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.