Friday, March 31, 2017

Edward Weston, Jean Charlot, "Spud" Johnson, Marjorie Eaton and Lloyd LaPage Rollins's 1932 "Horse Show"

Marjorie Eaton, ca. 1935. Photo by Dorothea Lange. Courtesy Oakland Museum of California, Lange Collection.

While researching for my latest essay "Schindler-Scheyer-Eaton-Ain: A Case Study in Adobe" I discovered a 1932 exhibition at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum with the all-encompassing title "Horse Show: Horses in Art From Ancient Times to the Present Day" (see catalogue below). 

Horse Show: Horses in Art From Ancient Times to the Present Day, November 19, 1932 through January 1, 1933, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco. (From my collection).

Lloyd LaPage Rollins at 683 Brockhurst, 1932. Photo by Willard Van Dyke. From Group f.64 by Mary Street Alinder, Bloomsbury, New York, 2014, p. 82.

Ambitious museum director Lloyd LaPage Rollins (see above) rounded up and chronologically and subjectively herded 549 items for this omnibus display of horse art throughout the ages. What I found most intriguing about the show was Rollin's tongue-in-cheek inclusions of the work of, and from the collections of, his ever-widening circle of mutual artist friends. Rollins borrowed work from his recent exhibitor Diego Rivera (see below), Marjorie Eaton's close friends Esther Bruton, Maynard Dixon and recent Rivera mural assistant Maxine Albro. Rollins also made a special trip to Carmel where he found work by Edward Weston and his close friends Jean Charlot and Henrietta Shore, Marjorie's former teacher Armin Hansen, William Ritschel and others. 

"Zapata" by Diego Rivera, 1932, Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art.

Jean Charlot, 1926. Photo by Edward Weston. From Edward Weston in Mexico, 1923-1926, by Amy Conger, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1983, p. 16. Courtesy Jean Charlot Collection, University of Hawaii. 1981 Copyright Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. 

I found the most fascinating item in the show to be a tempera painting titled "Horsie" by Weston's close friend Jean Charlot (see above). Weston met and quickly befriended the French transplant Charlot shortly after moving to Mexico with Tina Modotti and his son Chandler in the summer of 1923. They exhibited together at Mexico City's Cafe de Nadie in April of 1924. Intrigued by the local folk art, in September of 1924 Weston began collecting and photographing it and sending it home as gifts for the family and friends. (Conger, p. 16).

Edward Weston by Jean Charlot, 1924. Courtesy Jean Charlot Collection, University of Hawaii.

"Mexican Toys: Bull, Pig, and Horse, and Plate," 1925, Conger, p. 28. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Byron Meyer Fund Purchase. 1981 Copyright Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. 

Weston diarized of the profound impact these simple objects and their still-life arrangements made upon him.
"The evening I spent alone among the ever-fascinating puestos, purchasing for ridiculously small amounts more animals of clay - a bull, a horse, a pig (see above) - executed with fine feeling for essential peculiarities of form, or as in the pig, painted with a keen sense of decoration. ... Always when I go to the puestos (see below) I think of my little boys, and picture their wide-eyed wonderment and their sure cries of delight - "O buy this, daddy!" Then, arm-laden, we would walk joyfully home together."
"A Toy Stand in the Alameda" by Tina Modotti, n.d. From Tina Modotto and Edward Weston: The Mexico Years by Sara M. Lowe, Merrell, 2004, p. 100. 
"... Still-lifes they are, and pleasing ones: two fishes and a bird on a silver screen; head of a horse against my petate (see below). ...  The horse is Chinese in feeling - a 7th century porcelain perhaps! Charlot, seeing it, hied himself at once to the puestos to find another; disappointed, he playfully attempts to steal mine on every occasion. These still-lifes, strange to say, are the first I have ever done; and feeling quite sure they number among my best things, I would comment on how little subject matter counts.
"Caballito de Cuarenta Centavos" or "Horsie,"  Photo by Edward Weston, 1924. From Edward Weston in Mexico, 1923-1926 by Amy Conger, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1983, p. 16. Also published in Idols Behind Altars, by Anita Brenner, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1929, p. 113. Courtesy Collection of the California Museum of Photography. UC-Riverside. 1981 Copyright Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. 
"Diego, Tina tells me, also expressed delight over my "Fruta de Barro"-Clay Fruit- and "Caballito de Cuarenta Centavos"- Forty-cent Horse (see above). When Galván saw the title to this picture of my little horse, he said, "You're Gringo all right; you paid too much. ... 
But it is not my little horse any more; Charlot's desire for it was so great that I could not be comfortably selfish any longer, and sent the caballito to fresh pastures. Charlot's pleasure was expressed concretely - he wandered in last night with a water-color sketch under his arm. "To Edward, my first Boss - Horsie." It was a humorous thing, and I told Charlot that either he had fed horsie too well on beef-steak or else "he" had become a wee bit pregnant! The painting was signed "Fot. Silva", which starts another tale." (The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Vol. 1, Mexico edited by Nancy Newhall, Aperture, 1961, pp. 93-94, 99).
"Horsie" by Jean Charlot, 1924. From Edward Weston's Gifts to His Sister and Other Photographs, Sotheby's 2008. Courtesy Sally Kurtz, Dayton Art Institute.

