by Bruce Kamerling
Curator of Collections San Diego Historical Society
Ruth Norton Ball
b. Madison, Wisconsin December 12, 1879
d. El Cajon, California December 12, 1960
The daughter of Charles and Ida (Mitchell) Ball, Ruth became a pupil of J. Liberty Tadd in Philadelphia. Her mother operated the Ida Ball School in St. Louis from 1897, and Ruth may have taught there for a while. In September of 1901, she enrolled as a student at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts for one year. While there she studied under Robert P. Bringhurst, Charles P. Davis, and Edmund H. Wuerpel. In 1905, Ruth enrolled at the Cincinnati Art Academy where she remained until 1913, studying with Clement J. Barnhorn and exhibiting occasionally at the Cincinnarti Art Museum. She became a member of the Womens Art Club, Three Arts Club, and the Crafers Company in Cincinnati.
Ruth moved to San Diego about 1918 and became involved with the local art community. She obtained a studio in Balboa Park and eventually became Curator of Indian Arts at the San Diego Museum of Man. For architects Requa and Jackson she produced some decorative panels for the mantle of the William Gunn residence in Coronado in 1925. Other works done in the 1920s included the Marston Memorial at Greenwood cemetery, a bronze tablet for the Boy Scout Camp, the insignia over the main entrance to the San Diego marine base, and a bust of Brig. Gen. Joseph H. Pendleton. In 1929, she exhibited four pieces at the Exhibition of American Sculpture held at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.
Ruth exhibited regularly in San Diego and was a member of the San Diego Art Guild. In 1931, her Head of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. won first honorable mention at the Exhibit of Southern California Art. For the auditorium of Fallbrook High School she produced a series of panels depicting athletes, and exhibited her bronze of swimmer Gertrude Ederle in New York and later at the Amsterdam Olympiad. Her Dog and Bird fountain was shown at the Fine Arts Gallery in 1933 before being installed at Coronado Library Park. The California Pacific International Exposition of 1935, included her bronze Mother and Child in the official art exhibit, and she produced a bust of Queen Zorine of the Zoro Gardens Nudist Colony at the fair. She also exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco in 1939.
During World War II, Ruth ran the Hobby Shop Arts and Crafts Section of the USO at First and Broadway. She also taught art at Francis Parker School. Although a severe accident had left her with a permanent and painful limp, she never asked for special treatment, and is remembered as a warm, caring and generous person by those who knew her.
(Ref. AAA 1921, 1927, 1933; California Palace of the Legion of Honor Contemporary American Sculpture, 1929, p. 20; Hughes; Modern ClubwomanVol. III, No. 3 (December, 1929), pp. 10 & 21; Moure; Oakland; SDET11-16-35; TWW Vol. 10, No. 9 (Summer, 1942), pp. 100-101; WWAA 1936-37, 1940-41)
b. Canada January 25, 1877
d. San Diego, California August 8, 1963
Little is known about this sculptor who arrived in San Diego around 1933. She worked on a SERA project with Isabelle Schultz (Churchman) making dioramas for the WPA Curriculum Project of the San Diego City Schools. That same year she served as activities chairman for the Los Surenos Art Center in Old Town. Her address was listed as La Jolla in 1937-38 and La Mesa in 1947-48. James Tank Porter cast some of her pieces at his foundry in La Mesa, and a solo exhibit of her work was held at the Rose Hedge Manor in La Mesa through the La Mesa Art Mart in 1949. Before retirement, she was a school teacher.
(Ref. SDHC curatorial files.)
Isabelle Schultz Churchman (Mrs. Edwin T. Churchman)*
b. Baltimore, Maryland April 20, 1896
d. Chula Vista, California February 25, 1988
The daughter of a successful carpet manufacturer, Isabelle began her art studies at the Maryland Institute of Art in 1914. She transferred to Goucher College also in Baltimore in 1916, where she remained for two years. Afterwards, she attended Columbia Teachers’ College in New York which graduated her in 1920. Returning to Baltimore, Isabelle enrolled in the Rinehart School of Sculpture where her instructors included Ephraim Keyser, J. Maxwell Miller, and Herbert Adams. In 1922, she obtained a travel scholarship to Europe after exhibiting her small bronze Dancing Fauns in a Rinehart competition.
When she returned from her European studies, Isabelle began teaching, and from 1926 to 1930 taught arts and crafts at the Park School in Baltimore. During this time she also produced several large portrait reliefs including one of her great -uncle, Dr. John Thomas King, for Johns Hopkins University. Tom Huston, who had made a fortune selling “Tom’s Peanuts”, saw and admired the relief of Dr. King. In appreciation for the advice he had received from Dr. George Washington Carver, the “Peanut Wizard,” Huston commissioned Isabelle to produce a bronze relief portrait of the black scientist. This was installed at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in May of 1931.
In 1930, Isabelle visited relatives in California, and despite the growing Depression, decided to move to San Diego. Renting a cottage in La Jolla, she taught at the Balmer School there for three years. Isabelle joined the San Diego Art Guild, and at the Guild’s exhibit in 1933 her sculpture Buddy received second prize. This piece was exhibited again at the California Pacific international Exposition in 1935. That same year she obtained the commission to produce a life-size bronze figure of a child on a dolphin called Crest of the Wave for a man in Mentor, Ohio. James Tank Porter cast the sculpture for her at his La Mesa foundry.
In the mid 1930s, Isabelle began teaching arts and crafts at the Francis Parker School. She also went on the government payroll making dioramas depicting episodes of San Diego history for the State Emergency Relief Administration (SERA). While on this project she met and worked with other local artists including Celeste Batiste, Donal Hord, and Edwin T. Churchman, whom she married on May 19, 1936.
