Paintings and Prints From the 60s

The Road to the Oilfields ©1960

This is the corner of Washington and Lincoln: “Late on a November afternoon we were traveling toward the ocean and Venice Oilfields. I saw the yellow light glowing against gray storm clouds…I went home and painted all night.”

Black Gold, the artwork of JoAnn Cowans

Speedway and Oil Wells ©1961

The green house is at 11 Reef Street: At the time I was painting, it was a fraternity house. This one-way street held many legends and stories; names of Janet Gaynor, Edward Everett Horton, Rudolph Valentino, and Pola Negri were some. There were stories of car races, bootleggers, and gunfights. The view of derricks and cement wall with oil drips was my inspiration.

Bridge in a Winter Sun ©1962

The bridges along the canal were built as a story of romance. When I was painting there in 1961 and 1962 they were crumbling. Now they are all gone. “Here pussy willows and cattails graced the banks; likely mixed with colorful touches of ice plant…houses on the hill can be seen reflecting sunlight.”

Black Gold, the artwork of JoAnn Cowans

Derricks & Venice Canal ©1962

Two layers of history lie here. First, the canals and bridges: “At the end of 1904 Abbot Kinney began building a Venice in California.” These bridges and canals were built for his wife who loved Venice, Italy. Second, “in 1929, oil was discovered on the Venice Peninsula. Shortly thereafter 450 oil wells covered the area.” It always amazed me that beams that were so strong up close could look so fragile in the distance.

Black Gold, the artwork of JoAnn Cowans

The Marina ©1962 

This was painted on a cold and windy day in January. I carried a hand warmer in my pocket so my fingers would not be too stiff to work. My easel was tied to a tree with canvas firmly attached. From this location beside a tree, just a few steps down from Fowling Street, I could not see the village at all. The scene was later recreated for a newspaper article and photo.

See “Stories From the 60s: Marina Completion Comes too Quick for Local Artist.”

Sunset ©1962

“From our apartment window I captured the dramatic, quickly changing sunset and clouds.” It was the sky I needed for this evening view of the Venice shoreline. Lights traveled up the coast to Malibu. Derricks were outlined against the sky. This was one of the “long views” I loved about the area. There was so much open space and variety of scenes wherever you chose to look.

Black Gold, the artwork of JoAnn Cowans

City of Night ©1962

The night scenes always thrilled me. This view was across the marina construction. It demanded a 40x70” canvas…I had never seen so many lights spread out this way, over the cities and hillsides. The derricks formed a pattern to capture the clouds. It was on this or a similar bridge nearby a few years earlier that Orson Welles’ famous death scene from “a Touch of Evil” played out.

See “Stories From the 60s, City of Night”

For more information on the above prints see “Black Gold Prints” on top tool bar.

New Edition: Soon to be released: Skyline, PLaya del Rey ©1967

Coming home, this is the view I saw so many times. The drive down Culver Boulevard, over the bridge, and toward Playa del Rey gave an ever fascinating view. In the foreground, colors shifted and changed according to weather and season. So did this small stream that ran through these wetlands. Sunlight breaks through ocean mist over Vista del Mar, silhouetting with a glow, houses spaced out on the hill.

Quoted from “The Marina Nobody Knows”

Bridge by Night ©1962

Venice Moonlight ©1962

Other Prints and Images of Playa del Rey

The Old Bait House ©1962

“This house fitted well into the storybook landscape surrounding the lagoon. It sat in front of a rectangle house, that was taller than wide. The rooftops made an interesting composition. I was told it had been a bait house out on the pier before being moved to the south-east corner of the lagoon.”

Quoted from “The Marina Nobody Knows”

Houses by the Lagoon ©1962

“These houses were at the side of the Mae Murray home. A corner of that building shows at the right edge of the painting. The houses always looked cheerful to me. A picket fence with flowers, colorful clothing flapping in the ocean breeze, and bright blue washtub gave a festive and industrious air.” 

Quoted from “The Marina Nobody Knows”

The Old Mae Murray Home ©1965

T.O. McCoye commissioned this painting. He happily owned the vacant lot in the middle of these houses and would not sell. The Mae Murray house and these small cottages sat toward the north-west corner of the lagoon. In 1963 I toured the house with a newspaper writer who was doing a story. It was a fraternity house at the time. I have a color photograph taken from an upstairs window facing toward the bridge. There are also a few taken inside, including one of the famous red and black tile bathrooms.