I was entertaining visitors recently at the fabulous Huntington Library in Pasadena, when, in the Desert Garden, we happened upon this cactus. Even though it did not have a “thumb,” the cactus made me think of a certain greeting often given on the nearby Los Angeles area freeways.
The newly expanded Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art reopened at the end of May at the Huntington Library and Gardens, which, along with the recently renovated main house, provided an escape from the rain last Wednesday, not to mention the rumbling thunder and lightning.
I stood in the desert garden, much of it in bloom, as rain pelted down, jagged bolts danced across the sky, the smell of the junipers drifted by– all elements converging to create a sensory spectacle not often witnessed in Southern California.
The new Scott Galleries provide a striking contemporary backdrop for the paintings, sculpture and objects that date from the 17th to the mid-20th century. Being overly familiar with the work I’ve seen repeatedly in New York museums by artists like John Singer Sargent, Wiliam Meritt Chase, Thomas Hart Benton, Edward Hopper, Mary Cassatt, Robert Motherwell and Richard Diebenkorn, it’s energizing to discover “new” images by them and fall in love all over again.
There’s a collection of furniture by Frank Lloyd Wright in the new section as well as interiors and furniture by Greene and Greene in its own small gallery, the Dorothy Collins Brown Wing, tucked away from the expansion.
You can enter the building from the side if you’re coming from the gardens, but seek out the glass loggia at the main entrance. It brings a flood of natural light into the galleries, as do strategically placed upper corner windows in some of the inner galleries. It all works together beautifully.
Photos by CP