Weston was still the owner of record for "Horsie" (see above) when it was loaned to Rollins for the 1932 exhibition. Seemingly Rollins had made a trip to Carmel to borrow "Horsie," Henrietta Shore's "White Horse and Goat" and some items from William Ritschel. As was his wont, Weston regifted "Horsie" and a copy of his print that inspired it to his sister for a 1935 "Xmas" present (see gift inscription below).

Verso, (Ibid)

"Clay Bull" by Jean Charlot, 1926. From Avant-Garde Art & Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties by Susannah Joel Glusker, University of Texas Press, 2010, p. 23. Courtesy the Jean Charlot Estate. Photo by Beatriz Diaz.

On December 18, 1925 Charlot's then strong love interest Anita Brenner wrote in her journal of her feelings for Charlot and of buying a clay bull. Evidenced by the above Charlot painting Brenner perhaps purchased it as a Christmas present for the badly smitten Charlot knowing how much he admired the earlier above "Horsie" Weston gifted him the previous year. 
"I bought a very simple beautiful clay bull; of those so much like Chinese sculpture, primitive. White, black, red, yellow and orange. Squat, strong, startling. Very beautiful. A savings bank - thirty centavos." (Brenner, p. 23).
In any event Weston also photographed a clay bull seemingly in Charlot's possession around the same time (see below).

"Bull from the Town of Santa Cruz near Tonala," by Edward Weston, 1926. (Ibid). Copyright 1981 Center for Creative Photography, University Board of Regents. Photo by Michael Nye.

Much of the Mexican folk art Weston photographed during this period was reproduced in Brenner's 1929 paean to Mexico, Idols Behind Altars. The exhaustively researched book included dozens of other photos Brenner specifically commissioned from Weston and Tina Modotti in 1926 along with a compilation of illustrations by Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros, Merida, Guerrero, Goitia, Posada, Covarrubias and Charlot including his colorful cover design (see below).

Idols Behind Altars, by Anita Brenner, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1929. Cover art by Jean Charlot. From my collection.

Willard "Spud" Johnson, Taos, 1932. Photo by Will Connell. New Mexico Art Museum Digital Archives.

Rollins's "Horse Show" catalogue "Acknowledgement" list also included from Taos, Miss Marjorie Eaton, Willard "Spud"Johnson (see above), and R. M. Schindler Chicago Palette and Chisel Club mate Walter Ufer. Through a fellow 1922-23 Berkeley classmate and drama performer Eileen Eyre, Rollins met Marjorie Eaton (see below), for whom he held a one-woman show in February of 1932. (Author's note: Rollins hosted a one-man show for Schindler in April of 1933. For much on the Schindler-Ufer friendship see my ("Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrence and Selected Carmel-Taos Connections"). 

 Marjorie Eaton, ca. 1935. Photo by Dorothea Lange. Courtesy Oakland Museum of California, Lange Collection.

Miguel Covarrubias cover art for Laughing Horse, issue 16. Spud Johnson and Laughing Horse by Sharyn R. Udall, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque,1994. From my collection. (For more on this cover see my "Miguel Covarrubias in Taos, 1929").

Fellow gay Rollins also knew Spud Johnson and his then lover Witter Bynner from their Berkeley college days. Johnson was one of the founders of the loosely affiliated radical satirical literary magazine Laughing Horse (see above) and Bynner was teaching poetry during 1920-21.  They both moved to Santa Fe in 1922 where Johnson became Bynner's secretary and continued his involvement editing the by then "scandalous" Laughing Horse (see below for example). By the time of Rollins's exhibition Johnson had moved to Taos to work for legendary Mabel Dodge Luhan. It was through these connections that Rollins solicited almost 20 "horse" pieces from Spud and a Mexican folk art horse sculpture from Marjorie to include in the show. (Horse Show, "Acknowledgement"). (Author's note: Bynner made a visit to Miss Burke's School to do a poetry reading during Eaton's senior year there in 1920. As yearbook editor Marjorie reported on his and Vachel Lindsay's April 1920 visits to the Julia Morgan-designed campus. Eaton's close friend Eileen Eyre and Rollins performed together in plays during their senior year in 1923. See much more on this in my "Schindler-Scheyer-Eaton-Ain: A Case Study in Adobe").

