From Jazz to Painters: Cottage #32

Cottage #32 still displays its original nickname from a different era – “Hi-De-Ho.” Inspired by the legendary jazz band leader Cab Calloway, the story goes that Calloway forgot the lyrics to one of his songs and improvised “Hi-De-Ho” on the spot, using his own voice as a musical instrument in a technique he learned from Louis Armstrong. The exuberantly improvised chorus was famous through the era of jitterbug, jazz, and swing, and wound up on a cottage in an exuberantly improvised beach and artist colony called Crystal Cove.

In 1968, artist Alice Powell and her husband Tom acquired Hi-De-Ho cottage. Alice was a ceramicist who kept a kiln in the back yard of the cottage and hand painted her original fired work. Tom passed away in 1987, and Alice eventually married an artist named Roger Armstrong. Together, their artistic legacy helped Cottage #32 become known as “Painters Cottage.”

In his 75-year artistic career, Roger Armstrong was a versatile painter in oil, watercolor, and acrylic, and an acclaimed cartoonist for Disney, Hanna-Barbera, and Warner Brothers. His work is in more than 300 public and private collections, including the Smithsonian Museum’s. Roger was a lifelong teacher of the arts, too, including teaching at Crystal Cove.

Like every cottage at Crystal Cove, the Painters Cottage is a unique design inspired by available materials, imagination, and the natural setting. The same elements that inspired the Cove’s unique 1920s and 1930s vernacular architecture also inspired artists, especially those working en plein air. The earliest images of Crystal Cove were captured on canvas, and plein air painting continues to inspire conservation by capturing the rare natural beauty of the landscape. For more than a century, Crystal Cove has been a haven for plein air artists.

Today, Cottage #32 still carries the Hi-De-Ho nickname from its earliest years, but it has also evolved to lodge new generations of artists and conservationists to be inspired by Crystal Cove’s natural setting – just like the artists of Painters Cottage.

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