Erwin Manheim (1898 - 1989)
Untitled (Ethel Manheim)
Erwin Manheim was an accomplished painter of landscapes but most noted for his portraits that captured the dignity and character of his subjects, whether Bolinas residents or Bay Area dignitaries. Born in Poland, he immigrated to the U.S. through Ellis Island, with his family in 1908 and grew up in New York City. He studied portrait painting at Art Students League with George Luks of the Ashcan school of painters. After he settled in Bolinas his work won notoriety and first place awards in exhibitions with the Society of Western Artists at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. He painted about eight portraits a year.
In this portrait, his wife Ethel, age 54, is sitting in their lush Bolinas garden wearing a romantic Victorian dress. Erwin and Ethel met and married as young immigrants in the Bronx in 1921, had a child, but later divorced. Manheim then created a family with Hester and they moved to Santa Cruz, California in 1928, where he worked for the WPA and painted on the side. After Hester died in 1935, Manheim went back to New York and reconnected with Ethel and his daughter, but disappeared without notice when he went to Spain to join the fight against Fascism. Eventually they reunited and came to live in Marin County. In 1953, the Manheims visited artist Betts Holland at her Horseshoe Hill studio, fell in love with Bolinas and purchased their home at 66 Terrace Avenue and built his art studio across the street. Both immediately became actively involved with community events and organizations.