Guide to the Gene Holtan Drawings Collection (1970s)

Overview +


Collection Number:

2001. H. 2


This collection was created by the artist Gene Holtan. It was donated to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History on February 25, 2001.


Number of Containers: 1 Box
Linear Feet: 2 Linear Feet


Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Archives
705 Front Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


This collection consists of forty-seven (47) ink drawings created by Gene Holtan in the mid-1970’s. The drawings are of Beach Hill and other locations throughout Santa Cruz County such as the Boardwalk Casino and Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. The drawings include captions identifying the location and the date they were drawn. They are all in black ink on beige paper; one (2001.H.2.47) is a watercolor. The drawings were donated by the artist, Gene Holtan to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History in the year 2001.


The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz, CA

Preferred Citation

Gene Holtan Drawings Collection, The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz, CA

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the head of Archives at MAH. Researchers may be responsible for obtaining copyright permission to use material not produced by museum personnel.

Process By

Renata McRee

Date Completed


History +

Gene Holtan (1930-2016 ) was an artist, and illustrator. He was born in the year 1930 in Saskatchewan, Canada. His artistic training began at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art which later became the Alberta College of Art & Design. After attending for a year, he moved to Los Angles where he attended the Art Center School of Los Angeles. It was after completion of his education that Holtan’s career in illustration took off. His illustrations and particularly his caricatures garnered notice by such publications as the Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping and The New York Times. Holtan’s talents also lent themselves well to the politically charged magazine Ramparts, of San Francisco, CA. Eventually, Holtan moved to Santa Cruz where he settled in Beach Hill and set up a studio. Gene lived in Santa Cruz for many years where he created some beautiful ink drawings of local buildings and other sites such as the Boardwalk Casino and the Santa Cruz Municipal Pier. During his time in Santa Cruz he collaborated on some projects with fellow artist and potter Elizabeth Sanchez such as The Geography of Home, as well as having a joint exhibition in 1994 that was at the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery (Info. Courtesy of Marla Novo). While in Santa Cruz he also lent his illustrating talents to events such as an SHCS Ceramics Program fundraiser where Les Blank showcased a film. Gene Holtan created the poster for the event, which is said to have been so popular that people were taking them off the walls to take with them (BrattonOnlineBlogArchives 4/2013). According to, Gene has illustrated books ranging from history to bird watching to children’s books, creating illustrations for books such as Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, a classic children’s story ( Citation: Marla Novo). Other books include: Reminiscences of a Ranger Volume 3 by Horace Bell [Advertisers Composition Company, Los Angeles, 1967], and The Ardent Birder: On the Craft of Birdwatchingby Tom Newberry and Gene Holton [Ten Speed Press, 2005] which are available on AbeBooks and, respectively. Gene Holtan now resides in Oakland, CA ( artist bio.). The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History has a wonderful collection of forty-nine ink drawings and one watercolor completed by Gene Holtan of buildings throughout Santa Cruz County, rendered in 1975-6. Gene Holtan donated the drawings to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History in 2001.

Contents +


Thirty-seven (37) drawings

Subseries Scope and Content Summary

This subseries consists of thirty-seven ink drawings by Gene Holton done in black ink on beige paper. These drawings are not mounted on illustration board like the other, nine drawings in this collection (2001.H.2.38-46). The drawings in this subseries were completed primarily around the years 1975-76 and are of locations in Beach Hill or other areas throughout Santa Cruz County. They are in excellent condition, although approximately seventeen (17) of the drawings have burnt or stained edges on the upper edges of the paper which contributed slightly to a little flaking and crumbling of the corners. It is not known whether the staining and/or burning are accidental or intended. Some examples of locations that have been drawn by the artist in this subseries include : “715 Third Street, Santa Cruz July 14, 1978” (2001.H.2.4), “Hotel McCray February 1975” (2001.H.2.6), “The Boardwalk from Cliff Street at trinity, Santa Cruz Aug.5th” (2001.H.2.20), and “The [Boardwalk] Casino, Santa Cruz on a Monday Morning Sept.’76” (2001.H.2.26). In this subseries are accession numbers 2001.H.2.1-2001.H.2.37.

Box #:



Ten (10) Drawings

Subseries Scope and Content Summary

This subseries consists of ten (9) drawings done in black ink by the artist Gene Holton in the mid-1970’s and one (1) watercolor. The nine (9) ink drawings are mounted. These drawings are in excellent condition. In this subseries are accession numbers 2001.H.38-47. The single watercolor is rendered in grays, sepias, reds, and blues and is of the Farmer’s Cooperative Exchange Silo on 17th (2001.H.2.47). Some other examples of locations drawn by the artist in this subseries are: “Frank McLaughlin House, Third Street 1891”, (2001.H.2.38), Casa Alta Apartments, Beach Street, August 26th 1976” (2001.H.2.40), and “Otto’s Santa Cruz, Front Street, Washington, Aug.20th 1976” (2001.H.2.44).

Box #: