Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Bohemian Art Scene: A Guide to 20 Galleries and Studios
If you are interested in this walking tour as an audio tour, our companion audio tour is available here on VoiceMap. Tours are listed under Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea and Santa Cruz. To use VoiceMap, you will need to download the VoiceMap app from Apple Store or Google Play. This app is free, there is a charge for the audio driving tour.
• Listen to stories about some of Carmel’s earliest Bohemian artists
Happy Adventures and enjoy the tour!
You should be standing just to the left of
the front entrance of the Cypress Inn. It is on the east side of Lincoln Street, near the corner
of 7th Avenue.
Back at the turn of the 20th century, Carmel’s small population was dominated by artists. The pristine beauty of the surroundings, and the free-thinking nature of the early bohemian community made Carmel a natural place in which to develop an artistic voice.
In fact it was reported in 1910 that over 60% of the homes in Carmel were owned by individuals pursuing a life in the arts. Over a century later, Carmel is still filled with artists and their galleries. This walking tour of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s art galleries was designed to immerse visitors and residents in Carmel’s art culture.
As we wind our way through the charming courtyards of Carmel's historic downtown, you will hear stories about its early artist colony, and early bohemian artists. You will also have the opportunity to meet a number of Carmel’s current artists, if they are in studio, learn what inspires them and view their art. Many of Carmel's galleries have limited open hours. Some are by reservation only. You will see the most current hours posted on the doors of each gallery. This tour is a bit over one mile long and will take about two hours if you stop in the galleries.
When we walk by or stop at any gallery on this tour, please feel free to go inside if the door is open. Carmel artists love to share their work with visitors and locals. If you see something in a gallery window that is of interest to you and the gallery is closed, call the contact number artists leave on their front door. Our artists would love to hear from you and are happy to set up a time to show you their art.
Now let me call your attention to the Cypress Inn.
The lot where this hotel now stands was the location of the home studio of one of Carmel's earliest watercolor artists, Sydney Yard. Mr. Yard purchased this lot in 1908 and hired Carmel architect M. J. Murphy to build his home.
Landscape with Sheep by Sydney Yard - Sydney Yard Tonalist
After Yard’s death, in 1909, another early Carmel artist moved into the property, Mary DeNeale Morgan. Mary, along with her sister-in-law artist Charlotte Bodwell Morgan, were two of the founding members of the Carmel Art Association.
Mary DeNeale Morgan (Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery
You will learn more about this association later on our tour. The art studio remained in the possession of the Morgan family until around 1998 when it was purchased by Cypress Inn Investors. At that time the studio was torn down and replaced by what is now the new wing of the Cypress Inn.
Carmel Historic Survey - courtesy of Carmel City Hall Building Records
The main portion of the Cypress Inn, where the front entrance and lobby are located, was built in 1927 for Dr. Rudolph Kocher, one of Carmel's medical physicians. It was designed by Oakland architect firm Blaine & Olsen in the Spanish Colonial Revival style to match the doctors medical office located just to the east of this building. Possibly looking for some sort of investment property, Dr. Kocher opened this as the La Ribera Hotel in 1929, and except for a short time during the Depression, it has served as a hotel ever since.
Now take a look across the street at the garden area to the left of the Church of the Wayfarer.
Kevin in his gallery - Kevin Milligan website
This book is a treasure chest of stories and paintings and iconic moments that commemorate and illuminate one of the most scenic regions of the world. If Kevin's gallery is open feel free to step inside and observe the art up close.
Library of Congress
- Self Portrait Arnold Genthe - Library of Congress
With three decades of experience and over 37 covers for Surfing magazine, internationally acclaimed surf and ocean photographer Aaron Chang worked his way to the pinnacle of the surfing photography world, redefining the sport of modern surfing through his lens.
With the gallery on your right, continue on Ocean Avenue, past the Carmel Bakery. Once you get to the corner, turn left and cross Ocean Avenue. Continue walking along Dolores to the end of this block while I tell you about another early Carmel artist, Francis John McComas.
Francis John McComas (1875-1938) Wikipedia
Landscape artist Francis John McComas was drawn to the pristine natural beauty of Carmel in 1912. Upon viewing the Big Sur coastline with its jagged rocky cliffs and churning seas, McComas coined the phrase, “the greatest meeting of land and water in the world.” In 1924, Francis was commissioned to paint a mural of Monterey Peninsula on the wall of the Hotel Del Monte.
