This article is in essence a chapter of a book in progress on the familial relationships between the Schindlers and Westons, from their separate Chicago years through their bohemian social circles in Los Angeles and Carmel in the 1920s and 1930s. For now I plan to end the book in 1938 when Weston married Charis Wilson and built his home in Carmel Highlands and the Schindlers divorced and began living separate lives under the same roof in their iconic RMS-designed Kings Road House. My working title for the book is The Schindlers and the Westons: An Avant-Garde Friendship. Their fascinatingly interwoven lives and relationships remained avant-garde to the end. As always, I welcome your feedback on any of my pieces.
(Click on images to enlarge)
Taos Pueblo, October 1915. Photograph by R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
R. M. Schindler in Taos, 1915. Photographer possibly Victor Higgins. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Close Edward Weston friend R. M. Schindler "discovered" Taos Pueblo, New Mexico a full two years before the now legendary dowager of Taos, Mabel Dodge Luhan and seven years before the arrival of her muse D. H. Lawrence. Schindler's images (see above for example) taken on the last leg of his fateful 1915 six-week sojourn to the West Coast to view the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco and Panama-California Exposition in San Diego provided inspiration for his earliest Southern California work beginning with his now iconic personal residence on Kings Road in West Hollywood on which he began design in late 1921. The Pueblo influence most compellingly continued on Schindler's 1922 Popenoe Cabin in Coachella, a commission most likely obtained through his mutual friendship with Edward Weston's close friend Johan Hagemeyer, and his 1923 El Pueblo Ribera Court in La Jolla.
Schindler-Chace House, 835 Kings Road, 1922. R. M. Schindler, architect. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Popenoe Cabin, Coachella Valley, 1922. R. M. Schindler, architect. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
El Pueblo Ribera Court, La Jolla, 1923. R. M. Schindler, architect. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
In another letter to Neutra shortly after his December 1920 move to Los Angeles to supervise construction of Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House for Aline Barnsdall, Schindler wrote of his strong impressions of the vernacular architecture of New Mexico,
"When I speak of American architecture I must say at once that there is none. . .The only buildings which testify to the deep feeling for soil on which they stand are the sun-baked adobe buildings of the ﬁrst immigrants and their successors — Spanish and Mexican — in the south-western part of the country." (Letter from RMS to Richard Neutra, Los Angeles, California, ca. January, 1921: quoted in E. McCoy, Vienna to Los Angeles: Two Journeys (Santa Monica, Arts & Architecture Press,1979), p.129).
While in San Diego and Los Angeles before leaving for Taos, Schindler also sought out the work of Irving Gill. Schindler knew by then through his fateful December 1914 introductory meeting with Frank Lloyd Wright and his son John that Gill had worked with Wright in the offices of Adler & Sullivan during the design of the Transportation Building at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Recently having returned from Southern California himself, John had lived in a Gill-designed cottage in San Diego with brother Lloyd. Schindler had been regaled with stories of American architecture and Sullivan's work by his mentor Adolf Loos before moving to Chicago from Vienna in 1914. (See my "Irving Gill and Homer Laughlin and the Beginnings of Modern Architecture in Los Angeles, Part II" and "R. M. Schindler, Richard Neutra and Louis Sullivan's "Kindergarten Chats" for more details).
Thus it was possibly in San Diego or more likely Los Angeles that Schindler first learned of Gill's perfection of the Aiken System tilt-slab concrete construction techniques for which he had by then acquired the patents. Schindler and his builder-partner Clyde Chace later employed a simpler modified tilt-slab method, using some of Gill's own equipment, in the construction of their Pueblo-inspired residence in 1922 (see below). They built the house on a lot purchased from Walter Dodge just down the street from Gill's Dodge House which RMS more than likely observed under construction during his 1915 Los Angeles stopover. (For more on this see my "Irving Gill's First Aiken System Project: The Sarah B. ClarkResidence, 7231 Hillside Ave., Hollywood, Spring 1913").
Schindler Residence, 835 Kings Road, West Hollywood. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Akin to the process used in forming and curing the indigenous organic straw-reinforced clay adobe bricks in Taos, forms for encasing the the steel mesh-reinforced concrete wall slabs for Kings Road were also supported by the construction site's floor slabs during the curing process (see above).
Victor Higgins in his studio, Taos, ca. 1920. From New Mexico's Digital Collections.
RMS's side trip to Taos was prompted by a letter he received from Chicago friend and fellow Palette and Chisel Club member Victor Higgins (see above) where he was on location in Taos the previous July. His letter read in part, "Taos is a very fine place - the layout of the pueblos - and one of the most Indian in character. The pueblo runs four and five stories high and if the primitive appeals to you, you will be delighted." Higgins concluded that the pueblo is "the only naturally American architecture in the nation today" and that its "strong primitive appeal calls out the side of art that is not derivative." (Victor Higgins to RMS letter, July 30, 1915. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection. See also Sheine, p. 27).
Palace of Fine Arts, Panama Pacific International Exposition, 1915. Bernard Maybeck, architect. Photo by R. M. Schindler, fall 1915. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
While in San Francisco in September to view the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition Schindler undoubtedly viewed fellow Palette and Chisel Club member Walter Ufer's work which was on display in the Palace of Fine Arts. The below "Daughter of San Juan Pueblo" was exhibited in the American section along with two other pieces. Ufer made it to San Francisco to admire his handiwork in August, about a month before Schindler arrived. (Pioneer Artists of Taos by Laura M. Bickerstaff, Old West Publishing Co., Denver, 1983, p. 129).
"Daughter of San Juan Pueblo," 1914 by Walter Ufer. (Ibid, p. 164).
Adolf Loos by Oskar Kokoschka, 1909.
Schindler also would have been utterly floored if he happened upon the portrait of his recent mentor Adolf Loos and 16 other portraits Loos commissioned from his close friend Oskar Kokoschka and loaned to the Exposition's European representative J. Nilsen Lauvik. (For much more on this see my "Oskar Kokoschka at the Panama Pacific InternationalExposition" and "Adolf Loos, Oskar Kokoschka and the Panama-PacificInternational Exposition").
Palace of Liberal Arts, Panama Pacific International Exposition, 1915. Photo by R. M. Schindler, fall 1915. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Schindler also likely viewed the prize-winning photography of future close friend Edward Weston on display in the Exposition's Palace of Liberal Arts (see above).
Not only was Schindler's interest undoubtedly piqued by the Pueblo dwellings in both Ufer's and Higgins' work viewed previously in Chicago and now in San Francisco, he also viewed the impressive recreation of Taos Pueblo in the Santa Fe Railway Painted Desert exhibit at the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego (see below).
Page from Panama-California Exposition Visitor's Guide, 1915.
A Catalogue of Paintings, Panama California Exposition, Gallery of Fine Arts, San Diego, 1915. Courtesy San Diego Library.
Schindler also most likely viewed the work of Higgins' and Ufer's new friend and soon to be Taos Society of Artists mate Joseph Henry Sharp at the San Diego Expo's Fine Arts Exhibition in the California Building (see above and below). It is not known whether Higgins would have alerted him of Sharp's work being on display. (Author's note: For much on the collaboration of Alice Klauber, Edgar Hewett and Robert Henri on the organization of the Fine Arts and Painted Desert exhibitions see my "Frank Mead: 'A New Type of Architecture in the Southwest,'Part II, 1907-1920").
Joseph Henry Sharp, Ibid.
Schindler also presciently admired Rapp and Rapp's Acoma Mission inspired New Mexico State Building (see below) which served as the precursor for the then under design New Mexico Museum of Fine Art in Santa Fe. Elements of this building would soon in Schindler's design for the Doctor T. P. Martin Residence discussed below. (For much more on this see my "Frank Mead: 'A New Type of Architecture in the Southwest,' Part II, 1907-1920").
New Mexico State Building, Panama California Exposition, San Diego, 1914, Rapp and Rapp, architects. Photographer unknown.
New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, 1917, Rapp and Rapp, architects. Art and Archaeology, January-February, 1918.
Edgar L. Hewett's New Mexico Museum of Fine Art was fashioned after the Acoma Mission (see above and below). Schindler would have seen photos of it in the trade journals shortly after his Palette and Chisel Club friends Higgins, Ufer and Hennings had their work on display in the inaugural exhibition in November 1917.
Mission San Estevan del Rey, Acoma Pueblo, 1641. Vierra, Carlos, "New Mexico Architecture," Art and Archaeology, January-February, 1918, p. 39.
That Schindler and Higgins were excited and inspired by this truly American vernacular architecture is further evidenced by Higgins' description of his Taos surroundings in a 1917 interview in which he also presciently and unwittingly echoed elements of Schindler's daring architectural design inspiration and philosophy if you merely substitute the word architect for painter.
"Their architecture is the only naturally American architecture in the nation today. All other styles are borrowed from Europe.
Being so completely the product of their surroundings they give the painter a host of fresh and original ideas.
This strong primitive appeal calls out the side of art that is not derivative; it urges the painter to get his subjects, his coloring, his tone from real life about him, not from the wisdom of the studios.
Coupled with this impressive simplicity, the country makes its inhabitants daring and lovers of the "chance." In the cities men are careful, doing what others have done, bound by conventions, ringed round by tradition. The very air of Taos country, its nearness to big works of nature, drives caution from man's brain. He takes a chance. Perhaps this has led the Taos painters to be original and to be so devoted to the country and its people." (Keely, J., Chicago Sunday Herald, April 15, 1917, part 5).
Joseph Henry Sharp Studio, Taos, October 1915. Originally the Luna Chapel. Photo by R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art, Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Papers.
Higgins showed Schindler the Taos sites and introduced him to Taos Society of Artists founding member Joseph Henry Sharp evidenced by Schindler's above photo of Sharp's studio. If he hadn't known of Sharp's work being on display at the San Diego Expo he had just visited he certainly would have been told by Sharp during this studio visit. The Taos Society of Artists had only been formed three months earlier in July in the living room of Doc Martin. Schindler's friends Ufer and Higgins would be invited to join the group in 1917 followed by their mutual Palette & Chisel Club friend E. Martin Hennings in 1924.
Luna Chapel-Joseph Henry Sharp studio. Painting by Joseph Henry Sharp, n.d. Courtesy Couse-Sharp Historic Site.
Sharp's studio was originally built as a family chapel by Juan de Luna around 1835. It later passed to the Diocese of Santa Fe from whom Sharp bought it in 1909. He called it "The Studio of the Copper Bell" and used it for six years, before building a larger studio on adjacent land to the south. The above period painting by Sharp depicts how the exterior of the compound would have looked at the time of Schindler's visit.
Luna Chapel-Joseph Henry Sharp studio, drawing by R. M. Schindler, October 1915, Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art, Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Papers.
Taos Pueblo with Victor Higgins, October 1915. Photo by R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art, Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Papers.
San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, Taos, October 1915. Photo by R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art, Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Papers.
It is clear that Schindler's 1915 Taos visitation made a deep and lasting impression and greatly inspired his early designs. During his spiritual Taos awakening, Higgins showed him around town, the Pueblo and the surrounding countryside and introduced him to the now legendary Thomas "Doc" Martin with whom he likely stayed (see below). Also having met Martin on her first day in Taos in December 1917, Luhan writes at length about the prominent town gossip in Edge of Taos Desert, the fourth volume of her autobiography Intimate Memories.
Doc Martin and child. Photo by R. M. Schindler, September-October 1915. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art, Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Papers.
