Artist: Seldon Connor Gile
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Inscription: signed and dated by Artist: Gile 27
What I love about this painting:
This is a view of San Francisco Bay from a hill in the town of Belvedere, California. Belvedere is located on the San Francisco Bay in Marin County, California. Consisting of two islands and a lagoon, it is connected to the Tiburon Peninsula by two causeways.
It is a place the artist clearly loved, and he had his home nearby in Tiburon.
The intensity of color as one looks down the hill toward the shanties lends an atmosphere of purity, of fresh air, and approaching springtime to the painting.
Bold strokes of red and blue convey the atmosphere that is quintessential to Northern California. He offers us a sense of wonder, of peace, of modest post-WWI prosperity in this painting. We are shown the depth of color and vibrancy of a time and sense of place that has long vanished.
This is an era we usually see through old black-and-white photographs and jerky, scratchy newsreels.
Even rundown and undeveloped properties in Tiburon and Belvedere now sell in the high millions. Starving artists and middle-class workers can rarely acquire vacation shanties in that area.
About the Artist, Via Wikipedia:
Selden Connor Gile (20 March 1877 – 8 June 1947) was an American painter who was mainly active in northern California between the early-1910s and the mid-1930s. He was the founder and leader of the Society of Six, a Bay Area group of artists known for their plein-air paintings and rich use of color, a quality that would later figure into the work of Bay Area figurative expressionists.
Though Gile was steadily employed at jobs other than art until the age of 50, his artistic output, primarily from marathon weekends spent painting, was considerable. 1915, the year of the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, marked the beginning of his maturation as an artist, despite that fact that Gile and the Society of Six would not exhibit their art beyond a few occasional paintings until 1923. From their first exhibition at the Oakland Art Gallery on March 11, 1923 to the sixth and final show as a group in 1928, Gile and the Society of Six were generally well received by critics. In the spring of 1927, Gile quit his job as an office manager for Gladding, McBean and Company and moved from his cabin on Chabot Road in Oakland (also known as the “Chow House” where the Society of Six would meet on weekends), into a cottage he had kept since the early 1920s on San Francisco Bay in Tiburon, Marin County to paint full-time.
Selden Gile continued to paint and exhibited in various group shows every year until 1937. During the 1930s, the number of his oil paintings declined in favor of watercolors. Another change likely brought on by the mood around the Great Depression was to include more people, particularly workers, in his paintings. Despite his discomfort with larger formats, Gile took on the town of Belvedere’s only WPA mural commission, painting a mural for the public library, where he served as a part-time librarian. Towards the end of his life, unable to pay his rent, Gile took on another mural commission, this time for a railroad office in San Francisco. He is remembered from his time in the Tiburon/Belvedere area:
“…as a loner, independent, and very proud. [Gile] enjoyed cordial relationships with some of his neighbors, often chatting with them on the street or in doorways, but he consistently refused their hospitality…In the end Gile was a sick, alcoholic old man surrounded by paintings he never sold, lonely, and not painting. The process of painting and camaraderie that he had enjoyed were past now.”
A few months before he died, Selden Gile checked himself into the Marin County Hospital and Farm, where he spent the rest of his life. On June 8, 1947, Gile died of cirrhosis of the liver.
Credits and Attributions:
Belvedere, California 1927 by Selden Connor Gile, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Selden Connor Gile Belvedere 1927.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Selden_Connor_Gile_Belvedere_1927.jpg&oldid=525009834 (accessed March 11, 2021).