from the Sacramento Bee Published 2:15 am PDT Saturday, April 17, 2004

Patrick Dullanty 1927-2004: 'Painter's painter' dies at 76

By Victoria Dalkey -- Bee Art Correspondent

Sacramento painter Patrick Dullanty, who died of cancer Tuesday at the age of 76, was admired by his peers as an artist of vision, integrity and consummate skill. His was the kind of solid, serious work that could be done only by an artist who had found what he could do and knew how to do it very well.

 Neither trendy nor flashy, Dullanty's painterly images of the Northern California landscape were sometimes nostalgic but never sentimental treatments of subjects he felt close to - Sacramento's rivers and port, and industrial sites both here and in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Underpinned by his strong skills as a draftsman, these paintings caught both the gesture and geometry of what he saw.

 "He was one of the major figures in landscape painting in this area," said Scott Shields, chief curator of art at the Crocker Art Museum, where Dullanty had a one-person show of paintings in 1985. "He had a remarkable vision of this region. He really was a painter's painter."

 "He did so many things, and he did them so well," said painter Wayne Thiebaud of his longtime friend. "He was a good printmaker. He was good at masonry and cabinetmaking, which his father had taught him. He was good at sculpting and working with metal.

 "He could do almost anything."

 Over a 50-year career, Dullanty exhibited widely in the Sacramento area and beyond. He was an early member of the Artists Cooperative Gallery (later the Artists Contemporary Gallery), one of the first galleries of contemporary art in the city, and even lived in a corner of the gallery for a time when it was located across the street from The Bee at 21st and Q streets.

 In addition to exhibits in Sacramento, Dullanty's works have been shown at the Campbell-Thiebaud Galleries in San Francisco and Laguna Beach and at the Allan Stone Gallery in New York.

 Dullanty's distinctive landscape paintings often focused on factories, shipyards and lumber mills along Northern California waterways. He also painted memorable images of Yosemite and the high Sierra, capturing the cool green light of woodlands and forests, and the majesty of Half Dome and other Yosemite landmarks.

 His brand of painterly realism was rooted in the plein-air traditions of the 19th century French Barbizon school, the color and light investigations of the impressionists and the structural analysis of Cézanne. But he brought an individual touch to his subject matter through his direct yet sensitive approach to color and composition.

 Dullanty taught part time at Sacramento City College in the 1950s before going to work as a technical artist at Aerojet in Sacramento from 1956 to 1966 and at Ampex Corp. in Redwood City from 1967 to 1969. In 1970, he began teaching full time at Cosumnes River College, where he was the head of the art department for many years. He retired from teaching in 1993.

 "He was a very good and very responsible teacher," said Thiebaud. "At (the University of California at) Davis, we always got the best-prepared students from his classes."

 As for Dullanty's paintings, "He knew how to take a subject and make a strong case for it," Thiebaud said. "He had a special love of buildings, edifices, structures of all sorts, and his paintings were very well put together. They were firmly constructed, but they still had a freshness, a kind of lyric poetry.

 "One word that fits his work so well is 'authenticity,' " Thiebaud said. "Patrick was not interested in anything that smacked of falseness. It's a reflection of his personality. He was extremely honest and straightforward, a really good person."

 Born in 1927 in Hayward, Dullanty moved to Sacramento with his parents when he was 2 years old. Interested in art since his teens, he did drawings of aircraft during his service in the U.S. Navy in 1945-46. A graduate of Sacramento City College, where he studied with Harold Ward, John Matthews and Amalia Fischbacher, he first met Thiebaud in 1948 while attending Chouinards art school in Los Angeles.

 Returning home to Sacramento, Dullanty began his art career in the 1950s, forming enduring friendships with Thiebaud and artist Gregory Kondos, whom he knew from his City College days. The three often worked side by side, going outdoors to paint the landscape around Sacramento.

 "He was a wonderful plein-air painter," said Kondos. "He could really draw, and he knew how to pull together a composition. He could analyze a scene and put it down in black and white before fleshing out the composition."

 Dullanty was one of four Sacramento artists (Thiebaud, Kondos and Matt Bult were the others) who were invited to serve as artists-in-residence in Yosemite National Park. He also participated in high Sierra pack trips sponsored by the Yosemite Museum from the mid-1970s to the 1990s.

 "He was enthusiastic about anything he undertook, whether it was the pursuit of his art, camp chores, or even digging a latrine," said David Forgang, the Yosemite Museum's director.

 Unlike Kondos, who did not like to be disturbed while painting, Dullanty welcomed interaction with park visitors.

 "We used to tease him," said Forgang, "that we should put up signs saying, '200 feet to the artist; 100 feet to the artist; 50 feet to the artist; Go back - you missed the artist.' "

 An affable and approachable man, Dullanty was noted for his sense of humor.

 "He would tell great jokes with an Irish brogue," said Kondos. "He was the best friend you could have. If you gave a party, he would do an Irish jig."

 Dullanty was also a prankster, Thiebaud recalled. Once when Thiebaud and his wife, Betty Jean, were planning a trip to Paris, Dullanty offered to take them to the airport.

 "He showed up at 7 a.m.," Thiebaud remembered, "dressed as a French taxi driver, with a hat and a false mustache and a phony French accent. ... He was an endearing person. I'll miss him a great deal."

 "He was a feisty Irishman who enjoyed life so much," said Mary Dullanty, his wife of 47 years. "I was immediately attracted by his bright blue eyes and winning personality."

 The two met in 1956 through Kondos and his first wife, Rosie, who had been a friend of Mary's since their teen years.

 In addition to his wife, Dullanty is survived by three sons, Mitchell, 46, Daniel, 42, and Kevin, 36, as well as Mitchell's partner, Donna Doughty, and Daniel's wife, Ruth Dullanty. Private family services will be held in Humboldt County, where Daniel resides. The family asks that any remembrances be made to Kaiser Hospice, 2025 Morse Ave., Sacramento, CA 95825, or the American Cancer Society, 1765 Challenge Way, Sacramento, CA 95815.

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