Take an extended tour of Fresno Art Museum’s ‘Gifted’ with curator Sarah Vargas

The Fresno Art Museum is closed, so at the moment you won’t be able to see its fine show “Gifted.” The exhibition is scheduled to run through June 28, so I think you will still have a chance to see it once Shelter in Place is lifted — oh my goodness, I hope that will happen before June 28 — but I can at least offer you a virtual way to experience it for now.

“Gifted” showcases one of the most remarkable stories about a high school I’ve ever heard. From 1919-56, students at Gardena High School amassed a museum-worthy art collection. They did it through a senior-class tradition of raising money to buy works of early California Impressionism from local artists. In its later years, the collection became known throughout the art world.

The exhibition, which includes a sumptuous catalog, has been to several California museums and is making an extended stop in Fresno. Producer Kyle Lowe and I visited the exhibition for the March episode of “The Munro Review on CMAC” and put together an edited nine-minute story for the show.

But here, on this site for the first time, is the extended 22-minute “director’s cut” of the interview, which includes lots more fascinating discussion with the knowledgeable Sarah Vargas, the Fresno Art Museum’s curator. “GIFTED: Collecting the Art of California at Gardena High School, 1919-1956” is organized by the GHS Art Collection, Inc. in association with the Gardena High School Student Body and curated by Susan M. Anderson.

Hope you enjoy!


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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Jackie Ryle

    This was a wonderful article. Donald, and an outstanding interview. I enjoyed it so much – almost like being there. The story is so amazing, and the paintings are so incredible. Thank you so much. I hope for the opportunity to see it in person again before it leaves. I sure do appreciate you keeping us fully current on the arts during this time when we are not able to get there ourselves in person,


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