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Sugar Refinery, Spreckels

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Olof Dahlstrand, American, (1916–2014)

Sugar Refinery, Spreckels

Work on paper
watercolor on paper
13.75 x 14.5 in. (34.925 x 36.83 cm)
gift of Richard C. Rhodes
Accession Number: 1982.004

The Spreckles sugar refinery is something of a local landmark, visible for miles to anyone driving South on 101 from the Monterey Peninsula. Built in 1899 by Claus Spreckles, it was the largest sugar refinery in the U.S. for many years, shipping cargo-loads of sugar out of Moss Landing. As a young man, John Steinbeck was one of the many Salinas residents who worked for Spreckles.

Olof Dahlstrand would have painted this watercolor in the early 1980's, just before the factory shut down. While a factory would not seem to be a likely painting subject, Dahlstrand creates a charming scene of smoke dancing across the space between the distant hills and the geometric factory structures. The sunlight on the billowing smoke lights up an otherwise muted scene.

Dahlstrand was known primarily as an architect, earning many awards for his mid-century designs. At one point he served as a Trustee of the Monterey Museum of Art.

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