September 29, 2018 - March 31, 2019  

The artists featured in this exhibition include:

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California Women Artists of the Modern Period

In 2005 Spencer Helfen Fine Arts was proud to present our first exhibition devoted to women artists, entitled California Women Modernists: At the Forefront of American Modernism.

Thirteen years later we now are proud to present California Women Artists of the Modern Period, a survey of art created from 1915 to 1954, featuring many artists never before exhibited by our Gallery.

A large number of these recently acquired artworks are illustrated in Maurine St. Gaudens’s four-volume book, Emerging from the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960 (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2015).

This exhibition coincides with, and includes many of the same artists as, the Pasadena Museum of History’s major exhibition Something Revealed; California Women Artists Emerge, 1860 - 1960.

Isabel Hunter’s masterful pastel, The Court of Abundance, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915, created during the Exposition, captures the design and beauty of this unique sculptural edifice. Born in 1865, Hunter primarily was a Bay Area artist who studied with William Keith and at the Art Students League in New York, among other schools. Hunter was equally facile with oil paint, winning awards in that medium, as she was with pastel and graphite.

The versatility of many of these artists also is exemplified by Elizabeth Eaton Burton. While she is well known for her work in the Arts and Crafts movement in California, producing lamps of hammered copper and sea shells, her 1933 Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Nara color wood block print reveals the artist’s breadth of talent. Burton had traveled to the Orient, including Japan, studying printmaking in 1933-1934. Her Japanese inspired watercolors and prints toured internationally through 1936.

Leslie Buck’s ca. 1935 exquisite oil painting Jimson Weed is so very realistic that each element virtually bursts off the canvas. First taught by, and then marrying, artist Claude Buck, Leslie Buck took her husband’s precise manner of painting to a new level.

Homesteading, a ca. 1945 etching and aquatint by Trude Hanscom, dramatically conveys the reality and harshness of life for the people huddled near their vehicle next to a deserted dirt road. While working in many media, she was well known for combining drypoint and aquatint in her etchings. Hanscom spent most of her life in the vicinity of Los Angeles and was well-exhibited and active in many local art circles.

The San Francisco Art Association’s 1947 Purchase Prize was awarded to Edna Stoddart for her gouache I Remember That Day. Stoddart was a Bay Area artist who received her education at Mills College, the University of California and other art schools in Northern California. I Remember That Day is a colorful and fanciful depiction of a mountain landscape divided by a water inlet featuring several small, empty boats.

Helen Seegert, a lifelong resident of Santa Barbara, was a true master of the color woodcut. Her late 1930s African Stripes, Evening Watch and Al Anocheser woodcuts are exceptional examples of the medium and convey their fanciful subjects with beauty and color in superb compositions. Considered an excellent printmaker, Seegert also was known for her sculptures, not to mention her fiercely independent spirit.

Then there is Ginger Osgood, whose 1954 serigraph Gower Street is highly imaginative with exceptional and lively applications of color. Osgood’s serigraphs are considered some of the best examples of the medium in existence and have been widely exhibited.

Finally, it is worth noting that Henrietta Shore’s Mexican Mother and Water Carrier lithographs reflect her travels and experiences in Mexico with Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco, Jean Charlot and others. Shore’s ca. 1925 Reclining Horse, a modernist approach to the depiction of a horse at rest, may be the only print of its kind in existence (see our prior 2018 exhibition about Shore).

Our Gallery’s website contains biographies of each artist that provide important background information for collectors and others. Most of these women artists were talented in a variety of media. In many cases we have selected prints or other works on paper as the primary medium, creating high value for our clients collecting these more modestly priced artworks.


Leslie Buck

California Women Artists of the Modern Period

Elizabeth Eaton Burton

Barbara Thomas Haddaway

Trude Hanscom

Marian Hebert

Zama Vanessa Helder

Isabel Hunter

Gordena Parker Jackson

Zena Kavin

Lilian May Miller

Helen Clark Oldfield

Ginger Osgood

Augusta Rathbone

Bonnie Beach Ryan

Helen M. Seegert

Hazel M. Sheckler

Henrietta Shore

Anna Katharine Skeele

Juliette Steele

Edna Stoddart

Phyllis Strickland

Grace Libby Vollmer


Dorothy Winslade


The Gallery also features other artworks by these Women Modernists:

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Gertrude Partington Albright