Doc Martin, 1932, Photo by Will Connell. Courtesy Harwood Museum, Taos. Cropped image appears in Edge of Taos Desert by Mabel Dodge Luhan, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1937, p. 40.
Martin was so taken by Schindler that he immediately commissioned him to design a personal residence near his beloved Taos where he had lived since 1890. Besides the Acama Mission-inspired New Mexico State Building and Painted Desert exhibit he viewed in San Diego, Schindler gathered design inspiration from the local vernacular architecture and the Taos Pueblo he had recently photographed. He had not been back to Chicago a week when he received a brief letter from Martin expressing his anxiousness to view the preliminary design sketches.
Letter from "Doc" Martin, Taos to R. M. Schindler, Chicago, November 14, 1915. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
In the above letter Martin referenced Schindler's Chicago Palette & Chisel Club close friends Ufer and Higgins who had recently made their own discoveries of Taos through the largess of a consortium of patrons headed by former Chicago mayor Carter Harrison and meat-packing magnate Oscar Mayer. The trio quickly bonded when Schindler joined the Club in 1914 and learned that Ufer and Higgins were both of German ancestry and that both had recently returned from study in Munich. Schindler also befriended E. Martin Hennings, yet another Palette and Chisel Club artist of German heritage who also studied in Munich and like Ufer and Higgins was a member of Munich's American Artist's Club (see below). Hennings would not make his Taos debut until 1917.
American Artist's Club, Munich, ca. 1912. Ufer front center, Hennings seated to his right, and Higgins, topmost standing figure. From Pioneer Artists of Taos by Laura M. Bickerstaff, Old West Publishing Co., Denver, 1983, p. 148.
Victor Higgins, "Summer Day at Taos Pueblo," 1915.
Walter Ufer, "Solemn Promise," Taos ca. 1915.
"Palette and Chisel Club," American Art Annual, Vol. XIV, 1917, p. 93.
Dividing their time between Taos and Chicago by 1915, Ufer and Higgins both exhibited their award-winning Taos work (see above for example) in annual exhibitions at the Chicago Art Institute and the 100-member Palette and Chisel Club where they were also officers (see above). Their work was also jointly exhibited with the Los Angeles Modern Art Society as early as 1916. (Antony Anderson, "Of Art and Artists," Los Angeles Times, December 3, 1916, p. IX-12).
Victor Higgins painting the new Palette and Chisel Club summer outing clubhouse, 1915. Photo by R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Higgins was a member of the Chicago Society of Artists and, like Frank Lloyd Wright and his mentor Louis Sullivan, the Cliff Dwellers Club. Schindler was taking life drawing classes from Higgins and others at the Palette and Chisel Club and frequently attended and participated in club outings and group exhibitions. The activities of the club, which then met at the Athenaeum Building in the Loop (see below), seemed just the ticket for the 1914 emigre from Vienna (see below).
R. M. Schindler at an outing of the Chicago Palette and Chisel Club, 1915. Photographer unknown. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
"The Palette and Chisel Club," The Inland Printer, Vol. 51, No. 4, July 1913, p. 602.
Ufer and Higgins would both permanently relocate from Chicago and by 1917 become influential members of the Taos Society of Artists. They were joined in Taos in 1917 by fellow Palette and Chisel Club member E. Martin Hennings who was also later elected into the Taos Society of Artists. Coincidentally, the inaugural meeting of the Society was in the home of "Doc" Martin about the time Higgins invited Schindler to visit Taos. The three Chicago transplants would also become intertwined within the social circle of Mabel Dodge Luhan shortly after her permanent move to Taos in 1919. (For example see group portrait below and Taos and It's Artists by Mabel Dodge Luhan, Duall, Sloan & Pierce, 1947 which also featured the work of Ufer, Higgins and Henning).
Martin Residence, Taos, 1915, R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Schindler sent Martin the artistic project renderings (see above and below) a few weeks later along with a four-page letter describing the thought process behind his "monumental" design. Schindler wrote,
"The whole building is to be carried out with the most expressive materials Taos can furnish, to give it the deepest possible rooting in the soil which has to bear it, but I will avoid by all means to copy a few ornamental forms of any old imported style even if formerly used on the place. The building has to show that it is conceived by the head of the twentieth century and it has to serve a man which is not dressed in an old Spanish uniform."
Schindler closed by asking Martin for a safe return of the drawings as soon as he reached a conclusion closing with, "I consider them and the ideas contained therein as my spiritual and material property." One can't help but wonder if these renderings were painted at the Palette and Chisel Club.(RMS to "Doc" Martin, 12-14-1915, UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection).
Courtyard, Dr. T. P. Martin Residence, Taos, 1915, R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Porch and Reflecting Pond, Dr. T. P. Martin Residence, Taos, 1915, R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Floor Plan, Dr. T. P. Martin Residence, Taos, 1915, R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
Living Room, Dr. T. P. Martin Residence, Taos, 1915, R. M. Schindler. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.
The Martin Residence project never came to fruition but Schindler successfully exhibited the drawings in the Thirtieth Annual Chicago Architectural Exhibition in April 1917 (see below) about a year before he finally achieved his goal of working for Wright. The above view of the courtyard was featured prominently as the first illustration following the foreword in the below exhibition catalog and also in the April 1917 issue of Western Architect devoted to the exhibition.
Thirtieth Annual Chicago Architectural Exhibition, Art Institue of Chicago, 1917.
The cosmic forces of Taos eventually brought together the Schindlers, Mable Dodge Luhan and her husband Tony, Ella Young, Robinson Jeffers, Lincoln Steffens, Edward Weston, the ghost of D. H. Lawrence and others to Carmel in the spring of 1930 providing the nexus for this story.
Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns and the West Gallery Guide, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, May 2016. Weston, Edward, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Carmel, March 1930. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
After spending much of the previous two years in Taos, New Mexico enmeshed in the considerable web of Mabel Dodge Luhan (see above), in early November of 1924 the celebrated English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter D. H. Lawrence sat for his portrait (see below) in the Mexico City studio of Edward Weston. While Lawrence was satisfied with Weston's results, Edward was less so, feeling that the sitting was too brief for either artist to connect more than superficially, and that the resulting negatives were below his usual standards. Weston wrote in his daybook about the below photograph, "...unless I pull a technically fine print from a technically fine negative, the emotional or intellectual value of the photograph is for me almost negated..." (The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Vol. I, Mexico, edited by Nancy Newhall, Aperture, 1973, November 5, 1924, p. 102).
Little did Weston know that his Lawrence portraits from this session would result in the fascinating connections that follow and to this day serve as the default portraits used by Lawrence historians and biographers to illustrate their work.
Little did Weston know that his Lawrence portraits from this session would result in the fascinating connections that follow and to this day serve as the default portraits used by Lawrence historians and biographers to illustrate their work.
D. H. Lawrence, Mexico City, November 4, 1924 by Edward Weston via the internet. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Tony Luhan, Taos, summer, 1929. Ansel Adams photograph. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
The news of Lawrence's untimely March 3, 1930 death in France reached Carmel a few days later. At the time, his early 1920s patron, Mabel Dodge Luhan and her husband Tony (see above), intimates and patrons of the vagabond Lawrence during his Taos sojourns between 1922 and 1925, were wintering in Carmel. Luhan was working on her Lorenzo in Taos manuscript which was written in the form of a novel length letter to longtime Carmel resident Robinson Jeffers (see below) describing her unflagging efforts to lure Lawrence to Taos and their dysfunctional relationship after his 1922 arrival with wife Frieda. Luhan would use her paean to Lawrence to also lure Jeffers into spending many succeeding summers in Taos in an attempt to fulfill her need for a literary champion she could orchestrate to extol the virtues of her beloved region.
Robinson Jeffers, Carmel, 1929. Edward Weston portrait. Image scanned from Lorenzo in Taos by Mabel Dodge Luhan, Alfred A. Knopf, 1932, p. 287. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Ella Young, Carmel, March 31, 1930. Edward Weston portrait. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Luhan and her entourage also included Ella Young (see above), an Irish revolutionary, poet and mystic who captivated everyone she came in contact with. In a piece on the little town of Halcyon a year earlier for The Carmelite, the preferred organ of the town's avant-garde community, the then creative force and modernist publisher and editor Pauline Schindler wrote,
"Ella Young, the Irish poetess, sits on the doorstep of her cabin on a sunny morning in Halcyon, and tells of strange knowledges. Children understand her deeply; the common intellectual is too much overlaid with incrustations of logical habits. She is like a seer; she feels her knowledges through the symbols which outward life presents. She lives within a reality so intense (and probably so true) that the reality in which most Americans live can be compared to it as the empty carapace of the living animal who has already left it behind." (Schindler, Pauline Gibling, "Utopia Found," The Carmelite, March 6, 1929, pp. 8-9. See also my Pauline Gibling Schindler: Vagabond Agent for Modernism (hereinafter PGS) for more on The Carmelite and its contributing editors.).
Ella Young's cottage "Claun Ard" (sandy place in Gaelic) on Paso Robles Street in Oceano, 2008. Denise Sallee photo. http://www.thesunsraven.com/dsellayoung.htmlThe Luhan's likely picked up Young at her home (see above) near the Oceano Dunes on their way to Carmel. Young was also a close friend of Irish San Francisco arts patron Albert Bender whose portrait Weston took in in San Francisco in 1928 (see below). (See The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Vol. II. California, September 9, 1928, p. 72 for details behind the Bender portrait sitting and PGS).
Albert Bender, San Francisco, 1928. Edward Weston Photograph scanned from The Daybooks of Edward Weston. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Ella Young and Virgina Adams, in the Southwest, 1929. Ansel Adams photo. Image scanned from Ansel Adams: An Autobiography, New York Graphic Society, 1985, p. 89.
Ella Young aboard Mabel Dodge Luhan's horse Jocko, Taos, summer 1929. Photographer unknown. Courtesy Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. (See vlso The Flowering Dusk by Ella Young, Longman's, Green & Co., New York, 1945, p. 260).
Like Luhan, Bender loved to surround himself with, and cross-pollinate the activities of, artists, poets, musicians, actors, writers and intelligentsia at his legendary San Francisco soirees. Luhan met Young and Weston friend Ansel Adams and his wife Virginia (see above) through another Bender associate, Mary Austin (see below) with whom they stayed during part of their New Mexico visit in the summer of 1929.
Mary Austin, Taos, 1929. Ansel Adams photograph. From Owens Valley History.
Young wrote of her introduction to the Luhans and her first of what would become many visits to their Taos compound,
"How did I come to be here? I had no thought of it when my friends, Ansel and Virginia Adams, proposed that I motor with them from Halcyon to Santa Fe in New Mexico where they had the loan of Mary Austin's house. I lectured in Santa Fe. Mabel Luhan and her Indian husband, Tony, came to the lecture, and as a result I find myself Mabel's guest (see below). She has a houseful of guests: Ansel and Virginia are here, so is Georgia O'Keefe (see portrait and studio photo below), the noted artist, and Rebecca Strand (see below) who works so cleverly in pastel. John Marin, whose fame is noised about America and beyond it, is here too." (Young, p. ).
Finally lured to Taos with close friend Rebecca Strand after repeated and persistent attempts by Mabel, O'Keeffe remarked to Young at breakfast one morning in Luhan's dining room, that she had seen her up very early to which she replied, "No, I just got up. You must have seen my astral body." (From Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe by Laurie Lisle, Heinemann, 1987, p. 165. See amore on another mutual friend visiting that summer my "Miguel Covarrubias in Taos, 1929").