McComas Mural Naval Postgraduate School Dudely Knox Library
One evening while driving home through Pacific Grove, after imbibing at a local bar, Francis was arrested and put in the drunk tank overnight. He was so mad that the next day he painted Pacific Grove off of the mural. Today this mural may be seen on the wall of the Naval Postgraduate School. Pacific Grove remains conspicuously absent from the map.
Our next stop is Gallery Sur. At the corner of Dolores and 6th, turn left and continue walking along 6th Avenue. Watch for the grey sign for Gallery Sur up ahead. Stop in front of their display window.
Today First Murphy House is the home of Carmel Heritage Society, a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect, preserve, and promote the cultural heritage of the community of Carmel-by-the-Sea. It is open periodically when docents are available.
This gallery features the work of world-renowned figurative sculptor Richard MacDonald. MacDonald is a leading advocate of the neo-figurative movement in the arts, and he is known for his ability to capture live models while they are in motion, depicting performers and dancers at the peak of their performance.
Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984) Wikipedia
Ansel Adams was an American landscape photographer and environmentalist. He is known for his black-and-white photographs of the American West. The United States Department of Interior contracted Ansel to photograph the National Parks. For his work, which helped expand the National Park system, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980.
Ten years later Baer had settled in Carmel and working with his Ansco view camera photographing the central coast’s natural scene. He became a close personal friend of Edward Weston’s and spent many a day at Weston’s home on Wildcat Hill in the Carmel Highlands. Baer was also one of the original founders of Friends of Photography (now known as the Center for Photographic Art) along with Ansel Adams and Brett Weston at the Sunset Center in Carmel.
Morley Baer with his Ansco Camera (Photograph David Fullagar) Wikipedia
The Weston Gallery was established in 1975 by Maggi Weston and is currently owned and operated by Matthew Weston, Edward’s grandson, and his wife Davi.
Continue walking to the corner. At the corner turn left and continue straight on Dolores. Stop when you get to Jennifer PerlimutterGallery.
In 2012 the original Bennett Sculpture Carmel sign was located and touched up. It now appears over the door of this new gallery, where Terrie Bennett, Tom’s daughter and Ashley Bennett-Stoddard, Bob’s daughter, continue the Bennett legacy.
Ashley is a sculptor and a painter. The passion, or inspiration behind her work is color, nature, the human spirit, and community. She uses bright colors to create large-scale projects.
Stop here in front of the Joaquin Turner Gallery. Before I tell you a bit more about this artist, I will let Joaquin introduce himself.
“Hi my name is Joaquin Turner and I am a local artist here in Carmel and I paint in the tonalist tradition. I am very influenced by the European Old Masters and the French Barbizon school of painting. A lot of the early California artists, especially the early Monterey and Carmel artists, painted in the tonalist style. This mysterious and moody aesthetic really speaks to me and I am trying to continue that tradition in my own little way. I feel it is a perfect style to capture the landscape of our area.”
Joaquin was born among the gnarled cypress trees and windswept dunes of Fort Ord. As a young child his father’s military career took the family to Europe. It was there that Joaquin was introduced to the world’s greatest art museums, he became deeply inspired by the Old Masters and studied their techniques in painting classes in Germany. Upon his father’s retirement, the family moved back to the Monterey Peninsula, Joaquin finished high school in Pacific Grove and, as a teenager, discovered the works of the early Monterey Peninsula artists. Inspired by the uniqueness of their landscapes, he set out to share his own impressions of the area's unparalleled beauty.
Joaquin’s gallery is designed and decorated to give visitors the feeling of stepping back 100 years to the days of the city’s fledgling bohemian art scene when local artists welcomed the public into their creative dwellings. His gallery features not only his original work, but also those of important Early California artists, including William Ritschel, Mary DeNeale Morgan, Charles Rollo Peters, and William Keith.
When Joaquin or his wife are in the gallery and studio they are always so happy to visit. Joaquin is usually in Thursday through Monday from noon to 5 pm.
Once you have enjoyed your visit to this gallery, exit and turn left to leave the Su Vecino Courtyard. Then turn left back onto Dolores. Our next stop are the stone steps in front of the Carmel Art Association.
This is Carmel's oldest art gallery. It was founded in 1927 and features the work of more than 100 professional local artists. The historic building provides exhibition space for its members’ works and displays a wide variety of styles and media that change every month. Many of its early members were among the great early California artists we introduce you to on this walking tour, including Mary DeNeale Morgan, Percy Gray, Francis McComas and E. Charlton Fortune.
