E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit

One of California’s most trailblazing artists, E. Charlton Fortune (1885–1969) had a thriving career as a painter until the age of forty-three, when she began a pioneering new vocation in liturgical art. E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit pairs the artist’s impressionist and modernist landscapes with her ecclesiastical paintings, sculptures, furnishings, and other designs produced for the Catholic Church.

Though her paintings are frequently labeled impressionist, Fortune’s work moved beyond the style, a fact well recognized in her own time. Rather than focusing on nature for its own sake, she emphasized humanity’s impact on the land and was best known for colorful landscapes featuring architecture and elements of modern life as well as figures, many of them female. These works were strong in color—frequently rendered in primary or complementary hues—and rugged and gestural in execution. Because of this, some reviewers and critics thought she was a man. Many also described her paintings as “masculine,” attributing their success to a perceived virility—then one of the most highly regarded qualities in art.

Starting in 1928, Fortune’s disenchantment with mass-produced ecclesiastical art led her to create designs of her own and then found the Monterey Guild, a group of skilled craftspeople who, under her direction, created original, modern artworks for churches. Fortune’s religious artworks returned the focus to the liturgy and reinforced the importance of design and handcraftsmanship within Church interiors.

E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit illuminates this formidable artist’s contributions both to early California painting and American liturgical design through approximately eighty works.

E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit is organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art and curated by Scott A. Shields, Ph.D., California art scholar and Crocker Art Museum’s Associate Director and Chief Curator. A 236-page, fully illustrated catalogue featuring scholarly essays by Shields and by Julianne Burton-Carvajal, Ph.D., accompanies the exhibition. Following its debut at the PMCA, the exhibition will travel to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento from January 28–April 22, 2018, and the Monterey Museum of Art from May 24–August 27, 2018.

The exhibition is supported by the PMCA Board of Directors, PMCA Ambassador Circle, and the California Visionary Fund. California art patrons Yvonne Boseker, Simon Chiu, Kelvin Davis, Marie and Murray Demo, John and Patricia Dilks, Jeff Dutra, William C. Georges, Stephen MacFarlane, and Thomas B. Stiles, II and Barbara Alexander underwrite the exhibition. Generous grants from the Historical Collections Council of California Art and the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation along with corporate sponsorship from Bonhams Auctioneers, Heritage Auctions, John Moran Auctioneers, Josh Hardy Galleries, and Paula and Terry Trotter, Trotter Galleries provide invaluable support.

Related Programs

  • Opening Day

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 | 12:00pm–5:00pm

    Join us as we proudly unveil our three new exhibitions to the general public. See impressionist and modernist landscapes paired with the liturgical designs by one of California’s most significant artists in E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit; vibrant Cuban film posters that create… Read more

  • Intersection: A Playhouse District Festival

    Saturday, August 26, 2017 | 4:00pm–10:00pm

    Drop by the PMCA table during the Playhouse District Association’s Intersection festival, a free, end-of-summer street party. Enjoy live music, food and drink vendors, and craft activities, and contribute to the PMCA’s community art mural inspired by our current exhibitions. Wisdom Arts Lab joins… Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Free First Friday

    Friday, September 1, 2017 | 12:00pm–5:00pm

    Enjoy free admission all day during Free First Friday! Presented as part of our PMCA 1234 monthly programming. NO RSVP REQUIRED. Banner Image: Nelson Ponce Sánchez, La Naranja Mecanica/A Clockwork Orange [detail], 2009. Silkscreen, 29 15/16 x 20 1/16 inches. Instituto Cubano del Arte e… Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Second Saturday Spotlight Talk

    Saturday, September 9, 2017 | 2:00pm

    Spotlight Talks take place on the second Saturday of every month at 2:00pm. A PMCA docent leads an engaging and insightful 20-minute discussion about a work of art currently on view in our Main Gallery exhibition E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit. Note: Spotlight Talks… Read more

  • Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Free Day

    Sunday, September 17, 2017 | 12:00pm–5:00pm

    Enjoy free admission in celebration of the Getty-led initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. See PMCA’s contribution to this exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films, in the South… Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Free Third Thursday Evening (& Then Some)

    Thursday, September 21, 2017 | 5:00pm–8:00pm

    Enjoy free admission, extended hours, and a free program: Latino Los Angeles Reading • 6:00pm–7:00pm Gather together for a showcase of some of Southern California’s most talented Latino writers. Hear Red Hen Press authors read their work in a range of genres and celebrate… Read more

  • Marathon Sketching: En Plein Air

    Saturday, September 23, 2017 | 2:00pm–5:00pm

    First, stop by the Museum for a guided tour of E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit to examine Californian and European landscape paintings by one of California’s most significant artists, E. Charlton Fortune. Then, head across the street to the Fuller Theological Seminary courtyard… Read more

  • Smithsonian Magazine Presents Museum Day Live!