Georgia O'Keeffe, with her new Ford, Taos, summer, 1929.
Rebecca "Beck" Strand, Taos, 1932. Photograph by Paul Strand.
In letters written on her way back to New York to Rebecca (see above) and Mabel, whom she did not say goodbye to before leaving, O'Keeffe described her painting "D. H. Lawrence's Tree" (see below). completed during a couple week stay at his Kiowa Ranch with Dorothy Brett.
"...I also got a painting of the big pine tree as you see it lying on that table under it at night -- it looks as tho it is standing on its head with all the stars around - Pretty good - for me..." (Letter to Rebecca Strand [James] while on train from New Mexico to New York, 24 August 1929.). "I had one particular painting -- that tree in Lawrences front yard as you see it when you lie under it on the table - with stars - it looks as tho it is standing on its head..." (Letter to Mabel Dodge Luhan from Taos, August 1929. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.).
"D. H. Lawrence's Tree," Georgia O'Keeffe, Kiowa Ranch, summer 1929.
Luhan published an article reminiscing upon O'Keeffe's 1929 visit in the June 1931 issue of Creative Art which was illustrated with her paintings "D. H. Lawrence's Tree" (see above), "Taos Pueblo" (see below), "Mountains of the West," "Black Cross," and "Ranchos Church." Her work done during the 1929 visit was exhibited at Stieglitz's An American Place Gallery shortly after her return. Luhan described the invigorating influence the high altitude in Taos had on O'Keefe's work. She also humorously wrote about Georgia's learning to drive her new Ford (see earlier above),
"Such a nerve-racking experience falls to the lot of the few - to go out with Georgia driving her Ford the first month she had it! Beck Strand had the dubious joy of teaching her and we all watched her lovely silver hair grow more silvery day by day...Finally we recognized that Georgia was destined to become a demon driver!" (Luhan, Mabel Dodge, "Georgia O'Keeffe in Taos," Creative Art, June 1931, pp. 409).
Luhan continues, "She doesn't make whoopee like other people do, but she makes it just the same. Her whoopee is of the finer nerves, the more poignant vision, awarenesses few others even dream of and perceptions that have to remain esoteric to the majority." She prophetically ends with, "You better let her come again, Stieglitz." (ibid, p. 410).
A celebrated author from her earlier California days (see below), Austin, with introductory facilitation and strong encouragement and financial backing from Bender and entree to photograph the Pueblo gained through Tony Luhan, collaborated with Adams on his seminal 1930 book Taos Pueblo. The book included text by Austin and Adams' photographs from this 1929 visit. (Adams, pp. 89-91).
George Sterling, Mary Austin, Jack London and Jimmie Hooper on Carmel Beach, ca. 1906. Photo by Arnold Genthe. From Wikepedia.
Lincoln Steffens, Carmel, 1929. Edward Weston portrait from Weston's Westons: Portraits and Nudes by Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Another reason Luhan was attracted to Carmel was that it was the home of another of her early New York salon habitues, Lincoln Steffens (see above) who had moved to Carmel with wife Ella Winter (see below) in 1927 to work on his autobiography. The couple divorced in 1929 but still lived amicably under the same roof. By the time of Luhan's visit, Steffens and Winter had wrested publishing and editorial control of the local weekly newspaper, The Carmelite, from longtime Weston family friend, Pauline Schindler who had moved to Carmel with son Mark after leaving RMS and Kings Road in 1927. (For much more on this takeover see Pauline Gibling Schindler: Vagabond Agent for Modernism).
Ella Winter, Carmel, 1929. Edward Weston photograph. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Ella Young wrote of the Fates which brought together this circle of luminaries, which also included Sinclair Lewis and his wife Dorothy Thompson, in the spring of 1930.
"Why have we, all of us, foregathered? Why did Mabel suddenly decide that she must see the West Coast? We have slid together like beads on a string! Perhaps it is not wholly by chance. Perhaps there is a design somewhere, a pattern could we disentangle it! Who knows?" (Young, p. 299).
The answer to Young's question may be found in Luhan's previously-mentioned piece on O'Keefe in Creative Art where, likely in conscious attempt to lure her and other artists back to Taos, she states,
"Composite of ethers, oceans, mountains and plains, we need, for our continued sense of life, to share them all from one time to another; we need occasionally to go from cities of the plain to the high peaks above the clouds lest our mountain cells grow too hungry from living exclusively where the great marketing is carried on. And those who live overlong in the upper ether need, sometimes, the sea and, descending to it, "suffer a sea change," an alteration of rhythm, a moistening of the tissues after aridity, an expansion of the heart accustomed to beat high but not broad." (Luhan, Mabel Dodge, "Georgia O'Keeffe in Taos," Creative Art, June 1931, pp. 407).
John and Molly O'Shea Residence, Wildcat Cove, Carmel Highlands, 1925. Photographer unknown. Image scanned from John O'Shea, 1876-1956: The Artist's Life as I Know It by Walter A. Nelson-Rees, WIM, 1985, p. 44.Weston met the Luhans and Young at a get together at the house of John and Molly O'Shea (see above), longtime friends of fellow Irishmen Young and Bender, a week before Lawrence's death. Of his first encounter with Luhan and her coterie, Weston wrote,
"At the O'Sheas' Monday late, we met Mabel Dodge Luhan and her Indian husband. One might expect a young, handsome, dashing sort of buck,- instead of the rather stolid, heavy old Indian we met. With them was Ella Young, who impressed me more than any of the party. They will come here today. Sean showed a number of paintings I had not seen. He has a dazzling color sense, and often achieves fine form." (Daybooks, February 25, 1930, p. 143).
Ella Young wrote of the same evening,
"A night in that house by the sea that John O'Shea's pictures and Molly's rose-damasks and blue enamels made so colourful. Firelight glinting on copper bowls and hammered silver, a wind in the twisted cypress trees, a wave-murmur from the cliff-foot. The sound of a strange instrument on which a young composer is playing, fingering the strings of it lovingly: the long-necked rich-voiced instrument that his hands had made. He is singing, or rather chanting, as he plays. He is singing for Molly. She is like a lady in some far-off time. Firelight makes the only colour in her face. Her long straight gown is rose-red." (Young, p. 329).
Ella Young portrait by John O'Shea, ca. 1943. Image scanned from Nelson-Rees, p.
Approximate view from the site of the future O'Shea Residence, ca. 1923. To the right, the D. L. James Residence, "Seaward," 1922-3, by Charles Sumner Greene. Point Lobos at the top left.
Dan James, son of D. L. James, 1932, Edward Weston photograph. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Presaging his and Weston's nearby seminal Point Lobos work, Ansel Adams reminisced of the magical setting of the O'Shea house (see above) on his first visit with Bender in June 1926,
"They lived in a massive home built of local stone and huge timbers. ... As the fog lifted, windows were opened and the sound of the sea came over me, different than the mountain magic of the Sierra, but unforgettable." (Adams, p. 85-6).
That same afternoon Bender drove Adams to Tor House and introduced him to Jeffers (see below). (Adams, p. 86).
Adams, Ansel, Robinson Jeffers and Albert Bender at Tor House, 1926. From Occidental College Library Collection.
John O'Shea, Carmel Highlands, February 20, 1930. Edward Weston portrait. Image scanned from Nelson-Rees, p. 64. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Coincidentally, Weston had taken the O'Shea's portraits (see above and below) at his first visit to their house only five days prior to meeting the Luhans and Young there. Of this session he wrote,
"Thursday I went to photograph Molly and John O'Shea, at their Highlands home: real persons both of them! Evidently well-to-do which hasn't hurt them, indeed they are amongst the few, one might say, whom money has enriched, - added to their inherent charm. I did Molly first, in John's (or Shawn's - is that the Irish spelling? - I think not, but like the sound better) studio. She is difficult to work with, camera shy to a degree, - why I cannot see, being a beautiful woman of fine carriage. While working I noted Leda, their police-dog, asleep in a most beautiful posture, and made three negatives, which I look forward to with great interest. After lunch, and cocktails, too many for me not used to drink, Sean (I think this correct) took me to see their rocks. I was amazed at the concentrated drama and strength of that point." (Daybooks, February 22, 1930, p. 142).
Molly O'Shea, Carmel, May 1, 1929 or February 20, 1930. Edward Weston portrait. Daybooks, p. 119 and/or p. 142. Image scanned from Nelson-Rees, p. 64. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
After experiencing the hospitality of the O'Sheas for a few months and shortly before returning to Taos for the summer, Luhan wrote in her "review" of Molly's homemaking skills in The Carmelite,
"Well I am going to write a review of someone who is not called accomplished in the usual sense of the word, but who is, in reality, very gifted, indeed. A gifted woman is one who sheds a gentle light all around her - and that is what Molly O'Shea does. She knows how to create a pleasant atmosphere by a kind of radiation. Perhaps it is instinctive and comes from her natural kindness - for thoughts are generous and never mean." (Luhan, Mabel Dodge, "Molly O'Shea, The Carmelite, May 15, 1930).
Just before learning of Lawrence's death, Luhan penned a feature article on Young for The Carmelite in conjunction with her upcoming talk at the Denny-Watrous Gallery reminiscing about Ella's lecture in Santa Fe the previous summer. In it she wrote,
"Here is one clearly related to the leprechauns and the djinns it seems. Here is one who believes in the fairies. She believes so strongly in the fairies that she convinces others about them. One evening she was lecturing to an extremely sophisticated audience in Santa Fe. Behind her sat Mary Austin, raking the faces before her for possible smiles - ready to deal with them - for she suspected what Ella Young might tell and she feared what might happen. But it didn't! Ella Young so entranced those listeners - who had heard all other things - with the Fairy Folk that at the end, one world-worn painter rose and asked wistfully, "Miss Young, can you tell us any technique one might employ to develop the faculty for seeing fairies?" Even Mary Austin herself smiled at that. ...she is one of the very few of those who are dwellers of two worlds: and is equally at home in each." (Luhan, Mabel Dodge, "Friend of the Fairies," The Carmelite, March 5, 1929, p. 5).In the same issue Mabel wrote a feature on her and Steffen's visiting mutual friend and salon-mate and Pauline Schindler idol, Max Eastman (see above), who stating that he would like to come back to Carmel to live for a while. (Luhan, Mabel Dodge, "Max Eastman in Carmel," The Carmelite, March 5, 1930, p. 7). Also accompanying Luhan's piece was the poem "To Max Eastman" by another Luhan New York salon-mate, John Reed (see left below). Coincidentally, the very next issue included a lengthy review of Weston's exhibition then on display at the Denny-Watrous Gallery. (Lyon, Ernest, "Edward Weston - Creative Artist," The Carmelite, March 12, 1930, p. 7).
Edward Weston and Margarethe Mather, "Max Eastman at Water's Edge", 1921. Platinum-palladium print, tipped to a mount, signed by Mather and signed and dated by Weston in pencil on the mount, matted, a Museum of Modern Art label on the reverse, 1921. (From Sotheby's: Photographs from the Museum of Modern Art : April 25, 2001 : Sale NY7632, p. 140. See also my Oceano Dunes and the Westons).
Movers and Shakers, Volume Three of Intimate Memories by Mabel Dodge Luhan, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1936.
