Saturday, September 12, 2015

An Early Influence

Way, way back a long time ago (early '70s, when I was majoring in art at Cal State LA), I used to visit a weekly outdoor art show that took place on the grounds of Griswold's Old School House (in Claremont, CA), a complex that included a restaurant/smorgasbord, hotel, theater and shops. One of the regular artists there was a German immigrant who painted Southwest desert landscapes.

In my opinion, he was the best artist there in terms of achieving that classical, traditional look to scenes that the Old Masters never actually got to see. The artist typically had a mountain more-or-less centered, with either saguaro cactus or Joshua trees and lots of wildflowers. The works had such an old-world, skilled feel to them, and the landscapes appeared warm and inviting.

I wish I could have bought one of his paintings, but I wasn't working and didn't have the money for them, even though they didn't strike me as expensive. He often invited me to visit him at his studio and gallery in Pomona, but I never did.

And I never got his name or even a business card! At that time, I didn't realize that he would be an early influence on my present-day painting; in fact, he was really my first influence.

So I've been searching and searching for him, realizing he's probably deceased by now. What used to be called Griswold's has no records of that time.

Then, finally last night, I must have stumbled upon the correct search terms on Google, and I think I found him!

Karl Von Weidhofer

The Internet has only a handful of images of his artwork, but they resemble the ones I remember seeing at the art shows.

Desert,landscape,painting,art,Karl Von Weidhofer,influence
Desert Landscape          Karl Von Weidhofer

Sorry -- this was a small image, so the resolution isn't very high. And the composition isn't what I remember about the paintings I saw -- this view opens up in the middle instead of being blocked by a mountain.

Still, it should give you an idea of what it was that inspired me, even though I didn't know these paintings would come back to haunt me years later. The seed had been planted, and -- typical of my life in general -- it was a late-bloomer. And it blooms to this day.

This is a short bio of Karl as I found it in several places online:

Karl Weidhofer was born in East Prussia, Germany on June 8, 1920.  Weidhofer was in the German army when captured by the Russians during WWII.  While imprisoned for four years, he was taught to paint by a fellow prisoner. After the war he was reunited with his family in Bavaria.  He married and in 1954 moved to southern California.  For many years he worked as a lab technician for Pomona Tile Company while painting in his leisure.  In 1968 he became a full-time artist and began exhibiting his paintings in art shows held in malls and parks in southern California and the Southwest.  Weidhofer died at his home in Pine Grove, CA on Nov. 3, 2001.  Best known for his desert landscapes...

So -- is Karl the artist I remember? Maybe. The times and places mentioned in the bio would match where and when he would have been re: Griswold's in the early '70s.

He is indeed deceased -- lived to be almost 81 years old. I'll never get to tell him how he impacted my art forever.

But I'll continue to paint knowing Karl DID have that impact -- along with other artists who have shown me additional gems such as dramatic skies and lighting -- something Karl didn't get into.

Maybe you're painting right now in heaven, Karl. RIP.


Anonymous said...

HEllo, I recently found out that I have a painting by this artist. It is signed on the bottom. I would love to find out if the painting is of any value.

Mark J said...

Fantastic! Hmmm...I'll admit I have no experience in finding out the value of paintings or a painter in general. I'd see if you can locate an art appraiser in your area, or in the nearest big city, who would be able to look up the artist for you. I Googled "appraising value paintings" and got some sites that may be worthwhile, although I have no experience with any of them. One that looks promising is; again, I can't recommend them since I've never used them.

Good luck! -MJ

L. Weidhofer said...


Yes, Karl von Weidhofer is the artist that you met! He was my father in law and a wonderful man. I will pass your blog onto the family. Such a nice tribute.

L. Weidhofer

Mark J said...

Hi! I'm glad you posted a comment!! Yes, I always regretted not getting a painting by your father-in-law when he was showing at Griswalds or to visit him at his studio in Pomona. I didn't know it then, but his style and subject matter would remain stuck in my head for many years before I started painting the desert myself.

Karl seemed like a nice fellow and more deserving of recognition and sales than he got, from talking with him. Thanks again for commenting! ☺


Robert Falcone said...


I just purchased a beautiful original painting by this artist, Karl Von Weidhofer, at an estate sale in Oregon. Would love to learn more about him. His work is beautiful! Very detailed and classical almost like Albert Bierstadt. What info do you know about him?


Mark J said...

Hi, Robert -- sorry for the delay. It's been busy!!

Congratulations on your acquisition of a Karl Von Weidhofer painting!

I've seen a number of bios about Karl on different sites on the Internet...this one is the same as what the others say:

I did meet him and saw him numerous times at the local weekend art shows. He has a studio in Pomona, CA and invited me to come by, but I never got around to going there, unfortunately.

Always very pleasant...if he was sitting when I came by his space at the art show, he always got up to greet and talk to me. He still spoke with a German accent, soft voice -- not harsh at all.

From the bio, it's obvious he had his ups and downs during his life. Thankfully he learned how to paint and he made it to America.

I never heard how good his sales were at the art shows. He did quietly complain that people came to eat at the smorgasbord, then walked over to the show to get a dose of culture -- but then they often didn't buy much, if anything.

Anyway, I hope this is helpful Enjoy your painting!