Throughout his life John Steinbeck numbered artists among his most trusted friends. In California, in Pacific Grove and on Monterey's Cannery Row, the novelist's closest companions, in addition to the great marine biologist Ed Ricketts, included painters Judith Deim, Ellwood Graham, James Fitzgerald, Bruce Ariss and many others. This catalogue of essays and images looks at that period, tying in with the inaugural art exhibition in 1998 at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California. ``This Side of Eden: Images of Steinbeck's California'' looks at the compassion of Steinbeck and dozens of artists for the exploited migrant field workers and the suddenly unemployed and destitute of the 1930s. Steinbeck and other writers used the pen, the artists used the brush. Artist Millard Sheets traveled with Steinbeck down agricultural valleys as the author conducted final interviews for ``The Grapes of Wrath.'' As Steinbeck interviewed the workers, Sheets made paintings of them.
Steve gives an overview of the book:
``That most early 20th Century California artists were attracted to the state's landscape and coastline is hardly surprising. Two world wars and the Great Depression indicated that man did not have the answers, so perhaps nature did. At least the landscape offered harmony and peace, and scenery unspolied by industrialism and ealry urban blight . . .''
I co-curated with Patricia Leach the inaugural art exhibition at the National Steinbeck Center; this catalogue records that event, with essays also by Leach and Rob Wilson. We were lucky curators and essayists, because the grand opening of the center attracted the national press and you usually don't get that kind of coverage for an art exhibition.
Born and raised in St. Louis. In fourth grade at Mary Queen of Peace, a Catholic school in the suburb of Webster Groves, a Mrs. Vanderbrook gave me a 5 (equivalent to an A in public schools) in English; made me feel good about myself. Wrestled at Kirkwood High School; won...
" . . the film explores how, elbow-to-elbow with painters and writers, these impassioned photographers produced great works while popular society remained oblivious to them . . . The film is a labor of...