Oil Paintings by D. Wynne Nixon – “Old Town Cordelia in a New Light”
TO VIEW AUDIO SLIDESHOW:
Please click on a painting, and the audio button, to view the slideshow. Also, scroll down to the bottom for a brief history of this interesting town and a description of the art show.
“Old Cordelia in a New Light”
All towns have a story to tell. The story of Old Town Cordelia is poignant in how it uniquely represents all the quintessential elements of California history and the American West. Cordelia’s history embodies California’s important moments rolled into one disappearing ghost town that has somehow escaped the pages of history…the elusive lost California mission (Santa Eulalia), an embarcadero, Native Americans, the gold rush, pioneers, the Pony Express, cowboys, Victorians, mining, the Transcontinental Railroad, first wineries, the depression, a great fire, autos, and finally, a ghost town all wrapped into one small location. Where is this historical information documented? The answer is nowhere…until now…in the artwork of a painter who recognized a diamond in the rough. The artist took the time to paint the town in order to show Californians what they missed if they blinked too fast behind the wheel on their way thru this forgotten hamlet at the intersection of Highways 80, 680, and 12 in Solano County. Due to the efforts of this plein air painter, we have the opportunity to see Old Cordelia in a new light.
The artist, D. Wynne Nixon, who resides in Old Cordelia, CA, noticed after moving in that the deed to the new house stated that the property’s land bordered the Cordelia Wine Company. Nixon discovered the ruins of the winery next door, built in 1880, and as a result, started to ask around and research the towns history from elderly residents. Nixon was then troubled to find out that Caltrans had put Cordelia on the California Register of Historical Resources in 1979, but that the City of Farfield repressed the information to plan a new highway over the dilapidated town. As a result, Nixon requested the Art Council of the City of Fairfield for a grant to paint the historical structures in Cordelia. With this grant in hand, Nixon created a series of 60 paintings to share with the locals this treasure trove of American pride. The inspiring result was that the federal government, thru the Solano Transportation Authority, realized the benefit of such a resource, and granted the funds for a historical walking path to commemorate this tiny village for posterity. The highway over the town was never built due to the efforts of the towns people and the public awareness of the history thru Nixon’s art shows.
The works of the Cordelia paintings display a great passion for paint. Rustic, skillful brushwork delicately exaggerates color, and light, with a compassion for the old souls whose hard work created the time worn structures. With care, the artist researched old black and white photos of Cordelia’s foggy past ignored to illuminate it’s history. Many of the photos were given to the Nixon by residents who peered over the artist’s shoulder while she painted in plein air. With a clear display next to each painting of a structure, a small 8”x10” black and white antique photo of it, with a brief written history, draws in fascinated viewers. Thus, the exhibit provides an interesting glimpse into the “then and now” contrast of past and present jolting the viewer forwards and back again, in a powerful journey. The viewers can then go to the town of Cordelia to find where the old building stood and where Nixon created the new painting on sight.
Though these charmingly forthright paintings of Cordelia display a colloquial town, it makes the viewer smile because it could be any small town…or their own hometown. It’s rarity becomes everyone’s common ground, stirring up the roots of the heart. The show brings to earth the glory of the common, in such a way that it becomes a nostalgic piece of special folklore, readily identifiable to all. The power of this show is in the simple way that it is straight-forwardly painted in a literal manner…showing America at its finest.