Thursday, April 3, 2014


While I was in Pasadena recently, on a morning walk, I came across this sign and a wonderful patch of wildflowers.

Wildflowering L.A.  What's that?  So I looked it up and here's what they say:

Wildflowering L.A. is a native wildflower seed sowing initiative throughout Los Angeles County by artist Fritz Haeg.

Fifty highly visible sites are sown in fall 2013 to bloom in spring 2014, culminating in a public exhibition and event in early summer. The
project is presented by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) in partnership with the Theodore Payne Foundation.

Isn't that cool!  Click here to get more information and seed resources: Wildflowering L.A.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

galleries and bookstores

I just love independent bookstores.  I can't help but spend a lot of money every time I go into them.  Why?  Because I love to read.  More than that, I love to handle books.  I love the graphics on the cover.  I love the blurbs on the back.  I love it when the staff of a bookstore takes the time to write out a description of their favorite books and post them on little cards to share with the rest of us.  I have been led to so many good books this way!

One of my favorite bookstores is in Scottsdale, Arizona, The Poisoned Pen.  I get their email blasts, but, more importantly, every time I visit Scottsdale I make a conscious choice to visit them and come away with a stack of books to fill my suitcase with.

This morning I got the bookstore's newest email blast and it struck me how similar galleries are to independent book stores.  Our industry is moving more and more to on-line sales.  In fact, many galleries have closed their doors and operate solely from websites or through Amazon and other on-line stores.

I believe, like a good independent bookstore, there is no substitute for seeing the real thing at an art gallery.  Hey, I'm not knocking on-line sales, I have come to depend on them.  The challenge for galleries that have a physical space is how do we compete in and with the digital supermarket. 

Here's what the owner of The Poisoned Pen wrote today:

Bookstores are repositories of ideas and imagination in the form of books, things of deep emotional attachment to most people. While you'd expect to be impressed in a well-curated boutique of useful or fanciful goods, you should expect to be transported and moved to own (and be owned!) in a well-curated indie bookstore. You don't get that in a warehouse or online.... 

I hope that the experience she describes applies to people who visit the Knowlton Gallery... or any good gallery. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

paintings we can't live without

During dinner recently, one of our guests was telling us about a book she was reading that talked about how successful museums had one great painting that people returned to visit again and again. 

It got everyone at the table talking about which painting/paintings they liked to revisited.


Haggin Museum, Stockton
"The Nymphaeum" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

deYoung Museum, San Francisco
"Dinner for Threshers" by Grant Wood


Metropolitan Museum of Art
"Madame X" by John Singer Sargent

Chicago Museum of Art
"The Waterfall" by Henri Rousseau

And You?  What painting do you revisit?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

art theft

All of a sudden art theft seems rampant in our region.  Two well known galleries in Sacramento were burglarized last week.  The prior week, an artist we represent, Ning Hou, had his home in Stockton broken into and 140 of his paintings were stolen.  I feel that I have been on high alert, wondering if the Knowlton Gallery would be hit next.
A few days ago, in walks three gangster-looking guys who seemed to be casing the gallery.  After taking their time looking around they started up a conversation about selling us a painting by a "Chinese guy."  Luckily they didn't have the painting with them.  We arranged for them to return with it the next morning.  After they left we contacted the police and the artist, the next day they waited with us for the group to return; waited and waited ... and waited.  The police and the artist left, and, wouldn't you know, the gangsters returned after lunch, four of them.  I pulled my silent alarm and my assistant and I kept up a steady chit chat with the group to keep them in the gallery. 

A policeman arrived, casually strolling in, completely unprepared to take any action.  It was fortunate the bad guys didn't have a weapon because the cop would have been shot on the spot.  As it was, two of the four walked out of the gallery and got away.  I told the policeman, "detain these guys, they have stolen property!" but it wasn't until a second policeman showed up that a move was made to get their IDs and handcuffed them.  Both men had parole violations (of course).  It was some 40 minutes before the artist was able to return and identified the painting as one of the ones stolen from his house.

Only 139 more paintings to recover...

a very smart rancher

My husband was sent this photograph from a friend.  Apparently a rancher in Idaho was denied a permit to build a shade shelter for his horses.  Instead, he built them furniture. Clever.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

kathy was more than a statistic

We held a memorial dinner this week for our friend and avid art collector, Kathy Arata. 

Kathy was murdered by a disgruntled ex-brother-in-law in a shocking triple murder-suicide in Stockton California.  The newspapers covered everything there was to know about the murderer but the victims remained largely anonymous numbers, victims 57, 58 and 59.  Was it simply more efficient for reporters to concentrate their coverage on the criminal?

But Kathy was more than a statistic.  She was a warm, kind, woman with a wicked sense of humor and a generous heart.  Her best friend Barbara read us the eulogy she gave at Kathy's memorial.  Small details brought Kathy to life.

"Many of you may have only known Kathy as your quiet neighbor with the beautiful spring garden... I will think of her as I plant my bulbs this coming month and as they bloom in the spring, wondering what Kathy would have thought of my color combinations.  In January, when I am pruning my roses, I will think of her and how thoughtful she was.  When our dear neighbor Jeanne had to go into a nursing home, Kathy was there to make sure Jeanne's beloved roses were pruned and the leaves raked." 

Artists and fellow collectors had the chance to shed tears, laugh, break bread together, and toast Kathy with wonderful wines, that, she too, would have thoroughly enjoyed.

Kathy loved art and she loved the hunt of finding the best painting... before anyone else did!  She would faithfully show up when new work was delivered or when we were hanging our shows.  In the four years she collected through the Knowlton Gallery Kathy put together an extremely fine collection of contemporary representational art, including works by Clark Mitchell, Kim Lordier, Ray Roberts, Dennis Ziemienski, Carolyn Lord, Kathleen Dunphy, Randall Sexton, Joseph Paquet, and so many others. We've already started speculating about the Gallery's next show and WWKHP --What Would Kathy Have Purchased. 

"Kathy always believed that one should buy something every now and again from the local merchants since we enjoyed their shops so much and would not want them to disappear."

"She was the kindest person I know.  I will miss that quiet smile and soft voice.  I will just plain miss her and there will never be another person like her."

The Peace of Wild Things

By Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Friday, October 19, 2012

representational art

I just returned from TRAC 2012 The Representational Art Conference, held in Ventura, CaliforniaHosted by the Art Department of California Lutheran University, this ambitious undertaking brought together artists and academicians from around the globe.  Attendees were able to select from scholarly talks, art demonstrations, and museum tours in a jam-packed 3-day schedule.

A three-hour portrait demonstration by Tony Pro

"We believe that there has been a neglect of critical appreciation of reresentational art well out of proportion to its quality and significance; it is that neglect that the conference seeks to address.... What is the role of representational art in the 21st century?  What are its sources and directions?  How might it shape the art world?"

Choosing between lectures ranging from "The Possibilities of Post-postmodernism" by Ruth Weisberg, to "Representing by Hand: Painting in the Digital Age" by John Nava, or lingering over lunch at a table with artists and professors from Turkey, South Africa, England, Indiana and Florida, made for lively discussions and comraderie.

Chinese brush painting by Nan Liu

If you would like more information on this conference or a possible future conference:  or