"U.C. Instructors Lampooned by 'Laughing Horse'," Oakland Tribune, September 18, 1922, p. 30.

Johnson and much of Taos royalty including Schindler's former Chicago Palette and Chisel Club mates Victor Higgins and Walter Ufer and his 1915 Taos client Doc Martin and artists Oscar Berninghaus, Ward Lockwood, Bert Phillips, Ernest Blumenschein and others were at Marjorie's Taos going away party shortly after Rollin's "Horse Show" ended. ("Society," Albuquerque Journal, January 3 and 12, 1933). After spending much of the previous four years in Taos Eaton was heading off to New York to study at the Art Student's League with Hans Hofmann and Arshile Gorky. By the summer of 1933 she had befriended and was living with Louise Nevelson and was assisting her friend Diego Rivera on his New Worker's School murals (see below).

Diego Rivera at work on his New Worker's School mural panels, 1933.

Announcement of Group f.64 exhibition at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, November 1932. From Seeing Straight: The f.64 Revolution in Photography edited by Therese Thau Heyman, Oakland Museum, p. 159.

In closing, concurrent to the "Horse Show" Rollins also hosted at the de Young the first ever exhibition of Weston's "Group f.64" (see above). Rollins was by this time avidly collecting the Group's work and would go on to host seven total exhibitions by the Group and/or various iterations of its individual members during his three-year tenure. The originating members included Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, John Paul Edwards, Sonya Noskowiak, Henry Swift, Willard Van Dyke, and Weston. This exhibition also included four invited photographers: Preston Holder, Consuelo Kanaga, Alma Lavenson, and Brett Weston. (Alinder, p. 297). From the de Young the Group's exhibition immediately traveled to the Denny-Watrous Gallery in Carmel. In April of 1933 much of the same group and R. M. Schindler and Henrietta Shore all had concurrent shows hosted by Rollins at both the de Young and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor also under his directorship. (For much more on Schindler, Weston's Group f.64 and Henrietta Shore see my "Schindlers-Westons-Kashevaroff-Cage and Their Avant-Garde Relationships").

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Orozco in San Francisco, 1917-19

While researching for my work in progress "Schindler-Scheyer-Eaton-Ain: A Case Study in Adobe" I learned that renowned Mexican muralist Jose Clemente Orozco spent two formative years in San Francisco during World War I. Much remains to be learned about this part of the enigmatic Orozco's fascinating life. With this I hope to spark more research into this seminal period in the evolution of modernism in the Bay Area art scene.

Jose Clemente Orozco, 1925, attributed to Edward Weston. From Avant-Garde Art and Artists in Mexico: Anita Brenner's Journals of the Roaring Twenties, edited by Susannah Joel Glusker, University of Texas Press, 2010, p. 146.

Orozco, Jose Clemente, "Los Neo-Serviles," illustration from El Ahuizote, October 17, 1911. From Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism 1920-1950 edited by Matthew Affron et al, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2016, p. 24.

Like many other refugees from the 1910-20 Mexican Revolution, Orozco made his way north of the border to explore the wonders of California and perhaps find an atmosphere more amenable to creating art. He heard enticing stories from friends preceding him to the U.S. such as newspaperman Joaquin Pina, who right after the outbreak of the Revolution had gotten him work as a political cartoonist with the satirical journal El Ahuizote (see above).

Orozco, Jose Clemente, "Only at the Cost of Their Blood Do the People Take Their Freedom," illustration from La Vanguardia, May 14, 1915. (Ibid, p. 25).

In 1915 Orozco joined the House of the World Workers, a Revolutionary group which took over the Los Dolores Church in Orizaba. Under the editorship of his idol and early teacher Dr. Atl, Orozco provided the illustrations and political cartoons for the group's propagandist revolutionary organ La Vanguardia. (see above and below).

Orozco, Jose Clemente, "What should I serve father, whiskey or tequila?" illustration from La Vanguardia, May 19, 1915. (The Press and Revolution in Mexico, La Vanguardia, 1915 by Elissa Rashkin, 2008, p. 15).