Ed later obtained a job as inspector at the agricultural station between California and Arizona at Blythe. He carved the California bear which still stands at the Blythe station. While in the desert, Isabelle finished a four foot tall onyx sculpture of St. Francis for the Francis Parker School Which she had begun in 1937.
Returning to San Diego in 1941, Isabelle became a draftsman for the 11th Naval District during World War II. She also produced a war memorial for the Russ Auditorium of San Diego High School which consisted of mahogany relief panels depicting Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” in 1944. After the war she taught classes at the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, adult education, and the Y. M. C. A. among others. Although best known for her sculpture in bronze and ceramic, she also worked in pottery, watercolors, enamel on copper, and glass tile mosaic. Among her architectural projects were figural groups for the Burnham and Prudential buildings in San Diego, and a portrait relief of Dean Peterson for San Diego State College.
As art tendencies became more progressive, Isabelle had difficulty adjusting and became depressed that her work was no longer being appreciated. She suffered an emotional breakdown. To help speed her recovery, long-time friend Donal Hord encouraged her to make small bronzes using the lost-wax method. This occupied her for the next fifteen years during which she produced over sixty-five different bronzes in small editions. These are lively pieces depicting mermaids, children at play, and children with animals
(Ref. AAA 1927; Hughes ; Moure; Quayle, Betty, and Ruth Kundle, Moving Bronze: The Vision of Isabella Churchman, unpublished mss, no date; SDET 5-31-44; SDU 5-3-32 II3:2, 4-22-33 6:1, 5-5-34 7:8, 12-23-34 Club 2:6; WWAA 1936-37 )
Charles Clarence Cristadoro
b. New York State November 13, 1881
d. San Dimas, California December 18, 1967
The son of Charles Cristadoro, a well-known writer and authority on agricultural and farming subjects, Charles Clarence Cristadoro originally thought of becoming painter. He first studied art in St. Paul, Minnesota, and then became a pupil at the Chase School in New York, studying with William Merritt Chase, Frank DuMond, F. Luis Mora and Robert Henri. After a period of study with the sculptor Clement Barnhorn in Cincinnati, Cristadoro decided to give up his aspirations to become a painter and turn his attention to sculpture. Some of his earliest carvings were done in bone and ivory, including a seated nude carved from an ivory billiard ball.
The senior Cristadoro suffered from a crippling illness, so the family moved to San Diego’s point Loma in an attempt to relieve his condition. First mentioned in the San Diego city directory for 1908, Charles junior sometimes listed himself as an inventor and sometimes as a sculptor. His sister, Agnes (who later married San Diego architect Edwin T. Banning), also listed herself as an artist. Apparently more interested in inventions than in sculpture, few art works from Cristadoro’s hand are known. His most important sculptures in San Diego are the two large figural groups above the proscenium of the Spreckels Theater which opened in 1912.
Called to San Francisco in 1914, Cristadoro took charge of one of the studios for the creation of sculpture for the Panama Pacific International Exposition under Alexander Sterling Calder (father of the modern sculptor). Cristadoro’s work for the San Francisco fair brought him a bronze medal.
Sometime during the 1910s, Cristadoro made the acquaintance of William S. Hart the famous movie cowboy, and produced several sculptures of the actor. One of these called Two-gun Bill depicts Hart advancing with guns drawn, which Cristadoro reproduced in an ivory miniature. In the mid 1920s, while still in San Diego, Cristadoro produced a life-size bronze sculpture of Hart standing next to his horse for the city of Billings, Montana. The young Donal Hord and his assistant Homer Dana helped Cristadoro cast the piece in plaster which the Gorham Foundry completed in bronze.
Cristadoro had membership in the California Art Club and the San Diego Art Guild where he served as president in 1926 and 1927. He also served on the first board of directors of the San Diego Fine Arts Society, established in 1925. In 1926, he exhibited a group of twelve miniature ivory carvings at the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, and Mary J. Coulter, in a review in the San Diego Union referred to him as the “American Cellini.” The city directory for 1928 contained his last local listing.
After leaving San Diego, Cristadoro seems to have moved to the Los Angeles area. During the 1930s’ he became involved in the W.P.A. Federal Theater Project in Hollywood working in the puppet division. Puppets allowed him to be creative in both the fields of sculpture and inventions. He produced a large puppet of Adam with extremely complicated articulations for a production of Genesis. The puppet was so flexible that art students later used it for drawing classes.
For time in the 1930s, Cristadoro taught at the Art Students’ League in Los Angeles, and worked on several Hollywood productions. He helped make some of the dinosaur figures for the original King Kong in 1933. By March of 1938, he was hired by Walt Disney Productions as a character model artist. For his first assignment, he created a model of the figure of Pinocchio from the rough sketches of the character designers. His model, depicting the puppet standing on his toes pointing up, assisted the animators of the feature. Cris, as his friends called him, also did models of Geppetto and Jimminy Cricket. His work Disney lasted the fall of 1940.
After working for Disney, Cristadoro worked at George Pal’s Puppet Studio in Hollywood, and also with the puppeteer Bob Baker. During this time he resumed his interest in boat inventions, and worked on designs to reduce surface tensions so that a boat could go faster or with less power. He patented several of his ideas, and some of them were on San Diego’s Mission Bay. He even began designs for a hydroplane, and later claimed that the government had stolen his ideas.
Returning to the Disney studios in 1950, Cristadoro began working on mechanically animated miniature figures which evolved in to Project Little Man in 1951. Several other machinists and artists were put on the project, but the studio shelved it during the push to build Disneyland. Cristadoro left Disney studios in November of 1953, but years later the Project Little Man idea developed into the sophisticated audio-animatronic effects seen at Disneyland today. Toward the end of the life, Cristadoro had a period of failing health. He lived for a while with friends in Glendora, and spent some time at the Motion Picture Hospital in Woodland Hills. He died in the San Dimas Sanitarium in 1967.
