Sunday, April 26, 2015

100 Years Ago Today: Robert Henri, Alice Klauber and Irving Gill Connections, April 25, 1915

Mary Richmond compound, 204-212 Coast Blvd., La Jolla, 1912-13. Irving Gill, architect.

Just now doing a quick browse in the Historical Los Angeles Times database for what might have happened on the arts and architecture scene 100 years ago today I came upon the below fascinating article on a comparison between the two huge Expositions then well under way in San Francisco and San Diego. My current Irving Gill research and recent viewing of the wonderful "Robert Henri's California" exhibition in San Jose immediately conjured up in my mind the following stream of consciousness post.

Los Angeles Times, April 25, 1915, p. VI-1.

Times correspondent Jeanne Redman gave a glowing review of the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego on this day 100 years ago (see above). She favorably critiqued the "home town" feel of the San Diego expo and highly recommended seeing it before the more nationally and commercially focused Panama-Pacific extravaganza in San Francisco. She extolled San Diego's "Spanish" Architecture of the California Building and the Palace of Fine Arts which housed an exhibition of eight modernist painters including Robert Henri whose former adoring student Alice Klauber finally lured to La Jolla during the summer of 1914. (For complete coverage of Henri's visit I recommend Robert Henri's California: Realism, Race, and Region 1914-1925, Laguna Art Museum, 2014).

Robert Henri posing with his class in their Madrid Studio, July-August 1912. Klauber is standing third from the right. Alice Klauber Collection, San Diego Museum of Art. From Robert Henri's California, p. 17. 

Shortly before this article was published Frank Lloyd Wright had viewed the San Diego fair with son Lloyd and Alfonso Ianelli who returned to Los Angeles from Chicago where was creating the fascinating architectonic sculptures for the Midway Gardens about the same time Henri was arriving in La Jolla for the summer. John and Lloyd Wright and Barry Byrne had befriended Ianelli sometime in 1913, first drawn to him by his intriguing modernist posters for the Orpheum Theater, their newfound Los Angeles hangout. It was John who enlisted Ianelli to come to Chicago to assist on Midway Gardens in the spring of 1914 around the time Schindler first arrived on the scene with the goal of working for Wright. John also convinced his 1912-13 employer Harrison Albright to incorporate Ianelli's sculptures for the Workingmen's Hotel which were finally executed after his return from Chicago in mid-1914. (Alfonso Ianelli: Modern by Design, by David Jameson, Top Five Books, Oak Park, IL, 2013, p. 58).

Workingmen's Hotel, San Diego, 1913-14. Harrison Albright, architect, John Lloyd Wright, designer.

Image: Barry Byrne and Alfonso Iannelli at the Indiana Dunes, mid-1920s (courtesy Barry Byrne family). From PrairieMod.

Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Balboa Park, 1914, Harrison Albright, architect.

Ianelli also collaborated with Harrison Albright on the ornamental sculptural elements for the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park built in conjunction with the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park and completed in 1914.

 Alfonso Ianelli paint job design for Packard Motors. 1915. From ArchiTect Gallery.

Not one to miss an opportunity to take advantage of the California Expositions in San Francisco and San Diego to market his Packard automobiles. Bernard Maybeck client Earle Anthony, under the auspices of his and Homer Laughlin's Automobile Club of Southern California, commissioned Ianelli to design a paint scheme for the new Packard to be displayed at the fairs in both San Francisco and San Diego. He painted the car bright red, gold and black with the radiator in a black and white checkerboard (see above). Packard Motors dubbed Ianelli's design "Cactus Kate" and sent it on a promotional tour of the western states (see below). The advertising campaign referred to Ianelli as "a long-haired artist who suggests that the futuristic motif spells speed, power and a splendid traveling disposition." (Ibid, p. 59).

New Sights for Trans-Continental Tourists," Motor, September 1915, p. 49.

It seems likely that Irving and Louis Gill would have also visited the fair with Wright and Ianelli or at least reconnected at some point during Wright's nearly three months wintering in Southern California. Alice Klauber provided the elder Wright with a set of photographs of the expo's Mayan exhibits which were the likely inspiration for his design of Aline Barnsdall's Hollyhock House four years later. (Frank Lloyd Wright: The Lost Years, 1910-1922 by Anthony Alofsin, University of Chicago Press, 1993, p. 225). (For much more on R. M. Schindler's fateful West Coast visit to the expositions and his gaining inspiration for his early work from the Pueblo Village exhibit at the San Diego fair see my "Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrence").