Orozco, Jose Clemente, "House of Tears: The Pimp's Dance I," watercolor, 1913-16. (Ibid, p. 22.).

Pina was by 1916 working as a reporter for the Spanish language newspaper La Cronica in San Francisco. His encouraging letters convinced a curious Orozco to pack his paintings and leave his studio and head north in hopes of a Bay Area exhibition. Orozco was detained in Laredo, Texas where over 60 of the devastated artist's paintings were confiscated and destroyed due to their "illicit" subject matter after an earlier than expected solo exhibition curated by the border agents (see above and below for example). (Jose Clemente Orozco: An Autobiography translated by Robert C. Stephenson, University of Texas Press, 1962, pp. 59-66).

Orozco, Jose Clemente, "House of Tears: The Pimp's Hour," watercolor, 1913-16. From Jose Clemente Orozco in the United States, 1927-1934, edited by Renato Gonzales Mello and Diane Miliotes, Norton, 2002, p. 23.

Orozco wrote in his autobiography, 
"The pictures were far from immoral, there was nothing shameless about them, there weren't even any nudes, but the officials were firm in the conviction that they were protecting the purity and innocence of North America from stain, or else that domestic concupiscence was in sufficient supply, without any need to be augmented from abroad." (Stephenson, p. 60).
Revista de Revistas, Cinco de Mayo, 1912. Cover art by J. A. Vargas. From SMU Digital Collections.

After making his way to San Francisco Orozco reunited with Pina who introduced him to his editor and publisher Fernando R. Galvan, another refugee from the Revolution. Galvan had come to San Francisco and became involved with  La Cronica around the time of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. He became editor and publisher sometime in 1916. Before coming to the U.S. Galvan had edited Revista de Revistas (see above) in Mexico City from 1912 to 1914.

La Cronica, October 15, 1916 edited by Fernando R. Galvan. From Historical Newspapers Online.

Single-leaf catalogue from Orozco's first one-man show, 1916. From The Mexican Mural Renaissance, 1920-1925 by Jean Charlot, Yale University Press, 1963, p. 218. Contains Orozco's period trade mark, a schoolgirl with hair ribbon and saucy eyes. 

In what may have been his first mention in an American newspaper, Pina reported in the above October 1916 issue of La Cronica on Orozco's first one-man exhibition in Mexico City at the Gamoneda Biblos Bookstore (see catalogue above). This indicated that they may have been corresponding and/or that Pina or someone else at the paper may have seen the below review of Orozco's exhibition in Mexico City's La Republica by his close friend Raziel Cabildo. (Stephenson, p. 33).

Cabildo, Raziel, "Artes plásticas: la exposición de J.C. Orozco en la casa Biblos." La República: Semanario polítio (México D. F., Mexico), September 29, 1916, 9-10. From the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Digital Archives.

Cabildo's review described Orozco as the “most repudiated, the most contradicted, the least understood artist in Mexico because of the themes he explored, the brothels of the city, and the use of a technique based in caricature." The exhibition included one hundred and twenty-three items, divided into three sections, schoolgirls, prostitutes, and cartoons. (Charlot, p. 218). The paintings were mainly from the same 1913-16 "House of Tears" series destroyed by the Laredo border agents. The exhibition took place at above-mentioned Gamoneda's Biblos Bookstore, located in the historic center of Mexico City, after the Academia de Bellas Artes had refused to show his works. In a November companion review in the same publication Francisco Monterde cited the lack of understanding of Orozco’s work as stemming from those who do not understand that there is a “powerful youth that destroyed a regime and is changing the milquetoast spirit of the country.” (Fradique [Monterde, Francisco], "Artes plásticas: los pintores jaliscienses: José Clemente Orozco,"La República: Semanario polítio (México D. F., Mexico), November 22, 1916, 9-10. From the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Digital Archives.

Montgomery and Washington Streets arts district just after the 1906 earthquake. The buildings were quickly restored and occupied by local artists. From San Francisco Public Library Digital Photo Collection.

Deeply frustrated by the overwhelming negativity of his exhibition reviews Orozco decided to accept Pina's invitation to join him in San Francisco. Shortly after his arrival Orozco enrolled in art classes at the newly formed California School of Fine Arts and was living in the heart of the artist community in the "Monkey Block" at 628 Montgomery Street seen at the far right in the above photo. (Thanks to Jeff Gunderson, Archivist at the San Francisco Art Institute, formerly the California School of Fine Arts for this information).