(Ref. Hughes; Moure; SDU 1-17-13 3:2-4, 5-30-26 F5:4-6)
Edna May (Scofield) Halseth (Mrs. Odd Halseth)
b. Wisconsin ca. 1878-79
Scofield studied for three years at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is first listed in San Diego in 1908, and lived with a brother and two sisters for a time. At the Panama California Exposition of 1915, her seated figure of the Indian Yellow Sky was awarded a gold medal. Her work also received silver and bronze medals at the Panama California International Exposition the following year. Between 1914 and 1919, she often exhibited figure and portrait studies with the California Art Club in Los Angeles including busts of local artists Charles A. Fries and William H. C. Pierce.
By 1919, Scofield became an assistant with the San Diego Museum which operated an art gallery in the south wing of the California Quadrangle in Balboa Park. She also taught at the State Normal School. In June of 1919, she married Odd S. Halseth, a native of Norway who served in the U. S. Army Air Service. The wedding took place in New York City, and the couple did not return to San Diego until the following year when he got out of the service. For the next two years Edna was listed as curator for the San Diego museum in Balboa Park, but there are no additional listings after 1923, and nothing is known of her life after that date.
(Ref. AAA 1917-1925; Hughes; McGrew, Vol. II, pp 517-18; Moure)
Rose M. Hanks (Mrs. Fulton B. Hanks)*
b. Germany April 5, 1890
San Diego, California December 26, 1979
The daughter of Charles and Ida Keller, Rose came to the United States with her family about 1904. By the late 1920s, she had moved to San Diego where she and her husband operated the La Paloma Studio in Old Town. They sold pottery and operated a restaurant next door. Most of Rose’s work appears to have been architectural ornamentation including some of the decorative work on the Bank of America building, the Western Auto Supply building, and the shore boat landing at the foot of Broadway. In 1933, she produced a relief which decorated a series of markers along the La Playa Trail between the San Diego Mission and Point Loma. On the federal payroll, she produced an incised relief doorway in the House of Hospitality for the California Pacific International Exposition of 1935. The Old Town Community Church contains her incuse relief panel The Welcoming Christ.
(Ref. SDS 2-14-1934 3:3-4, SDU 7-9-1933 II1:2)
Donal Hord *
b. Prentice, Wisconsin February 26, 1902
d. San Diego, California June 29, 1966
Born Donald Albert Horr, the future sculptor’s mother changed the spelling of their last name when she separated from her husband in 1909. Eventually moving to Seattle with his mother, Donal developed rheumatic fever which left him with a permanently damaged heart. The doctors encouraged the youth to move to a warmer climate, so he and his mother moved to San Diego in the Summer of 1916. Being an invalid, Donal could not attend regular school so he spent time in the library educating himself in a wide variety of subject including ancient cultures, literature, music and art.
When he became strong enough, Hord began to attend craft classes at the San Diego Evening High School, studying sculpture with Anna Valentien. By the age of sixteen, he began to exhibit his work locally. A chance meeting with a young sailor named Homer Dana in 1920 had a major impact on his career. Being an invalid, Hord had little hope of advancing past the small clay figures he had been modeling. Having several interests in common, the two men’s friendship evolved into a remarkable working partnership. Hord’s creativity combined with Dana’s physical strength enabled the two to produce a truly outstanding body of work.
In 1926, Hord accompanied three other San Diego sculptors to the Santa Barbara School of the Arts where they studied bronze casting under Archibald Dawson from Glasgow. Hord obtained a scholarship to remain in Santa Barbara after the others returned to San Diego. In 19287, a second scholarship allowed him to spend a year in Mexico, a country whose ancient cultures had long fascinated him. Returning briefly to San Diego, Hord accepted an invitation to join the Contemporary Artists of San Diego in 1929, the youngest of its eleven members. Soon thereafter, another scholarship allowed him to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with Walker Hancock, and at the Beaux Arts Institute in New York.
In the early 1930s, Hord started exhibiting his work throughout Southern California where it began to receive critical acclaim and significant awards. Young Maize received the purchased prize at the Southern California Art Exhibition at the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery in 1931, and in 1933 he held his first one-man show at the Dalzell Hatfield Gallery in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the Depression was getting worse and few people were buying art. In 1934, Hord went on the government payroll and started an impressive series of sculptures for the various public art projects enacted during the 1930s. Among the best known of these are the diorite Aztec at San Diego State University, Guardian of Water in front of the County Administration Building, and the incised relief frieze Legend of California at Coronado High School.
For the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935-36 Hord produced a limestone fountain figure La Tehuana (Woman of Tehuantepec) for the House of Hospitality. He also exhibited four sculptures at the fair’s art exhibition, and earned a gold medal for “Sculptural Excellence” awarded by the exposition committee.
Hord had married artist Dorr Bothwell in 1932, but the union did not work out. They separated two years later, and obtained a final divorce in 1936. Hord and Dana completed building a new studio in Pacific Beach in 1935, the same year that Hord began writing an art column for the San Diego Sun. In 1939, Hord began a successful marriage with Florence Silberhorn Norse, an artist who was art director for the Riverside School District.