The Luhan's and Ella Young visited Weston again on March 25th after which he entered,
"Mable [sic] Dodge Luhan in, and bought two more heads of Lawrence and one of Jeffers: a nice birthday present. Ella Young with her and I asked for a sitting, because I admire her and because her portraits may sell. Ella Young believes in fairies, - and of course that would appeal to me, anything unorthodox does. I told her that I had slept during most of her talk [at the Denny-Watrous Gallery], but felt that my subconscious self had listened very attentively. She was not surprised, in fact she was pleased, and said this often happened when the subconscious mind wished to especially listen in. This partial understanding of my desire to sleep through important evenings, came to me as I told her of my nap during her talk. I knew she would not mind, or rather would understand and be complimented. " (Daybooks, Vol. II, March 25, 1930, p. 149. Weston is referring to Young's lecture at the Denny Watrous Gallery which was reported upon in The Carmelite).
Ella Young, Carmel, March 31, 1930. Edward Weston photograph. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Young sat for her portrait (see above) on March 31st. Weston wrote of the occasion, "Then I did that fairy-like person, Ella Young, with good results." (Daybooks, March 31, 1930, p. 149).
Tony Luhan, Carmel, April 8, 1930. Edward Weston portrait. Image scanned from Lorenzo in Taos by Mabel Dodge Luhan, Alfred A. Knopf, 1932, p. 33. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
A week later Weston had guests from the south, Galka Scheyer and R. M. "Michael" Schindler, who were possibly returning the unsold prints from his recent exhibition at the Schindler-designed Braxton Gallery in Hollywood and likely also making arrangements with Dene Denny and Hazel Watrous for Pauline Schindler's Contemporary Creative Architecture exhibition slated to be on display at their gallery the first two weeks of May. (For more details see my Richard Neutra and the California Art Club). Of their visit he wrote,
Luhan would later use her purchases of Weston's Lawrence and Jeffers portraits to illustrate Lorenzo in Taos along with one of Tony taken a couple weeks later (see earlier above). Weston wrote of the occasion, "Yesterday, lunch with the Luhans. And after, Don Antonio - "Tony" - was persuaded to go out on the rocks with me and my Graflex. I made three dozen negatives, and some brilliant ones." (Daybooks, April 9, 1930, p. 152). A few days later he wrote,
"Galka Scheyer and Michael Schindler have been here and we have seen much of them these two days past. A stimulating contact it has been. Galka repelled me at the very start of our acquaintance but now I find myself wishing she would drop in once more before leaving. She is a dynamo of energy. She would wear me out in a few days, - but insight of unusual clarity, and an ability to express herself in words, brilliantly, forcefully, to hit the nail cleanly, buoys me up for the time. She is an ideal "go-between" for the artist and his public. She and Michael had a two day controversy over one of my prints,whether or no it could legitimately be hung upside down, both of them agreeing that it was stronger upside down but Michael insisting that the objectivity of photography required the print to be shown as originally seen: she protesting the imposed limitation, insisting that no rule should bind one's freedom of expression. I inclined to Michael's side, at least in the case of the print in question, fish and kelp (see below), for one cannot get away from objective rendering of perspective and the fish turned upside down gave me a disagreeable feeling of falling out of the print, maybe only because I made the negative. Granted the lines, pattern, etc., became more dynamic reversed, art must be more than pattern, form, for otherwise anyone could learn to compose by rule and be an artist,-which could never be." (Daybooks, April 7, 1930, p. 151). (Author's note: About this time Pauline Schindler wrote a review of Robinson Jeffer's latest book of poems, "Dear Judas" for Survey Graphic and was busily curating the "Contemporary Creative Architecture of California" exhibition at UCLA which opened on April 20th and traveled to the Denny-Watrous Gallery from May 1st through 15th (See Schindler, Pauline, "Contemporary Architecture," The Carmelite, May 1, 1930, p. 6. See also PGS for more details.)
Weston, Edward, "Fish and Kelp," Carmel, 1930. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Luhan would later use her purchases of Weston's Lawrence and Jeffers portraits to illustrate Lorenzo in Taos along with one of Tony taken a couple weeks later (see earlier above). Weston wrote of the occasion, "Yesterday, lunch with the Luhans. And after, Don Antonio - "Tony" - was persuaded to go out on the rocks with me and my Graflex. I made three dozen negatives, and some brilliant ones." (Daybooks, April 9, 1930, p. 152). A few days later he wrote,
"I printed a head of Tony Luhan to have ready when they came after proofs. The print was extraordinary, - about the limit in brilliance of chemical quality, and powerful in presentation of the person. I was more than happy. Now Tony is a rather flabby Indian, settled down into a life of ease, well-fed, middle-aged inactivity. In my print, I gave him a heroic strength he does not possess. So when he lumbered in, I got out the enlargement, anticipating at least a grunt of approval. Silence - Well, I thought, Indians are never ecstatic. Mable Luhan was in the car. We took the print and proofs to her. She responded, exclaiming, "Like a head of bronze." "How do you like it Tony?" "I don't like." "Why?" I ventured at last. "I look too old, - a hundred years maybe." !!!!! - Collapse of the photographer - " (Daybooks, April 12, 1930, pp. 152-3).
D. H. Lawrence Special Issue, The Carmelite, March 19, 1930. p. 1. Linoleum cut by W. Johnstone after the 1924 Weston portrait at the beginning of this article. Courtesy Harrison Memorial Library, Carmel.
"In the afternoon [the day before being notified of Lawrence's death] we had talked about Lawrence at the Jeffers house; Mabel Luhan had told of his days at Taos, of his ranch, of his trips to Mexico and had described his childhood and youth in England." (Winter, Ella, "D. H. Lawrence, Introduction," The Carmelite, Special Supplement, March 19, 1930, p. II). See more at Pauline Gibling Schindler: Vagabond Agent for Modernism).
"D. H. Lawrence Supplement," The Carmelite, March 19, 1930, 16 pp. Courtesy Harrison Memorial Library, Carmel.
Knowing of Weston's 1924 meeting and portrait of Lawrence and that other writers then in Carmel had also known him well, Winter collaborated with the group to produce the above special 16-page tribute, "D. H. Lawrence." Weston contributed the below "Lawrence in Mexico," Mabel Dodge Luhan, "The Lawrence I Knew," Orrick Johns "Lawrence in Italy," Jeanne d'Orge, "Lawrence the Wayfarer," and Carmelite contributing editor Dora Hagemeyer, "The Lover of Flowers." ("D. H. Lawrence," The Carmelite, Special Supplement, March 19, 1930, pp. I-XVI). (Author's note: D'Orge met Lawrence while viewing a solar eclipse with her husband in Lompoc in 1923. (Better Than Beauty: The Life and Work of Jeanne d'Orge by Jane Wilgress, Park Place Publications, Pacific Grove, 2004, p. 42).
"Lawrence in Mexico," by Edward Weston, The Carmelite, March 19, 1930, Special Supplement, pp. IX-XI. Courtesy Harrison Memorial Library, Carmel.Using excerpts from his Daybooks and additional remembrances, Weston cobbled together a fascinating piece (see excerpt above) centered around his impressions of Lawrence and a critique of his The Plumed Serpent which was not very well regarded by Weston's Mexican circle of friends including the muralist Diego Rivera. In early November 1924 Weston wrote in his Daybook, "D. H. Lawrence, English author and poet, in with Luis Quintanilla. My first impression was a most agreeable one. He will sit for me Tuesday." (Daybooks, November 2, 1924, Vol. I, p. 101).
Tina Modotti and Pepe Quintanilla, 1924. Edward Weston photograph. From Hooks, p. 95. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Quintanilla was a Mexican poet, professor of English at the University of Mexico, and diplomat in the protocol division of Foreign Affairs and was looking after DHL after his attendance at a P.E.N. banquet in his honor the night before. (The Letters of D. H. Lawrence by James T. Boulton, p. 162). Luis's brother Pepe was also in Weston's Mexico City circle of friends and had begun an affair with Tina Modotti (see above) sometime around the summer of 1924 which continued through Weston's sojourn back to California during the winter of 1925-6. (See for example Tina Modotti: Photographer and Revolutionary by Margaret Hooks, HarperCollins, 1995, p. 94). Weston's Daybooks continued,
"Tomorrow I dine at a luncheon in honor of the United States Ambassador to Mexico. God knows his name - I don't - but duty calls. In preparation I trimmed the fringe from my trousers and borrowed a hat from Rafael [Sala]. Now to buy a collar and I shall be ready for the fray." (Daybooks, Monday, November 3, p. 101).For The Carmelite Weston wrote of his afterthoughts regarding the luncheon,
"I wish I had cancelled my date, and spent the time with Lawrence. But evidently I was considering business before pleasure, and from the condition of my wardrobe, I must have needed business!"Weston recollected for The Carmelite that Lawrence came to the sitting with his wife Frieda and a Miss [Dorothy] Brett who he was given to understand was Lawrence's secretary. His Tuesday evening Daybook entry read,
"The sitting of Lawrence this morning. A tall, slender, rather reserved individual, with reddish beard. He was amiable enough and we parted in a friendly way, but the contact was too brief for either of us to penetrate more than superficially the other: no way to make a sitting. Perhaps I should not have attempted it; now I actually lack sufficient interest to develop my plates." (Daybooks, November 4, 1924, Mexico, p. 102)Weston further recalled,
"My memory carries more than I wrote down [in my Daybooks] about Lawrence: a walk in el bosque de Chapultepec, the famous park, - "woods," the Mexicans call it, - Lawrence, Tina, and myself, - and certain bits of conversation. His first visit to Mexico not long before had thrilled him, but now he was frankly upset, distressed, - he wished to leave the city for Oaxaca, where he might quietly write. Had Mexico changed, or was Lawrence in a highly neurotic state? Obviously the latter. His resulting book, "The Plumed Serpent," gave evidence. We read the book aloud during a period of travel through Mexico, a five months trip, which made me see vividly and feel deeply, an itinerary which took us far away from tourist tracks. I recall one place, where the Indians had seen foreigners only once before. So I offer these notes, not as literary criticism, but as my intense reactions against Lawrence's."
D. H. Lawrence, Mexico City, November 4, 1924. Edward Weston portrait. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
As mentioned earlier, Lawrence liked the two portraits Weston forwarded to him in Oaxaca a few weeks after his sitting, preferring the one seen above. In his grateful thank you letter Lawrence described how they, and other work Weston had shown him, might be published and lead to him becoming better known. He wrote, "Vanity Fair might like some of your less startling nude studies, if you could stand seeing them reproduced and ruined." He added, "Let me know if I can help in any way." (See D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game, 1922-1930 by David Ellis, Cambridge University Press, pp. 207-8).
In a similar sincere gesture of goodwill, after editing an essay sent to him by his Weston introducer Luis Quintanilla, Lawrence wrote back saying he had received Weston's portraits and thought them quite good. He wondered whether they might serve for a little article Quintanilla might write "on Mexico, D. F. - and me thrown in - and Weston thrown in - for Vanity Fair." (ibid, p. 221).
Weston acknowledged Lawrence's letter in his Carmelite remembrance, "Lawrence wrote a kindly, sympathetic letter from Oaxaca, thanking me for his proofs, the best he had ever had, offering to help me in every possible way with publishers, giving suggestions for business, admitting that he could not apply them himself. Nor could I!"
The Plumed Serpent by D. H. Lawrence, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926. Jacket Artist: Dorothy Brett.
