Sanford Darling had been a Hollywood stuntman, a commercial fisherman, and a chiropractor by the time he was 40. From then on, until the time he retired, he worked as an engineer for General Petroleum. After the death of his wife and becoming bored by retirement, Darling began to travel in Europe and Asia. Upon his return, he turned his travel memories into art.
Darling fitted his paintings to the interior and exterior spaces of his home. He had a harbor scene on his roof, Mt. Fuji on the screen door, and a pastoral scene was painted inside his refrigerator. Time magazine highlighted his house, which became known as the “House of 1,000 Paintings”. After Darling’s death, the house was sold and the works of art were removed.
Art dealer Larry Whiteley, recognized for his work with California Art Environments, was responsible for stepping in to help save the work of Sanford Darling and other artists. His vision helped to path the path for these works to be available to a larger audience. Whitely ultimately bequeathed the Darling works to close friend and director of his gallery, Kim Krajl from whom Kohler Foundation acquired the 59 paintings. This offered a unique opportunity to acquire a very good collection of Darling’s paintings that were collected early and kept together. We are indebted to both Larry Whiteley and Kim Krajl for their care of Sanford Darling’s body of work.
Conservation treatment of the paintings was performed by PARMA Conservation of Chicago, Illinois.
Sanford Darling’s work can be found in the Museum of American Folk Art, the Long Beach Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Oakland Museum of Art, and many private collections. Darling’s work is well documented, and has been exhibited and published in books and periodicals.
The paintings were gifted to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in 2009. An extensive show of the Darling work was curated by Karen Paterson and shown at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in 2015.