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Belle Baranceanu
(1902-1988)


Belle Goldschlager Baranceanu was born in Chicago, Illinios on July 17, 1902 to parents who immigrated from Romania. Originally born Belle Goldschlager, she changed her last name using her motherís maiden name in 1932.

In 1924, she graduated from the Minneapolis School of Art. Continuing at the school as a post-graduate student, she studied under Anthony Angarola. The two became romantically involved, and in 1925, in order to continue her studies with Angarola - and continue their romance - she transferred to the Art Institute of Chicago where Angarola was teaching.

Belle's strict Orthodox Jewish father did not approve of her romance with Angarola, an Italian Catholic, and sent her to California to live with her uncle in Los Angeles in hopes of ending their relationship. Belle continued to paint while in Los Angeles and began exhibiting in California. Despite the separation, the couple continued their romance, and after two years in California, she returned to Chicago, and the couple made plans to marry. Tragically, Angarola died in 1929 before they could do so.

Back in Chicago, she resumed painting and exhibiting her work, but to support herself during the Depression, she accepted a job as a teacher, beginning a long career in education.

In 1932, her family left Chicago and moved to San Diego, California. Although her reputation was taking hold in Chicago, where she had won a major award for her work and had been included in several exhibitions in the city, Belle also moved to California. She returned to Los Angeles and attempted to get a teaching job at the Chouinard Art Institute. However, in 1933, she joined her family in San Diego. Initially, she viewed the art community there as provincial, but this attitude diminished, and she became an active participant. Her involvement with various federal art programs resulted in the creation of murals for the Public Works of Art Project. She produced a number of murals under the government-sponsored programs, including a large mural for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in San Diego. Although a number of these works survive, many are no longer in their original location.

Also, during this period of her career Belle began to design and cut linoleum block prints, most of which depict animals. During the 1940s, other than an occasional portrait commission for a private client or smaller mural commission, she shifted her creative efforts to block printing, which she exhibited nationally. During World War II, she taught art to servicemen through the USO. After the war, in 1946, she began teaching at the San Diego School of Arts and Crafts, La Jolla, California. That same year she also began teaching at the Francis Parker School, where she remained until 1969. In 1950, she was elected president of San Diego Art Guild. Late in her career, she began to experiment with abstraction based on the lights reflecting off the San Diego Bay at night. Belle had the ability to create a painting by abstracting, flattening, and distorting the elements of a landscape or figure.

Belle passed away on January 10, 1988, in La Jolla, California.

Member: Chicago Society of Artists; San Diego Art Guild (President, 1950); La Jolla Art Center.

Exhibited: Painters & Sculptors of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1927, 1928; Kansas City Art Institute, 1927; Art Institute of Chicago, 1926, 1928, 1931 (Carr prize); California-Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935 (silver medal); GGIE, 1939; San Diego Art Guild, 1940 (first prize, block print); San Franscisco Musuem of Art, 1941; Carnegie Institute, 1943; Library of Congress, 1943, 1945, 1946; National Academy of Design, 1943-46; Denver Art Museum, 1945; San Diego County Administration Building., 1980 and University of California, San Diego, 1985 (retrospectives).

Works Held: San Diego Fine Arts Society; Library of Congress; La Jolla Art Center.

Murals: La Jolla Post Office, Roosevelt Jr. High School, San Diego.

Source:
Hughes, Edan M. Artists In California 1786-1940. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Sacramento: Crocker, Art Museum, 2002. N. pag. 2 vols. Print.