Continue up the steps to the sculpture garden and stop there for a moment while I tell you the story behind this historic building and organization.
On August 8, 1927, a group of 19 artists met at the home of artists Josephine Culbertson and Ida Johnson to establish an association for the advancement of art among Carmel’s growing artist community. A month later, the Carmel Art Association was founded. At first they rented a room in the Seven Arts building a few blocks away on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Lincoln for $30 a month, but lost that lease during the Great Depression in 1929.
Now, as happens many times with our old-time Bohemians, the story gets a little somber. Artist, poet, writer, and actor Ira “Rem” Remson lived with his wife, Carmel’s flaxen haired beauty, Yodi, in a cottage right here on this property. Yodi liked to socialize, Rem did not. In 1928, Yodi left Rem for another man and Rem never recovered from the loss.
On Thanksgiving that year, Rem invited several friends for dinner. When they arrived, they found Rem hanging from the beam in what is now the Beardsley Room of the Carmel Art Association. In 1933, the Carmel Art Association took up residence in Rem and Yodi’s former house. The Carmel Art Association is composed of local artists who are selected by their peers, and is considered one of the oldest operating non-profit artist cooperatives in the United States.
The association, which opens at 10am Thursday through Monday, exists to provide its members not only with a permanent art gallery, but to advance knowledge and interest in the Carmel art scene. If the gallery is open you might want to ask at the front desk the location of the Beardsley Room. After you have perused the gallery, descend the stairs, turn left and continue walking to the corner.
The Pit (2.12.21 Monterey County Weekly)
As you walk to the corner on your left is what residents call “The Pit.” This massive hole has been empty since 2018 when two buildings at this site were demolished to make way for a multi-use development that came to a halt due to lack of financing. Monaco businessman Patrice Pastor purchased this property in March of 2020 for $9 million and has sent several designs to the Carmel Planning Department. Someday one of the designs might be accepted.
Bates wasn't the only cartoonist to call Carmel home. I will tell you more about the others later on this tour.
From the Post Office, walk back to the corner of Dolores and 5th and turn left. Continue straight along Dolores.
Mary recently relocated to this storefront so currently there is not sign out in front. You will see her sign in the window. It reads Mary Titus Gallery Studio.
With Mary's gallery to your left continue straight and walk to the corner of Dolores and 6th. Carefully cross 6th Avenue, turn left and continue along 6th. Our next stop is Delia Bradford Fine Arts.
Delia Bradford grew up in Big Sur and is the daughter of two professional artists and the sister of Cyndra Bradford of Gallery Plein Aire we visited earlier. But why don't we let Delia tell her own story.
"Hi I’m Delia Bradford. My artistic inspiration comes from growing up in Big Sur. As a small child, every morning when I woke up, I was met with a beautiful landscape of land, sky and sea. I wanted to preserve these moments of beauty on paper and canvas. My style is impressionist and my passion is painting plein air. Both of my parents were artists and they were really stingy with their use of paint. I rebelled and use a lot of paint. I love color and am influenced by the French Impressionists and Early California Impressionists.”
When she is in studio she can be found wearing her painter’s apron that is covered with thick vibrant multi-colored layers of acrylic paint. When her artist studio door is open I always stop in to see what she is working on.
With Delia's gallery on your right, continue straight on 6th Avenue. As you walk, I will tell you about another early artist E. Charlton Fortune.
E. Charlton Fortune in her studio in Rhode Island (Angelus)
E. Charlton Fortune Christ Meets His Mother (Crocker Art Museum)
Alex Anderson (1920 - 2010 find a grave)
Gus Arriola 1949 (1917-2008) Wikipedia
Saul Alinsky (1909 - 1972) Wikipedia
Percy Gray (1869 - 1952) Fine Art Site
Continue straight on 5th while I tell you about another local artist, Percy Gray. Born in 1869, Percy studied art at the San Francisco School of Design. He was a master watercolorist, and was best known for his landscapes. Throughout his career, he had studios in New York, San Francisco, and Monterey.
Gray's art was considered conservative in form. He was a member of the Society for Sanity in Art, an organization of conservatives fighting against modern art. In 1922, Percy married Leone Phillips and they moved to Carmel where he was active in Carmel’s early artist colony and a member of the Carmel Art Association.At the corner, turn right and continue straight on Mission Street. Our next stop will be in the courtyard of the Mission Patio Shops, where we will visit Scott Jacobs Fine Art. His studio is at the back of the courtyard.
