Set against a romantic backdrop of 19th-century architecture, the annual Art in the Adobes Festival each fall is a superbly curated special exhibition on view for one weekend only in the historic adobes of Monterey, California.
The second edition, held from Sept. 13 to 16, 2012, centered around the theme "Rediscovery: Monterey Peninsula Artists at Home & Abroad."
Visitors meandered on a self-guided walking tour through the old streets of Monterey to each historic structure, hung with artworks expertly selected by historian-curator Julianne Burton-Carvajal along with California State Park Curator Kris Quist.
The bulk of artwork on temporary display was culled from the largely hidden collections of the City of Monterey, California State Parks, and Monterey History & Art Association. Some works were recently rediscovered in storage.
Among the highlights, the Stevenson House, named for one-time visitor Robert Louis Stevenson, showed "Magnificent Murals: Lifeways of the Monterey Region."
Impressive murals on display were by August Gay (1890-1948), Henry A. Alderton (1863-1930), and three notable women artists: M. Evelyn McCormick (1869-1948), Henrietta Shore (1880-1963), and M. DeNeale Morgan (1868-1948).
Known for her shimmering "portraits" of Monterey buildings, McCormick's boldly colored "Shrimp Fishermen," a WPA mural of 1934, was rediscovered in a Parks Department warehouse and painstakingly restored in 2012.
Julianne Burton-Carvajal, an expert in California art and professor emerita at the University of California Santa Cruz, was especially intrigued by the mural discovery.
“McCormick is famous for introducing French style impressionism to northern California in the early 1890s,” she said. “In this bold mural, painted in her mid- sixties, she shows her modernist muscle.”
Of note in Casa Gutierrez, an adobe built in 1843 by Chilean calvary soldier Joaquin Gutierrez, were a host of paintings done abroad by Monterey artists, such as subtle nocturnes by Charles Rollo Peters and a Parisian studio view by Abel Warshawsky.
Dozens of ethereal landscape sketches by Lockwood de Forest, who frequented the Monterey Peninsula between 1904 and 1920, filled a sunlit patio. The works were on loan from Santa Barbara's Sullivan Goss Gallery. The gallery also was a lender to the Museum of Monterey's show of forty de Forest nocturnes, specially lit to enhance their luminous glow.
Guest speakers, affiliated exhibitions (including a survey exhibition at the Monterey Museum of Art), and related activities rounded out the weekend event.
The theme of next fall's Art in the Adobes Festival 2013 will be "Artists & Architecture," celebrating one of the region's most notable artistic motifs - the venerable buildings, both majestic and modest, that witnessed California's Spanish, Mexican, and American eras and continue to be a magnet for artists and history lovers.