A growing interest in early California led Chuck Mauch to Samuel Hyde Harris, who opened a commercial studio in 1914 and became a sought-after designer of advertising posters for Western railway companies. Harris was also a serious easel painter who produced upwards of 3,000 oil paintings before his death in 1977. • Highly collected now, Harris might not have secured his reputation were it not for the extraordinary conservation efforts of Maurine St. Gaudens. Following the death of Harris’s widow Marion Dodge, the state of California appointed St. Gaudens as the appraiser and then administrator of the estate. More than 900 original oil paintings were entrusted to Maurine; many were discovered in outdoor sheds, nearly wrecked with mildew. Important commercial work had been stashed under a chicken coop and was caked in waste. “If Harris hadn’t been professionally trained, an artist who used gesso and varnish and the correct media to prevent flaking, his paintings never would have survived the mess,” Maurine says. In 2007, she curated the exhibit “Who Was Sam? The Art of Sam Hyde Harris (1889– 1977)” at the Pasadena Museum of History. ing posters for the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railroad lines hang on walls, windows, and ceiling—is a tribute to the commercial work.
Filled to the brim and quirky, Chuck’s house tells stories. Rooms manifest his love of California and the Arts & Crafts movement; his knowledge is deep and his appreciation wide. Ask him about his philosophy on collecting, and he’ll light up with enthusiasm: “Get as much as you can!”
TOP: Among his collection of Sam Hyde Harris art, Chuck Mauch’s favorites are train- related commercial color lithographs, most dating to the 1920s and ’ 30s. The Train Room showcases advertising work Harris did for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company and for Southern Pacific Railways. INSET: The Santa Fe Railway Grand Canyon poster is 40" x 30" and highly graphic, featuring only the image and logo.