Guide to the Gene Holtan Drawings Collection (1970s) – History

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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.