HAD THE LANDSCAPE been anything other than unforested hills sloping into the sea, a wide arc of white sand tucked into a craggy coastline framing a Pacific blue expanse, and a place of clear light and cool summers, the artists would have gone elsewhere.

In escaping a city that had toppled during the tremor of all time - the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake - the artists sought refuge in a place that seemed safe, where they could write of their angst and aspirations, paint pictures of this new Paradise-by-the-Sea, and photograph the Lone Cypress.

Founded in 1902 and incorporated in 1916, by 1910 it was reported that some 60 percent of Carmel homes were built by residents "devoting their lives to work connected to the aesthetic arts."

Nineteen artists met at "Gray Gables," the home of artists Josephine Culbertson and Ida Johnson, on Aug. 8, 1927 to discuss the merits of establishing an association for "the advancement of art and cooperation among artists."

"The new Carmel Art Association has plenty of spunk and pep," wrote the editor of the Carmel Pine Cone newspaper at the time. "And, if its vivacity can be directed properly, it ought to be a good thing for Carmel."

Sculptor Gordon Newell moved to Carmel during the early '30s, where he had made weekend trips during school, to the family cabin of a classmate. He quickly immersed himself in the community of "quasi-intellectuals" and artisans who were building the foundation of an artist colony.


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"Carmel was just a little road to town then," the late artist once said in an interview. "I walked up one of those coastal ridges. I never could forget the smell of the air and the sage and the sea all mixed into one and made up my mind then that I would live there."

Artist Jerry Wasserman arrived on the Peninsula on New Year's Day 1945, when the war was waning and the entire art community was smaller than the current membership of the Carmel Art Association. It's hard to remember the details of life more than 65 years ago, but he does recall that the association was as discriminating as it is today; it usually took more than one effort to get in.

"The painters of the day," he has said, "were traditional but not conservative. They worked from nature, inspired by the area and the plein aire tradition. Although I do recall an emerging community of abstract impressionists at the time."

For artist Gene Elmore, it all started with, "Undercurrent," the 1946 film where Robert Taylor was trying to murder Katherine Hepburn in the fog. Filmed in Pebble Beach, the location lured Elmore to the Peninsula where he discovered an art community in neighboring Carmel-by-the- Sea and vowed to live there someday.

The first time he tried out for membership in the Carmel Art Association, he didn't make it. On the second try, in the 1950s, he did. By then, he had established a studio in town, where he was doing local portraiture. He had a one-man show in his studio gallery where nothing was more than $75.

Artist Dick Crispo was 10 years old when he came to Carmel from New York in 1955; the year he began painting in earnest. By age 11, he was showing his work in local exhibits. His life had doubled by the time he made his first application to become a member of the Carmel Art Association, but he was turned down. Two years later, in 1969, he became a juried member under the category of social commentary and drawing.

"I worked for Studio Art Supplies when I was in high school in 1962," Crispo said. "We had two art supply stores in town with small galleries in them; other than that we had only three art galleries in the whole town: Zantman Gallery, Carmel Art Association and Smithson Gallery. We also had studio galleries all over town, where individual artists shared their work. And we had an art school: The Carmel Art Institute. That was an art community.

"Today, people don't realize is what's missing. Imagine, two art supply stores with small galleries, three commercial galleries all showing local artists representing three price ranges, studio galleries and a school. What a different picture it was then compared to what we have now.

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In 1989, artist Chris Winfield and his family of artists moved to Carmel, where he opened his eponymous art gallery. In so doing, his contemporary gallery joined a community of some 120 galleries, as diverse and dynamic as the weather patterns by the sea.

"The Carmel art scene is a mixture of good galleries," said Winfield, "and others filled with production art: a very wellpainted, attractive image that has nothing to say. Carmel attracts such a great group of people from all over the world, and we can never tell what their level of taste and sophistication or pure attraction will be as they walk in the door. If it touches a core element for them, it has done its job."

Carmel continues to have a wide variety of art to choose from, says Crispo; a diversity of styles and artists.

"Of course, I favor the galleries that represent local artists; contemporary galleries like Gallery North, Nancy Dodds and Winfield, as well as historical galleries like Rieser, Trotter and Josh Hardy. These are the galleries that deal with important work of our past and contemporary work of today. It is very important for a community to support its own. We have an abundance of galleries in town; we need to make sure we have an abundance of art."