Orozco fondly reminisced of these early days and his new neighborhood,
"I would visit the University of California, or the Bohemian quarters of San Francisco, with their cabarets, their dance halls, their Italian restaurants, and their saloons in the style of the Forty-niners, decorated with photographs of the most celebrated Mexican bandits of the time, that is, the dispossessed, who had been driven from their lands. Through this district, (see above) and through the studios of sculptors and painters there, passed the joyous, noisy, money-laden crowd which filled this world. There was a restaurant called "Coppa," decorated by the many painters in San Francisco. Uprooted artists could dine there a few times in exchange for pictures drawn on the walls. Happily I was not reduced to painting anything for the Coppa. The time for murals had not yet arrived." (Ibid, pp. 65-66).
Interior of Coppa's "Red Paint" Restaurant, 534 Washington St., San Francisco ca. 1918. 

Interior of Coppa's "Red Paint" Restaurant, 534 Washington St., San Francisco ca. 1918. From The Life of Maynard Dixon by Donald J. Hagerty, Gibbs-Smith, 2010, p. 121.

Orozco was immediately attracted to Coppa's and quickly assimilated with its Bohemian royalty including Mexican ex-patriot Xavier Martinez and his new teachers at the California School of Fine Arts which included Maynard Dixon, Ralph Stackpole, Gottardo Piazzoni, Spencer Macky and others. The walls of Coppa's "Red Paint" were irreverently covered with the colorful murals of this rowdy group (see above). Orozco was thrilled to find an establishment so similar to his brother's restaurant Los Monotes ("Big Monkeys") which opened the same day as his above-mentioned 1916 exhibition. Los Monotes quickly became Mexico City's avant-garde equivalent of Coppa's, a Bohemian hangout for intellectuals, artists, authors and hangers-on. (The Covarrubias Circle edited by Kurt Heinzelman, University Of Texas Press, 2004, p. 86). Orozco had decorated his brother's walls with very similar cartoon-like murals (see below) in time for the restaurant and exhibition joint openings. The irony of living in the "Monkey Block" and his brother's similarly named "Big Monkeys" restaurant would not have been lost on him.

From "Orozco y Sus Pintores de "Los Monotes," by Xavier Moyssen, p. 215.

Ibid, p. 216.

Ibid p. 217.

Ibid, p. 218.

Market Street military parade, 1918. From San Francisco Public Library Digital Photo Collection.

Orozco wrote about the patriotic war fervor permeating the streets of San Francisco after his arrival (see above for example).
"We heard the song "Over There" at all hours. The air was thick with it. ... The Devil, for the moment, was the Kaiser, the Number One Enemy of Democracy, and everywhere his effigy was to be encountered, with his aggressive mustachios and his helmet." (Stephenson, p. 63).
Galvan and Orozco became fast friends and decided to go into business together. They at first discussed opening a gallery with Orozco painting and Galvan selling. Around the end of 1917 Galvan apparently sold La Cronica to Pina who continued publishing the weekly under the new Hispano-America masthead. (Hispanic Periodicals in the United States, Origins to 1960: A Brief History by Nicolás Kanellos, Arte Publico Press, Houston, 2000, p. 200 and "Breve Historia de "La Cronica" Hoy "Hispano-America," Hispano-America, May 10, 1919, p. 2). 

Galvan and Orozco leased a large space in an industrial building at 1322 Howard Street (see below). Here they built an artist studio, frame shop and living quarters and put up a huge sign advertising Fernando R. Galvan and Company. (Orozco and Galvan, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, September 12, 1918. From Ancestry.com). 

Site of the Fernando R. Galvan and Company, 1322 Howard St., San Francisco. From Google Maps.

As were the border agents in Laredo and most of the Mexico City art critics, Galvan was not enthusiastic about the commercial value of the surviving paintings in Orozco's portfolio thus they agreed to branch out into commercial graphic advertising work. As they moved forward Galvan acted as salesman-dealer-framer and Orozco provided the art work. Most of their product consisted of "hand-painted" announcements and posters for local movie houses. After they quickly learned the trick of manipulating the colored lithographs the theaters gave them as models with a few strategic brush strokes of oil paint they could produce and frame a week's worth of posters in less than an hour (see below for example). This easily allowed plenty of time for extensive Bay Area sight-seeing and carousing by Orozco. (Stephenson, p. 65).

Typical period theater lobby posters, Acme Theater, Stockton near Broadway, 1918. 

Northwest corner of Washington and Sansome Streets. The site of Coppa's was the third building from the right at 534 Washington St. From San Francisco Public Library Digital Photo Collection.

