April 20th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1958, the Argo Gallery at 142 Main Street opened an exhibit of artist Ray White’s paintings and drawings with a reception from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m..  Naples resident White taught painting at Long Beach City College and Lindbergh Junior High School and had his poetry published in the Atlantic Monthly.

For every Main Street Seal Beach that lasted decades and became local institutions fondly remembered years later, there are scores of shops, restaurants, and businesses that barely lasted a season or two before closing forever. Sales inventories are drastically discounted until there are bare shelves. Decor and fixtures are either sold or tossed in a dumpster with the store sign. Whatever hopes, dreams, and ambitions were invested in that storefront evaporate as the owners move on with their lives and a new business moves in to start the cycle anew.

The Argo Gallery was one of those short-lived Main Street businesses. It was a product of owners Robert and Juanita Hare’s eclectic and bohemian tastes and provided a venue for the Long Beach arts community. It launched in late 1957 with a Christmas exhibit of local artists, many who were teachers and instructors at Long Beach State College.  In addition to the Ray White exhibit, 1958 saw exhibits of artist Jack Van Eden and a typographers exhibit of four local printers.

The Argo Gallery closed in late 1958, probably when the lease ended, but Robert and Juanita may have secured a tiny spot in Seal Beach history for themselves as owners of the first Seal Beach business on record as offering home model espresso machines for sale. One hopes hard core coffee aficionados can forgive the “expresso” misspelling in this one single ad I found for the Argo Gallery.

– Michael Dobkins


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