The 1940s became a period of tremendous artistic growth and greater national recognition for the sculptor. Hord’s experiments in hard stone carving culminated in the jade figure Thunder, one of the most remarkable achievements in American sculpture. He also completed work in exotic hardwoods such as lignum vitae. During this period, Hord was named an associate of both the National Sculpture Society and National Academy of Design, obtained two Guggenheim fellowships, and received the Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In addition, he exhibited in New York at the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art, and also at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Two of the most distinctive features of Hord’s sculptures are the originality of his imagery and the excellence of his craftsmanship. The imagery came from deep within, often inspired by a natural event he had witnessed or perceived. Titles such as Descending Sun, Desert Night Winds, and Summer Rain are indicative of his attempts to interpret nature’s forms, moods, and forces through idealized figures, often with strong ethnic features. Hord felt the need to work in challenging material such as diorite, jade, obsidian and difficult hardwoods. His sense of craftsmanship and quality of finish came from his training as well as his respect for ancient work, particularly the products of Oriental artists.
During the 1950s, important honors and commissions continued to be awarded to Hord. He was named a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letter, a full Academician of the National Academy of Design, and Fellow of the National Sculpture Society. The Fine Arts Medals for both the American Institute of Architects and the California Council of Architects were awarded to him in 1953. The following year he made his first trip to Europe in order to complete a commission for a bronze fountain figure. While there he also visited ancient sites in Egypt and Greece.
The American Battle Monuments Commission had asked sculptor Carl Milles to do an Angel of Peace of the American Cemetery at Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. When Milles died in 1955, the project was turned over to Hord, the most important commission of his career. Hord’s twelve foot tall bronze figure atop an eighteen foot tall granite shaft soars above the graves of Americans who died during the Battle of the Bulge.
A serious heart attack in 1942 had warned Hord that he was living on borrowed time, but he refused to slow down. He continued to take on commissions and in the 1960s produced enlargements in bronze of two of his earlier wooden pieces. The second of these, Summer Rain, was not quite finished when the sculptor suffered a fatal heart attack in 1966. Two years later Dana traveled to Italy to supervise casting of the piece in bronze.
(Ref. Dana, Homer, reminiscences by, A Donal Hord Retrospective, California First Bank, La Jolla, 1976; Hord Archives, SDHC; Ellsberg, Helen “Donal Hord: Interpreter of the Southwest” American Art Review, Vol. IV, No. 3 (December, 1977); Hughes; Kamerling, Bruce, “Like the Ancients, The Art of Donal Hord” JSDH Vol. XXXI, No. 3 (Summer, 1985); Moure)
b. Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England January 8, 1855
d. London, England July 28, 1929
At an early age Hutchinson joined the British Navy, but returned to London in the late 1870s to study sculpture under Edouard Lanteri. By 1883, he began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in London, and also traveled to Paris, Berlin, Naples and Rome for additional studies. Becoming interested in racial types, Huchinson journeyed to Canada in 1886 studying the Indians of North America. From British Columbia he briefly visited California in 1888, but continued on to Hawaii where he met several artists from San Francisco. Because of these connections, Hutchinson was allowed to make a life masks and bust of King Kalakaua. He also made a bust of Robert Louis Stevenson when the author visited the Island in 1893. With three other astists he founded the Kilohana Art League of Honolulu, and at one of their exhibitions displayed a bust of Hawaiian president Sanford B. Dole. While in Hawaii, Hutchinson sent work back for exhibition in England and returned there in early 1895. Later that year he traveled to San Francisco, and then back to Hawaii where he produced several anthropological figures for the Bishop Museum. In 1897, he traveled to Australia where he joined and exhibited with the society of Artists in Sydney. Remaining only two years, he next traveled to New Zealand where he made studies of the Maoris.
Returning to the United States in 1902, Huchinson became involved with the sculptural decorations for the 1904 St. LouisWorld’s Fair. After the fair, he moved to Southern California, staying intially in San Bernardino. Hutchinson moved to San Diego in the Summer of 1906, and received the appointment as British Vice-Consul in December of that year. Active in social circles, he lectured on art and gave modeling demonstrations for the San Diego Art Association. He also assisted with the organization of several British societies in San Diego.
At the request of several prominent citizens, Huchinson modeled a bust of Alonzo Horton, “Father” of New San Diego. A drive to raise funds to have the bust cast in bronze did not succeed (it was finally cast in 1980). For the Order of Panama, he produced a relief plaque of Juan Rodriguez Carbrillo as well as model for proposed 150 foot tall status of Cabrillo to be placed on Point Loma.
After the death of his wife in 1915, Hutchinson resigned as British Vice-Consul and left San Diego. He set up a studio in New York City where he apparently remained until 1928, when he returned to London. In 1927 he made five additional casts of his bust of Robert Louis Stevenson and sold the orginal to the Stevenson Society of America.(Ref. AAA 1927; Mac Phail, Elizabeth, “Allen Hutchinson: British Sculptors (1855-1929)” JSHD Vol. XIX, No. 2 (Spring, 1973); Moure)
Mabel Fairfax (Smith) Karl (Mrs. F. W. Karl)
b. Glendale, Oregon June 27, 1901
Before her marriage, Mabel Fairfax Smith listed herself in the San Diego directories under “artists” from 1919 to 1926, living on Pt. Loma. In 1926 she accompanied three other San Diego artists to the Santa Barbara School of the Arts where she studied bronze casting under Archibald Dawson from Glasgow. She studies with Leo Lentelli, Joseph Pennell, George Bridgmen and Frank V. Dumond at the Art Students’ League in New York.
Marrying about 1927, Karl thereafter seems to have split her time between San Diego and Houston, exhibiting in both places from the late 1920s to the early 1940s. Although primarily a sculptor working in stone, bronze and wood, she also produced prints, and taught a sketching class at the San Diego Zoo in 1930. Her work won numerous awards including a purchase prize at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston in 1934. She exhibited one of her wood pieces at the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935.
Karl had memberships in the American Federation of Arts and the San Diego Art Guild with whom she often exhibited. In 1931, her marble head of a girl won first prize at the guild’s annual exhibition. She won the design competition for a marksman trophy for the U. S. Marine Corps in 1933, and also produced several bronze relief panels for Woodrow Wilson Memorial High School in San Diego.
