Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University

Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University The Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University is the only museum dedicated to the California Scene movement. Admission and parking are free.

The Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University, which opened in 2016, was established thanks to the generosity of Mark and Janet Hilbert. The Hilberts' superlative collection focuses on California narrative art of the 20th and 21st Century, with a particular focus on the “California Scene” painting movement of roughly the 1920s through the 1970s. The Hilbert Collection includes oils, watercolors, sketches and lithographs of rural and urban scenes, coastal views, farms, ranches, freeways and landscapes of everyday life in the Golden State; American illustration art; and movie production and animation art.

Today we "travel" to beautiful San Francisco as we pick a terrific painting by Jack Laycox for "At Home with the Hilbert...

Today we "travel" to beautiful San Francisco as we pick a terrific painting by Jack Laycox for "At Home with the Hilbert Museum" -- part of our Permanent Collection:

Jack Laycox (1921-1984), "Cable Car Ride," c. 1960, watercolor on paper. The Hilbert Collection.

Few watercolorists worked with the color black as much as Jack Laycox did -- in fact, it became rather a signature feature of his works, which often showcased night scenes of glittering cities. If you've ever worked with watercolors, you know how tricky the use of black can be; in inexperienced hands, it can easily seep into other colors and dull or muddy them. In the hands of a master like Laycox, however, the effect can be spectacular.

Here Laycox takes us to downtown San Francisco, on a rainy evening that's being braved by many pedestrians and cable-car riders as they head for a festive night out. The brilliant colors of neon signs and headlights are reflected on the glistening street, and people's legs seem to disappear in the mist. The bold chartreuse coat of the woman in the right foreground catches your eye, and then the eye roves around the painting to take in all the other forms and colors. Note the masterful way Laycox portrays the steep hill in the background -- its seven hills are a famed feature of the S.F. cityscape.

Jack Laycox was born in Auburn, CA and studied at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State. He began his career as a commercial artist, producing technical illustrations for the Atomic Energy Commission. During the 1950s and 1960s, he created commercial illustrations for the Donald Art Company. Throughout his career, Laycox produced fine art oil and watercolor paintings and lectured on art. He exhibited in American Watercolor Society annuals and was active in regional Northern California art clubs and shows. The Paris art publication La Revue Moderne described his paintings as "dynamic, vivid, animated and pulsating .... an exciting experience." The Hilbert Collection includes several fine Laycox works in oil and watercolor.

Today's painting in our "At Home with the Hilbert Museum" series is from the Permanent Collection:Hernando Gonzallo Vill...

Today's painting in our "At Home with the Hilbert Museum" series is from the Permanent Collection:

Hernando Gonzallo Villa (1881-1952), "Woman with Poppies," 1938, watercolor on paper. The Hilbert Collection.

This beautiful watercolor by Hernando Villa probably depicts a woman of Xochimilco, Mexico. One of the 16 boroughs of Mexico City, Xochimilco is famed for its canals and artificial islands, and for the colorful trajineras, or canal boats, that take visitors around the islands.

The San Cristóbal neighborhood of Xochimilco is known for floriculture, once including poppies that were brought from Europe. There was a festival there each spring, the day after Easter Sunday, dedicated to the red poppy, called the “Lunes de amapolas." The tradition ended when poppy cultivation was banned in 1940, but Villa's 1938 painting may pay tribute to it. The painting may also conflate the poppy festival with another Xochimilco festival, the “Flor más Bella del Ejido” (Most Beautiful Flower of the Field), which is dedicated to the beauty of indigenous Mexican women.

Best known to advertising historians and art collectors as the creator of the famous “Chief” marketing icon for the Santa Fe Railroad, Hernando Gonzallo Villa was born in Los Angeles in 1881. His parents had come to L.A. in 1846 from Baja California. His father had a painting studio on the central Plaza de Los Angeles, and young Villa studied at the Los Angeles School of Design and in England and Germany.

One of the great American commercial artists of the mid-20th century, Villa painted and designed ads for the Santa Fe Railroad for more than 40 years. His “Chief” character – a proud Native American chieftain in full feather headdress – was the advertising trademark of the Santa Fe Railroad for many years, seen by millions of people as emblematic of the freedom and adventure of the American West.