Weston included in his Carmelite piece numerous quotes from his Daybooks negatively critiquing The Plumed Serpent (see above) after its 1926 publication. The quotes, in synch with the thoughts of his Mexican friends, were originally recorded as he read the book while travelling with Tina Modotti and his son Brett on their commission to photograph Mexican vernacular art for illustration of Anita Brenner's Idols Behind Altars (see below).
Idols Behind Altars by Anita Brenner, Harcourt Brace and Co., 1929. Frontispiece photo "Hand of potter Amado Galvan" by Edward Weston. (From my collection).
A related critique of The Plumed Serpent from Weston's close friend Robinson Jeffers indicates a wide reading and discussion of the book among the Carmel literati. When Jeffers was asked what he thought of the book by Lawrence Clark Powell in a feature story in Westways a few years later, Jeffers replied, "It certainly contains some fine descriptive writing, but I don't think it comes off. Somehow it's not real. I mean, I can believe of Lawrence wanting to revive the dead gods, but I can't believe it of Mexicans." (Powell, Lawrence Clark, Photographs by Edward Weston, "Robinson Jeffers on Life & Letters," Westways, March 1934, pp. 20-21, 34-35).
Weston had previously read Lawrence's Women in Love while in San Francisco in the spring of 1925 and gave the following critique in the Daybooks which he apparently overlooked while writing "Lawrence in Mexico" for The Carmelite.
"There's too much 'swooning' in Lawrence - too much 'sweat' and 'surging' - overemphasis on 'vibrations' and 'anticipations' - repetitions of 'white fury' - 'voluptuous ecstasy' - 'sardonic look' - 'demonical soul' - 'fine hate' - 'convulsed moment' - 'drugged eyelids' - the writer of Nick Carter's Weekly never rose to such melodramatic heights. His characters are overdrawn - for instance, 'Hermione' - he's too anxious to make plain their pathology. Better to write a book of facts and statistics on sex psychology. Lawrence is unrelieved by a single laugh, which might, by contrast, strengthen his drama.
"He is keen indeed - has much to say on 'love.' He sees, he feels, he knows: his baring of impulses, his revealment of the cause, the why and wherefor is profound. But in the telling, in the words, he loses by repetition and obvious statement of fact.
"But I do not attempt to criticism of Lawrence! I am indulging in passing thoughts. To me he is a head higher than contemporary novelists that I happen to know. But my reading is limited, so after all I don't know much!" (Daybooks, April 9, 1925, p. 120)
Mabel and Tony Luhan, ca. 1920s, photographer and location unknown.
In early May Ella Young penned a feature story for The Carmelite on fellow mystic Tony Luhan's singing and by then legendary drum playing (see above) as a prelude to his upcoming concert at the Carmel Playhouse,
"Tony is a wonderful exponent of this ancient singing art, for he knows the very strange and antique songs of his people, the songs the young folk are beginning to lose and forget. When I first heard this music in Taos, it reminded me of what is known about old Ireland and the earliest civilization there because the whole communal and ceremonial life of the Indians is the same as it was in Taos a thousand years ago, and the very same as the ancient Gaelic civilization, and the ceremonial life was in Ireland a thousand years ago. And this made me feel that this Indian culture is international in its roots - that all cultures may possibly be the same in their beginnings. (Young, Ella, "When Tony Luhan Sings," The Carmelite, May 1, 1930, p. 5).
"Voice of the Tribes: Tony Luhan 'Trades' Songs for His People," Tony Luhan, linoleum cut by Lane Wood. The Carmelite, May 8, 1930, pp. 1, 6.
The lengthy review of Tony's performance in the May 8th issue of The Carmelite (see above), discussed a plea for support for improving the plight of the Indians, with which Pauline would certainly have been in agreement, and stated that he performed to a packed audience with the excited children (including the Schindler's son Mark?) filling the front rows of the theater. Therefore it seems likely that the Schindlers would have crossed paths with the Luhan-Weston circles at one of the numerous gatherings in conjunction with either of these events. Coincidentally Tony's concert took place while Pauline Schindler's earlier-mentioned "Contemporary Creative Architecture" exhibition was on view at the Denny Watrous Gallery. It is tantalizing to speculate whether RMS and Tony compared notes on building techniques of the Taos Pueblo at the architecture exhibition.
Mabel Dodge Luhan, 1912. Jo Davidson sculpture.
Prominent sculptor Jo Davidson, yet another Luhan early New York salon-mate along with Steffens and Eastman, was also in Carmel at the time for what appeared to have been a "Movers and Shakers" reunion. Davidson had previously done a bust of Mabel in 1912 (see above) as well as one of Steffens and son Peter in Paris in 1926. While staying at the Steffens-Winter household, Davidson was holding court while working on a bust of Jeffers. Winter recalled in her autobiography,
"Mabel was frantic when Jo Davidson chose to sculpt Robin on our balcony (see below) instead of in the house she had especially rented, and sought daily to lure me away from artist and model on any pretext. She would drive by in that domineering Cadillac and peremptorily order me to accompany her uptown - on one occasion to send fourteen telegrams inviting guests to Carmel, only to cancel them the next day. "How boring if they should all show up," she wailed." (And Not to Yield: An Autobiography by Ella Winter, Harcourt, Brace and World, 1963, p. 135). (Author's note: The house Luhan rented was "just across the hollow" from Jeffers' Tor House. See The Selected Letters of Robinson Jeffers edited by Ann N. Ridgway, 179: To Arthur Davison Ficke, April 19, 1930, p. 171).
Steffens-Winter Residence "The Getaway," San Antonio Ave. two houses south of Ocean Ave.,Carmel, 1927-36. Winter, p. 148. Note Jo Davidson statue of Pete Steffens in front yard.
Historic Site in Journalism marker in front of "The Getaway." From Steinbeck Country.
Ella asked Weston to come over to photograph Davidson at work for an article she was writing for The Carmelite (see above). Hearing of Davidson's dislike of his portrait work evoked one his most poignant Daybooks entries. Realizing he couldn't make a scene and possibly offend his patronage among Carmel's "movers and shakers," he waited until the following day to vent his feelings of Davidson's condescending, boorish behavior,
"...At first meeting I was amused, he had a disarming way, his exhibitionism, his pose, the antics of this droll, pot-bellied, bewhiskered little monkey were really funny. But later when I got a taste of his crude arrogance, not the dignified sureness of one who really knows they are great, - the quiet poise of Jeffers what a contrast between those two men! The real - the artificial! If I had wished to cartoon Davidson, I would have photographed the two heads together, - no intentional caricature could have been more revealing: perhaps I have caught this contrast in the group. ... Davidson was jealous of my work, his aggressiveness was a defense. My portraits of Jeffers made his bust of Jeffers look weak. That's the whole story. He had to keep his exalted position on a shaky pedestal." (Daybooks, May 19, 1930, pp. 160-1).
Lincoln Steffens. Jo Davidson sculpture. Photographer unknown. Wings, Vol. 5, No. 10, October 1931, front cover.
Lincoln Steffens. Jo Davidson sculpture. From Between Sittings: An Informal Autobiography of Jo Davidson, Dial Press, New York, 1951, p. 86.
Jo Davidson at the Steffens' home "The Getaway" in 1930 beside his statue of Pete Steffens made in Paris in 1926. Photographer unknown. (Winter, p. 148).
Ella Winter reported on the two-day gathering in The Carmelite a few days later, commenting on Davidson's recent exhibition at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco which included his bust of Lincoln Steffens and a life-size statue of their son Peter at two years of age (see above). Thus her slant on the comings and goings of Carmel's writers and artists to view Davidson's work in progress while regaling his audience in the party-like atmosphere in the Steffens household was much more receptive than Weston's irate Daybooks entry. For example she reported,
"A few days ago this robust, vigorous, massive sculptor, a black-bearded humorous mass of energy, arrived in Carmel. Before he had been here twenty four hours Robinson Jeffers was sitting to him in the studio of Lincoln Steffens. ... Jeffers sitting, Davidson singing snatches of song, opera arias, telling stories, anecdotes, jokes. Every phrase reminds him of some tale. So it went for two days. ... Edward Weston photographed the bust with the sculptor and sitter (see below) and without. ... Jo Davidson and Weston the center of a group, vociferously arguing what in photography was chance, what artistry, and what choice. ... At one time Mabel Luhan from her armchair in the corner called the hostess aside. "Just look at the room now!" she laughed. "Couldn't Weston take that? Look at everything that's going on here." (Winter, Ella, "The Poet of Stone in Stone," The Carmelite, May 22, 1930, p. 3).
Jo Davidson and Robinson Jeffers beside Jeffers' bust on "The Getaway" balcony, Carmel, May 1930. Photographer unknown. From The Letters of Lincoln Steffens: Volume II: 1920-1936 edited by Ella Winter and Granville Hicks, Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1938, p. 899.
D. H. Lawrence, 1930. Jo Davidson sculpture. Photo by Kollar. From Between Sittings: An Informal Autobiography of Jo Davidson, Dial Press, New York, 1951, p. 214.
Winter also referenced Davidson's busts of Mabel's erstwhile protaganists D. H. Lawrence (see above) and Gertrude Stein (see below). One of the stories Davidson undoubtedly regaled the festive group with was his meeting Lawrence in France and completing his bust just five days before his untimely death. Recommended to Lawrence by H. G. Wells, another of his recent sitters, he completed the bust in two brief sessions surrounding a nap by the very tired Lawrence. He later related to Julian and Juliette Huxley, "it was not a bad head; but who could ever fix that face...Lawrence was waiting for Aldous and Maria - talked only of that, waiting to die when they had come." (The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Volume VII, 1928-1930 edited by Keith Sagar and James T. Boulton, Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 14).
Man Ray, Gertrude Stein posing for Jo Davidson, 1922, gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, © 2010 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. From the Huff Post.
Luhan possibly had a hand in bringing Davidson to Carmel as the bust was seemingly part of her well-orchestrated strategy to seduce Jeffers into coming to Taos where she could work on him full-time to perform her literary bidding. Like Weston, she did not think much of Davidson's finished product remarking, "He hasn't caught the spiritual quality in the eyes or the poetry of the nostrils." (Lincoln Steffens: A Biography by Justin Kaplan, Simon & Shuster, 1974, p. 294).
Shortly after Davidson's departure, Steffens wrote his longtime friend and house-guest,
"Your bust of Jeffers has come and it has conquered. All the family like it; they are a bit emotional about it; and their visitors are caught by the bust or by the atmosphere of approval. But of course, you and I know that Mabel Dodge is to be credited with some of your success. She is not here now to steer people's judgment with her reason for not liking the bust. You remember her reason? You made the damn thing in our house, not in hers. A better reason than most people's for an attitude on a work of art." (Between Sittings: An Informal Autobiography of Jo Davidson, Dial Press, New York, 1951, p. 260).
I could not locate the Weston photograph of the work in progress but the completed bust of Jeffers was photographed by Johan Hagemeyer two years later (see below).
Jo Davidson bust of Robinson Jeffers. Photo by Johan Hagemeyer, June 3, 1932. Courtesy UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library, Johan Hagemeyer Collection.
A week after Jeffers' Davidson sitting Weston kept a long-standing promise to photograph him with his twin sons Garth and Dannan just days before the family left to spend the summer in Taos (see below). Mabel must have been thrilled that her plan seemed to be succeeding. At the Jeffers going away party a couple days later Steffens showed Davidson much more of Weston's work. The sculptor now recognized his "intention" as art and liked one of the peppers so much that Steffens presented it to him as a gift. When informed of this change of events, Weston in turn softened his feelings for Davidson and his work. (Daybooks, May 24-25, 1930, pp. 163-4).
