Monday, December 29, 2014

Annita Delano: Artist and Founding Member of Art Faculty at UCLA

Annita Delano
ca. 1937
Graffito mural 4 x 7 feet
 for Dr. H.F. Ray- Housed in Oxnard, Calif.
"Delano was perhaps the local woman artist most abreast of modernist currents. Delano's modernism informed her teaching, especially her courses on design and architecture. Delano displays an awareness of the centrality of architecture and design, arguably California's greatest contribution to the unfolding of modernism in America." In addition, "Annita Delano was instrumental" in promoting the Blue Four. Delano helped friend Galka Scheyer "present several shows in the late 1920s at the Southern Branch campus of the University of California and through these exhibitions Californians could examine firsthand Feininger's Cubist paintings and Kandinsky's early spiritual abstractions, as well as the late nonobjective Bauhaus compositions."

Annita Delano's impact was felt simultaneously on several fronts: Delano the artist, Delano the art professor at the Southern Branch of the University of California (now the University of California, Los Angeles), and Delano as founder of the art department of UCLA and curator of the University's art museum.

Annita Delano (1894-1979) was born in Hueneme, California, on October 2, 1894. She attended elementary school in Los Angeles and later her family moved to Terra Bella, California, where she graduated from Porterville Union High School in 1914 as her class valedictorian. Delano enrolled in the art program at the Los Angeles Normal School before she began her career as Professor of Art in 1920.

In March 1881, after heavy lobbying by Los Angeles residents, the California State Legislature authorized the creation of a southern branch of the California State Normal School (which later became San Jose State University) in downtown Los Angeles to train teachers for the growing population of Southern California. The State Normal School at Los Angeles opened on August 29, 1882, on what is now the site of the Central Library of the Los Angeles Public Library system. Its curriculum, with a national reputation, included stagecraft, drawing, painting, life drawing, history of art, design, graphic arts, and crafts. In the latter part of the 1920s, the school was represented by an exhibition of student work at an international art conference in Vienna, Austria. Annita represented the Art Department for the University.

Annita Delano
A strip of four portrait photos of Annita Delano as a young woman,
ca. 1915.
Delano received training in art and art history from Columbia University, University of California at Berkeley and the Otis Art Institute, as well as in the studios of noted individual artists such as Dixon Morgan and Norman Bel Geddes. She spent two years conducting research with the Barnes Foundation, which provided a scholarship for a four-month research trip to Europe during 1930-1931. This trip brought her in contact with modern French masters and accelerated her development toward her own personal expression. During this period of research she spent time with Bauhaus faculty as well as with architects Richard Neutra and Josef Albers and the artist Anni Albers.

Annita Delano painting at Gallup, New
Mexico, 1934. Annita Delano papers, Archives of
American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Annita Delano was a founding member of the UCLA Art Department where she taught courses in fine art, art history and applied design. Her own paintings were widely exhibited, as part of group shows and in solo exhibitions of her work. Delano was a key figure in the development of the art world of Southern California and she was a member of a number of organizations including the California Watercolor Society and the Los Angeles Art Association.

Delano’s annual camping and painting trips include 28 summers to Arizona and New Mexico, beginning in the late 1920s. She recalled she would spend three months painting, camping and exploring each summer, living among the Hopi, Navajo, and Zuni Indians. Her artistic works were especially inspired by the landscapes of the Southwest and the Native American peoples of the region. She often attended the annual Intertribal Indian Ceremonial Gathering in Gallup, New Mexico, a large ceremonial gathering that first took place in 1922 and continues to this day.

Annita Delano
Canon Valley Landscape
ca. N.D.
30 x 21 1/4 inches
After her first solo exhibition in San Francisco and Fresno in 1929, Delano had thirty solo shows and participated in numerous exhibitions across the country, most of them in the western region of the United States. She was honored with a prestigious show at the Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, and an exhibition of work by living artists in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1940s, at a time when such exhibitions were not customary. After her retirement, Delano continued to paint and held three major exhibitions in California: the Cee Jee Gallery, Los Angeles, the Zara Gallery in San Francisco, and the Santa Monica Gallery, Santa Monica. 
Annita Delano
Roaring Green Lion With Chuckling Monkeys
ca. 1950
Watercolor on heavy textured rag paper
28 x 22 inches

Annita Delano
Cloud Shadows in The Grand Canyon,
 ca 1955
Oil on Canvas,
50 x 39 inches
Annita Delano spent forty-two years at UCLA, where she taught until she retired in 1962. She was critical to the growth and development of the art department into the professional school of the arts that it is at the University today. She never married and remained an independent woman for her entire life. Delano continued to paint until her death in 1979 at the age of 85.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Research Collections, Image Gallery, Annita Delano, 1937,, retrieved December 28, 2014.
Hamilton, Andrew (2004-06-18). "(UC) Los Angeles: Historical Overview". University of California History, Digital Archives (from Berkeley). Retrieved 2006-06-20.
Calisphere, University of California, Annita Delano, Art: Los Angeles,;NAAN=13030&doc.view=frames&, retrieved December 28, 2014.
Independent Spirits, Woman Painters of the American West, 1890-1945, edited by Patricia Trenton, University of California Press 1995 at page 77. Independent Spirits at page 99.
Artists of the American West, Volume II by Doris Ostrander Dawdy , Sage / Swallow Press, 1981 at 78.  Independent Spirits at page 99.
On the Edge of America, California Modernist Art 1900-1950, edited by Paul J. Karlstrom, University of California Press, 1996 in association with the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.
Karlstrom at page 10. Independent Spirits at page 96 from interview with James V. Mink, 1971, Oral History Program, UCLA.
Independent Spirits at page 80 from interview with Delano's niece.

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