(Ref. AAA 1933; Houston Museum of Fine Arts library files; SDU 9-21-30 7:8, 4-18-33 10:1, 4-19-33 II1:5, 2-5-34 5:3, 2-11-34 Club 4:8, 4-1-34 Club 7:2)
Felix Achilles Peano*
b. Parma, Italy June 9, 1863
d. Hawthorne, California January 10, 1949
An architectural sculptor, Peano began his art education in Turin, Italy, where he studied at the Academy Albertina as well as the university there. Later studies took him to Rome and Paris, and he also served as an instructor at various schools in Europe. By the 1890s, he had arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area where he joined the San Francisco Art Association, and taught at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute. At his Villa La Capricciosa in Oakland, he hosted Jack London for several months, and while there London wrote his famous Call of the Wild. In 1905, Peano began working on twelve ornate bridges for Venice, California, which were covered with serpents and sea creatures. The Western Architect of April, 1909, featured his elaborately sculpted house in Santa Monica.
Peano’s earliest known project in San Diego is the set of portrait relief panels around the electric fountain in Horton Plaza, designed by Irving Gill. Dedicated in 1910, the fountain reliefs depict Juan Cabrillo, Fra Junipero Serra and Alonzo Horton. Peano also created an eagle preening its feathers for the inner dome of the fountain, but the orginal disappeared many years ago. Louis Wilde donated the fountain, and in 1912, Peano created the architectural ornaments for Wilde’s United States National Bank at Second and Broadway, designed by Arthur H. Stibolt. On the tower of this building Peano produced a dramatic high relief panel depicting two muscular men in flowing capes struggling over a horn of plenty from which coins and paper money are spilling.
Peano listed himself in the San Diego directories from 1914 to 1922, but no other projects definitely from his hand are known. Sculptural decorations on several other buildings including Sargeant’s Palace Cafe appear to be his work, but documentation is lacking. John D. Spreckels did employ Peano, and some of the architectural ornaments on the Spreckels Theare building were undoubtedly executed by him, but the two figural groups above the proscenium are the work of Charles Cristadoro. It would also seem likely that he worked on the architectural ornamentation for the Panama California Exposition, but again there is no record of such a connection.
Peano exhibited three pieces at the California Liberty Fair in 1918, and a portrait at the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California exhibit in Los Angeles in 1920. Returning to the Los Angeles area, he did the interior decoration of St. Vincent’s Church, and also produced a large and elaborate Door of Life in bronze. He filled his “House of Surprises” in Hawthorn with fanciful sculptural and architectural embellishments.
(Ref . Hughes; Moure; SDET 10-15-10 4:; SDHC curatorial files; SDU 1-1-13 V15:1-7; Western Architect Vol.. XII, No. 4, (April, 1909), pp 42-43; WWWW)
James Tank Porter*
b. Tientsin, China October 17, 1883
d. La Mesa, California March 13,1962
The son of medical missionaries Dr. Henry Dwight Porter and Elizabeth Chapin Porter, James and his family fled China at the time of the Boxer Rebellion. In 1899, he entered Beloit College Academy in Wisconsin, which his grandfather, Aaron Lucius Chapin, had helped found. One of James Porter’s teachers there was Theodore Lyman Wright, and later Porter carved a marble bust of Wright for the school.
While at Beloit, a football injury developed into a bone disease which resulted in the loss of one foot. The family moved to La Mesa in 1904, purchasing the Major Henry Roach house and ten acres of citrus groves. They christened the place Ping An Shan (“Hill of Peace”), and for the next five years James was bed-ridden there due to his injury. During this time he experimented with designs and models for airships, a subject which interested him for the rest of his life, and became inclined to pursue the life of an inventor.
In 1910, Porter was sufficiently recovered to enroll at Pomona College as a mathematics major. Also very interested in music, he played violin and piano, sang, and wrote some of his own sheet music. His appreciation for art developed under Hannah Tempest Jenkins, who had worked in Philadelphia and Europe, with whom he studied for two years. Graduating in 1914, he wrote the senior play The Black Dragon Mine, which had a Chinese setting.
The following year, Porter traveled to New York where he enrolled at the Art Students’ League, studying drawing with George Bridgman and sculpture under Robert Aitkin. While in New York, he also attended the Beaux Arts Institute at Columbia University in 1916, and placed second in the Prix de Rome Competition behind Paul Jennewein. His studies were interrupted by World War I, and although his injury prevented him from serving in active duty, he did work at the Bureau of Standards in Washington, D. C., and also with the Y. M. C. A. at Camp Mead.
After the war, Porter assisted Gutzon Borglum at his Stamform, Connecticut, studio on a war memorial for the state of Virginia. Porter became the first sculptor chosen to be among the group of students at the Lousi C. Tiffany Foundation where he spent a profitable summer in 1918, producing his well-known Head of a Young Man, the portrait of fellow student Joe White.
Returning to San Diego, Porter met Lenore Branam, who was visiting relatives, and the two were married at North Bend, Washington, on August 22, 1923. When he learned that the Santa Barbara School of the Arts had opened a class in bronze casting, Porter and three other San Diego sculptors attended in 1926. Later he started a foundry near his home in La Mesa so that he could cast his own work. He also cast work for other local sculptors including Isabelle Schultz (Churchman), Celeste Batiste and Frederick Schweigardt.
The majority of Porter’s sculptures are portrait busts and figures of children. Among his portrait studies are those of John D. Spreckels at the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, Dr. Clinton C. Abbot at the Natural History Museum, and several members of his own prominent family. Perhaps his best-known work is the testimonial for Ellen Browning Scripps given by the people of San Diego to the people of La Jolla in 1925. It consists of a figure of a girl in bronze kneeling over a small pool facing a curved limestone bench carved with dancing children in incised relief.