Gallery Featured California Women Modernists

Mabel Alvarez

Florence Parker Bloser

Dorr Bothwell

Margaret Bruton

Grace Clements

Pele de Lappe

Jean Kellogg

Helen Clark Oldfield

Ruth Powers Ortlieb

Nadine Overpack

Edna Reindel

Nina Saemundsson

Julia Severance

Bernice Lee (“Burr”) Singer

Wilna Splivalo

Lucretia Van Horn

Lillian Whiting

Dorothy Winslade




July 20, 2018 - September 22, 2018  

The artworks featured in this exhibition include:

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Rare Lithographs by Henrietta Shore

It is our 15th Anniversary! Our first exhibition, Trends in Southern California Modernism, opened on June 23, 2003. We thank you all for your patronage and support throughout the years. Without friends like Jan Holloway, Tobey C. Moss, George Stern and countless others, our dream of representing well known and lesser known California Modernists would never have come to fruition.

The first exhibition to begin our 16th year will be a major exhibition of Modernist women artists working in California between about 1915 and 1954. The exhibition will include artwork by many well known artists as well as artists never before exhibited by our Gallery. This will be an exhibition not to be missed. Please follow our future announcements for more information.

As a precursor to our exhibition of women Modernists we are pleased to present three rare lithographs by Henrietta Shore, one of California's and, indeed, America's, foremost Modernist artists.  

Reclining Horse is an extremely rare image by Henrietta Shore, one of California’s foremost Modernists – so rare, in fact, that it has not been found elsewhere in any of our research; and for this reason we feel that it is quite possibly unique, the only print made of this image. It is signed by the artist and simply notes "First Stage," without noting an edition number. This Henrietta Shore gem is not to be missed!

Both Mexican Mother and Water Carrier were created in small editions of 25 and 24, respectively. Mexican Mother was illustrated in Maurine St. Gaudens'  Emerging from the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960 (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2015), page 1002.

Henrietta Shore had a style all her own which, from early in her career, has been cherished by collectors. But early in her career she experimented with designs meaningful to her in low numbers with the aid of Lynton Kistsler, her supportive Los Angeles lithographer.



Mexican Mother

Reclining Horse

Water Carrier

Rare Lithographs by Henrietta Shore
June 2018 - July 14, 2018  

The artworks featured in this exhibition include:

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Newly Released Works from the Arnautoff Estate

We are pleased to present several artworks by Victor Arnautoff just released by the Artist’s Estate. These artworks exemplify the breadth of talent of this versatile artist. They include lithographs, watercolors, a charcoal drawing and oil paintings.

Clothesline is an amazing watercolor with a high degree of detail and color. It is a beautiful depiction of a San Francisco neighborhood scene with clothing hanging out to dry in front of a fence with various Victorian and other houses in the background. Arnautoff creates great depth in this otherwise common scene.

Arnautoff’s circa 1940 Golden Gate lithograph is a celebration of the newly built iconic Bay Area bridge. It is quite rare as it is one of an edition of only 10. Arnautoff’s depiction of a large rock in the foreground helps to give depth and perspective to the image of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Man in the Rain lithograph is a mysterious depiction of a gentleman in cap and coat walking at night perhaps through a dark alley. Where is he coming from and where is he going to – alone, at night and in the rain?

Then there is the unusual print on the reverse of The Man in the Rain: Sailor and Family Walking Through the Marsh, which is included with the purchase of The Man in the Rain. The artwork is framed such that both images are visible.

The charcoal drawing Study for the Fisherman, which depicts a man scouring his catch of the day, is a study for a major oil painting by the Artist. The drawing communicates movement and atmosphere. Arnautoff’s knack for depicting the toiling worker is well demonstrated in this drawing.  

Finally, there is the oil painting entitled Windmills featuring these great machines on their sides, beached, as it were, at the shore in San Francisco. Arnautoff takes an otherwise common scene and creates a dramatic, unique vignette. 

Each work demonstrates the Artist’s talent and unique perspective. All works are well-framed and suitable for hanging.

Please enjoy these newly released artworks.




Newly Released Works from the Arnautoff Estate

Golden Gate

The Man in the Rain
   verso: Sailor and Family
   Walking Through the Marsh


Mexico 1930

Mexico Street Scene

Russian Soldiers

Study for the Fisherman




May 1, 2018 - May 26,2018  

The artists featured in this exhibition include:

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Spring 2018 - New Acquisitions

We have been busy discovering new artworks for our clients and are pleased to share them with you.

We have begun the representation of Betty F. Helfen (1929-2019), your Gallery Director’s Mother, who was highly skilled in the medium of cloisonné enamel, as exemplified in Wild Poppies, which was exhibited at the Laguna Beach Museum of Art, and Irises. Helfen’s Rivalry is an ode to Japanese kabuki theater and won Honorable Mention in a competition in Japan. Over the years Helfen’s artworks were awarded First Prize at numerous LA County Fairs. Each of her artworks has a timeless elegance and beauty.

