(Walt Mancini
Tamara Eliot, the daughter of artist Duval Eliot has come from her home in Spain to curate an exhibit, at the Pasadena School of fine Art at 314 So. Mentor Ave. (Walt Mancini

Eliot was in first Art Center class
Exhibit displays Eliot works previously stolen

By Janette Williams
Staff Writer

PASADENA -- Images of a California long gone Pasadena's Raymond Station, a blacksmith working his forge, boys splashing in a mountain swimming hole line the walls of the old Pasadena School of Fine Art.

These works, by renowned Pasadena artist Duval Eliot, have been brought together for the first time since dozens were stolen after her death at 81 in 1990.

And "The Lost Classics of Duval Eliot' are in the same studio now part of a private home where she and other artists worked from the 1940s on.

Eliot's daughter, Tamara, 61, said she came from her home in Spain in 1991 to find her mother's house vandalized, paintings and portfolios missing.

"Thank God they didn't end up in flea markets, I found them in shops for collectibles and antiques,' said Eliot, who spent weeks going around with a police officer tracking them down. "I had photographs, and I'd say, 'This is my mother's work. It was stolen.'

"Slowly, slowly, I found them all, except some of the beautiful things she painted in Africa in 1981,' Eliot said.

Works by Duval Eliot, a member of Art Center College of Design's first class in 1930, hang in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., among others.

"I think she was one of the most steady, sincere, devoted and talented artists at work in this community of artists,' said Jae Carmichael, an award-winning painter and sculptor and former museum co-owner.

Carmichael recalls the days when a group of working artists, including Eliot, would meet there on Thursdays.

"People would come in and drop a dollar in the hat for the model fee,' she said. "There would be from 10 to 25 of them most well-known artists and they couldn't hire a model for a buck.'

More than 500 of Eliot's works are on display, framed and in portfolios. She worked in oils, watercolors, acrylics, ink and pencil, her styles ranging from abstract to representational, some pieces showing the influence of her abilities as an illustrator.

"She was constantly searching ... she experimented, she didn't get stuck in her ways,' Carmichael said.

There's an easy answer to anyone who questions Eliot's lack of a signature style, Carmichael said. "Just refer them to Picasso he went through one phase after another ... Her paintings hold up against anyone else's paintings of the period.'

Tamara Eliot who as a a belly dancer performed all over Europe, Africa and the Middle East took a few of her mother's paintings to Spain for exhibit in 1989. Three weeks later they were lost in a flood, one of several that devastated her home and put plans for a retrospective of her mother's art on hold until now.

Duval Eliot was prolific, and although scores of her paintings sold when she was alive, Tamara Eliot said she has too many to keep.

"Everything (on show) is for sale,' she said, saying the prices would range from the low hundreds to the thousands of dollars. "I'd need the Getty mansion to hang it all.'

The exhibit at 314. S. Mentor Ave. will have its opening reception from 5 to 9 p.m. today and will run through Jan. 31.

-- Janette Williams can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4436, or by e-mail at janette.williams@sgvn.com.