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After studying at the Art Institute of Chicago under William Merritt Chase, Marion Kavanagh Wachtel migrated westward, finally settling in Pasadena on the banks of the Arroyo Seco. It was here that she and her husband, Elmer Wachtel, painted, exhibited, and gathered with the local artists who were already depicting the splendor of the Southern California landscape.
From their studio-residence in Pasadena, the Wachtels traveled extensively throughout California and the Southwest, by car, horseback, and often, on foot. On these excursions, they painted and sketched the magnificent and varied landscapes of the region, from the flat, arid deserts of New Mexico and Arizona to the verdant, rocky mountainsides of the High Sierras.