Cover Art Description:
The Great Depression impelled impoverished farmers and laborers—rendered movingly by John Steinbeck as the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath —to travel westward to California in search of jobs. Although some of these seekers found only disappointment, the economic boom that swept the West Coast during and immediately after World War II provided economic opportunities for many, spurring five decades of urban, industrial, and agricultural growth. Success, ironically, has sent many of the real-life descendants of the fictional Joads fleeing back into the interior West, especially the Rocky Mountain states, in search of a rural and remote West free from urban sprawl, crime, and pollution.
With this modern exodus of baby-boomers and dot-comers from California—and complaints about these new Joads from locals—it is easy to forget the rugged beauty and natural charm that Americans have associated with California since the days of Richard Henry Dana’s visit aboard the brig Pilgrim in 1834. Edgar Payne, whose Into the High Country (34" x 34", oil on canvas) graces the cover courtesy the Thomas Nygard Gallery, Bozeman, Montana, was one of the many artists inspired by California’s rich landscapes. The Sierra Nevadas, especially, captured his soul, and he spent much of his time sketching and painting its peaks, valleys, and forests.
© Montana The Magazine of Western History, Montana Historical Society. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.