Road in the Cuyamacas

  • Charles Reiffel, Road in the Cuyamacas, ca. 1933-1934, oil, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor, 1964.1.176

Exhibition Label
A narrow, winding path entices the viewer into this rocky wilderness in Southern California's Cuyamaca Mountains. Above the rugged peaks, clouds gather in formations that repeat those of the rocks below. Golden light streams down between the clouds, picking out a boulder here and a treetop there. Artist Charles Reiffel used bright dabs of red, orange, and blue paint to suggest sunlight sparkling on rain-wet stones and pine needles. It was this kind of spectacular scenery that had persuaded Reiffel to make an unplanned move from his home in Connecticut to San Diego in 1925. In this painting of the California countryside he loved, Reiffel spoke to viewers in distant Washington, D.C., praising the beauties of nature.

1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label

Luce Center Label

In 1933 the Works Progress Administration hired Charles Reiffel for forty-two dollars a week. The government wanted to provide some relief for artists who could find no jobs after the Wall Street crash, and devised the Federal Art Project to make painters and sculptors part of the nation's workforce. In a show honoring these artists, Reiffel exhibited Road in the Cuyamacas along with three other paintings. He accentuated the otherworldly quality of the craggy California mountains with clouds that echo the topography.

Road in the Cuyamacas
ca. 1933-1934
On View
Not on view.
40 1/8 x 50 3/8 in. (101.9 x 128.0 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor

  • New Deal – Public Works of Art Project – California
  • Landscape – rocks
  • Landscape – mountain – Cuyamaca Mountains
  • Landscape – California
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI