Laguna Beach Art Colony
Those early days of Laguna Beach marked a unique experience in American art. Thomas Kenneth Enman and Ruth Westphal
The period from 1900 to 1915 marks the flowering of California Impressionism. Jean Stern
Laguna Beach, a popular artistic-minded Southern California coastal town, was virtually isolated in the 1870s because of difficult access on either a dirt trail south of Newport Beach or the narrow canyon road from the interior. As late as 1889, the town had only ten year-round residents. 1 Around 1906, an English- born painter, Norman Saint Clair, took a train and stagecoach from Los Angeles to Laguna Beach and began producing watercolors which, upon exhibition, quickly encouraged other artists to visit the area. The influx of artists to Laguna Beach increased through the next few years, especially after a home and studio was built there by * William Wendt, then a well-known landscape specialist. As noted by essayist Jean Stern, "Sculptors, craftsmen and writers also found Laguna Beach a stimulating setting for their work."2 Another of the early members of the Laguna Beach art colony was * Edgar Payne, who was instrumental in the 1918 founding of the Laguna Beach Art Association. The organization was formed at Payne's studio on Glenneyre Road with an initial membership of 150, including thirty-five artists.
Painters in Southern California have always faced the challenge of handling what writer Joachim Smith calls "the sheer excess of light."3 According to historian Michael P. McManus: "The primary characteristic of Southern California