Jim Carona, Owner – Heather James Fine Art talks with Jim Pardee about the Pardee Collection

American Eye: Selections from the Pardee Collection

February 28 - December 31, 2021
Palm Desert, CA



Heather James Fine Art is proud to present a selection from the Collection of Marianne and J. Douglas Pardee. The collection represents some of the most important and pioneering American artists from Winslow Homer to Childe Hassam to Helen Frankenthaler. But before diving into the works, let us pull back to examine collecting and collections as a whole.

What does it mean to collect? What does it mean to be a collector? One could list the different ways and objects. There are dazzling arrays of the usual objects, Impressionist paintings, antiquities, so forth, and of the unusual, mini-bottles, lightbulbs, Dr. Who memorabilia. Or, one could find the moment from which the compulsion to collect was born. For Joseph Hirshhorn, founder of the eponymous American Smithsonian museum, it was the purchase of two Albrecht Duhrer prints at the age of eighteen as he was making his name on Wall Street. Perhaps we should ask, to paraphrase Yeats, how can we know the collector from the collection? The two are intrinsically linked. To understand one is to understand the other and keenly, to understand one, a person must also understand the other.

We must then take a bird’s eye view, to unravel the times in which the collector and collection exist. Something extraordinary happens when trying to comprehend a collection and collector. We can see history unfold. The socio-political/cultural underpinnings of a collection and collector emerge. Collecting later in life, the Pardees could already build on a wealth of experience. But it did not preclude them from educating themselves. With an already developed keen eye to color and fashion, Marianne took classes at UCLA Extension from Michael Quick, then curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This drive to learn about American art speaks to the deep curiosities of the Pardees.

And, it is with all of this in mind that we turn to just a small but important slice of the Pardee Collection. The artists in this carefully chosen collection represent some of the most important American artists and representatives of the art produced in the United States. Who else but Thomas Moran could capture the majesty of the American landscape? How hard is it to overstate the influence of Winslow Homer’s watercolors? Even the Abstract Expressionist painting of Helen Frankenthaler, devoid of any obvious markers, captures the dynamism of American art, the unique confluences of socio-political circumstances. We are able to see collectors unafraid to step outside of their comfort zone to acquire works of great importance and aesthetic beauty.

These works speak to us not just theoretically but emotionally. Jim Pardee, their son, recounts how The Shepherdess by Homer was his father’s favorite and about his father’s pride in being able to collect Homer. It is an incredible journey that his father went through, to go from the financial hardship of his childhood, including being turned out onto the streets in 1932, to being able to humbly collect Homers while still giving back to the community. The dedication to collect the best of American art speaks to the quality and vision of the collectors. Their enthusiasm for collecting extended to philanthropy. Their tremendous generosity supported the Boys and Girls Club of San Diego and USC, among many others. Heather James is proud to share this unique opportunity to dive into an important collection by a couple whose legacy still reverberates in their kindness and generosity of spirit.