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The History of Solvang, the Heritage of Denmark  
Past Exhibits

June 25 thru September 21, 2008

Whitehead Street
San Marcos Range
The 7th  Street Gang  -  Walter Payton
Station Eleven (Playa Del Rey)
Dutch Treat
Click to view larger images with descriptions

On exhibit in the museum gallery is “Merv Corning Retrospective,” a display of original work from various stages in the illustrious career of an accomplished and renowned painter with close local ties. The exhibition will include nearly 40 original paintings as well as pencil studies, mementos, and publications featuring artwork from a career of more than 50 years. 

Corning (1926-2006) lived and worked in Los Angeles for many years before his move to Solvang in 1980. He loved working in watercolors, although he also used acrylics, oils, and original lithography. Known for his finely detailed work, carefully nurtured during his many years as a successful and award-winning illustrator, Corning subtly recorded each scene with impeccable realism and sensitivity. His imagery artfully captured the ambience of his subjects.

Whether Corning painted an ancient airplane with its heroic pilot, or the architecture of a by-gone era, or America’s athletes in action or posing for portraits, his images captured the admiration of audiences worldwide. He is especially known for his figurative work depicting sports. The U.S. National Football League (NFL) commissioned Corning to paint more than 300 subjects. Corning is also noted for his pictures of historic World War I aircraft, local landscapes, interesting buildings (whether dilapidated or elaborate), anything on wheels, and portraits of friends and family.

“My interest is so broad that my art, as a body of work, defies categorization. . . . I have a desire to explore, a curiosity to do different things,” Corning once said. “My enjoyment is in the drawing and design.”

During his career Corning received numerous honors and awards from a variety of organizations, including the Society of Illustrators and the Art Directors' Club, both of Los Angeles. He received the Dillon gold medal for his portrait of Carl Eller, and the R. G. Smith Award for Naval aviation art. Corning's artwork has been exhibited by many prestigious institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Pentagon, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Museum of Flight, Seattle, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Air Force Museum (England), and the United States Air Force Museum. His art is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution and in numerous private and corporate collections around the world.

No mater what the medium, Merv Corning always created preliminary studies to work out the color relationships, composition, and contrasts. He would then transfer his study to paper or canvas. In many cases he would pencil draw directly on the surface to be painted. As he liked to say, “I don’t like rules or regulations, I don’t think they apply. I do whatever works.” And, it seemed, almost everything he painted “worked.”

The exhibit will remain on display through September 21.

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