even more artists were not only visiting California, but moving to the Channel region to live amidst the unspoiled beauty of the still undeveloped landscape. The California Art Club was formed in 1909 and spawned a movement now recognized as the California Impressionists. Some artists lived in the new cities and traveled out into the country and across to the islands to paint and write- others lived right among the ranchos and drew the life of the cowboys first hand. Many visited Catalina and enjoyed the beauty of this southern Channel Island. Silent films were made on and around both the southern and northern Channel Islands.

The books that were written, art works drawn and painted, photographs taken, and films made in the Channel region from 1850-1930 provide us with a look at what early California life was like. And they also show us what the lives of these bold artists were like who dared to come to a new land, settle down, and try to make a living following their artistic passions. The film studios we now think of as household names - Metro Goldwyn Mayor ,Columbia, Warner Brothers - these all were born in California as the silent film industry began in the Channel Region ( in Santa Barbara at first ) and came to make Hollywood an international center for the film industry. Novelists who became international best sellers wrote dramatic stories inspired by early California life.

Both on the Mainland, and out on the Channel Islands, these artists and writers sought to capture the spirit of this untamed land and its rugged individualistic peoples. The Camp will be introducing you a selection of these artists, showing you some of their work, and encouraging you to imagine yourself in their place, exploring the unknown lands of California and celebrating the magnificent beauty they found on the islands, in the valleys, and atop the mountains of this Pacific landscape. Come with us now to explore the cultural history of the arts in the Channel Islands region. We will even take a look at California Surf Music and Surf Films !