Thursday, December 11, 2014

Robinson Jeffers by Hamilton Wolf, Carmel, 1919

(Click on images to enlarge).
Robinson Jeffers, Carmel, 1919. Portrait by Hamilton Achille Wolf.

I just ran across this first known non-photographic portrait of Robinson Jeffers by Hamilton A. Wolf, painted in Carmel in 1919 where Wolf moved with his mother after returning from service in WWI. Wolf would later find employment at Berkeley's California School of Arts and Crafts which held annual Carmel summer sessions in the 1910s-1920s. This was also about the time that Jeffers began work on his iconic Tor House (see below). Wolf was previously an instructor at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design from 1911 to 1916 and taught drawing to the likes of fledgling architect Paul R. Williams. Wolf was prominent in, and exhibited widely with, the modernist artist circles in the Bay area throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Wolf's Jeffers pastel is on permanent display at Tor House so be sure to look for it on your next tour. (For some interesting Jeffers Tor House connections see my "Connections in Stone: Lummis, Jeffers and Kuster").

Period postcard of Tor House.

Ad for the Los Angeles School of Art and Design from the 1915 Los Angeles City Directory. (Note that the school's President is none other than Dr. John Randolph Haynes.)

In December 1914, Wolf gave a lecture on Japanese Art to the L.A. School of Art and Design's Palette Club.  Likely attendee's included architecture student Paul R. Williams, and Japanophiles Lloyd Wright and Ramiel McGehee. Like Lloyd's father, Ramiel avidly collected Japanese art and art books during his year and a half in the Orient in 1908-9. ("Anderson, Antony, "Art and Artists," Los Angeles Times, December 13, 1914, p. III-6.).

(Author's note: Coincidentally, this was about the time R. M. Schindler met Lloyd's father and brother John in their Chicago office and learned of Frank's plans to visit the Panama California Exposition in San Diego and Lloyd and Irving Gill in Los Angeles the following month. Schindler had by then become a member of the Chicago Palette & Chisel Club and befriended artists Victor Higgins, Walter Ufer and E. Martin Hennings. Schindler would hook up with Ufer and Higgins in Taos on his own trip west to visit the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco and the Panama California Exposition in San Diego. Schindler also possibly met Lloyd and Gill during his Los Angeles stop over. For much more on this see my "Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrenceand Selected Carmel-Taos Connections").

Lloyd Wright ca. 1920.

Wright lectured to the same group in April of the following year on "Architecture and Its Bearing on the Community." ("Anderson, Antony, "Art and Artists," Los Angeles Times, April 25, 1915, p. III-21). In August 1916 Lloyd broke ground on an artist's studio he designed for the School's director Mrs. L. E. Garden-McLeod which was being completed about the time of the debut performance of Aline Barnsdall's Los Angeles Little Theatre. Lloyd married one of Barnsdall's leading ladies Kirah Markham on November 18, 1916.

Los Angeles School of Art and Design, 602 S. Alvarado St., Burnheim and Bliesner, architects, 1904. USC Digital Archive.

Ramiel McGehee also lectured at the school's Palette Club on Japanese folklore where he presented Japanese dances in costume (see below) and displayed an exhibition of Japanese prints with Lloyd likely in attendance. ("Art Notes," Los Angeles Times, February 6, 1916, p. III-4). About the time Lloyd married Kirah, he and Ramiel were collaborating on stage set designs for performances of the Cherry Blossom Players under Ramiel's direction at the Alexandria Hotel in January 1917. ("Cherry Blossom Players to Give Performances Soon," Los Angeles Times, January 14, 1917, p. III-19).

Ramiel McGehee in Japanese Noh Dance, 1919. Edward Weston photograph. From Merle Armitage Dance Memoranda edited by Edwin Corle, Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1946.