Villa also depicted many other facets of the traditional and changing West, in landscapes, figurative works and historical paintings; in oils, watercolors, pastels and charcoal. He won a gold medal for a mural he exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (San Francisco) in 1915, and exhibited his works extensively in and around Los Angeles.

The Hilbert Collection includes several outstanding works by Villa, some of which were exhibited during a recent Heartbeat of Mexico Festival at Chapman University's Musco Center for the Arts.

Today's "At Home with the Hilbert Museum" focuses on a popular painting from our Permanent Collection -- created by an a...

Today's "At Home with the Hilbert Museum" focuses on a popular painting from our Permanent Collection -- created by an artist who was not only a very fine landscape and cityscape painter, but who also worked for the Walt Disney Studio for more than three decades, in a career that stretched all the way from Disney's first feature-length animated movie, "Snow White," to the last animated film Walt worked on personally, "The Jungle Book."

Ralph Hulett (1915-1974), "Autumn Morning, Sierras," c. 1950, oil on canvas. The Hilbert Collection.

Hulett portrays a crisp fall morning in the Sierras, as a ranch worker drives a herd of horses toward some buildings nestled in the distance. You can almost smell the frost on the sagebrush and feel the sun on your face as you look at this painting!

Hulett was a gifted fine artist and an important figure in the field of Hollywood animation art. He studied at Chouinard Art Institute under Millard Sheets, Phil Dike, Phil Paradise and Herb Jepson. He exhibited his fine-art watercolors as a member of the American Watercolor Society and California Water Color Society, and his oils and watercolors in annual group exhibitions of American art in museums and privately owned art galleries.

For many years Hulett was also employed as an artist by the Walt Disney Studios animation department. His 30+-year career with Disney stretched all the way from 1937’s "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" to 1967’s "The Jungle Book." Other Disney movies with the Hulett touch include "Pinocchio," "Fantasia," "Dumbo," "Bambi," "The Three Caballeros," "Make Mine Music," "Song of the South," "Cinderella," "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp," "Sleeping Beauty" and "One Hundred and One Dalmatians."

Other projects he worked on included a series of oil paintings depicting old and changing areas of Los Angeles -- the Bunker Hill region in particular. He produced watercolor illustrations that appeared in Ford Times, Westways and other magazines. In the 1950s, he designed a very popular series of greeting cards and created commercial art for Swiss-Air, Capitol Records and KNBC. Hulett was also the author of an art instruction book for the Walter Foster Company.

Vincent van Gogh, from a letter to Theo van Gogh, written c. March 1882

Vincent van Gogh, from a letter to Theo van Gogh, written c. March 1882

We continue our "At Home with the Hilbert Museum" series with this painting by Milford Zornes (1908-2008 -- yes, he live...

We continue our "At Home with the Hilbert Museum" series with this painting by Milford Zornes (1908-2008 -- yes, he lived to age 100, and was painting almost up to the very last!) from the museum's Permanent Collection. And yes, though many of our California artists painted everyday life in California, they often also ranged further afield with images of life elsewhere.

Milford Zornes, "The Canyon," 1935, watercolor on paper. The Hilbert Collection.

In 1935, California artist Milford Zornes was in New York City, enroute to his honeymoon in England with his new wife, Gloria. While waiting a few days to board the steamship to cross the Atlantic, Zornes decided to paint some images of the great city. The (perhaps apocryphal?) story goes that he set up his easel on Wall Street to paint this view, which looks down "the canyon" of the street, hemmed in by tall buildings, to the spire of Trinity Church in the distance. (It's a famous view that has inspired many artists to paint it over the years.)

As he worked on his painting, a New York street cop approached and asked him what he was doing. Zornes explained that he was painting, and the cop told him he needed a permit to do that.

"Well, where do I get the permit?" Zornes asked. The cop pointed down the street and gave him directions.

"Can you watch my things for a few minutes? I'll be right back!" Zornes said, getting up and running down the street.

TWO HOURS later, after waiting in the permit line, Zornes came back -- crestfallen and fully expecting that his easel and paints would be gone.

Instead, he found the cop still there, guarding his things...mad as a hornet, of course! The cop read him the riot act, but Zornes's art supplies were safe and he was able to continue painting this view. (He probably sketched out the composition there on site, and completed the painting back in his own studio when he returned from the honeymoon trip.)

