Reverent Sparks: Missions of California and the Southwest Painted by Will Sparks, 1933-1937
The exhibition in the Jo Mora Chapel Gallery will feature a series of 37 uniformly framed oil paintings of the missions of California, Arizona and New Mexico. Will Sparks (1862-1937) concluded this striking series of jewel-like oils, a few of them nocturnes, just days before his death. “One of California’s most important painters” according to Edam Hughes (Artists in California, 3rd edition, 2002, p.1046), Sparks studied art in his native St. Louis and then in Paris, where he worked as an anatomical illustrator for Louis Pasteur. He moved to California on the advice of Mark Twain, doing newspaper illustration for the San Francisco Evening Call. He was a founder of the Hotel Del Monte art gallery in Monterey (1907) and spent the rest of his life in northern California, frequently visiting and painting scenes of our area.
Alma Spreckles purchased the complete mission series, and for many decades it remained in the hands of a private Santa Barbara organization to which she and her second husband belonged. Terry and Paula Trotter, of Trotter Galleries in Carmel & Pacific Grove, had the opportunity to purchase the series a few years ago and are committed to preserving the integrity of the entire set. For over a year (2006-2007) the group was on view at the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento. It is through the Trotter’s generous loan of these works, the diligence of guest curator Dr. Julianne Burton-Carvajel, and the financial support of the Carmel Mission Circle of Arts Patrons, that the Carmel Mission is able to present this exhibition of fine works to its many visitors from around the world.