As you know, our Gallery’s focus is on both California and American Modernism. Recently, we discovered the work of Pennsylvania Modernist Thomas Flavell, whose renderings of buildings in White Barn are reminiscent of the work of the Precisionists, who depicted with exactitude the world around them. Little Blue Bell has a Regionalist feel in the depiction of the buildings in the foreground and background of a Pennsylvania backyard. Flavell was a well-exhibited artist whose work is held in major museum collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

We also discovered the Modernist renderings of Harvey Prusheck, an Ohio Modernist whose works, while rare, all evoke a sensuality only seen in Modernist paintings of the 1930s. In Village in Utah, Prusheck’s blue-green palette lends a dreamlike quality to the depiction of a small town. His Still Life is an education in the Modernist rendition of everyday objects. It is both beautiful and serene with an intense Art Deco aesthetic.

Herman Lauter’s circa 1935 rendering of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco is a realistic depiction of the enjoyable tourist attraction popular even in the 1930s. And we are pleased to present the last of the Jerre H. Murry paintings discovered by our Gallery. Bathers, circa 1940, is a sensual portrayal of a bacchanal-type of party of adults enjoying an outdoor, nighttime swim. Murry was a masterful WPA artist who was well-exhibited, as exemplified by Bathers, exhibited in a one-man show at En’s Gallery in 1941.

Finally, we are pleased to present a rare, circa 1925 ink drawing by Lucretia Van Horn, the Bay Area artist whose studies and work with Diego Rivera clearly influenced her wonderful Chiconcua. Van Horn achieves great depth between the foreground and background while relaying the story of a family gathering, pets and all.

We hope you enjoy our recent discoveries!



Thomas Flavell

Spring 2018 - New Acquisitions

Betty F. Helfen

Herman E. Lauter

Jerre H. Murry

Harvey Gregory Prusheck

Lucretia Van Horn





March 31, 2018 - April, 28, 2018  

The artists featured in this exhibition include:

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Rare WPA Mural Studies by California Modernist Otis Oldfield

We are pleased to present four rare WPA mural studies created by Otis Oldfield, one of the leaders of the Bay Area Modernist movement. These mural studies were submitted in competition for the position of muralist in three different Federal buildings: the Stockton Post Office, the Modesto Post Office and the Rincon Annex Post Office in San Francisco.  

There has been a resurgence of interest in the Depression-era murals in Federal buildings. Many that were in storage or in disrepair are being conserved and brought back to their former grandeur for a new generation to appreciate. Similarly, the mural studies submitted by artists have become highly prized among collectors, and we are excited to be able to offer these detailed artworks to our clients.



Stockton Post Office
Mural Study

Rare WPA Mural Studies by California Modernist Otis Oldfield

Stockton Post Office
Mural Study

Modesto Post Office
Mural Study

Rincon Annex Post Office, San Francisco, Mural Study










The artists featured in this exhibition include:

Click + for enlarged image

Winter 2018 - New Acquisitions

Here are some of our newest art acquisitions. They are diverse and of both historical and aesthetic value. Please take a look...

Some of you may remember Helen Clark Oldfield’s 1926 Triangulated Still Life and Otis Oldfield’s 1930 Telegraph Hill Kids from our Holiday Gift List. These artworks have been drastically reduced in price and represent significant value, in addition to their obvious artistic merit.

Victor Arnautoff followed his conscience in creating paintings of great social and political value. Such is the case with Study for Cable Men, depicting workers engaged in laying cable under a public street in late 1940s San Francisco. Note that the Caucasian and African-American laborers are working side by side. 

Then there is Jerre H. Murry’s Portrait of a Woman. Murry was a highly regarded WPA artist who created a diverse body of work. Portrait of a Woman is a revealing look at a contemplative woman painted in stark, vibrant colors.

Finally, we have found a rare watercolor and ink drawing by Henry Sugimoto, a Japanese-born artist who worked in California until interned during World War II and who then settled in New York. During his career this well-exhibited artist studied from 1929 to 1931 at the Académie Colarossi in Paris, which is where he created the serene Pont Chartres, France watercolor and ink artwork.

As you can see, we strive to find artworks of great historical value and beauty, and we hope we have done so this time.



Victor Arnautoff

Winter 2018 - New Acquisitions

Jerre H. Murry

Helen Clark Oldfield

Otis Oldfield

Henry (Yuzuru) Sugimoto