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1906 Earthquake Centennial Alliance

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IN SEARCH OF LOST ART

National Park on Quest to Find Lost Artwork of W.A. Coulter

SAN FRANCISCO — Nearly seventy years after the death of W.A. Coulter, San Francisco’s most esteemed maritime artist, there is an unparalleled revival of interest in his artwork.

The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, in anticipation of a major exhibit of Coulter’s work (to open in 2006) is asking Bay Area residents and collectors around the world to help in locating the lost artwork of W.A. Coulter.

It is estimated the artist created more than 1,000 oil paintings and 5,000 illustrations (1869 to 1936). In addition to painting ship portraits, which adorned the offices of San Francisco’s most powerful men (and shipping magnates around the world) his illustrations regularly appeared in the pages of the historic “San Francisco Call,” a former daily newspaper. As a precursor to today’s news photographer, Coulter and his deadline sketches captured waterfront action both sanguine and turbulent.

Coulter’s images in oil and ink create a visual time portal to the post-Gold Rush-era of the Barbary Coast. Fires destroyed much of his legacy, and roughly two-thirds of his work is unaccounted for.

“Coulters are turning up in California homes, and in museums and businesses across America and around the world,” said Tom Coulter, the artist’s grandson, and a member of the organizing committee that will mount the exhibit.

“In many cases, they have changed hands over the generations, passing from one owner to another. Our mission now is to find these works of art, re-identify them, and possibly use some of them in our upcoming exhibit,” said Coulter.

The exhibit, called “W.A. Coulter: A Master’s Brush With The Sea,” will open on the centennial of the great earthquake and fire, April 18, 2006. It will be staged in the heart of Coulter’s waterfront, the recently opened San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (SAFR) Visitor Center at Hyde and Jefferson Streets (near Fishermen’s Wharf).

Coulter’s 10-foot-long earthquake painting, San Francisco Fire, 1906, painted on a window shade pulled by the artist from the rubble during the fire, will be a highlight of the opening. The exhibition will include paintings from private and public institutions and collections from around the country (many to be exhibited for the first time). This will be the largest and most complete retrospective of Coulter’s work ever attempted.

“W.A. Coulter: A Master’s Brush With The Sea,” is being organized by the W.A. Coulter Exhibition Committee of the Paul and Linda Kahn Foundation (San Francisco) in partnership with the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Other supporting organizations include the Friends of the SF Maritime Museum Library, and the SF Maritime National Park Association.

Co-sponsoring organizations include the California Historical Society, the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, and the Society of California Pioneers.

If you have a Coulter painting, would like to volunteer to help with the exhibition, or are interested in exploring opportunities to sponsor this landmark exhibition and/or the full-color catalogue, please contact the Paul & Linda Kahn Foundation. You may call 415.346.0643, or write 2430 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco CA 94115-1238 or lmkahn@mindspring.com.

For media information contact Joseph Ditler, publicist, at josephditler@san.rr.com, or 619.435.0767. Electronic images of W.A. Coulter and his work are available upon request.

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