Footloose in Arcadia: Artists and Authors of Piedmont, 1890 to 1930

November 3 – December 16, 2007

**Preview, Lecture & Reception: Friday. Nov. 2, 5 to 8 p.m.




The lovely hills and breathtaking Bay views drew artistic and literary friends to turn of the century Piedmont. The Hearst Art Gallery has partnered with the City of Piedmont to present this exhibition of the region’s rarely seen early cultural heritage in celebration of its 100th anniversary. Paintings, drawings, prints, historic photographs, books and documents offer a sense of their life and times.


An early eco-harmonious cottage in Piedmont plays a major role in the city’s artistic and architectural history and in this exhibition.  The Reverend Joseph Worcester, the second Swedenborgian minister in San Francisco, designed and built his own home to be in communion with nature.  The structure influenced the future work of young architects Bernard Maybeck and Willis Polk.  Artist William Keith, the minister’s close friend and fellow Swedenborgian, painted several versions of the cottage, three of which are in the exhibition.  In 1901 Jack London moved into Worchester’s cottage.  London wrote The Sea Wolf and Call of the Wild while living in Piedmont. He was part of the local bohemian set that included writers Sterling and Herman "Jim" Whitaker, and painter Xavier Martinez.

Painter Arthur Atkins moved to Piedmont in 1891. After a couple of successful shows and good sales, the European immigrant returned home, but wrote letters to friends suggesting how much he missed California.


A group of eucalyptus trees stand silently bearing the unmerciful light, yet everything waits in hope: and as the sun slowly sinks all changes. The landscape sings with color, as a gem: the distant hills are suffused with purple and gold: their careworn look of noon vanishes, and in its place, great solemnness and contentment--broad lights and noble shadow.... The great quiet landscape smiles; and I, coming wearily home over the hill, conscious of my own and thank God fervently, that He did not make the landscape grey....After the landscape I had tried so hard and vainly to paint, the landscape of Italy sings a new song in my memory. It is as though the parts I love best in California, Piedmont and Marin, had been lived in and tended for many generations, by a race loving the soil and life and caring about all.


A beautifully illustrated catalogue, with a detailed essay by Ann Swift accompanies the exhibition.  The exhibition was organized by Piedmont’s Swift and Hearst Art Gallery Registrar/Collections Manager Julie Armistead.


*Art works and documents are on loan from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Oakland Museum, the Oakland Public Library, the Berkeley Art Museum, Mills College, the California Society of Pioneers, the Grace Hudson Museum, Sullivan Goss Gallery, the Hearst Art Gallery, and private lenders.


Exhibition hours: Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.   
Admission: $2 adult; children 12 and under free; free parking
Telephone: (925) 631-4379

Media contact: Heidi Donner,, (925) 631-4069