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Tom Craig (1909 – 1969)

Sunset Lumber, 1933, watercolor on paper, signed and dated lower right, 10 ½ x 14 ½ inches (sight); presented in a newer frame behind glazing


About the Painting

Tom Craig’s Sunset Lumber is the sort of California art popularized during the 1930s. Painted in watercolor, the work depicts a warmly lit West Coast harbor, perhaps San Pedro, Los Angeles or even Oakland, with steam and sailing ships in the foreground and an industrial zone behind. The scene’s tranquility belies both the struggles occurring in most of the rest of the country and the quickly mounting frustrations of the labor movement in California, Washington and Oregon which burst into the national headlines over the following two years as the longshoreman undertook a series of strikes which often turned violent.

About the Artist

Thomas Theodore Craig was a well-known fixture in the Southern California art scene. He was born in Upland California. Craig graduated with a degree in botany from Pomona College and studied painting at Pamona and the Chouinard Art School with Stanton MacDonald-Wright and Barse Miller among others. He became close friends with fellow artist Milford Zornes during his time at Pamona and both artists also studied under Millard Sheets, who encouraged Craig to paint seriously. During the 1930s and 1940s, Craig taught at the University of California, Occidental College and Chouinard. In 1937, his work was included in a traveling exhibition called “The California Group” which helped cement his reputation as one of the leading California Scene painters. He showed at dozens of other exhibitions as well, including at the California Art Club, the San Diego Art Guild, the Corcoran Gallery, the American Artists Congress, the Golden Gate International Exhibition, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among other institutions. Craig was awarded prizes by the Los Angeles Art Association, Los Angeles County Fair, Seattle Art Museum, California Watercolor Society, California State Fair, Oakland Art Museum, Laguna Beach Fine Arts Gallery, San Diego Artists Guild, Portland Art Museum, Golden Gate International Exposition. Around the time he painted Six O’Clock, Craig won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1941 which facilitated travel and further pursuit of his art career. During World War II, Craig served as an artist-correspondent for Life Magazine. After returning from the War, Craig’s artist output slowed, and he devoted most of his time to botany after 1950, making his work relatively rare. He is represented in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Art, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, The Hilbert Museum of California Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


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