Dannan, Garth and Robinson Jeffers at Tor House, May 25, 1930. Edward Weston portrait. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
From left, Dorothy Thompson, Lincoln Steffens, Una Jeffers, Ella Winter, John O'Shea, Albert Bender, Robinson Jeffers and Sinclair Lewis, picnic at the O'Shea Residence, Carmel Highlands, ca. early 1930s possibly in celebration of Lewis's Nobel Prize in literature. Photographer possibly Molly O'Shea or Ella Winter. Courtesy San Francisco Public Library. I wish to thank reader and Albert Bender biographer Ann Harlow for bringing this important image to my attention.
Just before returning to Taos for the summer, the Luhans, along with Ella Young, Robinson and Una Jeffers, Lincoln Steffens and Ella Winter, and Sinclair Lewis and Dorothy Thompson, attended a picnic hosted by John and Molly O'Shea on the rocky shoreline near their Carmel Highlands home (see above). Of the event Young eloquently wrote,
"John and Molly O'Shea are giving a luncheon. They are having it on the cliff-edge at the end of their peninsula in Carmel Highlands. Nature seems to have known in advance about John and Molly, royal dispensers of hospitality, known that one day they would own this peninsula reaching into the sea... Everyone has to descend about a hundred steps cut in the rocks. Arrived, one might be on a desert island. No sound of a motor-horn, no glimpse of a roadway or of a house. A sound of the sea makes itself felt, the sea advancing in great waves and churning among the rocks. Far off, on Lobos magnificently thrust upon the horizon, there is the barking of sea lions... It is a gay party, as gay as the sunshine, as gay as the coloured stripes on the awning, as light of heart as the circling sea-swallows. Sinclair Lewis is raying out the wittiest and most fantastic remarks. John O'Shea replies in kind. Lincoln Steffens is even more dazzling. So lightning-quick is thrust and riposte in this rapier play of wit that I find myself bewildered by it. Una Jeffers, at the other end of the table, is telling amusing anecdotes. Tony, tired of it all, is standing on a rock. He stands majestic in a scarlet serape. The sea curls in waves behind him, sapphire-blue except where churning foam transfigures it to chalcedony. Molly O'Shea, beautiful and gracious, is smiling and spreading that atmosphere of joyousness that makes her so renowned a hostess. "What do you think of America?" asks Sinclair Lewis. "America," I reply, "is a tawny lioness, beautiful, alert, and sinewy-muscled." "And England?" "England is a heavy-flanked bull: too long stall-fed." "But Ireland," says Sinclair Lewis, with an air of believing it, "Ireland is a white unicorn!" (Young, pp. 300-1).
Robinson Jeffers and sons Dannan and Garth, and Mabel Dodge Luhan at the Luhan compound, Taos, summer 1930. Courtesy Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
The Carmelite published an excerpt of a letter from the Jeffers who had arrived in Taos around June 1st which read in part, "This is georgeous country and this house is most beautiful - dozens and dozens of rooms rambling about a great courtyard. The Luhans have got the boys into sombreros and bandannas and overalls and they look native. This house is filled with most exquisite Italian and Spanish and Mexican furniture." ("The Jeffers at Taos," The Carmelite, June 5, 1930, p. 2).
Luhan also invited her now close friends the O'Sheas to stay that summer in Taos and Ella Young accompany them to satisfy her Luhan-like curiosity and fascination with the mysticism of the Indian culture piqued the previous summer. Young includes numerous passages in The Flowering Dusk of her various visits to Taos after Lawrence's death. O'Shea proceeded to paint the surrounding area such as from the above overlook at Valdez, New Mexico.
Valdez, New Mexico, summer 1930, by John O'Shea. Image scanned from Nelson-Rees, p. 71.
Valdez, New Mexico, 1928 by Esther Bruton, The Carmelite, December 26, 1928, p. 1. (From my collection).
O'Shea's inspiration for choosing this particular scene could likely have come from Monterey artist Esther Bruton's 1928 woodblock print from a similar vantage point published by Pauline Schindler on the cover of The Carmelite in late 1928 (see above). Luhan described the scene depicted by O'Shea and Bruton thusly, "We drove down the mountain into Valdez, that village that from the brow of the hill looks like a child's toy: a tiny plaza with an old church in the center, and houses on either side." Bruton and her sisters, Helen and Margaret and their mother had also spent considerable time in New Mexico in late 1928. (Lorenzo in Taos, p. 243).
Margaret, Helen and Esther Bruton, ca. 1930. Imogen Cunningham photo. Imogen Cunningham Trust.
Esther would also have an affair with Pauline's husband RMS around this time. On the right in the above photo, Esther could perhaps be reminiscing about her tryst with Schindler possibly after his September 6, 1930 lecture at the Denny-Watrous Gallery. (See undated (ca. 1930) love letter from Esther Bruton to R. M. Schindler Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection).
Marjorie Eaton, n.d. Photographer unknown. From "Marjorie Eaton: Education and Memoir of the Artist, 1901-1940," by Signe Mayfield, Palo Alto Cultural Center, 1991.
Yet another Schindler-Weston close mutual friend with strong Carmel-Taos ties was Marjorie Eaton. Eaton's mother Edith Cox Eaton had purchased the historic Briones Adobe in Palo Alto in 1926 and over the years it evolved into an artist colony of sorts housing the likes of Louise Nevelson and Lucretia Van Horn. The fledgling artist first made her way to Taos in 1928.
"Juan Braiding," 1931 by Marjorie Eaton. From "Marjorie Eaton," by Betty Estersohn, Jan Rindfleisch and Deanna Bartels in Staying Visible: the Importance of Archives, edited by Jan Rindfleisch, p. 16.
Eaton had met Galka Scheyer sometime around 1927 who quickly became her close friend and biggest supporter. Through Scheyer she also met the Schindlers and Edward Weston. Schindler designed projects for Marjorie's mother and Weston photographed her mother and her dog. Around 1929-30 Eaton met Lloyd Le Page Rollins, the new director of San Francisco's De Young Museum and Palace of the Legion of Honor. Intrigued with her potential, Rollins promised her a show at the De Young if she would quit her day job as a department store stylist and devote her life to painting for three years.
"Taos Ceremony," ca. 1930 by Marjorie Eaton. Frame design attributed to R. M. Schindler.
Eaton did quit her job and Likely armed with letters of introduction to Higgins, Ufer and Henning from Schindler, moved to Taos in July 1928. Eaton moved in with her close friend Katie Skeele with whom she had studied in Carmel under Armin Hansen around the time Pauline Schindler was editing the local weekly The Carmelite. Skeele also studied in Paris, San Francisco and Los Angeles under Stanton MacDonald-Wright. Coincidentally Skeele, who exhibited widely and won numerous prizes in Los Angeles in the 1930s, landed a major commission under the Treasury Relief Art Project in 1936 for a mural "Home Life in Old Taos" for the foyer of the Torrance High School Assembly Hall.
"Home Life in Old Taos," 1935, Torrance High School, by Anna Katharine Skeele.
"Rancho Church, New Mexico," ca. 1930 by Anna Katharine Skeele.
Eaton soon met and fell in love with Taos Pueblo Indian Juan Mirabal (see below), son of Taos Pueblo Chief Geronimo Mirabal. Juan became her first and favorite subject (see above and below for example). Eaton also taught Mirabal everything she knew about painting and he went on to become a noted painter in his own right as one of the "Three Pueblo Painters" along with Albert Looking Elk and Albert Lujan.
"Jaun Mirabal" ca. 1930 by Marjorie Eaton. Courtesy of Susan Kirk, Marjorie's niece.
Rollins kept his promise and gave Eaton her first one-man show at the De Young in February 1932. It was through these connections that Schindler was able to land a big one-man show of his architecture at the De Young which ran concurrently with an exhibition of Edward and Brett Weston's and their Group f.64 friends' photography and paintings by their mutual friend Henrietta Shore in April of 1933. (For much more on this see my "Schindlers-Westons-Kashevaroff-Cage").
"Pahualica," Mexico, 1936 by Marjorie Eaton. Courtesy of Susan Kirk, Marjorie's niece.
Eaton moved to New York in 1933 and moved in with Louise Nevelson who lived in the same building as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo while he was working on his New York murals. Eaton studied at the Art Student's League under Hans Hofmann and with Arshile Gorky. Likely introduced by Scheyer, Eaton knew Rivera from his 1930-31 time in San Francisco. She introduced him to Nevelson and they immediately struck up an affair. Eaton briefly apprenticed under Rivera during this period to learn fresco technique which she soon shared with Mirabal back in Taos. At Rivera's invitation Eaton then moved to Mexico for three years for further inspiration and received helpful critique from Rivera and Kahlo. Her career waned during the depression and she switched careers to become a well-know character actress in the 1940s and beyond. (Rindfleisch. For more on Eaton's movie career see IMDB).
Rendering of Schindler's Wolfe House on Catalina Island announcing Schindler's upcoming lecture at the Denny-Watrous Gallery. "In the Vanguard of Modern Architecture," The Carmelite, September 4, 1930, p. 1.
Shortly after the Jeffers and O'Sheas returned from their 1930 summer in Taos, Pauline Schindler booked a lecture for her estranged husband at the Denny-Watrous Gallery. Acting as agent for Neutra and Schindler, she had had been trying for a while to arrange lectures for them. Hazel Watrous guaranteed either a $25 fee, replying, "Schindler has a mastery and charm, Neutra has ideas about mass production. I'll leave the choice to you...We have arranged with Galka Scheyer to have her exhibit here in June. Edward Weston has been showing his prints for several weeks." (McCoy, p. 60). Pauline then booked a lecture for RMS on September 6th (see ad below). (See also my PGS for more details on Pauline and her time at The Carmelite. Author's note: Coincidentally an exhibition of Jose Clemente Orozco's lithographs opened in the same venue three days before Schindler's lecture. ("Orozco Lithographs on Display," The Carmelite, August 28, 1930, p. 6). Schindler had met Orozco the previous May while he was in Los Angeles creating his Prometheus mural at Pomona College. Orozco and his dealer Alma Reed had also visited Weston in Carmel in July. For more on this see my "Richard Neutra and the California Art Club").
Schindler lecture announcement. The Carmelite, September 4, 1930, p. 4.
Not one to hold a grudge in her relentless pursuit to further the cause of Modernism and still a frequent contributor since her ouster by the Steffens "gang," Pauline introduced Carmelite readers to Schindler with an introductory article in which she wrote,
"Of the three architects [Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra and R. M. Schindler] it is often said that Schindler is most the creative genius. He sees first the pure form. His designs are uncompromising as far as period architecture is concerned. Those who have wondered why the modernist does not build himself a "Spanish house" will have an opportunity to hear the basic principles back of modern building when Schindler speaks on Saturday. An opportunity for questions will also be given, and slides of Schindler's and Neutra's buildings will accompany the talk." (Schindler, Pauline, "Schindler, Modern, Speaks on Architecture," The Carmelite, September 4, 1930, p. 7).
