The Art of Luck: A Santa Barbara Museum’s Big Find

Serendipity and dedication bring 21 never-before-displayed Edwin Deakin watercolors to life


Serendipity is the word that comes to mind when Frank Goss, the owner of Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery, is asked about his most high profile exhibition. His gallery is currently showcasing 21 of Edwin Deakin’s never-before-displayed watercolors depicting missions throughout California. How Goss discovered these paintings seems like a stroke of pure luck. 

The gallery had planned for two years to hold a show of Deakin’s oil paintings. Less than two months before the March 7th opening, the lender canceled. Scrambling for replacements, Goss contacted art directors and owners who might have a few Deakin paintings up their sleeves but was only able to procure five works. On the verge of despair, Goss made one last call to Alfred Harrison, the owner of the North Point Gallery in San Francisco. Harrison directed Goss to another dealer who was said to possess 21 watercolor paintings of California’s missions. The discovery was even more stupefying since these paintings, which were only rumored to exist, had never been publicly displayed. Luckily for Goss they were real and in pristine condition.

Now on display at Sullivan Goss, the 21 depictions of California’s missions are more than lucky find. They’re a state treasure and a testament to the craft of preservation. That they reappeared a century after most people thought they had been lost is something or a miracle. The Edwin Deakin exhibition will be on display at Sullivan Goss in Santa Barbara through June 30th, 2013. 

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