    Saturday, September 23, 2017 | 12:00pm–5:00pm

    Museum Day Live! is an annual celebration of boundless curiosity hosted by Smithsonian magazine. Participating museums and cultural institutions across the country provide entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket. Where will your curiosity lead you on Museum Day Live!? Let us… Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Free Fourth Wednesday Wee-Read

    Wednesday, September 27, 2017 | 10:30am–11:30am

    A Wheel of Colors California artist E. Charlton Fortune was known for her bold use of color. First, look at her paintings in the Main Gallery exhibition E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit and see how many colors you can spot. Return to the… Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Free First Friday

    Friday, October 6, 2017 | 12:00pm–5:00pm

    Enjoy free admission all day during Free First Friday! Presented as part of our PMCA 1234 monthly programming. NO RSVP REQUIRED. Banner Image: E. Charlton Fortune, Edinburgh Castle [detail], c. 1921. Oil on panel, 12 7/8 x 16 1/8 inches. Collection of Harry Parashis

  • ¡Fiesta Cubana! Fall Benefit

    Saturday, October 7, 2017 | 7:00pm–10:00pm

    Celebrate Cuba’s history and affinity for film with traditional Cuban music, food, and a lively fiesta inspired by our Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films exhibition. The event honors PMCA and art education patrons Christine & Reed Halladay and… Read more

  • ArtNight Pasadena

    Friday, October 13, 2017 | 6:00pm–10:00pm

    Enjoy free admission, extended hours, and complimentary shuttle transportation at the PMCA and other cultural institutions around Pasadena. CalArts SPRAWL presents “Car Plays,” an interactive performance, in our Kenny Scharf Kosmic Krylon Garage. Present your Metro ticket or TAP card and receive a free… Read more

  • Pasadena ARTWalk

    Saturday, October 14, 2017 | 11:00am–6:00pm

    Visit our art-making booth to design a Hollywood film poster and create block print designs inspired by Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films and LA Redux: Reduction Linocuts by Dave Lefner. Present your ARTWalk sticker or program to receive… Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Second Saturday Spotlight Talk

    Saturday, October 14, 2017 | 2:00pm

    Spotlight Talks take place on the second Saturday of every month at 2:00pm. A PMCA docent leads an engaging and insightful 20-minute discussion about a work of art currently on view in our Main Gallery exhibition E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit. Note: Spotlight… Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Free Third Thursday Evening (& Then Some)

    Thursday, October 19, 2017 | 5:00pm–8:00pm

    Enjoy free admission, extended hours, and a free program: “Looking Out” • 6:00pm-7:30pm CalArts SPRAWL presents “Looking Out,” which includes artistic collaborations through readings, performances, and discussions led by CalArts students and alumni. The evening connects members of different creative communities, including artists from local… Read more

  • PUSD Student & Educator Appreciation Day

    Saturday, October 21, 2017 | 12:00pm–5:00pm

    PMCA offers free admission all day long for Pasadena Unified School District educators, students, and their families. NO RSVP REQUIRED. Banner Image: Eduardo Muñoz Bachs, Por Primera Vez/For the First Time [detail], 1968. Silkscreen, 29 15/16 x 20 1/16 inches. Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC)…. Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Free First Friday

    Friday, November 3, 2017 | 12:00pm–5:00pm

    Enjoy free admission all day during Free First Friday! Presented as part of our PMCA 1234 monthly programming. NO RSVP REQUIRED. Banner Image: E. Charlton Fortune, Silver Morning, St. Tropez [detail], c. 1924–27. Oil on board, 12 5/8 x 15 1/2 inches. Monterey Museum of… Read more

  • Family Day

    Saturday, November 4, 2017 | 12:00pm–5:00pm

    Participate in fun art projects and gallery tours for the whole family based on our current exhibitions: E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit, Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films, and LA Redux: Reduction Linocuts by Dave Lefner. Activities include… Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Free Third Thursday Evening (& Then Some)

    Thursday, November 16, 2017 | 5:00pm–8:00pm

    Enjoy free admission, extended hours, and a free program: Charlie Chaplin Movie Screening • 5:30pm In partnership with the Playhouse District Association’s Hi Neighbor program and The Frida Cinema, Bob and Arlene Oltman host a screening of a Charlie Chaplin film in the Founders… Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Free First Friday

    Friday, December 1, 2017 | 12:00pm–5:00pm

    Enjoy free admission all day during Free First Friday! Presented as part of our PMCA 1234 monthly programming. NO RSVP REQUIRED. Banner Image: Nelson Ponce Sánchez, La Naranja Mecanica/A Clockwork Orange [detail], 2009. Silkscreen, 29 15/16 x 20 1/16 inches. Instituto Cubano del Arte… Read more

  • In Dialogue: Liturgical Art for This Age

    Saturday, December 2, 2017 | 2:00pm

    What is the contemporary role of liturgical art? With E. Charlton Fortune’s work as backdrop in our Main Gallery exhibition E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit, Fuller Theological Seminary scholars and Southern Californian artists discuss the current creative processes involved in spiritual practices. Free… Read more

  • Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Pasadena/San Marino Regional Day

    Sunday, December 17, 2017 | 12:00pm–5:00pm

    Enjoy free admission at the PMCA and visit other PST: LA/LA cultural institutions (Amory Center for the Arts; The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens; and USC Pacific Asia Museum) for this regional celebration of Latin American and Latino art in the dialogue with… Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Free Third Thursday Evening (& Then Some)

    Thursday, December 21, 2017 | 5:00pm–8:00pm

    Enjoy free admission, extended hours, and a free program: Holiday Cheer • 6:00pm Enjoy a free holiday concert amidst art in the Main Gallery exhibition E. Charlton Fortune: The Colorful Spirit with vocalists and musicians from Fuller Theological Seminary, and sing along to classic… Read more

  • PMCA 1234: Free First Friday

    Friday, January 5, 2018 | 12:00pm–5:00pm

    Enjoy free admission all day during Free First Friday! Presented as part of our PMCA 1234 monthly programming. NO RSVP REQUIRED. Banner Image: E. Charlton Fortune, Edinburgh Castle [detail], c. 1921. Oil on panel, 12 7/8 x 16 1/8 inches. Collection of Harry Parashis