Retained on the Carmelite's editorial board after Pauline's departure, Edward Weston took great exception to the treatment his longtime friend Schindler suffered at the hands of his patron John O'Shea after his gallery lecture. He recounted,
"Schindler bore himself with dignity, he was a gentleman, the others were not. I admit John O'Shea had been drinking, good, - one's character is revealed with a few drinks. After the lecture he made disparaging remarks, even indulging in personalities in a loud voice standing near Schindler, head turned toward him, face in a leering mask. Disgusting! I sat down and wrote The Carmelite an article giving full vent to my feelings, not using names, but several offenders were plainly enough indicated." (Daybooks, September 17, 1930, p. 187).
Weston's angry letter to the editor presciently ended with,
"Always the new in art, science, philosophy, has been ridiculed. But this time the joke is on the persecutors, for the new architecture has long ago been accepted, is spreading all over the world. It is for those who live today. Future generations, looking back upon the beginnings of the American Renaissance, which we are in, and being so close cannot recognize, will point out such names as Wright, Neutra, Schindler, who in the face of smirks and guffaws, went their own way - building with foreesight, faith and hard work." (Weston, Edward, "Schindler," The Carmelite, September 11, 1930, p. 6.
Soon thereafter, John O'Shea invited Weston to a stag party which he tried to get out of but finally attended. He wrote in his September 17th Daybooks entry,
"I spent my evening trying to keep them off art and keep my temper. Dickinson said, "Weston is too serious!" But they were the serious ones - that [Carmelite] article had a sting! I was sober enough to sit back and watch the others, especially John: and his face revealed much. I saw a man, soured, cynical, negative. Perhaps he knows he can never reach the heights he tried for. A fine painter, but nowhere near a great artist. I feel sorry for him, but that does not excuse his childish nonsense." (Author's note: Schindler had known [Henry F.] Dickinson from his Chicago days and corresponded with mutual friend Ralph Fletcher Seymour in 1924 about designing him a house in Carmel across the street from Dickinson's. See my R. M. Schindler, Richard Neutra and Louis Sullivan's "Kindergarten Chats" and "The Schindlers in Carmel, 1924" for more details).The cross-pollination of the artist colonies of Carmel and Taos was evidenced by the late 1920s and early 1930s summer visits to Taos by Albert Bender, John and Molly O'Shea, the Jeffers family, Ansel and Virginia Adams and Ella Young, and the early 1930s visits to Carmel by Mabel Dodge Luhan and husband Tony and others. Fellow Group f/64 members with Adams, Edward Weston, Sonya Noskowiak and Willard Van Dyke first visited Taos and Luhan in the summer of 1933 and Weston and Charis Wilson would visit twice more in 1937 and 1941.
Lorenzo in Taos by Mable Dodge Luhan, Knopf, 1932. Cover portrait by Edward Weston, Mexico City, November 4, 1924.
Upon the 1932 release of Luhan's Lorenzo in Taos (see above), Weston wrote,
"Mabel Luhan's book on D. H. Lawrence just out, with most of illustrations by myself, - Lawrence, Tony, Jeffers. I was angry and disgusted to find they had changed the shape of my portraits to fit the page of the book. They would not have done this with paintings! - but just photographs. - The quality of the reproductions is quite good. I am not at all proud of the Lawrence portrait. I certainly did a poor technical job that day.
My portrait of Lincoln Steffens used as frontispiece in the autobiography (see below), though very popular, did not please me. It was soft, moved. I can only blame myself for letting it go out, giving them a chance to choose it, in my desire to please others.
The Lawrence book was interesting and amusing, quite as revealing of Mabel Luhan as of Lawrence." (Daybooks, March 2, 1932, p. 247).
Coincidentally, Weston's 1924 portrait of Lawrence was included in his first monograph Edward Weston published by his patron Merle Armitage later that year. Somewhat disappointed by Merle's choice, Weston wrote, "Some of the portraits might be questioned from the technical side. Merle overpersuaded me to include sevaral because of their wide appeal as outstanding figures of the age, D. H. Lawrence for instance. Well I must stop worrying; it's done, the book has gone to press." (Daybooks, November 8, 1932, p. 264).
The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, Harcourt Brace and Co., 1932. Edward Weston frontispiece of Lincoln Steffens, Carmel, ca. 1930.
A couple weeks later he followed with, "In Mabel Luhan's book I like very much her thoughts on the artist as the transformer, or, "Man is the transforming animal," - to quote her correctly: and "unless he gives back to life as much as he takes from it, his acute reception faculty fails him." (Daybooks, March 15, 1932, p. 249).
D. H. Lawrence, self-portrait, 1929. From flickr.
Lawrence and Brett: A Friendship by Dorothy Brett, J. B. Lippincott, 1933. Front cover art includes a reproduction of Brett's 1928 portrait of Lawrence.
The Luhans returned to Carmel to visit the Jeffers during the winter of 1933, this time accompanied by Lady Dorothy Brett, whom Weston originally met along with Frieda at the November 1924 Lawrence portrait session in Mexico City. About this time Lawrence and Brett, Brett's account of her relationship with Lawrence was published (see above). Brett's book was praised by critics as well as the general public upon its release. Alfred Stieglitz's jacket blurb stated,
"It was a rare spiritual experience - no student of Lawrence can afford to miss this book. Brett has avoided all hearsay - she gives her own picture of her friendship with Lawrence in simple terms. There is an integrity in the book - a sense of the eternal - a sense of Light - which raises it above all the other books I have read about Lawrence - his letters excepted." (Lawrence and Brett back jacket blurb).
Mabel Dodge Luhan opined "It will surely interest everyone to know Lorenzo from another angle, and so clearly and explicitly drawn." Noted architect, author, critic and contributor to The Architectural Record, and editor of Louis Sullivan's Kindergarten Chats, Claude Bragdon similarly blurbed, "With the exception of his own, in the 'Letters,' Brett's portrait of Lawrence is the most lifelike of any yet."
Mabel Dodge Luhan, Freida Lawrence and Dorothy Brett at Kiowa Ranch, ca. 1938. Photo by Cady Wells. Courtesy Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Weston wrote of his early 1933 reunion with Luhan and Brett,
"Last evening we had tea with Mable [sic] Luhan and Lady [Dorothy] Brett (see below); a really good time. I had not seen Brett (one can hardly think or speak of her otherwise) since our meeting in Mexico with Lawrence and Frieda. That meeting was no more than a greeting. I feel I will like her; in fact I do. When Mable Luhan asked Brett to show her paintings, I had mixed feelings of curiosity and dread. It's not easy, as a guest, to be honest! But I found to my relief, imagination, a very individual viewpoint, and a feeling for form. Brett does not know my work, other than a few portraits. She has promised to come here soon." (Daybooks, February 7, 1933, p. 271).
Lady Dorothy Brett with ear trumpet "Toby", Carmel, 1933. Edward Weston portrait. From Edward Weston: Photographs from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography by Amy Conger, Figure 736. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Brett sat for Weston a couple weeks later. Weston took 20 negatives during a wet day on the beach at Point Lobos. After describing in lucid detail his first sexual liaison with Xenia Kashevaroff in the same Daybooks entry, he wrote of the occasion, "But now for the work I have been doing: sittings for portraits of Dorothy Brett, ... The sitting of Brett (we have discovered that we are related) with her ear trumpet was a great success." (See above). (Daybooks, February 26, 1933, p. 272). (See also my Schindlers-Westons-Kashevaroff-Cage for much more on Xenia).
After returning to Taos Brett wrote to Weston,
"My dear Weston,
I was whisked off so suddenly that I had no time to run around and see you. Mabel returned one day and the next Spud [Johnson] and I were packed up and off. Thank you for the photograph, it is very very good. But soon when the financial aspect is brighter I want to BUY some, and return your good deeds, because as it is it is not quite fair on you. ... My book is OUT, with the dedication wrong, why, oh why do they make mistakes like that. It is unpardonable. ... My Citizenship papers are all ready, in June I will be an American. Mabel returns today, and FRIEDA will be in New York on the 2nd of next month. ... I will keep a look out for you in June, do make a huge effort it is worthwhile. My kindest regards to you both.
Brett (Dorothy Brett to Edward Weston, April 29, 1933. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.).
The Boy in the Bush by D. H. Lawrence and M. L. Skinner, Seltzer, 1924. Cover art by Dorothy Brett.
Brett had previously contributed the cover art for Lawrence's The Boy in the Bush (see above) the summer before she first met Weston at the above-referenced Lawrence portrait session in Mexico City .
Around that same time as his reunion with Luhan and Brett, most of the participants Ella Young described in attendance at the previously-mentioned 1930 O'Shea Carmel Highlands cliff-top picnic had another reunion of sorts on the bluff near the O'Shea house on Wildcat Cove (see below).
On the beach near the O'Shea House, spring, 1933. Artist William Ritschel's Castle in the background. Photographer unknown. From left to tright are Tony Luhan, Hazel Watrous, Lincoln Steffens, Ella Young, unidentified friend, Dorothy Thompson, John O'Shea, Sinclair Lewis, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Richard Buhlig and Ella Winter. Courtesy Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
"I was delighted to be there with my friends and I looked forward to a period of work with my camera in an atmosphere of intelligent dedication to art. Mabel's house was in a compound surrounded by smaller dwellings for guests and servants. Though comfortable the houses had no particular distinction. We had our evening meals in the large house, but otherwise we were left on our own. ... We visited Dorothy Brett, a painter and writer who had been a friend of D. H. Lawrence on his visits to Taos. Edward photographer her with the ear trumpet she called Toby. ... Photographers, intent upon their own work are sometimes quite boring and I think Mabel was not amused by us. One night she called for dessert before Edward had finished his main course and when someone called her attention to this her reply was that Edward did not want dessert. That night we decided to move on and the next morning we bade goodbye to a relieved hostess and drove to Santa Fe." (Willard Van Dyke: Changing the World Through Photography and Film by James Enyeart, p. 82).
Dorothy Brett wrote the following to Weston the day after the trio's visit Willard referred to above.
I meant to present you with a copy of my book yesterday, but a sharp pain in my head made me a bit woolly, I hope to get down before you give up in despair, and wander to the Navaho Land. Also thank you a thousand times for giving me another print of my photographs, believe me I am going to buy some and sit for you again when I get a little more balanced financially, for the moment I cannot even mail my book to Ella [Young], who is awaiting its arrival eagerly, so low have I sunk!! no matter in a little while I'll be able to buy photos I want very badly of yours, in fact I want several besides my own face, I want Ella, The one of Lawrence on Mabel's book, one of Robin, so you see soon I'll return good for good, patience, I had other things to attend to first, had too, so I went bust. I was glad you struggled up, struggle up again, the sun must come out soon, I hope to be down Friday, and then I will look you up. There is a photo of yours I want that I don't know how to describe, it is the inside of some vegetable, but a particularly delicate fragile thing, so you may never know which I mean. If I make anything off my book, or sell a picture, I am going to make a splash! Do try and get up again.
Yrs Brett" (Dorothy Brett letter to Edward Weston, June 21, 1934. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents).
The trio met and befriended local photographer Ernest Knee during their stopover in Santa Fe whom Van Dyke described as "a photographer whose approach and sensibilities were consistent with ours." (Enyeart, p. 83). Luhan, who was likely working on her Winter in Taos (see below) around the time of their visit, purchased many of Weston's and Knee's prints to illustrate the book.
Winter in Taos by Mabel Dodge Luhan, Harcourt, Brace. Edward Weston photo of Taos Pueblo (see also below) on the spine and others in the book taken during his June 1933 visit with Willard Van Dyke and Sonya Noskowiak.
