Gold Medal Dreams
Gold Medal Dreams

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110th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition 
July 10 - August 14, 2021

One of the oldest art clubs in the United States, the California Art Club will hold its 110th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition at Chapman University’s Hilbert Museum of California Art from July 10 to August 14, 2021. With a rich history that spans more than a century, the exhibition, normally held in Los Angeles County, will be on view in Orange County for the first time. The Hilbert Museum had been slated to spotlight last year’s installment of this venerable display of contemporary-traditional fine art, which ultimately had to be presented virtually, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re thrilled to have the California Art Club and its roster of talented artists here at the Hilbert Museum and actually on the walls for the first time, after last year’s virtual show,” says museum founder Mark Hilbert. “As the museum is back to regular hours and we return to normalcy following a challenging pandemic year, this show is something we have looked forward to for a long time—and we know our visitors will really enjoy it.”

Not only one of the oldest, but also one of the largest and most active art organizations in the country, the San Pedro-based California Art Club (CAC) was founded in 1909 and is recognized as a leading force in the contemporary-traditional genre, with both painters and sculptors as members. The club is dedicated to the advancement and appreciation of artwork created using time-honored techniques, some of which have been nearly forgotten in the mainstream contemporary art world. This exhibition will also mark the first time in its five-year history that the Hilbert Museum —which up to now has only showcased paintings and prints—will exhibit sculptures.

The Annual Gold Medal Exhibition, the CAC’s signature event, pays tribute to its pioneering artists who inspired the turn-of-the-20th-century California Impressionist movement. “The exhibition has a long history of having no theme, similar to the philosophies of 19th-century European art salons,” says CAC president and artist Peter Adams. “This is to encourage artists to take artistic risks and create what they consider to be their most important works.” As a result, says Adams, the Gold Medal artists use classical methods, often to express important modern messages, ranging from environmental preservation to social issues and cultural perspectives.

The exhibition was juried by a distinguished panel of judges and will feature more than 160 representational paintings and sculptures that pay tribute to today’s Realist movement, as well as California Impressionism. The 160 nationally renowned and up-and-coming artists employ traditional fine art techniques to create works that capture their personal experiences, interests and environments. Their subjects include contemplative landscapes and seascapes, evocative figures, intimate urban scenes and novel still lifes.

“The California Art Club is thrilled to collaborate with the Hilbert Museum of California Art to present our signature event in Orange County,” says Adams. “Our shared dedication to highlighting exemplary works that celebrate our artistic and cultural diversity in a time-honored visual language will allow us to raise the bar, once again, for our Annual Gold Medal Exhibition.”

The large artwork featured above, “Colorful Competition II,” is an oil painting by Orange County artist Debra Huse, a multiple award-winning impressionist whose works have been exhibited in more than 25 museums. Along with the other paintings on these pages, it will be part of the Gold Medal exhibition.

“This painting depicts a colorful Yacht Club regatta in Newport Harbor,” says Huse. “The sailboats are moving quickly and jockeying for position at the start. The viewers watch in amazement as the boats fly by so close, they can hear the skipper calling orders to the crew and the boat rushing through the water. Some even become startled by the snap of the sails.”

Artworks in the show will be available for purchase through the CAC, with information at the museum. In support of the organization’s mission to foster a greater understanding and appreciation for traditional art forms, many Gold Medal educational programs will be accessible online at The programs will include “Meet the Artist” sessions, exhibition highlight videos and art demonstrations.

A live Paint-Out/Sculpt-Out by CAC artists is being planned for the closing day, August 14, in and around Depot Park, across from the Hilbert Museum and next to the train station. For more information about the exhibition and its events, visit CaliforniaArt

The Hilbert Museum of California Art, located at 167 North Atchison St. in Old Towne Orange, is open Tues-Sat, 11 am to 5 pm. Admission is free. Free parking is available in front of the museum or in the Old Towne Orange/Metrolink structure at 130 North Lemon St., one block east of the museum. More information: 714-516-5880 or

Article Published in the
Jul / Aug 21 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Mary Platt Art Photos provided by Hilbert Museum
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