Selden Connor Gile (1877-1947) was born in Stow, Maine on March 20, 1877. The artist's parents were from Salem, England and named the artist after the Governor of Maine. Selden Gile's (also known as S. C. Gile for his painting signatures) family lived on a farm and from childhood he was regarded differently from his brothers because of his artistic talents and apparent refinement. Selden Gile was essentially a self taught artist and painter who would occasionally spend time in art classes without officially enrolling. With a high level of energy and a sturdy build, Selden Gile enjoyed long hiking trips that he actively pursued for his plein-air painting. It is believed that few of the his early paintings of California have survived over the years, but many paintings that are still in existence include barns which were a repeated symbol in his art.
Selden Gile was the major force behind the Society of Six in the 1920s. The group was located in the San Francisco Bay Area of California and the artist set aesthetic standards that espoused color and guided the Society of Six with the strength of his personality, physical energy and hospitality.
Departing from dominant decorative and Tonalist influences of Arthur Mathews (1860-1945) and William Keith (1838-1911), the Society of Six created a new landscape art of sunny reality; it was California Impressionism / Fauvism applied to the California Scene. The other painters associated with Selden Gile in this rebellion were Maurice Logan (1886-1977), William Clapp (1879-1954), Bernard von Eichman (1899-1970), August Gay (1890-1949) and Louis Siegriest (1899-1989).
General Marshall Wentworth, owner of a hostelry in Jackson, New Hampshire where Selden Gile worked, took an interest in Gile's art and arranged a job for him as paymaster and clerk on a large ranch in Rocklin, California. The job was dangerous and required that the artist deliver the payroll from the bank to the ranch. This required that he carry a gun which he sometimes used to defend himself.
Selden Connor Gile evanturally fell in love with Beryl Whitney who was the daughter of the ranch owners. He was very hurt when her parents disapproved of the relationship and sent her away to Europe where she married another man. In 1905, Selden Connor Gile moved to Oakland, California where he worked as a salesman for Gladding McBean, a ceramic building materials company.
With the Society of Six, Selden Gile exhibited regularly at the Oakland Art Gallery. In 1927, he moved north to Tiburon across the Golden Gate Bridge and after that to a houseboat in Belvedere from where he continued to paint. He had his first solo show in 1927 at the Berkley Northbrae Community Center and by 1928 he was busy with many exhibitions of solo and group shows. However, Gile and his friends were heavy drinkers which affected the quality of his work and also caused him to forego his plein-air painting trips.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Selden Connor Gile focused his artistic attention on the working man and his paintings reflected America during this era. Also during this time, watercolors became a more dominant theme of paintings created by the artist. Towards the end of his life and out of financial necessity, Selden Gile worked on a commission to paint a mural of the Feather River country for a railroad office in San Francisco.
Eventually, Selden Connor Gile became sick due to his alcoholism. The artist died in San Rafael, California on June 8, 1947 and he was buried at the cemetery at Mt. Tamalpais - a site where he loved to paint.
Selden Gile Painting Exhibitions
1919-35 San Francisco Art Association
1923-28 Society of Six, Oakland
1928 Galleries Beaux Arts, San Francisco
1929 Santa Cruz Statewide
1929 Vallejo Art Guild
1932 Oakland Art Gallery
1933, 1935, 1936 Oakland Art Association
1935 San Francisco Museum of Art Inaugural
1976-77 Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC
1981 Oakland Museum
Selden Gile Memberships
American Artists Professional League
Marin County Art Association
Oakland Art League