JOLON — San Antonio Valley Historical Association (SAVHA) recently sold a watercolor painting of the Dutton Hotel to Monterey Museum of Art after it spent years on display inside Wells Fargo Bank in King City.
In January 2020, Katherine Halligan of Halligan Fine Art appraised the painting as being worth $6,000.
Topographical survey engineer and artist Cleveland Salter Rockwell created the painting during the 1890s while he was working for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. He traveled through the town of Jolon during his survey work of the Big Sur Coast, and amid a five-day wait for his crew, he is presumed to have stayed at the Dutton Hotel and created the initial sketches.
Rockwell conducted numerous coastal surveys and mapped harbors and river systems on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States during his career and filled his sketchbooks with the scenes from his travels. One of those sketches was of the Dutton Hotel, which became a watercolor painting that Rockwell called the “California Wayside Hotel.”
Patricia Woodfill, vice president for SAVHA, said most of Rockwell’s paintings are of natural landscapes, such as hills and rivers, and that exceptions like buildings and portraits aren’t common in the collected works.
SAVHA purchased the painting in 1984 and had it displayed inside Wells Fargo from 1993 until 2019, in memory of Rachel Gillett, who co-founded SAVHA and worked many years to help preserve the historic adobes and photos of South Monterey County.
The painting was removed in January 2020 for appraisal, and Wells Fargo no longer wished to be responsible for the piece of history once it was known to be worth $6,000.
SAVHA stored the painting in the archive room at the Monterey County Agricultural Rural Life Museum in King City until a new home could be found or sold. The painting remained at MCARLM until it was sold to the Monterey Museum of Art in March 2021.
Woodfill said SAVHA was interested in photographing the artwork to create poster prints for fundraising. In addition, insurance requirements necessitated an appraisal.
“We needed to have it appraised for insurance purposes to find out what the value was so we could find out how to insure it,” said Woodfill, adding that difficulties came after the appraisal. “We could not find an insurance company that would insure just one painting that is not known where it will hang. They want it in a museum or in someone’s household. It was too valuable for us to not have it insured.”
In the meantime, SAVHA has created 100 poster prints.
“Now we are selling limited edition numbered paintings,” Woodfill said.
More information about the poster prints will be available through the SAVHA website, savha.org, which is currently under construction. Some money from the sale of the painting will go toward finishing the website.
They will also fund historical preservation work on the site of the Tidball Store. SAHVA also uploads copies of the King City Rustler from 1901 to 1925 to the University of California at Riverside, and funding will go toward hosting costs.
“Anyone with access to the internet can use the information for family or historical research by going to www.cdnc.ucr.edu,” Woodfill said. “When searching by county (Monterey), a link will come up for the King City Rustler.”