Tilden Daken

Tilden Daken
Samuel Tilden Daken was an American aritst and writer active in the early part of the 20th century. He was noted for his plein air paintings of the California countryside, mountains, and redwood forests, as well as for his colorful life experiences.

Early in his career, Daken worked as a fresco painter, but most of the houses in which he had painted in frescoes on walls were lost in the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906, along with Daken’s studio and most of his early work.

His adventurous life included riding the rails with writer Jack London, being caught up in the Mexican Revolution and siding with Pancho Villa, mining for gold, capturing the look of underwater scenes in a diving bell, painting in the High Sierras in extreme winters, and being the lover of vaudeville star Sophie Tucker. Daken taught at his own school in Santa Rosa for a time, eventually joining the faculty at Ursuline College in Sonoma. He changed the spelling of his surname from Daken to Dakin in 1918.

Daken’s granddaughter, Bonnie Portnoy, who never directly knew her grandfather, created the Tilden Daken Legacy Project to explore and investigate the artist’s life, and bring his work to greater light. The project includes a website with galleries of his work in several categories, as well as a book that is in development.

I particularly enjoy his evocative paintings of the California Redwood forests. Daken was also active in efforts to preserve them.

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