Art Galleries of Carmel

Weston Gallery
6th Ave & Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-4453

Wings America Aviation Specialties
Dolores & 7th
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 626-9464

The New Masters Gallery
Dolores and Ocean
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 625-1511

Nancy Dodds Gallery
7th & San Carlos
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-0346

Photography West Gallery
Dolores & Ocean Ave
Carmel, CA 93921
(831) 625-1587

Studio in the Garden
Ocean Ave
Carmel, CA 93921
(831) 626-6700

Dawson Cole Fine Art
Lincoln St & 6th Ave
Carmel, CA 93921
(831) 624-8200

Linde Fine Art Gallery
Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 622-0994

Carmel Art Association
Dolores St
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-6176

Center For Photographic Art
San Carlos and 9th Streets
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 625-5181

Coast Galleries-Carmel
Ocean Ave
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 625-3200

Winfield Gallery
Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-3369

Galerie Plein Aire
Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 625-5686

Classic Art Gallery
6th & San Carlos
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 625-0464

Oliver-Elliot and Sebastian Fine Art
Ocean Ave at San Carlos Street
Carmel, CA 93922
(831) 626-0178

Edward Montgomery Fine Art
Gallery
Ocean Ave
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 622-9292

Galerie Rue Royale
Ocean Ave
Carmel, CA 93921
(831) 626-3456

Gallery 1000
Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-9094

Steven Whyte's Sculpture Studio and Gallery
Dolores between 5th and 6th
Carmel-By-the-Sea, CA 93921
(831) 620-1917

Cima Collina Tasting Room & Gallery
San Carlos St & 7th
Carmel by the Sea, CA 93921
(831) 620-0645

Z Folio Gallery
750 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 655-9891

Exposed
San Carlos & 7th
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93923
(831) 917-3450

Rodrigue Studio
Ocean & 7th St.
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 626-4444

Mountainsong Galleries
Ocean Ave 3 SE of San Carlos St
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
(831) 626-0600

Vanguard Gallery
San Carlos at 5th St
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
(831) 620-0400

Wyland Gallery Carmel
Ocean Ave 3NW Mission St
Carmel-By-the-Sea, CA 93921
(831) 626-6223

Galerie Rue Toulouse
Ocean Ave
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
(831) 625-3456

Lu Lu's Silk Art Gallery
Mission between 5th and 6th
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
(831) 620-1122

Upstairs Gallery
Municipal Wharf 1 N
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 372-1373

Roger Budney Fine Art
6th Avenue & Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 620-0112

Hart Gallery
Ocean Ave
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 622-7110

Gallerie Amsterdam
Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-4355

William A. Karges Fine Art
Dolores & 6th
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 625-4226

Tribes Gallery
San Carlos
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 625-5100

Art A La Russe Fine Art Gallery
Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 625-5441

Phillips Gallery of Fine Art
6 The Crossroads
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 626-1126

Gallery Sur
6th Avenue & Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 626-2615

Mountain and Sea Gallery
Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 626-7788

Studio in the Garden
Ocean Avenue
Carmel, CA 93921
(831) 626-6700

Romanoos Gallery
6th Ave
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 626-2787

Claypoole Freese Gallery
8 Sncrls Ocean
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 250-7157

Oficino Uno
S Ocean Ave
Carmel, CA 93921
(831) 915-4411

James J Rieser Fine Art
PO Box 1208
Carmel, CA 93921
(831) 620-0530

Highlands Sculpture Gallery
Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-0535

Lupetti Lynn Gallery
Mission
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-0622

Fawcett Studio Gallery
Dolores
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-6030

Garcia Danny Garcia Gallery Inc
On Ocean Between Dolores and San Carlos
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-8338

Jim Miller Gallery
Ocean & Dolores
Carmel, CA 93921
(831) 625-0425

Gallery De Reiko
San Carlos
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 625-1656

High Places Gallery
San Carlos
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 626-5535

Rosamond Gallery
Mission
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 626-8801

Galerie Rue Royale
Ocean Ave
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 626-3456

Dawson Cole Fine Art
14 San Carlos 5th
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 624-8200