In keeping with the style of the 1930s, there are many Art Deco/Streamline Moderne elements in this painting: the clean lines and verticality of the buildings, the streamlined car, the overall elegance of the composition. Note that Wall Street is bustling and filled with well-dressed, purposeful pedestrians, even though 1935 was the midst of the Great Depression.

We'll explore more of Milford Zornes' work and learn more about this fascinating artist in coming weeks, so stay tuned!
#hilbertmuseum #milfordzornes #newyorkcity #wallstreet #california #californiaartists #artists #art #artmuseums #museumfromhome #artgalleries #museums #chapmanuniversity #chapmanu

Today's "At Home with the Hilbert Museum" focuses on this beautiful painting by Robert Frame, from the Hilbert Permanent...

Today's "At Home with the Hilbert Museum" focuses on this beautiful painting by Robert Frame, from the Hilbert Permanent Collection.

Robert Frame (1924-1999), "Santa Barbara Coastline with Cat," 1970s, oil on canvas. The Hilbert Collection.

One of the perennial favorites at the Hilbert Museum (it's currently hanging in the director's office), this large-scale canvas is a beautiful escape to a lovely home on the California coast. The patio doors are thrown open to allow the ocean breeze to waft through the house, and the table is set for breakfast. A patient cat sits just inside the door, perhaps waiting for breakfast to be served!

Robert Frame attended Pasadena City College before enlisting in the Navy during World War II. Upon his return to civilian life, he enrolled at Pomona College, where he studied with Millard Sheets and earned a BFA degree in 1948. From 1947 to 1950, Frame studied with Henry Lee McFee at Claremont College, where he earned a MFA degree in 1951.

Over the next 20 years, Frame won many prizes in various painting exhibitions, including the 1957 Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Painting. All that time, he was also teaching. From 1953 to 1962, he was instructor of painting at Pasadena City College and from 1958 to 1966, at Otis Art Institute. In 1965, he was visiting professor at Scripps College. From 1966 to 1969, he taught occasionally at the Laguna Beach School of Art. In 1966, Frame began teaching at Santa Barbara City College. He eventually moved to that city and taught until 1986.

Frame's art is characterized by bright colors and a strong sense of design and symmetry. "Above all," Frame once said, "a painting must be a visual adventure beyond a simple representation; a metamorphosis into the magic of art." #robertframe #hilbertmuseum #painters #artists #oilpaintings #art #california #santabarbara #coastal #californiaart #artmuseums #museumfromhome #artgalleries #museums

Today's "At Home with the Hilbert Museum" painting is from the Hilbert Permanent Collection -- another favorite by the g...

Today's "At Home with the Hilbert Museum" painting is from the Hilbert Permanent Collection -- another favorite by the great Eyvind Earle.

Eyvind Earle, "Where Eagles Fly," 1993, oil and lacquer on board. Gift of the Earle Family Trust to the Hilbert Museum of California Art.

Eyvind Earle, best known to many as the famed Disney artist responsible for the look and design of the 1959 animated feature "Sleeping Beauty," was also a fine artist whose distinctively stylized landscapes -- often based on his travels around California -- are immediately recognizable.

This very large (60" x 60") landscape is one of eight paintings gifted to the Hilbert by the Earle Family Trust following our 2018 "Magical Visions: The Enchanted Worlds of Evvind Earle" exhibition. It depicts a semi-fantasy landscape based on the forested cliffs of Northern California -- perhaps inspired by the area near his home in Carmel, CA, where he moved in 1988.

There are some touches in this painting that seem uniquely Asian, such as the overhanging tree on the left, and the crags receding into the mist. Earle traveled frequently and picked up new artistic ideas wherever he went. The painting includes hundreds of tiny dots of red, green, yellow and white, each applied meticulously by hand.

“For 70 years, I’ve painted paintings,” Eyvind once said, “and I’m constantly and everlastingly overwhelmed at the stupendous infinity of nature. Wherever I turn and look, there I see creation. Art is creating… Art is the search for truth.”

He often wrote short poems based on his paintings. The poem that accompanies this painting reads:

“Out of the ocean deep powerfully rising
Black cliffs turn into mountains way up high
Covered with spruce and pine and redwoods hiding
In canyons deep where lonely eagles fly”

Happy Easter to all Hilbert Museum friends and supporters who celebrate! We are sharing a post from museum director Mary...

