UCSC professor dresses up the adobes of Old Monterey
For the second year in a row, UC Santa Cruz Professor Emerita Julianne Burton-Carvajal is curating Monterey’s Art in the Adobes Festival. The festival—which takes place on Thursday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Sept. 16—offers visitors the opportunity to view dozens of rarely seen paintings in historic adobes not often accessible to the public.
“Most of what I’ve selected is not widely available for public viewing,” says Burton-Carvajal. “Much of it comes out of storage. Some of it is located in city offices or occasionally displayed at one of the museums.”
Being the festival’s historian-curator is a job that Burton-Carvajal is well qualified for. After studying Romance Languages and Literatures at Yale University, she was a professor at UCSC for 36 years. At UCSC, she developed an interest in curating, and founded La Galeria de Casa Latina, featuring Latin American and Latino art. She taught a number of her classes in Spanish, including courses about 19th century California history.
In 2004, her curating career led her to organize “Arc of Adobes around Monterey Bay,” an exhibition at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, which was later expanded to Monterey.
“That experience made important historical connections between Santa Cruz and Monterey,” says Burton-Carvajal. “We focused on fine, period photographs—early photographs of adobe structures in Santa Cruz County and Monterey County.”
The exhibition was dedicated to the late Edna Kimbro, a UCSC graduate and local expert on California missions, who became the state historian for stone and adobe buildings.
Burton-Carvajal’s foray into the adobes of the Monterey Bay region was excellent preparation for her role in curating the first-ever Art in the Adobes Festival last year. Teresa Del Piero, who is a founder and co-chair of the festival, felt lucky to find someone with Burton-Carvajal’s experience.
“She is very knowledgeable in the history of the Monterey Peninsula and the art,” says Del Piero. “She’s very aware of the history and the artists, and that the artist may have made art in a particular adobe or may have lived in one of the adobes.”
The theme of this year’s festival is “Monterey Peninsula Artists at Home and Abroad.” Among the 70 featured paintings by 30 different artists, are murals that were commissioned by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA).
The festival takes place in 10 historic buildings, as well as the Monterey Museum of Art and the Museum of Monterey. There are lectures, self-guided walking tours, and numerous other family events and activities within walking distance in Downtown Monterey.
Burton-Carvajal loves the notion of displaying artwork in the adobes.
“Most of them are in beautiful garden settings,” says Burton-Carvajal. “Along with this area’s dramatic landscapes, the many old-world style buildings were one of the sources of appeal to artists nationally and worldwide, drawing them to settle in Monterey and base their careers in this area.”
The main exhibition of paintings will be showcased on Sept. 15 and 16 in seven viewing rooms located inside three historic adobes. This allows Burton-Carvajal to give each space its own flavor.
“Using these various historical buildings allows me to work out ways to cluster paintings so they are in conversation with one another,” she explains. “Trying to do this event with one big exhibition hall wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.”
Testament to Burton-Carvajal’s attention to detail, one of the venues, the Robert Louis Stevenson House, will feature “Monterey Fishermen,” a 1934 oil on canvas painting by August Gay, who lived and worked at the Stevenson House from 1921 to 1941, and whose original studio will be recreated for the festival.
The Stevenson House has at various times in history housed families, government officials, writers, fishermen and artists. One of those writers was Stevenson himself, who is purported to have stayed there as a boarder in the fall of 1879 when it was known as the French Hotel. For the festival, the 1930s WPA artwork will be displayed in the sala, a room where fandangos or dance parties were historically held.
The festival has something for everyone—from a plein air event for artists, to hands-on history demonstrations, and a parade of international dance costumes.
“The world needs artists and it also needs art appreciators. I’m in the second category,” Burton-Carvajal says with a laugh. “In my next life I hope I’ll be able to draw, but in this life it’s not in the cards.”
The Art in the Adobes Festival takes place from Thursday, Sept. 13-Sunday, Sept. 16 in Downtown Monterey. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit artintheadobes.org or call 241-5504.
1. Abel Warshawsky
2. Randy Tunnell