A respected member of San Diego’s art community, Porter became the first president of the eleven member Contemporary Artists of San Deigo in 1929, as well as president of the San Diego Art Guild in 1932 and 1933. He exhibited in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and throughout California. Recipient of a number of awards, he also served on the jury of several exhibitions. Although best known for bronzes, Porter’s Impression in Caen Stone won the Bonnet Art Guild Prize in 1936. Most of his work would be classified as realistic, but many of his figural pieces were simplified and stylized in form, and some of them, such as Lot’s Wife, have a strong Art Deco feeling.
During the Depression years, Porter began to use his foundry for the manufacture of bronze sprinkler heads. He owned the Browning Manufacturing Company from 1936 to 1956, and had several patents, including one for a rotating sprinkler that watered a square lawn. For 13 years, Porter served on the La Mesa Planning Commission, and became one of the first to move his business to the new La Mesa Industrial Center when it opened in the early 1950s.
Although he exhibited occasionally in the 1940s, Porter had by this time stopped producing sculpture. After his death the painter Alfred R. Mitchell, a close friend, organized a memorial exhibition at the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery in the Fall of 1962. The exhibit contained twenty works in bronze, stone and plaster.
(Ref. AAA 1921, 1927, 1933; Heilbron; Hughes; JSDH Vol. XVI, No. 4, pp. 4-5; La Mesa Scout, 9-27-62; Moure; SDU 9-25-38 14:2-3; 8-18-52 B 1:1; TWW Vol. 10, No 9 (Summer, 1942), pp. 111-12; WWAA 1936-37)
b. Waveland, Mississippi September 6, 1873
d. Paris, France May 27, 1930
The son of Oramel H. Putnam, a military officer, and Mary (Gibson) Putnam, Arthur spent much of his youth in Nebraska. His first experience in art came while working for a photo engraver. He spent his spare time experimenting with sculpture in pipe clay and sandstone. Arthur’s mother, now a widow, moved to California in 1891 because of her daughter’s ill health, and eventually purchased a lemon ranch near La Mesa. Joining them later, Arthur obtained a position as a surveyor for the San Diego Flume Company.
Arthur briefly attempted to homestead his own ranch in the backcountry forty miles from San Diego. His neighbor was Gutzon Borglum, who he had first met as a boy in Nebraska, and for whom he occasionally worked. The homestead proved unsuccessful, and Authur left for San Francisco to study at the Art Students’ League. There he met the painter Julie Heyneman who became a close friend and later wrote his biography Desert Cactus.
The San Francisco sculptor Rupert Schmidt took Putnam as a pupil and assistant, and to help support himsel, Arthur took a job in a butcher house. Although the bloody work sickened him, the young sculptor gained valuable knowledge of animal anatomy. Always on the brink of financial disaster, Putnam returned to his mother’s ranch in 1984, carrying with him a letter of introduction from Julie Heyneman to the San Diego artist Alice Klauber who became a close friend.
In the San Diego backcountry Putnam studied live animals for hours and then returned to his studio to recreate them from memory. He preferred not to work from a live model because he found the details too distracting. Instead of working for an actual likeness, Putnam tried to bring out the liveliness of his subjects by capturing their emotional impact and spirit. He was particularly captivated by the sleek grace of the puma, and produced many sculptures of this wild mountain cat.
In 1896, Putnam wrote to the mayor and city council of San Diego offering to donate his time toward creating a figure of Juan Cabrillo if the city would provide $100 for materials and one laborer. His offer was declined “owing to lack of funds.” A second attempt to erect a monument to cabrillo by sculptor Allen Hutchinson in 1913 met a similar fate.
Through local art circles, Putnam met another young artist of promise, Grace Storey. Finding much in common, the two soon fell in love and became engaged to be married. Putnam’s mother wisely encouraged him to look for some financial security before taking a wife. She helped him travel to Chicago where he studied with the animal sculptor Edward Kemeys. His hatred of city life, however, brought him back to La Mesa, and he finally secured a position with the Gladding McBean terra cotta company at Lincoln, California. Arthur and Grace were married in Sacramento on July 15, 1899.
Tiring of his steady job, Putnam moved his family to San Francisco. He worked there until 1903 when E.W. Scripps asked him to execute a series of five figures representing different periods of California history for Miramar Ranch. This group included the Indian (1904) and Padre(1908) which are now at Presidio Park, and the Ploughman (1910) which is at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The other two figures, a Mexican woman on horseback and a soldier were never finished.
With financial assistance from Mrs. William Crocker, Putnam, his friend the painter Gottardo Piazzoni, and their wives, left for Europe in December of 1905, where they remained for a year and a half. Studying bronze casting in Rome, Putnam had several of his bronzes accepted for the Spring Salon in 1906. He then went on to Paris where his work was accepted for the Paris Salon in 1907. Once again, however, his hatred of city life caused him to leave just when he was about to make a name for himself in Europe.
Returning to San Francisco, he began to participate in the rebuilding of the city after the 1906 earthquake and fire. He produced the bases for the light standards along Market Street and made a fountain for the lobby of the St. Francis Hotel among numerous other architectural projects. He established his own foundry and continued on the Scripps commission, knowing financial success for the first time in his life.
Suddenly tragedy struck. In 1909 Putnam began to suffer from severe headaches and numbness on his left side. His doctors discovered that he had a brain tumor which required surgical removal in 1911. The man lived but the artist died on the operation table, partially paralyzed with his sense of proportion and balance destroyed. An emotional change also took place after the operation causing the artist to distrust many old friends and even his devoted wife. Putnam spent some of his convalescence at La Jolla in a cottage supplied by Mr. Scripps.
