Jagged peaks and desolate terrain were the muses of Charlotte Butler Skinner. The under-celebrated 20th-century painter spent a lifetime chronicling the Sierra Nevada and the high desert of the Owens Valley along the eastern edge of California. She painted the majestic alpine ridges of Mount Whitney and the Alabama Hills, as well as rocky tableaux near her home in Lone Pine, California, where she spent almost three decades painting, printmaking and teaching classes.
During her life, Skinner exhibited at galleries throughout the American West. This month, a survey of her work opens at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, including pieces given to her by influential friends such as photographer Dorothea Lange and sculptor-muralist Ralph Stackpole. “All of the artists would have visited Charlotte looking for new inspiration, solitude and space to create work,” says curator Kolin Perry, who organized the exhibition. In this way, the show traces not only Skinner’s career but also a community of American West visionaries.