“Flamingos and White Cockatoos”, Jessie Arms Botke, circa 1950. Oil on masonite. Collection of Brian and Judy Robertson.

Museum exhibit first to feature two generations of art by famed Botke family

November 22, 2006
Santa Paula News
Rarely displayed work by famed artists Cornelis Botke and Jessie Arms Botke will be joined with recent artwork by their granddaughter Kitty Botke in a first ever exhibit of all three family members. “Artistic Journeys: The Botke Family” opens December 2 at the Ventura County Museum of History & Art and continues through March 4, 2007. The exhibit will explore the working methods and tools of the three related Santa Paula artists. While the married Botkes were both painters and printmakers and often collaborated, they had very separate styles. Jessie Arms Botke was famed for decorative and imaginative paintings of birds, while Cornelis Botke’s detailed landscape etchings were acclaimed for their draftsmanship and exhibited internationally during his lifetime. Granddaughter Kitty Botke is a printmaker whose approach conveys mood and emotion. Kitty grew up on her grandparents’ ranch in a canyon outside Santa Paula, so she often watched them in their art studio. Today, Kitty works in that same studio.Along with the art, many of the tools used by the Botkes in their printmaking process will be on exhibit, including preliminary drawings, copper plates, and linoleum and wood blocks.The Botkes’ 1915 marriage proved to be an unusually modern one, with both artists supportive of each other’s successful and separate careers. However, their custom was to work together on mural commissions, and the museum exhibit will include mural panels done for the Oaks Hotel in Ojai in 1954. Other murals by the Botkes can be seen locally in the Oxnard Public Library (originally done for Woodrow Wilson High School in Oxnard in 1950), and in the auditorium of Santa Paula High School (1939).Kitty, like her father and other siblings, avoided any notion of becoming an artist until she succumbed to her parents’ encouragement and took a college printmaking class. From that point on, Kitty committed to the artistic journey of her grandparents. She is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and since then has also studied art at Ventura College. She says she often finds herself turning to her grandfather Cornelis’ printmaking books and notes for ideas and inspiration.
The Ventura County Museum of History & Art, at 100 E. Main St. in downtown Ventura, is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $4 adults, $3 seniors, $1 children, and is free to members and children under six. For information, call 653-0323 or go to www.venturamuseum.org.\

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