Masterpieces by the late painter James Jarvaise – famous for his Hudson River series – have been saved from the largest wildfire in California’s history.
His family, led by his determined daughter Anna and his son Jean, saved the priceless artworks when the Thomas Fire threatened Santa Barbara in Southern California.
The wildfire, which began on December 4th, has burned 273,400 acres (70,172 hectares).
It has cost $177m and led to evacuations from Santa Barbara county – to the north of Los Angeles –  where the late James, who moved from his native New York, had established his studio.
James, who lived an active life into his 90s and passed over in 2015, had built an impressive art compound, where his children still live, in the hills above beautiful Santa Barbara. 
In 1958 the Museum of Modern Art curator Dorothy Canning Miller selected James Jarvaise for inclusion in the museum’s Sixteen Americans exhibition (December 1958 – February 1959).
James’ work exhibited alongside Jay deFeo, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.
James was right up there with the greatest contemporary painters in the USA, and his immense talent matched what the European art scene was offering.
He was a world-talented painter, with a vision to move humankind forward on the ratchets of evolution.
James had the potential to launch his career to great heights, and create deep wealth for his bank account.
However, he shunned fame.
He was an artist to his very soul.
James Jarvaise rejected all the glittering glamour and flighty riches that were on offer to him if he had gone with the acceptance of status quo life.
But this was a man who was a true artist to the very ends of his every fingertip.
James Jarvaise consciously decided not to become a household name in the USA. 
How many great souls would have been so brave as to put truth and beauty above wealth and celebrity?
James Jarvaise was a giant who walked amongst us, as he walked out of New York, abandoned the fame he was offered, and decided that life, his art, and his family were far more important than wealth and all the other illusions that accompany popularity.
Instead, he moved to California, got a teaching job, while continuing with his art.
James had decided that his work, and his lovely wife and energetic family, took priority over the celebrity lifestyle that New York tempted him with.
He continued to quietly work on his art in his fabulous studio, but he avoided agents, publicity and powerful sales’ offers.
Now, thankfully, James’ work has been preserved by his artistic daughter Anna, and her husband Brat, and by his son Jean Jarvaise, a highly accomplished scientific technocrat, and his wife Marie, from the wildfires that attacked Santa Barbara county.
But when the Thomas Fire bore down on the compound, the tight-knit loving family had to organise a truck to carry the invaluable Jarvaise collection to safety.
Their dilligence and bravery saved an American national treasure.
The bush fire had exploded on December 4 into a fierce wildfire.
It burned over 427 square miles from Santa Paula to the hills above Santa Barbara.
Last Thursday, officials finally lifted all Santa Barbara evacuations.
Jean Jarvaise explained that the valuable paintings of his father have been saved, and all the family are safe.
“The fire was close,” Jean explained by email to his many friends in Europe who were worried, and praying, for the wonderful Jarvaise family.
“The fire came close, but it did not damage our home that our father built,” said Jean.
As of yesterday (Friday evening) 2,800 firefighters remain on the scene working to extinguish all flames and mop up; containment is now at 65 percent.
Battalion Chief Chris Childers had said on Thursday that if firefighters are able to hold the fire line through the night, all evacuees should be able to return home.
CalFire’s Daniel Berlant had said that wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour were forecasted on Wednesday, and they tested the current containment efforts in the Santa Barbara front country.
This Californian wildfire that firefighters have battled for over two weeks is now the state’s largest since at least 1932, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Friday.
The so-called ‘Thomas Fire’ has burned 273,400 acres (70,172 hectares), destroyed 1,063 structures and cost more than $177 million since it broke out on December 4.
San Diego-based Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson died fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura County on December 14.
The Thomas Fire is now even larger than the 2003 Cedar Fire, which burned 273,246 acres.

The fire previously topped Cal Fire’s list of the top 20 largest wildfires in California, the oldest entry on which dates to 1932.
However, larger fires may predate the list, including the Santiago Canyon Fire of 1889 that reportedly burned 300,000 acres.

‘There were fires with significant acreage burned in years prior to 1932, but those records are less reliable, and this list is meant to give an overview of the large fires in more recent times,’ Cal Fire said.
This year is the worst on record for wildfire devastation in California.
While James Jarvaise shunned fame and the wealth offered by the New York art establishment, he voluntarily fell into obscurity.
However, in 2012, Louis Stern Fine Arts, set out to remedy Jarvaise’s obscurity with their “James Jarvaise And The Hudson River Series” exhibition.
His most recent exhibition, “James Jarvaise: Collages Redux” at Louis Stern Fine Arts featured a selection of his latest work from 1989-2013.
The show earned him a positive review on KCRW ArtTalk by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp.
The review praises the work for being the most youthful art on exhibit in April 2015. James Jarvaise was 91 and energetically attended the opening.
His paintings and collages can be found at the Smithsonian in Washington DC and the MoMA in New York.