Scott’s inspiration is the miracle of life and his art is traditional yet contemporary. It has been been described as “bold, figurative art”. He gained worldwide fame after releasing his fine art portrait of Senator Barack Obama, entitled Someday has Come, during his campaign for President in 2008. Subsequently, he painted a portrait of comedian-actor Bill Murray entitled There’s Always Hope.
Take some time to enjoy Scott’s work. Then exit the courtyard the way you arrived and turn right back onto Mission Street. Our next stop is TravisHall Fine Art.
Early in his career as an artist, Travis moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was here that he developed a love for landscape and devoted his time to painting and learning his technique. In 2002 he was hailed as one of the 21 top artists under the age of 31 in the country by Southwest Art magazine. In 2003, using a technique that was pioneered by renowned artist and friend Susan Sales, Travis introduced a line of contemporary abstract paintings that incorporate this technique, a subtle layering of bold luminous colors with a smooth glass-like finish. His gallery also features contemporary artist Ann Artz and Stephanie Paige.
100 years ago, artists learned of Carmel-by-the-Sea by word-of-mouth, today Carmel’s quaint village is spread far and wide on the internet. The Carmel Shell mural was created by local artist Marie-Clare Treseder Gorham in 2020. It is a perfect backdrop for your social media post on Instagram or Facebook.
Gorham is a Carmel-based folk artist who incorporates medieval themes and iconography in her work that reflects the style of the California Arts and Crafts movement. Her great-grandfather was William S. Rice, one of the masters of the movement.
Marie Clare at work (Monterey County Weekly)
Continue walking to the corner of Ocean Avenue and Mission Street. At the corner stop for a moment and look diagonally to your left across the street. That is the Carmel Plaza and it is our next stop.
This location is also the 2nd floor entrance to Carmel Plaza. If you are so inclined you might want to explore this shopping plaza, it is filled with unique retails stores, restaurants, and wine rooms. The Carmel Visitor Center is on this level and there is a restroom at the back of the plaza on the third floor.
When you are ready to continue with this walking tour, turn around and walk back to the corner by Tiffany. Then carefully cross Mission Street. After crossing the street, turn to your left and continue straight on Mission.
Next on your right is Mission Bistro restaurant, specializing in meats and seafood, here you will truly get a taste of the best of what Carmel has to offer.
Contemporary artist Patricia’s philosophy can be described as one of experimentation and unencumbered expression. Most of her paintings begin with a base layer of thick white paint. Then listening to the energy of each unique piece of art, Patricia adds layer upon layer of color with powerful brush strokes in fluid motions until each piece speaks its completion. Patricia strongly believes in the freedom of expression, and that by unblocking internal restraints one can relinquish the creative comparisons and competition that limit our own expression.
With Patrician Qualls Gallery on your right, continue walking straight. Our next stop is the Court of the Fountains. Turn right into this court and walk to the back of the courtyard toward the copper-roofed gazebo. This is Lisa's Studio and our next stop.
Lisa is comfortable with oils, watercolors, and mixed media. And by the way I am a big fan of Lisa's Carmel puzzles, I own all of them! If her door is open, go inside and see what she is working on.
When you are finished, exit her studio and turn right. Walk past the beautiful pool and fountain.
At the corner turn right and continue straight on San Carlos toward Ocean Avenue. Our next stop is the large mural on the wall just past Nielson's Market.
Just past Nielsen Brothers Market, which is a great place to pick up a snack if you are so inclined, look for the huge mural of Carmel. Stop and take a look at it.
The mural was created by cartoonist Bill Bates, and Carol Minou in the 1980s, it is a humorous light-hearted view of Carmel. You saw some of Bill's cartoons in the Post Office earlier on this tour.
Sadly this mural is in need of a restoration as the paint is chipping heavily in many places. But if you are interested in a poster of this work, it is sold inside Nielsen Market. My VoiceMap partner Dale Byrnes is raising money through Carmel Cares to restore this treasure.
Continue walking along San Carlos. Our next stop will be Zantman's Gallery. It is just past the Well's Fargo Bank.
Johan and Gertrude Zantman launched this enterprise in 1959. It is one of Carmel's oldest commercial galleries celebrating over 60 years of being in business.
The third owners of this gallery, William and Kimberly Yant are thankful to the legacy the Zantman's began, and intend to continue to provide the same quality and customer service that their clients have come to know for the last 6 decades. The Yant's showcase new and aspiring artists, as well as notable artists already at the forefront of the contemporary art scene.
