A Southern Californian Painter of Trains
August 20, 2010 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find information on Svenningsen, a Southern Californian painter who favored trains, active in the 70s.

Following on the major success of the question about Verily Hammons, I'm hoping AskMe can help me find information on another Southern Californian painter.

While visiting my paternal grandparents in Southern California in 1974, my parents bought, at a street fair, possibly in San Diego, a large painting of a Union Pacific train, depicted on a snowy night. The best picture I have of it is here. (Please attempt to ignore Mary and Erin.)

My mother remembers that the painter, whose last name she believes was Svennigsen (no recollection of his first name, sorry), had a number of paintings of trains for sale. Some were of a few cars, another was a long range view of a train on a trestle crossing a snowy mountain pass.

In addition to the train painting, which they bought as an anniversary present to themselves, my mother was taken with an etching by the same artist that pictured a boy and a girl in a foreboding, fairy-tale-like forest, with a castle in the distance. It was titled "Enchanted Wood." They purchased both the painting and the etching, and spent somewhere between $250 and $300 on the two pieces together.

Unfortunately, we have neither work at this point. For some reason my parents did not divide the paintings when they divorced, and at some time between then (1988) and now, my father let go of both.

I wish I could get the painting and etching back, which I'm entirely sure is impossible, but I'd be happy just to know more about this artist, if anyone has information to share. Thanks.
posted by jocelmeow to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm guessing the artist is Theodore Franz Svenningsen

I see very little about him except for mentions in articles.

here is a link to someone's estate sale with a painting of a train (not the same as your parents had... I'm guessing that's the same artist.
posted by KogeLiz at 9:06 AM on August 20, 2010

Response by poster: Wow, thanks! No doubt that's the same artist, KogeLiz. Here's a direct link to the painting in question. I got a little choked up just looking at that. Any particular articles of interest that you found?

I don't know if you found that by googling or some other method, but if there is additional information in more specialized databases, I'd welcome that as well.
posted by jocelmeow at 9:25 AM on August 20, 2010

Best answer: He was in a group show at the Lawrence Asher gallery in 2004, unfortunately the documentation of their past shows start just after that. You could try emailing them. This is their site.

There is also mention and a description of a painting called Tar Night in this NYT article from 1991. And another article here from '89 where he was featured in the same venue, the City Without Walls gallery in Newark. Remarkably they still exist as well.

I can't drag up any further images or biography, but I'd get in touch with those galleries, to see if anyone remembers anything else.

Good luck.
posted by multivalent at 9:40 AM on August 20, 2010

I forgot:

TarFest 2004 - Selected Works plus additional works by Fumiko Amano, Jay Brockman, Theodore Svenningsen, Sherry Brody Additional Gallery Hours: Sat & Sun 12pm to 5pm Great music & holiday cheer all weekend. visit http://srv.ezinedirector.net/?n=571533&s=26403846 for more.

was the listing from the Lawrence Asher gallery.
posted by multivalent at 9:44 AM on August 20, 2010

Best answer: An April 2010 listing for arts events in Palm Springs includes this mention: "Nancy Stanchfield, Theodore Svenningsen, and Ben Joyce Artists Reception. 5-9 p.m. Ramey Fine Art, 73400 El Paseo, Palm Desert. 760-341-3800."

Perhaps he is still active?
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:46 AM on August 20, 2010

Response by poster: I found this listing from April 2010 which mentions a show at Ramey Fine Art. I don't find him mentioned on the Ramey Fine Art page, but a phone call might raise something. I also found listings from 2009 and 2007. And I believe this art book is of his authorship, because the 2007 listing mentions a masters in philosophy.

On preview, yes, MonkeyToes, we found the same show.
posted by jocelmeow at 9:49 AM on August 20, 2010

Response by poster: And a picture on ebay! That one's not my style, but what a hoot - it's in San Diego.
posted by jocelmeow at 9:51 AM on August 20, 2010

Best answer: OMG! He is my neighbor and wonderful friend for about 15 years! Memail me your info and I can pass it on to him.
posted by Vaike at 1:33 PM on August 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Holy cats, Vaike, will do! Metafilter does it again!
posted by jocelmeow at 2:23 PM on August 20, 2010

Response by poster: For anyone who comes back around here, I got in touch with Ted Svenningsen thanks to Vaike. We have very much enjoyed chatting. Amazingly, he still had some copies of the "Youth's Enchanted Forest" lithograph. I bought one for my mother and it is going to be a gift to her from my brother and me this Christmas. I predict there will be tears when she opens it - I wish I could be there. Ted also sent me photographs of some of his paintings, and I hope to be able to purchase one for myself sometime in the future. Thanks again to everyone for your help.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:27 AM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

I just sent an e-mail to Vaike above--I have a copy of Youth's Enchanted Forest and have been searching for this artist for YEARS I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have found information on him. You have made my day-thanks so much! If there is any way to get in touch with him I would love to thank him personally for the joy his art has brought me
posted by minnie50 at 12:21 AM on January 31, 2011

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