Selden Gile

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Selden Gile was born on March 20, 1877 in Stow, Maine. As a young boy, Gile shared his mother’s interests in color and design and was a lover of nature. He attended Shaw’s Business College and graduated in 1899. After graduating, Gile moved to Rocklin California from 1901-1903 where he received a job as a paymaster and clerk on his friend J. Parker Whitney’s vast ranch. In 1905, he moved to Oakland, California working as a salesman for Gladding McBean and Company, a major supplier of ceramic building materials.

As a self-educated painter, Gile occasionally dropped by art classes without officially enrolling. Before 1914, he painted in the manner of classical California landscape painters such as William Keith. His palette and style eventually began to show his influence by Impressionism and Fauvism. His early paintings reflected his need to strive for high-keyed colors but with a lack of knowledge in how to achieve the process. Recommended by a friend, Gile sent his works to New York and eventually in 1927, he left his job to move into his cottage called the Chow House and begin to paint full-time.

Gile had his first solo show in 1927 at the Berkeley Northbrae Community Center and by 1928, he was busy with many exhibitions of solo and group shows especially regularly exhibiting at the Oakland Art Gallery. He was the dominant figure and leader of the Society of Six often being the teacher, provider, and provocative critic about his ideas of paintings that would become the group’s aesthetic standard.

In the 1930s, when the Depression hit America, he was impacted by the attention of the working man and his paintings reflected America during this era. Watercolors gained a new importance and were often used on his trips. Towards the end of Gile’s life, he worked on a commission to paint a mural of the Feather River country for a railroad office in San Francisco due to financial instability. Eventually, Gile became sick due to his alcoholism and died on June 8, 1947 surrounded by paintings he never sold.

Member: American Artists Professional League; Marin County Art Association; Oakland Art League.

Exhibited: San Francisco Art Association, 1919-35; Society of Six, Oakland, 1923-28; Galleries Beaux Arts, San Francisco, 1928; Santa Cruz Statewide, 1929; Vallejo Art Guild, 1929; Oakland Art Gallery, 1932; Oakland Art Association, 1933, 1935, 1936; San Francisco Museum of Art Inaugural, 1935; Smithsonian Institute, 1976-77, Washington, DC; Oakland Museum, 1981.

Works held: Fleischer Museum, Scottsdale, Arizona; Monterey Museum of Art; Oakland Museum of California; Utah State University, Logan, Utah.

Hughes, Edan M. Artists In California 1786-1940. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Sacramento: Crocker, Art Museum, 2002. N. pag. 2 vols. Print.
Boas, Nancy. Society of Six. Print.