Julius Wangenheim Residence,  148 W. Juniper, Saqn Diego, 1904-5. Hebbard and Gill, architects. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Irving Gill Collection.

Irving Gill had by then developed very strong connections to Alice and her family, having designed a house for her brother-in-law Julius Wangenheim in 1904 and brothers Melville and Hugo in 1908. The three houses for the Klauber-Wangenheim clan are an excellent case study of the rapid progression of Gill's design aesthetic and architectural language after ending his 11-year partnership with William Hebbard in the spring of 1907 and his brief 1907-08 relationship with Frank Mead.

Melville Klauber Residence, 3060 6th St., 1908. Gill and Mead, architects. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Irving Gill Collection.

Hugo Klauber Residence, 2626 6th St., 1908. Irving Gill, architect. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Irving Gill Collection.

Mary Richmond compound, 204-212 Coast Blvd., La Jolla, 1912-13. Irving Gill, architect.

Klauber arranged for Henri and his wife to stay at Mary Richmond's compound on the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla. The six-room structure above designed by Gill in late 1912 was the first of four that Richmond would develop as Richmond Court to generate income as vacation rentals. ("Building Permits: San Diego: [Mary A. Richmond] Residence," Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer, October 12, 1912, p. 38).

Mary Richmond compound, 204-212 Coast Blvd., La Jolla, 1912-13. Irving Gill, architect. From Robert Henri's California, p. 25. Courtesy San Diego Museum of Art Archives, Alice Klauber Collection.

Henri with wife Marjorie and her sister Viv at the Richmond Cottage, summer of 1914. From Robert Henri's California, p. 25. Courtesy San Diego Museum of Art Archives, Alice Klauber Collection.

Below is the approximate view Henri enjoyed from the Richmond Cottage during the summer of 1914. During these months the New York artist gave demonstrations to local artist groups, sent canvases to exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, and helped Klauber conceive of a complex fine art program for the Panama-California Exposition then being planned for 1915 in the city’s Balboa Park.

Robert Henri, "On the Beach, La Jolla," 1914. From Robert Henri's California, p. 44.

It is fascinating to imagine whether later Schindler client Dr. Lloyd might have stayed at the Richmond Court and been inspired to build his own compound of vacation units he would name the El Pueblo Ribera Court nearby in La Jolla. Schindler and Clyde Chace almost certainly consulted with Gill on their use of slip-form construction techniques for Dr. Lloyd's development which broke ground in 1923.  Former Gill employee Lloyd Wright also employed slip-forming at his 1923 Oasis Hotel project in Palm Springs thus there must have been some cross-pollinating going on. About the same time Gill was working on the nearby Richmond cottage(s) he designed a very similar looking addition to his 1907 Wheeler Bailey Residence (see below).

Wheeler Bailey Residence, 1908 and addition ca. 1912, La Jolla. 

La Jolla Women's Club nearing completion, summer of 1914. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Irving Gill Collection.

La Jolla Women's Club members, ca. 1915. Ellen Browning Scripps seated at right. Mary Richmond likely one of the others.

In 1915-16 Richmond served as President of the La Jolla Women's Club whose new Club House (see above) was completed by Gill before Henri's departure for a one-man show at the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in September. Richmond played the part of "The Bard" in a Shakespearean pageant presented by La Jolla Women"s Club in conjunction with the tri-centennial of Shakespeare's death in 1916. She was especially active in the Club during World War I when hospitality was extended to over 40,000 American soldiers stationed at Camp Kearney. Richmond was also very active in the Woman's Auxiliary of Gill's 1908 St. James Chapel in La Jolla (see below).

St. James Chapel, 1908, Irving Gill, architect. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Irving Gill Collection.

