• Painter M(ary) Evelyn McCormick (b. Placerville 1862; d. Monterey 1948) was the first artist to introduce French Impressionism to Northern California. Returning in 1891 from study in Paris and summers at Claude Monet’s country retreat at Giverny, she assumed a leading role in the art scenes of both San Francisco and Monterey, where she kept a studio on the 2nd floor of Custom House and later at adjacent Pacific House. Renouncing motherhood in favor of her vocation, she continued painting into her seventh decade. The series for which she is most recognized – a score of Monterey’s 19th century stone and adobe buildings, including a few already demolished that she painted from photographs – was undertaken during the Great Depression with support from the Work Progress Administration as well as her landlord Thomas A. Work.
• From the former hillside home of painter Charles Rollo Peters, Elizabeth Murray has consolidated a national and international reputation as artist, author, garden designer, teacher and public speaker. A decade after earning a combined degree from Sonoma State in fine art, botany, and environmental education, she spent nine months as the first female restoration gardener at Giverny. Nine museums across the U.S. have featured her work in combination with Claude Monet’s paintings of Giverny – most recently the New York Botanical Garden in 2012, where the multi-faceted exhibition broke all previous attendance records. Elizabeth’s books & calendars can be purchased at Cooper Store.
• Interior designer Frances Adler Elkins (b. Milwaukee 1888; d. Monterey 1953) renovated the dilapidated two-story Casa Amesti (today’s Old Capital Club) in the early 1920s. Her signature style was inspired by prior residence in Paris, and by leisurely trips through France with her brother, who would earn national fame as the Chicago-based residential architect David Adler (1882–1949). In 1927 Elkins turned Stevenson House, originally the Rafael Gonzalez family adobe, into Casa Blanca Antiquities & Interior Decoration. For two decades, her opulently decorated showrooms introduced French Provincial as well as more avant-garde styles to America while workrooms on the premises kept many talented artists and artisans employed. Commissions eventually stretched from Honolulu to the eastern seaboard. Today’s approach to home design remains indebted to her eclectic juxtaposition of periods and styles as well as her bold combinations of color and texture.