FROM THE GROUND UP-WORKING ARTISTS IN DEL MONTE PARK- 1950'S
From "The Ground Up" is a mid-century retrospective of Monterey Peninsula artists making art, sculpture and ceramics in an un-incorporated county neighborhood known as Del Monte Park.
This exhibition focuses on the culture and homes they built and the art they created that reflected the abstract expressionist art and Bauhaas design sensibilities of the era.
The Del Monte Park subdivision is located between the town of Pacific Grove and gated community of Pebble beach on the Monterey Peninsula. In the period these artists were building their homes and making art in the 1940's and 50's, the Del Monte Park area was under Monterey County jurisdiction and not yet incorporated into the City of Pacific Grove. Part of the land had been dairy farming and there was also a small lumber mill in the area as well.
Left to right- Sam Wiiah, Bill Nelson, Duane Matterson, Jay Chaffin, Nikki Chaffin-1955
How this group of independent minded individuals, few of whom were artists and experienced home builders when they
moved to Del Monte Park is a mystery. Some people came from wealthy or middle class backgrounds others were rural working country folk while a few had immigrated from Europe. The war had ended and industrial mid-century America was booming. Families, stable jobs with practical homes to live in were expected life styles.The darker side of this era was the Maccarthy hearings which under the guise of identifying Communist or subversive elements, primarily attacked artist's, film maker's,writer's and liberal intellectuals of the time, effectively destroying lives and careers of innocent people who did not completely conform to conventional lifestyles and thinking.
The Homes of Del Monte Park
Del Monte Park provided a kind of "Bohemian Brigadoon" for these independent spirits. With no building codes in place , affordable land for $175.00 a lot, and artists and intellectuals gathering to form an alternative life style neighborhood, these elements encouraged a creative energy and commitment to art and design. To move your family to a mostly wooded, undeveloped area and struggle to build single wall, cold and some what impractical homes that were more sculpture than conventional functioning houses was a non-conformist and committed vision between husband and wife. Yet for for a short period between 1948 to 1959 a gentle creative wind blew through the lives of these adventurous individuals which this exhibit seeks to illuminate.