Can you solve the mystery of the missing Trump paintings?

LOST MASTERPIECES “Camel Rock according to Marsden Hartle,” top and “Camel Rock according to Paul Klee.”

Janine Volkmar
Mad River Union

TRINIDAD – “Camel Rock According to ...” was one of the “most creative shows ever” according to Connie Butler, curator emerita of the Westhaven Center for the Arts.

Marvin Trump, painter and retired architect who died last year, painted 20 views of Camel Rock, each in the style of a different famous artist. Trump could see the well-known ocean rock formation from his studio near Moonstone Beach. The rock formation informed most of his work, often painted as a small detail in a painting with an otherwise unconnected subject.

In the 2003 exhibit at Westhaven Center, Trump channeled such masters as Matisse, Cezanne, El Greco, Pollock and Picasso.

“One day I wondered how various artists in the past might have captured Camel Rock ...” he said in a 2003 interview in the McKinleyville Press.

Almost all of the paintings in the show sold, six to the same San Francisco collector.

Trump’s daughter-in-law, Tami Trump, and Janet Groth, a student in the HSU Museum and Gallery Practices Program are working to recreate the exhibit. Many owners of the paintings have kindly agreed to lend their paintings to the show.

Trump painted over two of the canvases, recycling them into other artworks. The remaining works will be shown in May at the Ned Simmons Gallery of the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust.

So far, the women have found all but two of the 18 paintings. Union readers may be able to help. After all, solving mysteries is what newspaper readers excel at, as all crossword puzzle aficionados know.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of “Camel Rock according to Paul Klee” or “Camel Rock according to Marsden Hartley,” a phone call or email to the trust would be much appreciated; contact (707) 677-2501 or [email protected].

But don’t get too excited about that painting on your wall just yet.

“Remember, Marvin included Camel Rock in so many paintings,” Tami Trump cautioned with a smile. “All the paintings from the show have ‘according to ...’ inscribed on the back stretcher,” she said.

The women are also arranging to have high-quality prints and cards made from the paintings. The sales of those will support the work of the land trust, especially for the Houda Point property.

The Trinidad Coastal Land Trust currently holds title to nine properties and 11 easements in the Trinidad area. With those properties come responsibilities including cleanup, trail maintenance, and public education. Marvin Trump was one of the founding members of the trust in 1978.

“While Marvin was still alive he was all for doing fundraisers for the land trust,” Tami Trump said. “He wanted people to know that most of their favorite parts of the coast are kept up by volunteers.”

“Houda Point, the closest property to Camel Rock, will be the focus of the fundraising,” she added. “We’d like to put in a picnic table, maybe better signage, just keeping it open to the public.”

(Tami Trump, it should be noted, is that woman you see mowing the grass at Houda, or, with other volunteers, picking up bag after bag of trash.)

In the meantime, Trump and Groth would love to hear even the smallest clue about the missing canvases. Maybe one of our readers admired a painting while at a dinner party or remembers being at the opening when a friend bought one of the canvases.

Groth has the whole semester to work on the project as she is an intern at the land trust. “May 5 is the opening and, coincidentally, the last day of classes,” she said. Groth has a degree in Art History from UC Santa Barbara and worked in the food industry in Humboldt County, before enrolling in the Museum program. She’s enjoying working with the land trust because “part of the internship process is trying to figure out professionally what I want to do.”

“Janet has been great,” Tami Trump said. “She’s helped with all the contracts and paperwork for the show.”

Please help these women solve the Mystery of the Missing Paintings.


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