Size: Transcript: 107 pages
Format: Originally recorded on 8 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 13 digital wav files. Duration is 5 hr., 38 min.
Summary: An interview of Gene Crain, conducted 1999 March 7-May 22, by Susan Anderson, for the Archives of American Art, in the law offices of Gene Crain, Newport Beach, California.
Crain describes the focus of his collection of some 1000 works of art, and how it grew out of his longstanding relationships with artists Millard Sheets, Phil Dike, Rex Brandt, and others. He recalls his relationships with Sheets, Dike, and Brandt at some length, including their feelings for the land as well as their personalities and work. He discusses urban growth, disappearance of the locale and nostalgia in the context of art collecting, and his collection as an important record of a certain time and place. He discusses convenience, climate, and topography as contributing factors to the emergence of the watercolor school as well as other important influences: Pacific rim culture and Far Eastern Art and philosophy; Mexican art and culture; the film industry, especially the Disney Studios; and the federal art projects as a catalyst and support system. Crain discusses the impact of social and economic factors in Southern California during the Depression, contrasting them with harsher conditions in other parts of the country; the development of his eye an aesthetic taste and his patronage of the artists beginning in the early 1960s; the artists' critical standing in the post-World War II period and the "crowding out" of the school by other movements such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop; and the viability of the school in the post-war period, its legacy, and comments on the present market value of the art.