Henri's La Jolla portrait exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art of  was well-received by Los Anageles Times art critic Antony Anderson (see below). Anderson wrote glowingly of Henri's subjects and Gill's Richmond Cottage, 
"The twelve or thirteen character studies - or portraits - now on view at Exposition Park, were done from the people in La Jolla who were his neighbors during the two months he spent in one of the most charming houses in that dreaming village. The village slept placidly in the sun, but Robert Henri remained wide awake all the time, as the portraits prove. The sitters are Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Mexican with one solitary American - his own beautiful wife (see two below)." (Anderson, Antony, "Art and Artists: Henri's La Jolla Portraits," LAT, September 20, 1914, p. III-5.
Anderson, Antony, "Art and Artists: Henri's La Jolla Portraits," LAT, September 20, 1914, p. III-5.

Robert Henri, "The Beach Hat," 1914. From Robert Henri's California, p. 44.

The following week Anderson completed another glowing review going into detail on each of the thirteen portraits in the show. The article was illustrated with a photo of  Henri's wife Marjorie wearing "The Beach Hat" (see above). It seems likely that the photo could have been provided by Louis Gill as his photos of Henri's summer production were also used to illustrate an upcoming issue of The Craftsman (see below). (Anderson, Antony, "Art and Artists: "Henri's Types," LATSeptember 27, 1914, p. III-4). 

Henri, Robert, "My People," The Craftsman, February 1915, pp. 459-469. From Robert Henri's California, p. 24.

The February 1915 issue of The Craftsman (see above and below) featured an article by Henri discussing his intriguing portrait subjects. Four Louis Gill photographs of Henri portraits were used to illustrate the article.

Yen Tsidi (Ground Sparrow), Robert Henri, 1914. Photograph by Louis Gill.

It was most likely more than a coincidence that Gill had a three-page spread on his Timken House in the same issue. At least a dozen articles on Gill's work appeared in the magazine between 1912 and 1916 (see below).

"A House with a Garden Room," The Craftsman, February 1915, pp. 564-566.

Modern American Painting Exhibition, Gallery of Fine Arts, Balboa Park, 1915. From Robert Henri's California, p. 21. Courtesy San Diego History Center. 

Klauber, who had been named chairman of the art department for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and Dr. Edgar Hewett, director of exhibitions, solicited Henri's collaboration in curating an exhibition of work by some of America's foremost contemporary artists bringing us full circle back to the article I opened this article with. Among those who exhibited besides Henri were George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, William Glackens, John Sloan; Childe Hassam, and George Bellows, many of whom were Henri's stablemates in the Ashcan School. This was the first time San Diego had been exposed to a major exhibition of contemporary American art.

A Catalogue of Paintings, Gallery of Fine Arts, Panama-California Exposition, San Diego, 1915. Front cover. From Internet Archive.

The exhibition catalog featured a brief bio and a tipped in photo of a painting for each of the eight artists. Henri selected what was most likely Louis Gill's photo of his Tom Po Qui (Water of Antelope Lake) to illustrate his work (see below).

"Robert Henri, N.A.," in A Catalogue of Paintings, Gallery of Fine Arts, Panama_California Exposition, San Diego, 1915. From Internet Archive.

"California Tower," Alice Klauber, 1915, oil. Site of the above exhibition.

The Panama-California Exposition's California Building designed by Bertram Goodhue quickly became a subject for Alice Klauber and other artists (see above). Possibly emboldened by the success of, and John and Lloyd Wright's fondness for close friend Ianelli's Orpheum posters, Louis Gill submitted a series of his own poster designs to Architect and Engineer of California's cover poster design contest. Four of his covers appeared on a total of eight issues beginning in June of 1913. Despite his uncle's not being involved in the fair's design, Louis's striking image of the California Building designed by Bertram Goodhue was selected as a prize winner (see below for example) 

Architect and Engineer of California, February 1914. Front cover designed by Louis Gill.

Afterword: 

This article is an excerpt from a much longer piece focusing on Gill's impact on the evolution of modern architecture in Los Angeles. I will link to it here when completed. I found the gem of an exhibition catalog Robert Henri's California: Realism, Race, and Region 1914-1925, Laguna Art Museum, 2014, quite helpful. The exhibition is currently on view at the Laguna Art Museum until May 31, 2015. The catalog is rich in Henri, Klauber, Gill, La Jolla and Los Angeles art and architecture lore and is highly recommended.