Class of Summer 1935

Joe Duncan Gleason
b. Watsonville, California, 1881
d. Glendale, California, 1959
Head Winds (or Storm at Sea), c. 1935
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches

A native Californian raised in Los Angeles, Gleason worked as an illustrator in New York for several years before returning to the Southland in 1914. An intrepid traveler and sailor, Gleason worked for the Hollywood studios on films whose plots involved sailing and clipper ships, including Cecil B. DeMille’s The Yankee Clipper (1927) and Warner Brothers’ Captain Blood (1935). At the time of the purchase, Gleason considered Head Winds to be his best ship painting. As the crew struggles to secure the sails and the ship pitches back and forth, water gushes from the deck; more waves loom in the distance. Head Winds presents us with one of the most dramatic moments a sailor can face, but we sense that all is under control and that these sailors will survive in the face of nature’s awesome power. 

GIFTED: Collecting the Art of California at Gardena High School, 1919-1956 is organized by the GHS Art Collection, Inc, in association with the Gardena High School Student Body and curated by Susan M. Anderson.