Music and chatter filled the room at the opening reception of Philip Latimer Dike’s “Chasing Daylight” exhibition Saturday evening in the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College.
Dike was an art professor at Scripps College for more than 20 years and created a new style of painting that became known as the “California style” of watercolor painting.
“Phil Dike was a significant artist to Southern California and the Scripps College art department,” Williamson Gallery director Kirk Delman said.
During the 1930s and 1940s, he began incorporating the effects of light and color into his paintings.
During this time period, he also traveled throughout the United States and Europe to experiment with his newfound technique.
His significance to the California art scene and his dedication to his students were the reasons Delman chose Latimer’s exhibition to be the first of the year.
“It isn’t often that his early work is shown together,” Delman said. “I wanted to take this opportunity to show the Claremont community pieces they haven’t seen before.”
“Chasing Daylight” featured more than 50 of Dike’s paintings, which chronicled his journeys in the United States and Europe.
Dike’s paintings told the stories of his time as an art student in New York, his time studying at the American Academy of Art in Fontainebleau and his travels.
Most of the paintings in the exhibition are composed of street scenes, landscapes and architecture.
Dike’s son, Woody Dike, attended the opening reception and reflected on how his father influenced him as a landscape architect.
“My father influenced the way I view art, color, design and my understanding of motion,” Woody Dike said.
“Art creates a story. It can be in a painting, architecture or a landscape. It can be in anything.”
Although he likes this exhibition of his father’s work, Woody Dike said his favorite works of his father are his abstract pieces.
“I like his later work when he became more abstract,” Dike said.
“He used fragments from nature to create an abstract feeling about the human and nature environment,” he said.
One of Woody Dike’s friends and Philip Dike’s former student, Jack Stewart, briefly reminisced on his college days with Woody and his interactions with Dike. He told one story that displayed Dike’s kind-hearted nature and his love for his family and friends.
“Phil was working in his studio, and I told him that when I finished college, I was going to save up and buy one of his paintings,” Stewart said.
“Phil went to his portfolio, took out a painting and handed it to me and said, ‘Now you have one.’”
Stewart and his wife Marci were excited to see Dike’s exhibition of his earlier paintings. They said they were familiar with his newer ones, but had never seen his early collection.
“I love (Dike’s) paintings and I’ve never seen his early ones, so I’m excited to see how his style changed over the years,” Marci Stewart said.
“Chasing Daylight” will be on display in the Williamson Gallery until Oct. 13.
There will be a closing reception and a watercolor demonstration on Oct. 13.
The gallery is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission is free and open to the public.
Liz Ortiz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.