With the Zantman Gallery on your right, continue walking to the corner. Stop for a moment at the corner and take a look straight ahead at the Memorial Arch. It is in the center median of Ocean Avenue.
This arch was designed in 1919 by renowned architect and Carmel resident Charles Sumner Greene. It was completed on Veterans Day in 1921 and dedicated "In honor of those who served and in memory of those who died." The Memorial Arch is maintained by Carmel's American Legion Post 512.
Before the Memorial Arch was erected here, this was the location of the town water trough where early residents had to come to get their drinking water before a water system was installed in the village.
Alright let's continue, turn to your left and carefully cross San Carlos Street. Once on the other side of the street, turn left and continue straight down the other side of San Carlos. Our next stop is the colorful mural on the wall outside the back entrance to the Doud Crafts Studio. It will be on your right.
Robin is a Carmel native and never dreamed that she would open a jewelry studio in her hometown. But after 12 years at the Mid Valley Shopping Center in Carmel Valley, Robin moved her studio here to the Doud Arcade in April 2022. Robin is excited to tell you more about her art.
“My name is Robin Mahoney. I created Robin’s Jewelry as a place to express my creativity as a landlocked mermaid making jewelry out of what washed up in the tide. This Organic Bling uses materials like beach glass and semi-precious stones, usually set in sterling silver and many times having a surprise on the back. Working with my apprentice Keeza, each creation is hand-made here and is a true piece of Carmel-by-the-Sea. We also make a unique, hand-made magic wand that we include with every purchase! If the door is open, come one in, we would love to show you around.”
“Hi, I’m Robin Winfield. As a photographer, I am drawn to the beauty of the symmetry in architecture, the perfection of the man-made, and its dichotomy. Often my central focus is on “the doorway”. Most of the doorways I choose to photograph are closed, leaving the viewer to create the world beyond. When describing my work and the process I use, two words come to mind: structure and balance. In structuring a piece, I begin with a realistic focus – the photograph – and use this as a vehicle to express a mood or an aspect of the human condition. I personally invite you to my studio."
Robin’s gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. and Sunday at noon. I always make a point of stopping in if her door is open. When you are finished, exit and turn left then make an immediate right into the alleyway.
This is also home to Lepe Cellars Tasting Room. After studying viticulture at California Polytechnic State University, Miguel Lepe began his career working for various well respected wineries across California's Central Coast and South America. Today he showcases his own with the best of Monterey County wines. A nice way to finish off a day visiting art galleries in Carmel would be with a tasting of Lepe wine, don't you think?
When you are finished visiting the Winfield Gallery, exit and turn left. Our next stop is the El Paseo Courtyard & Passageway. It will be after the Tuck Box and the Little Napoli restaurant. The name will be over the courtyard entry.
You might notice that this building is similar in style to the Cypress Inn, where we began this tour. It is also similar to La Bicyclette the restaurant on the corner across the street.
Before we end our tour I want to tell you a bit about one more early Carmel artist, Jo Mora. Jo is the son of a classically trained Catalonian sculptor and was born in Uruguay in 1876. His family moved to the east coast where Jo spent his young years attending several art schools and working as an illustrator and cartoonist. He is also famous for his cartes, which are illustrated maps.
In 1921 Jo moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea and remained working in the area for the rest of his life. He was an artist-historian, sculptor, painter, photographer, illustrator, author, and muralist. His most important commission was the creation of the monumental bronze and travertine cenotaph for Father Junipero Serra located at the Carmel Mission. One other work by Jo Mora may be found in Carmel. The El Paseo sculpture, a colorful pair of early Californios was sculpted out of terra cotta is located at the back of the El Paseo Courtyard. Enter the courtyard. The entrance is between Little Napoli and Vino Napoli. Continue walking to the back of the courtyard to view this sculpture.
Alright we are on our way back to the Cypress Inn where we began this tour. At the corner of Dolores and 7th, turn right and carefully cross Dolores toward La Bicyclette. Continue straight on 7th.
He was a regular visitor to Carmel during the 1930’s. This mural was painted by a French-born street artist Mr. Brainwash in 2010. Right next to the mural is the patio of Terry’s Lounge, named after Doris Day’s son, producer and songwriter Terry Melcher, and is a great place to stop for refreshment. Happy hour is 4 pm to 6 pm Sunday through Thursday.
Well this is where I will be leaving you. We hope you have enjoyed your visit to Carmel-by-the-Sea and some of its art galleries. Until next time, Happy Adventures!
Pictures by L. A. Momboisse unless noted by the picture in the body of the blog