California School of Fine Arts faculty, ca. 1919-20. From period catalogue.

In his oral history Spencer Macky remembered Orozco's time at the California School of Fine Arts,
"Stackpole, one of our faculty, had been to Mexico and had worked with Diego Rivera. Ralph Stackpole was quite a significant character here, you know sculptor and somewhat of a painter. And he was the one who told us about Rivera. Long before this time I used to teach Orozco. He was in my classes for drawing for two years as a young man. It was just around 1917 or '18 that Orozco came up as a refugee. He'd been in a revolution down there and had lost one of his arms; his right arm, I think, and he could work with his left. An amazingly clever person. And I taught him drawing there. ... He was a student when the school was at the site of the Mark Hopkins Hotel (see below).
 
San Francisco Institute of Art, California and Mason Streets, Nob Hill, Loring Rixford, architect, 1907. (From "Work Begun on Temporary Building for Art Association," San Francisco Call, February 4, 1907, p. 5).
A few years later he came back to pay us a visit in this new school which I designed, the School of Fine Arts on Chestnut Street in San Francisco (see below), and he said, "Oh, I'll paint you a mural to go on that tower in memory of our old days when I was a student of this school."
California School of Fine Arts, Chestnut and Jackson Streets, San Francisco, Bakewell and Brown, architects, 1927. From San Francisco Public Library Digital Photo Collection.
I remember distinctly [his work] was rather crude, you know. He was instinctively rather crude and rough. I didn't think much of him myself, to tell you the truth. He probably didn't work carefully enough, but nevertheless he was evidently away ahead of me in his ideas of vigor and strength and all that sort of thing.    
 Alma Reed, New York, 1928, photographer unknown. From Group f.64 by Mary Street Alinder, Bloomsbury, New York, 2014, p. 113.
He didn't stay here, except to my knowledge, as a student. And later [1930] I met him with his lady friend [Alma Reed (see above)] who was the one who pushed him and was his mouthpiece, a very dynamic person, who exploited him, pushed him forward, introduced him, and interpreted him to the American public, just like Madam ... Scheyer ... the lady who brought the Blue Four out here from Germany." (E. Spencer Macky and Constance Macky Reminiscences, oral interview by Corinne L. Gilb, Bancroft Library, U.C.-Berkeley, 1954, pp. 82, 87)
By like token Orozco was not impressed with the level of modernism being taught in San Francisco's art schools. He recollected in his autobiography,
"Art in San Francisco was one hundred percent academic. Even New York was as yet untouched by the Modern Art of the Paris School, with which as yet only a select minority was acquainted." (Stephenson, p. 66).
As Macky related above, Orozco and his New York dealer Alma Reed arrived in San Francisco from Los Angeles in June of 1930. Having just completed "Prometheus" at Pomona College to much fanfare he was in search of walls for another mural. Orozco and Reed, formerly from San Francisco, spent a delightful summer in the Bay Area reconnecting with old friends, exhibiting his recent work and preparing for an important upcoming exhibition of Mexican art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Orozco must have been somewhat dismayed to learn of Stackpole's and Macky's involvement in planning Rivera's imminent murals for the Pacific Stock Exchange Building and the California School of Fine Arts. (For much more on Orozco's 1930 time in Los Angeles, Carmel and San Francisco see my "Brett Weston's Smokestacks and Pylons, 1927").

Orozco thoroughly enjoyed reliving his earlier time in San Francisco. Alma Reed wrote of this period,
"After long hours at the easel, evening found Orozco ready and eager to enjoy the diversions for which San Francisco is world renowned. There was always a choice of numerous theaters, French, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese restaurants, studio parties on Telegraph and Russian Hills, motor drives with one of my sisters or brothers at the wheel and a car full of pleasant friends. Orozco used to delight in driving at sunset through Golden Gate Park and along the several-mile stretch of white beach between the Cliff House (see below) with its famed seal rocks and the eucalyptus-lined road that turned inland to wind around Twin Peaks. Usually he would propose a brisk walk for a few blocks along the [Great] [H]ighway that he liked to call 'the last street of the Western Hemisphere.'" (Orozco by Alma Reed, Oxford University Press, 1956, p. 195). 
Great Highway, Ocean Beach and west end of Golden Gate Park from the Cliff House, June 6, 1930. Courtesy OpenSFHistory.org.

(Author's note: Orozco's 1917-19 friend and partner Fernando Galvan was listed in the 1919 San Francisco City Directory as living at 1686 Great Highway a few blocks south of Golden Gate Park which would be at the top center of the above period photo. Orozco was either still living with Galvan or would have often visited him on what was in 1919 still a quite secluded area.).

