July 18, 2024

San Francisco the Golden Years
Making a Scene

June 18, 2024 - June 30, 2025

San Francisco was the center of bohemian culture in California in the late 1930s and 1940s. It was a golden era for art making and the blossoming of Bay Area art due to a confluence of factors, one being the activities of the San Francisco Art Association (SFAA), a group of art enthusiasts and artists who nurtured the growth of a museum and art school (the California School of Fine Arts) and organized yearly annual exhibitions that stimulated and propelled progressive art of the time.  

Artists like Adaline Kent were central to the development of modernist art on the west coast during the early to mid-twentieth century, and yet, until recently their influence remains largely untold in American art history. Kent was among the active members of the SFAA and her work exemplified the period’s penchant for individualism and experimentation, as did the work of artists associated with the SFAA. Other artists associated with the SFAA are Dorr Bothwell, Benjamin Bufano, Harry Crotty, Jay DeFeo, Sonia Gechtoff, Robert Boardman Howard, Sargent Johnson, Madge Knight, Knud Merrild, Henrietta Shore, Ralph Stackpole, and Clay Spohn.  

The exhibition, San Francisco the Golden Years 1930-1960: Making a Scene, is drawn exclusively from the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art collection. NEHMA’s collection, with its focus on the art of the western United States, is ideally suited to provide in-depth examples of art from this little-known period in art history. This is the first major exhibition and publication to look at the pivotal and colorful history of the SFAA.  

This exhibition is co-curated by Michael Duncan, art historian, writer, and critic, and Bolton Colburn, the NEHMA curator of collections and exhibitions. The publication accompanying the exhibition includes essays by Michael Duncan and a foreword by Bolton Colburn. The book is being published by Hirmer Publishers, Munich, Germany in conjunction with the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.