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Carl Sammons

Carl Sammons, a long-time resident of California, was a prolific Plein-Air artist best known for his representational landscapes and coastal scenes. Although Sammons painted pastels early in his career (and is sometimes referred to as a pastelist) by the mid-1920s he was also painting oils, and these comprise the majority of his work.

Sammons was born in Kearney, Nebraska to John Sammons and Elizabeth (a.k.a. Lizzie) Danford on May 9, 1883. Although many sources list his birth date as May 9, 1886 at the time of the 1885 Nebraska State Census Sammons and his family were living in the Riverdale Township, Buffalo County, Nebraska. Sometime after that, while Sammons was still in his youth, he and his family moved to Sioux City, Iowa. Sammons began his art studies in Sioux City while working as a gold letter sign painter. During this time he studied under the leading local artists including an unnamed German painter. Sammons worked for the Sioux City sign painting companies Arthur Loft in 1909 and 1910 and C W Ashley in 1911 and 1913. While it is not known precisely when he moved to California, it was between the years 1913 and 1917 (by which time he was living in Oakland).

Shortly thereafter Sammons began studying at the California School of Fine Arts (at the time affiliated with the University of California and now known as the San Francisco Art Institute). On February 3, 1923 he married Queen Esther Stewart. Queen, a native Californian, was born on May 14, 1893 to J. Calvin Stewart a Fort Bragg physician and Frances J. Cooper. She was a resident of Petrolia at the time of their marriage (one of Sammons favorite spots to paint). Besides having a love of California in common both Sammons' and Stewart's parents had been born in the Midwest. This was a first marriage for both of them and they were married by the minister of the First Lutheran Church, Oakland. There is some indication that in the first years of their marriage Queen was known as Bessie.

Settling in Oakland, they traveled extensively throughout California, making painting trips to Humboldt County, the Monterey Peninsula, Palm Springs, the Russian River, Santa Barbara and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Although they lived in Oakland most of the time they loved both Petrolia (and had a summer home there in the 1940s and 1950s) and Santa Barbara (they lived there in 1943 where Sammons had a studio). During the early days of his painting career Sammons also worked as a landscape gardener most likely to supplement his income.

Sammons' oil and pastel paintings include scenes from Big Sur, Cayucos, Contra Costa County (Mount Diablo and the Orinda hills), Humboldt County (Cape Mendocino, Davis Creek, the Etter Ranch, Ferndale, the Mattole River watershed and Petrolia), Laguna Beach, the Monterey Peninsula (17 Mile Drive, the Carmel coast, the Lone Cypress, Monterey, Pacific Grove and Point Lobos), Mount Shasta, Palm Springs (the Anza Borrego Desert, La Quinta Canyon, Mount San Gorgonio, the Palm Springs Desert, San Gregoria and San Jacinto), the Russian River (redwoods and the Russian River), the Sacramento River, Santa Barbara (the Andre Clark Bird Refuge, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Montecito, the Santa Barbara coast and the Santa Barbara Mission), San Diego (Laguna Mountains), San Francisco (the Cliff House and Sausalito), San Jose (Monterey Road) and the Sierra Nevada mountains (Garnet Lake, Grant Lake, June Lake, King's Canyon, Lake Diaz in Lone Pine, Lake Ellery, Lake George, Lake Mary, Lake Sabrina, Lake Tahoe, the Mammoth Lakes region, the Merced River, the Minarets, Mount Ritter, Relief Peak, Rush Creek, Silver Lake, the Sonora Pass, Tee Jay Lake, Twin Lakes, Virginia Lake and Yosemite).

He also painted outside of California in Alaska (Mount McKinley), Arizona (the Tucson desert, the Tucson Mission and the Virgin River Canyon), Canada (the Bow River and Lake Louise in Alberta), Oregon (Crater Lake and Diamond Lake) and Wyoming (the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole and Mount Moran - Jackson Lake).

Besides oil and pastel Sammons worked in two other mediums; he painted in watercolor (redwoods) twice during his infrequent illnesses and in gouache (a river canyon).

"His many works included landscapes, seascapes, high mountains, lakes, coastal ranges, the desert and its flora, rolling California hills, thundering breakers, scenes in all seasons, an occasional bouquet of flowers and even birds." He primarily sold his works to individuals and public institutions through private exhibitions and personal contacts. However, he did sell some of his paintings through galleries such as Saake's in Oakland. Sammons also worked occasionally on commission and was known to visit the location where the painting was to be displayed in order to choose the palette he used for the painting. He did this to ensure the finished painting would be complementary with its surroundings.

Sammons would generally sell his paintings on temporary matting and let the buyer frame the piece. His paintings were signed as Carl Sammons, C. Sammons, or Sammons. Further, he would usually sign his paintings at the bottom (on either the right or left side) however on several occasions he was known to sign only the matting on which he had mounted the painting.

Sammons died in Oakland on February 4, 1968 after a long illness. Services were held on February 6, 1968 at the Telegraph Avenue Chapel of the Grant Miller Mortuaries, Oakland. He was cremated at the Chapel of the Chimes, Fremont. Sammons was survived by his wife (she lived to be 103 and passed away March 19, 1997 in Moraga); a sister, Mrs. Mary Dye, Petaluma; his brother, Ross Sammons, Long Beach; nieces and nephews.


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