Art Goes to the Beach
Kenton Nelson makes a 1930s-inspired “Splash” in Santa Monica
Imagine the beaches of Southern California in the 1930s.
In painter Kenton Nelson’s hands, fleeting and superficially mundane moments become timeless images — even as they are rendered in a style evoking the Works Progress Administration murals of the era.
A self-taught painter, Nelson has developed a unique style that draws from the American realist modern art movement of the 1920s through ‘50s and tends to focus on suburban scenes of idealized domestic tranquility.
For “Splash,” a special exhibit on display through June at the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica, Nelson debuts a new set of works that turn his attention to beach scenes.
“No one does realist paintings like he does. There is a haunting aspect to his work, a teasing sexuality about his art,” says Toby Smith, the museum’s executive director.
In that case, Nelson should have a field day at the beach.
— Chase Maser
“Splash” is on view from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays through June 12 at the California Heritage Museum, 2612 Main St., Santa Monica. Call (310) 392 8537 or visit californiaheritage-museum.org.