Lost Impressionist Treasures Restored
Jan. 20, 1999
GARDENA, Calif. (AP) _ Dozens of early 20th century California Impressionist oil paintings that spent nearly four decades in a musty school basement have been rescued and restored for public display.
Starting in 1919, graduating seniors from what was then Gardena High School would vote on a favorite painting, then buy it for a collection that hung in the school library.
The tradition ended about the time a new high school was built in 1956 and the old Gardena High became what is now Robert Peary Middle School.
Thirty-one of the paintings went on exhibition Tuesday in ``Painted Light: California Impressionist Paintings,'' which opened at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson.
``It's like seeing old friends,'' said Bill Best, class of 1950, as he attended a preview.
The paintings were among 90 kept in the school's basement until the W.M. Keck Foundation donated $300,000 for restoration.
Los Angeles is in the process of doing an inventory of the enormous collection of an estimated $20 million in artwork tucked away in schools throughout the sprawling district. State law prohibits their sale.
Among the paintings on exhibit are Maynard Dixon's ``Men of the Red Earth,'' Franz A. Bischoff's ``A Cool Fog Drifting,'' and John Frost's ``Desert Twilight.'' Anchoring the exhibit is the mammoth ``The Betatakin Ruins,'' by James Guifford Swinnerton.