Although no longer able to work, Putnam was elected a member of the National Sculpture Society in 1913. Also that year, four of his bronzes were included in the landmark Armory Show in New York (Bacchus, Deer and Puma, Puma Resting, and Lions). Putnam is the only local artist with ties to that famous exhibition. It had been planned at appoint him director of sculpture for the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, but his untimely breakdown prevented it. No longer able to cast his own work, Putnam would not even have been able to exhibit at the fair had it not been for the intervention of the dancer Loie Fuller. She hand carried some of his models to Paris, and despite the need for war machinery, convinced the authorities to allow Rodin’s founder to cast the pieces. They were completed in time for Putnam to receive a gold medal at the fair.
Despite this important award, Putnam’s career as an artist was over. In 1915 the divorced his wife, who later achieved fame as the creator of the Bye-Lo Baby doll. He married Marion Pearson in 1917, and they moved to Paris in 1921. That same year, Mrs. Adolph B. Spreckels made arrangements for over a hundred of Putnam’s plaster models to be cast in two sets of bronzes. One set she presented to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and the other she gave to the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery.
(Ref. AAA 1921, 1927; Bancroft, Grifting, Jr., series of articles in SDS 8-14,15, 16, 17, 18-1933; Hailey, Gene, ed. “Arthur Putnam (Sculptor of the Wild)” California Art Research Vol. VI, 1937 (W.P.A. Project 2874); Heyneman, Julie H., Desert Cactus, London, 1934; Hughes; SDET 3-8-57 B8:6-7; SDHC document files; SDU 7-16-99 2:1, 12-18-08 7:2, 9-22-29, 1-22-33)
Julia Gridley Severance
b. Oberlin, Ohio January 11, 1877
d. Chula Vista, California March 9, 1972
Known primarily as a sculptor and etcher, Severance studied at the Art Students’ League of New York, Art Institute of Chicago, and Cleveland school of Art. She executed relief tablets for the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Warner Hall at Oberlin College and also for St. Mary’s School in Knoxville, Illinois. Organizations which counted her as a member included the American Artists Professional League, Cleveland Women’s Art Club, Florida Society of Arts and Sciences and the San Diego Art Guild. One of her etchings is in the print department of the Library of Congress. Severance seems to have moved to San Diego in the late 1930s, and is first listed here in 1938. She exhibited a sculpture Shirley and Curly at the 26th Annual Exhibition of the San Diego Art Guild in 1940. Late in life she had a studio and apartment at the Frederika Home in Chula Vista, which is where she died.
(Ref.AAA 1923-33; Hughes; WWW)
Katherine June Stafford (Mrs. Benjamin W. Stafford)
b. Spokane, Washington June 11, 1890
d. El Cajon, California August 6, 1971
Stafford first became interested in sculpture while amusing her daughters with modeling clay. Moving to San Diego in the late 1920s, she studied with Anna Valentien, Ruth Ball, James Tank Porter, and Donal Hord. Soon after her arrival, she became involved in a number of architectural sculpture projects among which were the fountain in the lobby of the Fox Theater, figures of Paris and Helen of Troy on the San Diego Athletic Club (1927), Cherubs on the Jockey Club at Agua Caliente (1934), angels for the St. Didacus Church (1927) and busts of three students for a school in Pacific Beach.
Besides her large architectural work, Stafford also produced smaller sculptures including heads of San Diego Symphony founder Nino Marcelli, Fine Arts Gallery Director Reginald Poland, and San Diego Museum Director Lyman Bryson, among others. In 1930, she joined the staff of the San Diego Museum (now Museum of Man) where she produced miniature figures for the Indian Village dioramas. Other Smaller works include an onyx Madonna, and Erde (Earth Mother) in rose jasper, which she exhibited at the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935. A member of the San Diego Art Guild, she exhibited locally through the mid 1930s, and also had her work show in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco.
(Ref. SDHC Curatorial files; SDS 9-6-34 10:2-4; SDU 11-23-41 C7:6)
Anna Marie Valentien (Mrs. Albert R. Valentien)* b. Cincinnati, Ohio February 27, 1862
d. San Diego, California August 25, 1947
Anna’s parents, Karl and Magdalene Bookprinter, emigrated from Germany in 1848, Settling in Cincinnati. Initially studying at the McMichen University School of Design, Anna later worked with the woodcarver Benn Pitman. In 1884, she accepted a position with the Rookwood Pottery and there she met Albert Valentien whom she married in 1887. While working for Rookwood, she continued her studies at the Cincinnati Art Academy where her instructors included Frank Duveneck. She also studied sculpture under Louis T. Rebizzo, and had Solon Borglum as a classmate.
For the Chicago exposition of 1893, Anna modeled a life-size figure of Ariadne that received much critical acclaim. Her work continued to win prizes including a gold medal at the Atlanta Exposition of 1895 for a life-size Hero Waiting for Leander. In 1899, she accompanied her husband to Europe where she enrolled at the Academy Colorossi, studying with Jean Antonin Injalbert and also at the Academy Rodin under Emile Bourdelle, Jules Des Bois and Auguste Rodin. Anna had the honor of having one of her pieces, a bronze relief portrait of her husband (now in the collection of the San Diego Historical Society), accepted for the Paris Salon of 1900.
Moving to San Diego in 1908, Anna was involved with craft work as well as sculpture. She and Albert briefly operated a pottery company for which Anna produced some sculptural pieces. Starting in 1914, Anna began a teaching career which included instruction in arts and crafts and eventually sculpture as well. Her most important student was Donal Hord who received his first professional training from her.