Woodrow Wilson in San Francisco, September 27, 1919. 

Orozco ended his San Francisco stay in September of 1919 when he decided to leave for New York where he for a time lived with David Alfaro Siqueiros before they returned to Mexico to begin working on their legendary murals. In his autobiography he remembered the exact day he left.
"Tired of San Francisco, I determined to move on to New York. At the very moment when I was on my way to take the train across the continent, Woodrow Wilson was arriving on his tour of the country in support of the League of Nations. He stood in his automobile (see above), smiling, his hat in his hand. The crowd was portentously silent, in sign of disagreement and protest. It was clear that the League was an intolerable farce." (Stephenson, p. 66).
Orozco at work at the National Preparatory School, Mexico City, 1926. Photo by Tina Modotti. From Glusker, p. 21.

In closing, it is intriguing to imagine Orozco and his 1926 mural chronicler Tina Modotti (see above) crossing paths during his 1917-19 stay in San Francisco. Modotti was just achieving a modicum of fame within the Italian theatrical troupe La Moderna at the Washington Square Theater depicted in the below announcement. This was just a few blocks west of Orozco's art circle hangouts. How ironic would it have been if Galvan had lined La Moderna up as theater poster clients. (For much more on this see my "The Schindlers and the Hollywood Art Association." For much more on Orozco's time in Los Angeles and New York see my "Richard Neutra and the California Art Club." For much on Modotti's early stage and movie career see my "Tina Modotti, Lloyd Wright and Otto Bollman Connections,1920").

La Moderna Theater Poster, 1918. From Shadows, Fire, Snow: The Life of Tina Modotti by Patricia Albers, University of California Press, 2002, p. 112.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Edward Weston, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, December 1930

Diego Rivera, Mexico City,1924. Photo by Edward Weston. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Weston Collection.

Knowing of his close friend Diego Rivera's November-December 1930 exhibition at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor and his exciting San Francisco mural commissions, Edward Weston decided come up from Carmel to pay him a surprise visit at his mutual sculptor friend Ralph Stackpole's Jessop Place studio. Weston also wanted to bask in the concurrent exhibition of his own work at the Vickery, Atkins and Torrey Gallery and socialize with photographer friends Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and husband Maynard Dixon, and Imogen Cunningham and husband Roi Partridge and others.

Edward Weston and Johan Hagemeyer, Gump's, Feb., 9 to Feb. 21, 1925. Courtesy Center for Creative Photography, Edward Weston Collection.

During a six month interlude in San Francisco during his 1923-26 Mexican sojourn, Weston was one of the first to introduce Rivera and friends to the Bay Area. Through his close photogropher friend Johan Hagemeyer Weston excitedly exhibited his early Mexican work, including the above photo of Rivera, at a two-man show at Gump's Department Store (see above).

Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Timothy Pflueger and Ralph Stackpole, November 10, 1930. Photographer unknown. Courtesy San Franciso Public Library Historical Photograph Collection.

Exhibition Catalogue, Diego Rivera, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, November 15 to December 25, 1930. Introduction by Katherine Field Caldwell. From author's collection.

Frontispiece portrait of Diego Rivera, Mexico City, ca. 1923-4 by Edward Weston. (Ibid).

Diego and Frida, Ralph Stackpole's Studio, 27 Jessop Place, San Francisco, December, 1930. Photo by Edward Weston. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Weston Collection.

Weston fondly wrote of the visit,
"I met Diego! I stood behind a stone block, stepped out as he lumbered downstairs into Ralph [Stackpole]'s courtyard on Jessop Place, - and he took me clear off my feet in an embrace. I photographed Diego again, his new wife - Frieda - too: she is in sharp contrast to Lupe, petite, - a little doll alongside Diego, but a doll in size only, for she is strong and quite beautiful, shows very little of her father's German blood. Dressed in native costume even to huaraches, she causes much excitement on the streets of San Francisco. People stop in their tracks to look in wonder. We ate at a little Italian restaurant [Coppa's] where many of the artists gather, recalled old days in Mexico, with promises of meeting soon again in Carmel. Pfleuger - architect - was another contact worthwhile. He sat to me  - on the roof of Ralph's." (The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Volume II, California, pp. 198-9. For much more on Coppa's and fellow Mexican muralist Jose Clemente Orozco's happy times there see my "Orozco in San Francisco, 1917-1919").
Frida Kahlo, Ralph Stackpole's Studio, 27 Jessop Place, San Francisco, December, 1930. Photo by Edward Weston. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Weston Collection.

