Friday, May 25, 2012

Freeway Art History: Freeways Part of the Artistic Landscape

Ralph Hulett seen painting above SR-110 in 1965
In the 1920s the artistic movement, California Regionalism, began to capture the everyday scenes of Southern California life, scenes that many citizens and artists in previous years considered routine or mundane.   Artist Ralph Hulett (1915-1974), through his skill with a paint brush documented the arrival of the freeway to the Los Angeles area.

“We’re in the midst of a violent revolution – the new replacing the old.  We miss our old friends but have to make new ones.  And the freeways will be among them,” said Hulett in an article, freeways on canvas, in the July to August 1966 issue of the California Highways and Public Works magazine.

Ralph Hulett's painting of the Four Level Interchange

Hulett’s paintings captured the change that Los Angeles and several other major metropolitan areas in the nation where experiencing as part of a federal effort to connect the nation via a vast network of freeways.  Hulett’s paintings captured one of District 7’s earliest freeway master pieces, the four level also known as the Stack, and US 101 (Hollywood Freeway). 

His paintings artfully display what some Angelenos considered as an attack on their way of lives and others viewed as move into the future.  From the 1940s and on, hundreds of miles of freeways cut through Los Angeles, forever changing the region.
During his time, Hulett studied at the Chouinard Art Institute (Los Angeles), worked as a color stylist with Walt Disney, and was a member of the American Watercolor Society, California Water Color Society, and Laguna Art Association.  He held one-man shows in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.