Starting on March 16, visitors to the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens will be able to experience the juxtaposition of California’s past and present, thanks in part to renowned local artist Rick Delanty.
Delanty painted 22 works over the past two years, meant to partially reflect historical masterworks loaned by the Boseker family, for the upcoming Inspired by History exhibition running through June 4.
The 44 total pieces between Delanty and the Boseker family collection will be split into groups of two and shown side-by-side, allowing for guests to understand what locations used to look like and Delanty’s modern perspective of each painting.
In addition to the works, Casa Romantica will also host a lecture from art historian and former Irvine Museum Director Jean Stern, an Artist’s Talk with Delanty on April 7, and “paint-outs” by the California Art Club, the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, the San Clemente Art Association, and the Southern California Plein Air Painters Association.
Following Delanty’s solo Beauty Unites Us exhibition that ended in June 2021, he spoke with Amy Behrens, the center’s executive director, about organizing a display that would center on older paintings of the state’s landscape.
She was receptive, especially as Casa Romantica was looking to plan its next historical exhibition.
Behrens told San Clemente Times that she was “very interested” in showing some of the Boseker family’s collection that includes works from the California Impressionist period. Those works, dating back to the 20th century, were painted outdoors, or “en plein air,” and focused on displaying the emotions invoked by the depicted landscapes.
Yvonne Boseker, the head of the Boseker Family Art Collection and a collector of Delanty’s, was happy to share the pieces.
Delanty’s previous experiences in seeing the collection proved to be helpful as the exhibition planning developed.
“I was familiar enough with it that when we started talking about which pieces to select, that I had some ideas in mind, governed by what excited me about the paintings and also about the space of the galleries in the Casa,” he said. “That’s how we selected the final 22 that are part of the show.”
The first work Delanty completed was at Mission San Juan Capistrano, where Arthur Grover Rider painted a specific archway on the property.
Delanty went to the spot shown in Rider’s piece, walked 10 feet away and tried to find another aspect of the mission that inspired him. He then went to work, and “tried to give the Mission that beauty and solitary peacefulness” he experienced from the painting of the arch.
For another painting, Delanty and his wife traveled to the San Francisco area, where Thomas Ross painted the Bay in 1865. More than 100 years later and with the addition of the Golden Gate Bridge, Delanty went just southeast of the bridge to Crissy Field and painted.
“What was exciting for me was to be in that place that Thomas Ross had visited, and paint a whole new introduction into that environment,” he said.
Another one of the paintings in the exhibit, Opulent Spring by William Wendt, depicts a field of poppies. Delanty said he wasn’t interested in copying Wendt’s work, but rather working in the spirit of what Wendt would do if the two were together, painting in the same spot.
“All of these 22 paintings have something in common with mine that I thought was most significant about them,” he said, whether that aspect is color, subject matter, or location.
He went to the places specifically painted in a work that Boseker shared on a few occasions, but he avoided mimicking exactly what was already done and done well.
Behrens said it was “fantastic” to have both historical and contemporary visions of California present at the Casa, as it presents a richer version of reality than photographs.
“Painting the history of Southern California makes it into a narrative, and automatically a comment on the landscape and environment,” she said.
She also called the display an “incredible opportunity” to see a group of amazing works right next to each other, which does not occur often in modern museums and galleries.
Regarding why Delanty thinks viewers will enjoy the exhibition, he said that he hopes seeing historical art will connect people to the past through the emotions in the same way that society appreciates ancient Greek and Roman sculptures.
When people walk in, Delanty said, he hopes that they’ll be able to see how the artists were moved by California’s landscape, how he was moved, and that they will be moved as well.
He also referenced a quote from Carl Jung that stated how history remains in people’s blood to this very day, which will be shown in the display.
“That’s the whole purpose of the exhibition, to show how art is real,” said Delanty. “It’s not just colors and shapes, but it’s actually the portrayal of emotions and life and how actual people view the world. It’s something with which I hope every gallery-goer will be able to connect.”
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