Diego Rivera, Ralph Stackpole's Studio, 27 Jessop Place, San Francisco, December, 1930. Photo by Edward Weston. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Weston Collection.


Diego Rivera, Ralph Stackpole's Studio, 27 Jessop Place, San Francisco, December, 1930. Photo by Edward Weston. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Weston Collection.

Lady Hastings, San Francisco, ca. 1930. Photo by Edward Weston from The San Franciscan, April 1931, p. 21.

The wife of Lord Hastings, one of Rivera's mural assistants, also sat for a portrait while Weston was in town. It was published in the April 1931 issue of The San Franciscan with the caption, 
"Lady Hastings who is being widely entertained during her sojourn in San Francisco, while her husband, Lord Hastings, assists Diego Rivera with fresco panels in the Stock Exchange and the California School of Fine Arts." 
Storer House, 8161 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, 1924.

Weston made prints of his San Francisco reconnection with Rivera before heading south for the holidays to visit the family. Brett, who had recently established his first independent studio in Frank Lloyd Wright's Storer House (see above) through the largess of Pauline Schindler, picked up his father in Carmel and drove him back to Los Angeles. (For more detail see my "Brett Weston's Smokestacks and Pylons").

"Toward the Big Sur" by Edward Weston, The Carmelite, May 2, 1929. Courtesy Harrison Memorial Library, Carmel.

While in Southern California Weston hooked up with close friends Johan Hagemeyer, Merle Armitage and Ramiel McGehee and visited Pauline at the Storer House. She had herself recently returned from a two year sojourn in Carmel where she edited and published the local progressive weekly newspaper, The Carmelite in which she frequently featured the work of Weston (see above for example). He shared with her his prints of Rivera and other recent work prompting her to recommend he send them off to various suggested publications. (For much more on Pauline's marketing efforts on behalf of the artists and architects in her wide circle see my "Pauline Gibling Schindler: Vagabond Agent for Modernism").

Of the Rivera prints she recommended,
"i think also that the Rivera pictures should be used now while the san francisco work is hot. why not send it to "creative art?" or "the international studio?" or whatever publication you consider superlative in that line. or send the glossy to me, and i will send it to where you suggest, with a brief accompanying article. how about sending the rivera beside mop and garbage can to "the new masses?" please let me know exact details as much as possible of the s. f. paintings of rivera for my articles." (Pauline Schindler to Edward Weston, February 13, 1931. Center for Creative Photography, Weston Papers).
Pauline would have been dying to meet Rivera knowing full well of his politics from Weston and former Schindler House tenant and Blue Four art dealer Galka Scheyer and the news media. She would meet Rivera through Scheyer and mutual friend Marjorie Eaton on a trip to the Bay Area two weeks later. (Ibid).

Galka Scheyer had been staying with Pauline and Brett and perhaps crossed paths with mutual friend Weston when she visited Rivera in San Francisco to solicit his co-sponsorship for her upcoming Blue Four exhibition at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in April. (For much more on the Scheyer-Rivera connection see my "Schindler-Scheyer-Eaton-Ain: A Case Study in Adobe").

(Author's note: Brett Weston had photographed Mexican muralist amigo Jose Clemente Orozco in the spring of 1930 while he was creating his Prometheus mural at Pomona College. His father photographed him in Carmel during a July visit with his dealer Alma Reed while they were in San Francisco scouting for mural walls and preparing for his upcoming exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York). (For more details on Orozco's 1930 California visit see my "Brett Weston's Smokestacks and Pylons," "Richard Neutra and the California Art Club" and "Orozco in San Francisco, 1917-1919").

Frieda and Diego Rivera, 1931 by Frieda Kahlo. Courtesy FridaKahlo.org.

(Author's note 2: In November of 1931 a portrait of Frieda and Diego Rivera painted by "Senora Frieda Rivera" of Mexico City during their 1930-31 stay in San Francisco (see above) was selected for the juried Sixth Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists at the Legion of Honor. This was the first public showing of Frida Kahlo's work). ("Art and Artists," Oakland Tribune, November 8, 1931, p. 22). (For much more on this see my "Schindler-Scheyer-Eaton-Ain: A Case Study in Adobe").

Lovell Beach House, Newport Beach, R. M. Schindler, architect, 1926. Photo by Edward Weston, August 2, 1927. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Papers.

The material in this and linked posts will be part of a larger project, "The Schindlers and the Westons: An Avant-Garde Friendship" (see above).