Los Angeles

Donald Bear

Esther Bear Gallery

Here is a wide selection of drawings dating from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The late Donald Bear is remembered by those who knew him as one of the West Coast’s most energetic and perceptive museum administrators (he was the founding-director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art). With a close sympathy and understanding of contemporary art, he was able to build the Santa Barbara Museum into one of the major museums of California. His success in this area of his activities has tended to hide the fact that he was also a painter whose works, in many cases, will stand solidly by those of his contemporaries. The vigor of his technical and formal control is well revealed in the variety of drawings in this exhibition. Such works as Toward Elk, California (1949), Utah Detail (1950), and Brigham Young Park (1949) are constructed of heavy, very wide slashes of solid ink, contrasted against fine lines which are used to formally tie the composition together. These linear elements define in a suggestive fashion the illustrative object represented, but their essential impact is closely akin to that of calligraphy. Other drawings like Union Pacific Station, Salt Lake City (1951), are more committed to a strict cubistic linear theme. As in all of his drawings, subject matter is present, but one’s major awareness is the organization of the surface and above all (and it is this which firmly connects his work to our contemporary scene) one never loses sight of the technical means which come very close to becoming ends in themselves.

David Gebhard