Happy Easter to all Hilbert Museum friends and supporters who celebrate! We are sharing a post from museum director Mary Platt about a famous work at another museum, which she visited last spring:

“On May 5, 2019 I fulfilled one of my life wishes and took a train from Strasbourg to Colmar, France. There, inside the beautiful Unterlinden Museum, I finally saw in person one of my favorite works of art, the astonishing Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Gruenewald (1555), one of the finest works of Northern Renaissance painting.

“The altarpiece has many hinged panels and opens several ways, depending upon which church season is being celebrated.

“At this particular season of the Christian year, it would of course have focused on the Resurrection. First, note how on the two panels shown here, Gruenewald contrasts the Annunciation (traditionally the coming of Christ into the world, as you often see the Holy Spirit entering Mary, but also the bookend of time right before Christ, when he is here in spirit but not yet of this world) to the Resurrection, when Christ rises in glory — again, the bookend of time right after his temporal stay with us, when he is back in the heavenly realm again (or on his way back).

“Gruenewald wreathes his risen Christ in rainbow colors, an aura of holiness and victory, as he shows his wounds triumphantly. Contrast the Risen Christ to the very dead Christ of the Entombment, which the artist portrays on an under-panel.

“I just really have always loved this work - it was such a joy to be able to see it in person last spring!”

For today's "At Home with the Hilbert Museum," we return to a golden goody (literally!) blast from the recent past – fro...

For today's "At Home with the Hilbert Museum," we return to a golden goody (literally!) blast from the recent past – from the Hilbert Museum Permanent Collection. Although this piece is not currently on our walls, it will return sometime soon! But till then we all can enjoy it here.

Bradford J. Salamon, “In-n-Out Fries,” 2017, oil on canvas. The Hilbert Collection.

One of the all-time favorites in the Hilbert Museum, this large painting is an eye-catching piece that focuses on an iconic Southern California treat. (And yes, we have Salamon’s In-n-Out burger painting to go along with it!)

The California Scene Painting genre isn’t just scenes of everyday life in the Golden State; it also can include objects, portraits, landscapes and more – as long as the work includes something made by humans and tells or brings to mind a story. In the case of these fries, Salamon monumentalizes a food that is part of our California lives.

He told us he had to buy quite a few orders of In-n-Out fries to achieve just the right contrast between the darker ones and the lighter ones – and, sure, we TOTALLY believe that was why!

Painting from a live sitter, a photograph, a forgotten artifact, or filming his artistic process while painting portraits of exceptional artists, are all energizing sources for Bradford Salamon. Tapping into a rich palette of information, the artist transforms the essence of direct painting through layers of skill, memories, emotions, and soulful passions. His art overflows with vibrant possibilities; a 21st century vision rendered through multiple and diverse processes, media, and tools.

Salamon is known for his figurative paintings and drawings of individuals and groups who engage in profound human scenarios. Currently, he expands his repertoire to include these large-scale food paintings, images of superheroes and cosplayers, intimate portraits of vintage objects of yesteryear, as well as films about artists and the nature of creativity.

Over the years, Salamon has had many exhibitions and his work is sought by fine collectors. His art is largely shown in California and New York. More information: www.bradfordjsalamon.com

#hilbertmuseum #museumfromhome #virtualmuseum #chapmanuniversity #chapmanu #art #artmuseum #museum #bradfordjsalamon #bradfordsalamon #oilpainting #artists #painters #artgallery #painting


167 North Atchison Street
Orange, CA

The Hilbert Museum is conveniently located across the street from the Orange Amtrak/Metrolink Station. This can be reached by train on the Orange County or Inland Empire - Orange County Metrolink lines or by OCTA bus on lines 56, 453, 454, 54, and 59. If taking lines 56, 453, or 54, get off at Orange Trans CTR - Dock 2. If taking 54 or 59, get off at Orange Trans CTR - Dock 1. The Museum is just across the street, opposite of Ruby's Diner.

Opening Hours

Tuesday 11:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 11:00 - 17:00
Thursday 11:00 - 17:00
Friday 11:00 - 17:00
Saturday 11:00 - 17:00


(714) 516-5880


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Visited there yesterday - wow, what a fine environment for all the artwork there ... will be back. Thank you.
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The Hilbert Museum is a MUST to see on your bucket list! It has so much to offer. It is a peaceful Museum and lets you explore California Art. The current exhibits are stunning and I can't wait to see the new exhibit coming soon.