At San Diego’s Panama California Exposition in 1915, Anna was awarded a gold medal for an Arts and Crafts exhibit which included pottery, leather, jewelry, china, and sculpture. The following year at the Panama California International Exposition she received two gold medals, one for a sculptured bust, and the second for another crafts exhibit. In 1919, her two batik opera bags were given the highest award and cash prize at the California State Fair.
Albert died in 1925, and the following year Anna accompanied three other San Diego sculptors to Santa Barbara where they studied bronze casting at the Santa Barbara school of the Arts under Archibald Dawson from Glasgow. Late in life she again took up the study of painting, exhibiting and winning awards in that medium. She retired from teaching in 1938, but continued to encourage students and allowed them to use her studio.
(Ref. Hughes; Kamerling, Bruce, “Anna and Albert Valentien: The Arts and Crafts movement in San Diego” JSDH Vol. XXIV, No. 3 (Summer, 1978); Moure)
b. Moscow, Russia January 9, 1880
d. New York, New York November 4, 1963
The son of Jacob and Bella (Ratner) Zimmerman, Marco came to the United States with his family in 1891. His early art training began at the Art Students’ League in New York, under George Gray Barnard. In 1901, he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris under Leon Bonnat, by which time he was already using the abbreviated name “Zim.” While in Paris, he also studied with Auguste Rodin and Claude Monet. Returning from Paris, Zim took additional instruction at the National Academy of Design under John Quincy Adams Ward and Richard Field Maynard, and received numerous awards for painting, sculpture, drawing and etching between 1903 and 1905. Marrying in 1906, Zim remained in New York until about 1910.
By August of 1911, Zim was in San Diego where he and Maurice Braun, whom he had probably known in New York, opened the San Diego Academy of Art in the Isis Theater building owned by Katherine Tingley. Zim may have been connected with the Theosophical Society, and it is believed that he was building a house on Point Loma. Apparently, Zim did not stay long in San Diego, for by 1914 he had opened a studio in Los Angeles. Exhibiting a bronze bust of his father at the Panama California Exposition in San Diego in 1915, he received a bronze medal that year, and a silver medal for the same piece at the Panama California International Exposition the following year. In 1915, he had a one-man show in the Little Gallery at the exposition during the month of May. He also produced some murals for the fair, the locations of which are not recorded. By 1914, Zim’s parents had moved to San Diego. His father served as rabbi, and members of his mother’s family founded the Ratner Electric Company.
Maintaining a studio in Los Angeles through 1916, Zim then moved to Santa Barbara where he stayed until the mid 1920s. Returning to New York about this time, he frequently exhibited with the Brooklyn Society of Etchers, society of American Etchers, National Academy of Design and the Allied Artists of America. He was still exhibiting in New York in the early 1950s.
(Ref. AAA 1921-33; Hughes; Moure; SDS 9-9-16 12:4-5; SDU 8-20-11 18:1-3; WWAA 1936-47)
AAA – American Art Annual, The American Federation of Arts, New York and Washington, D.C., 1898-1933
Black – Samuel T. Black, San Diego County, California, S. J. Clarke Publ. Co., Chicago, 1913
Heilbron – Carl H. Heilbron, ed., History of San Diego County, San Diego Press Club, 1936
Hughes – Edan Milton Hughes, Artists in California 1786 – 1940, Hughes Publ. Co., San Francisco, 1986
JSDH – Journal of San Diego History, quarterly publication of the San Diego Historical Society
McGrew – Clarence Alan McGrew, City of San Diego and San Diego County, The American Historical Society, New York, 1922
Moure – Nancy Dustin Wall Moure, Southern California Art, Dustin Pub l., Glendale, 1984
Oakland – 100 Years of California Sculpture, exhibition catalogue, The Oakland Museum, 1982
SDET – San Diego Evening Tribune, newspaper
SDS – San Diego Sun, newspaper
SDU – San Diego Union, newspaper
TWW – The Western Woman, quarterly periodical published in Loss Angeles
WWAA – Who’s Who in American Art, American Federation of Arts, New York, 1936 – 1970
WWW – Who Was Who in American Art, Peter Hastings Falk, ed., Sound View Press, Madison, Conn., 1985
Additional sources consulted:
Death Records for San Diego and Los Angeles Counties
Sand Diego Catalogue Index, computer index for San Diego art exhibitions before 1945, edited by Bruce Kamerling, data entry by Timothy Adams and Bruce Kamerling, San Diego History Center (unpublished), 1988
San Diego Art Guild membership lists
San Diego City Directories
San Diego History Center curatorial and library files
The author would like to thank the many people who provided information for this project. Relatives of artists here discussed include Florence Hord, wife of Donal Hord; Anne Hall, daughter of James Tank Porter; Robert Putnam, grandson of Arthur Putnam; and Dr. Herbert Zim and Roger Zim, son and grandson of Marco Zim. Museum and library staff who provided information include Martin Petersen, San Diego Museum of Art; Amy Studer, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Ceclia Grineff, Cincinnati Art Museum; Janice Fox, Missouri Historical Society; John Lennard, Library of Washington University, St. Louis; Paula Sigman, Walt Disney Archives; Janet Fireman, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History; James Nottage, Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum; Linda Weirather, Parmly Billings Library, and Terri Hert, Western Heritage Center, Billings, Montana. Friends, students and co-workers of these sculptors include Stan Sowinski, Jeanne Rimmer, Betty Quayle, Bob Jones, Bob Baker, Wah Ming Chang, and the late Homer Dana. To all of these people the author expresses his gratitude, and hopes that they approve of the result. Those artists whose names are marked with an * are represented in the collection of the San Diego History Center.
PHOTOGRAPHS, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of the San Diego Historical Society Title Insurance and Trust Collection.