Taos Pueblo, June 1933. Edward Weston photograph used on the dust jacket spine and internally in Taos in Winter. Courtesy of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Across the flat adobe roofs of Taos, Edward Weston photograph, June 1933. Image scanned from New Mexico Magazine Home Plan Book, edited by George Fitzpatrick, Santa Fe, 1940, p. 31. (From my collection). Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
New Mexico, 1933. Edward Weston photograph. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents. (Author's note: This image was featured in "Weston Wins $2,500 Award," Life Magazine, April 12, 1937, p. 78. The article announcing Weston's Guggenheim Award was likely the idea of Life staff photographer Peter Stackpole who was also Weston's neighbor on Mesa Rd. in Santa Monica Canyon.).
Sonya Noskowiak photographing cloud formation, Taos Pueblo, June 1933. Photograph by Willard Van Dyke. (Enyeart, p. 106). Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
Weston did not mention his dessert "encounter" with Luhan in the Daybooks but fondly wrote of his trip experiences,
"We, Willard, Sonya and I, have returned from N. Mexico. Gone but two weeks, counting traveling time, I feel the time and expense well-spent. Besides the visual memories brought back of a magnificent country -Arizona, New Mexico and my own California - I have some fine new work; landscapes with gorgeous heavens - I was continuously reminded of old Mexico - details of various pueblos, - the old church at Laguna, the perfectly formed and functional ovens against equally perfect walls of adobe, some few rock details and one of a juniper; but mostly open landscape, - for in N. Mexico the heavens and earth become one..." (Daybooks, July 7, 1933, p. 275).
Weston's body of portrait work of Luhan's circle was exhibited at the Denny Watrous Gallery the following November. It was reported in The Carmel Pine Cone that, "The exhibit will be of portraits only, unretouched, including prints made this last year of Muriel Draper, John Evans [son of Mabel Luhan], Claire Spencer, Lady Dorothy Brett, Mabel Luhan, Robinson Jeffers, and Joseph Freeman." ("Weston Prints in Gallery," The Carmel Pine Cone, November 3, 1933, p. 7). (Author's note: Freeman was a John Reed Club organizer and briefly husband of artist and former lover of Edward Weston and Diego Rivera, Ione Robinson. Freeman and Robinson had both been photographed by former Weston partner and lover Tina Modotti in Mexico City in 1929.(.
Weston's next visit to New Mexico was with Charis Wilson in December of 1937 after they were offered use of a house in Tesuque just outside of Santa Fe. They had just completed their first year traveling on Edward's Guggenheim Fellowship and monthly stipend from Phil Townsend Hanna, editor of Westways, and a lengthy rent-free stay to regroup seemed appealing to them. (See my "Touring Topics / Westways: The Phil Townsend Hanna Years" for more details). "The house deal fell through after they arrived as they learned when they reconnected with old friends Ernest Knee and his abstract artist wife Gina Knee. They took advantage of the Knee's hospitality and photographed "pueblos, adobe buildings, and the unusual New Mexico landscape." (Through Another Lens: My Years with Edward Weston by Charis Wilson, North Point Press, 1998, p. 164-5).
Edge of Taos Desert: An Escape to Reality by Mabel Dodge Luhan, Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York, 1937. Cover photo, "Dancing Boy," by Ernest Knee.
Knee undoubtedly proudly showed Weston his presentation copy of Luhan's recently released Edge of Taos Desert: An Escape to Reality, volume four of her autobiography Intimate Memories, which was illustrated by nine of Knee's images, including the cover (see above), and one by Ansel Adams. They also likely got a chuckle out of reminiscing about Weston's dessert "episode" with Luhan in 1933. Charis also recounted the following event which Edward had shared with her previously and would soon get to witness Luhan's manipulative characteristics firsthand. (Wilson, p. 167).
Edward and Luhan somehow connected and she invited him and Charis to stay at her house where, as usual, she had an ulterior motive. She wanted Weston to photograph her Christmas holiday house guest, composer and conductor Leopold Stokowski, whom she had for years prodded to incorporate Indian music into his compositions. Edward agreed only on the condition that Mabel get the conductor's approval ahead of time. She told Edward later that Stokowski was willing and that a good opportunity would be at the upcoming Taos Pueblo Christmas Dance. As they were watching the dance from the pueblo roof Mabel came up and admitted to Edward that she hadn't asked Leopold's permission. Edward was left with no choice but to ask Stokowski's approval when introduced. Much to Weston's chagrin, Stokowski replied, "No, no. No pictures," acting as though he had been ravaged by the mere request." (Wilson, pp. 167-8).
Upon returning to Tesuque after the latest Luhan debacle, the Knee's informed Edward that the current issue of Life featuring his Guggenheim work was on the newsstands so they immediately ran out and got a copy. ("Speaking of Pictures...These are Edward Weston's Westerns," Life Magazine, December 27, 1937, pp. 5-6). Disappointed by the quality of the images and layout, this motivated Edward and Charis to immediately get to work on the application to renew his Guggenheim Fellowship for another year. After completing the application they spent New Years Eve in Albuquerque with Willard Nash, yet another old Taos painter friend known as "The American Cezanne."
They photographed their way back to Los Angeles, with a five day stopover with photographer Frederick Sommer in Prescott, Arizona. They arrived at Chandler's place on January 11th where they learned that Brett and Cicely's's daughter Ericka was born that morning, making Edward a grandfather for the second time. (Wilson, p. 170). (Author's note: As he had with Chandler's son Teddy, family friend, doctor and Schindler client Philip Lovell delivered baby Ericka.)
Tony Luhan portrait by Sally Flavin, no date. From Edge of Taos Desert: An Escape to Reality by Mabel Dodge Luhan, Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York, 1937, frontispiece.
Another eerily coincidental event occurred while they were on their trip. Sally Flavin, whose portrait of Tony was selected by Mabel for the frontispiece (see above) of the book Knee had just showed him, had had a tragic accident. On December 7th, the day the Weston's left for New Mexico she had fallen off the cliff while photographing near her and husband Martin's Charles Sumner Greene-remodeled Carmel Highlands home "Spindrift". The house was just around the corner from John and Molly O'Shea's home on Spindrift Drive and across Highway One from the estate of Charis's father, noted author Harry Leon Wilson seen below with some of his old Carmel writing cronies. Her body washed ashore at nearby Point Lobos on January 5th about a week before Edward and Charis got back to Los Angeles.
George Sterling, James Hopper, Harry Leon Wilson and Jack London, Bohemian Grove, San Francisco, 1913. Photographer unknown. (Recall that Hooper, Sterling and London were also on the beach with Mary Austin in the earlier above 1906 Arnold Genthe photograph)
Robinson Jeffers and Mabel Dodge Luhan, Los Gallos, Taos, 1937. Courtesy Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
"I must tell you of Sally [Flavin]. No trace of her altho' hundred CCC patrol constantly. Apparently she focused her camera on a tripod at edge of cliff & then backing away from it fell backwards into the sea—That is the way they have reconstructed it but no one saw her fall. They found her camera there on tripod & a day after her shoe & sock washed in. The pictures were developed in camera—all of sea. She had never taken seascapes before & had just gotten the assignment to take some from the camera club. She was gone 5 hrs. before they began to search. Martin [Flavin] sent for R & me to come out yesterday & talked 2 hrs. about it." ("Una Jeffers Correspondent: The Luhan Letters, Excerpts, 1938" in Robinson Jeffers Newsletter, Number 88, Autumn 1993, p. 29).
Los Angeles Times, December 8, 1937, p. 3.
Martin Flavin Residence, "Spindrift," Spindrift Dr., Carmel Highlands, ca. 1928. Lewis Josselyn photo. Courtesy California Views.
Weston first met the noted playwright and 1944 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Martin Flavin (see below) and his wife Sarah [aka "Sally"] during an April 2, 1929 visit to their above Carmel Highlands home with Christel Gang and Vasia and Sybil Anikeef. Like the O'Shea's, the Flavins were also close to Robinson and Una Jeffers and their circle. Of a later July 20, 1929 party at their home Weston wrote,
"Then - Saturday last a party was planned at the Flavin's - Ramiel [McGehee] to dance, Vasia [Anikeef] to sing. In comparison the affair was flat. The setting was perfect, the drinks real, the service perfect, - food such as only the wealthy can find time to prepare: but it was planned, - certain ones to perform at a given time, and the spontaneity of the other party was lacking. The Flavins I like, - and their home on the coast, with a miniature Point Lobos (see below), is a place of wonder." (Daybooks, July 22, 1929, p. 129).
Martin Flavin Residence, "Spindrift," Yankee Point, Carmel Highlands. Raymond E. Bates photo. Courtesy California Views. (Author's note: In background can be seen the John O'Shea, William Rirschel, Harry Wilson and D. L. James Residences).
Martin Flavin, Carmel, ca. 1930. Edward Weston portrait. The Carmelite, February 12, 1930, p. 1.
Coincidentally, Weston's portrait of Flavin appeared on the cover of The Carmelite during the Luhan's initial 1930 visit to Carmel. The Luhan's undoubtedly befriended the Flavins during this trip evidenced their circle of friends and by Mabel's choice of Sally's portrait of Tony (see earlier above) for the frontispiece of Edge of Taos Desert.
Weston Residence, Wildcat Hill, 1942. Edward Weston photograph. Collection Center for Creative Photography. ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents.
A few months after returning from New Mexico and bolstered with the renewal of his Guggenheim Fellowship, Edward and Charis called upon son Neil, by then an expert carpenter, to build their new home on Wildcat Hill in Carmel Highlands across Highway One from the O'Shea, Flavin and James estates. The site was a 2-acre portion of Charis's father Harry's former estate they were able to salvage through his foreclosure proceedings (see above). Work was begun in May while Edward and Charis were back on the road for more Guggenheim work and was finished by the time of their return in August at a cost of $1,500 including Neil's labor. (Wilson, p. 189).
About the time Weston's house was under construction, Robin and Una Jeffers were visiting the Luhans in Taos for what would end up being the last time. Their visit almost ended tragically as a disenchanted Mabel, in a last ditch attempt attempt to break Jeffers out of a severe case of writer's block, abetted an affair between him and another house guest, Hildegarde Nathan. Believing that what he needed was to be recharged sexually she encouraged Nathan into a tryst. Once Una found the couple out she attempted suicide with Mabel's .32 caliber automatic. By a fluke, the attempt failed, Una recovered, and the Jeffers' family life gradually returned to normal after their return to Carmel. (Rudnick, pp. 298-9).
Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, Limited Editions Club. Photographs by Edward Weston.
Weston's last visit to New Mexico came in 1941 during an eight-month odyssey photographing America for illustrations for the Limited Editions Club edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (see above). Charis and Edward again hooked up one last time with Gina and Ernie Knee who took the below photo of Edward at work near the Lawrence Ranch.
Edward Weston, San Cristobal, New Mexico, 1941. Photograph by Ernest Knee.
The Schindlers and the Westons: An Avant-Garde Friendship, 1920-1938
This article is in essence a chapter of a book in progress on the familial relationships between the Schindler and Weston families and their bohemian social circles between late 1920 through 1938. For now I plan to end the book in 1938 when Weston built his home in Carmel Highlands and married Charis and the Schindlers divorced and began living separate lives under the same roof in RMS's iconic Kings Road House. My working title for the book is The Schindlers and the Westons: An Avant-Garde Friendship, 1920-1938. Their fascinatingly interwoven lives and relationships remained avant-garde to the end. As always, I welcome your feedback on any of my pieces.