. . . The sculptor, being gregarious and outgoing, apparently found strength in his close friends and family, and he missed those bonds and his California home. Parenthetically, Miss Klauber tried her hand at poetry too, for in 1928 she privately published a small volume entitled simply Poems, printed by Denrich Press. The verses are romantic reflections on the deeper universal questions of life and death, fate and time, and a manifesto of her joy in life and nature. Her literary interests were further in evidence through her membership in The Wednesday Club and her production of work for the club yearbook, as well as for many of the bookplates she designed for her fellow San Diego bibliophiles. Another interchange of ideas between the two young artists, if not directly influence, was her role as sculptor. A newspaper item indicated that Miss Klauber had tried her hand with the bronze medium. Julia G. Andrews, author and curator of the San Diego Museum of Art, 1935-1948, wrote of an exhibition including her entry there: “In a very different spirit is a bronze self-portrait by Miss Alice Klauber. While the wood sculpture portrait veers toward expressionism, the bronze inclines like the paintings of Miss Klauber, to a modified impressionism. It is a distinguished little work.” 18 This, “distinguished little work,” last known to be in the collection of Mrs. Laurence Klauber, is a small bronze plaque, approximately three by five inches, signed and dated in the lower left hand corner AK 1-15-09. The date of 1909 would suggest that perhaps Miss Klauber under the tutelage of Putnam was urged to cast the bronze. Profiled right, the image shows the head, neck and a suggestion of shoulders of the subject. It appears to be the only known work in bronze by Miss Klauber.

. . . Putnam cared for Miss Klauber. How deeply remains his secret. In a letter dated September 10, 1905, he mentions that he is working on a Sphinx, ten feet long. “I tried to put your face on her, but couldn’t trust myself to draw the line between reality and imagination.” His affection for Miss Klauber never diminished, for a letter from Grace Storey Putnam to Miss Klauber in 1909 indicates that while finances were at low ebb, Arthur was “turning out some good things.” In fact, she notes: “He has just finished a Mermaid (Sphinx) with great lines in it - and the most beautiful swing of muscles I have seen him do yet. The face reminds me a little of you.” 19

Arthur Putnam’s Myrmaid or Sphinx, c. 1915, bronze, detail.

. . . On this minimal evidence, it is presumptuous to assume that this is meant as anything more than a compliment and lasting token, to their friendship. Arthur Brown, one of the architects of the San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915, used the Mermaid, in the great fountain on the fairgrounds. From a 1915 visit to the San Francisco Exposition, Miss Klauber makes no comment other than mentioning the work in a list of sculptures and their artists that she saw. Correspondence continued through Putnam’s lifetime, and Alice frequently gave support to both Grace and Arthur.

. . . For a brief time Putnam maintained a studio at Seventh and A Streets in San Diego. 20 In San Diego he met his future wife, Grace Choate Putnam, a member of a San Diego pioneer family. Grace’s father, William Henry Storey a native New York Union Army Lance-Corporal defending America’s arid southwestern frontier and a telegraph operator stationed at Camp Grant, Arizona, wed Clara Ellen Choate, daughter of Daniel Choate, exchanging vows over many miles by telegraph. In late evening, the ceremony witnesses crowded into the San Diego office at the corner of Fifth and D Streets where Reverend Jonathan L. Mann officiated. In Arizona, the bride and groom promised to love, honor, and obey, April 24, 1876, at 8:50 p.m. The press reveled in the novelty of what was probably the first marriage by telegraph in America. After her mother’s death, Grace Storey lived with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Choate at Fifth and Hawthorne Streets. A native of Maine, Choate had joined the adventuresome multitude who struck-out seeking their fortunes in California. Arriving by ship, he had braved passage across the Isthmus of Panama in 1849. In Ohio, the family of his future bride followed the land route across the plains at the same time. Following their marriage in Sacramento in 1869, they settled in San Diego finding his fortune in real estate as a partner in the firm Steiner, Klauber, Choate and Castle. A former San Diego postmaster, he became involved in the civic and cultural affairs of the community. Financially impoverished by the collapse of the San Diego land booms of 1880s, his home at 5th and Hawthorne Streets, was broken up and the children, now young adults, were scattered. Grace remained in San Diego. To support herself, she taught private watercolor classes. At The San Francisco Art Students League she studied watercolor with Julie H. Heyneman, and began to pursue a serious art career. Concurrently, she taught watercolor classes for young children. A career in art had been her ambition since she was eight years old. In San Diego she earlier studied at a school operated by Maude McMullan in the 1890s and taught private classes for students on the San Diego waterfront. Here Arthur Putnam, a teaching assistant, met the aspiring artist and a romance blossomed. McMullan owned a ranch near the Putnam’s and the meeting of Grace and Arthur, one might suspect, was not by chance. Having served an apprenticeship with local commercial artists, Grace received an assignment to do the first car advertisements seen in the City. The moving commercials on public transportation were a source of achievement and pride for her. She admitted that Arthur had helped with the lettering. At his mother’s ranch in 1903, the young Putnam could be found spooking the horses for famed artist-illustrator, Frederic S. Remington, who was relaxing at Hotel del Coronado. Remington and his wife, Eva, were two more satisfied customers luxuriating in the sun, surf, and sea offered at the new hotel where the rich and famous made annual treks for a summer holiday. Land speculation was an ulterior motive in attracting visitors during those early years and many similar hotels were appearing in the West at the end of railroad lines offering the amenities of an ideal living situation as enticements. When Putnam applied for entrance to The San Francisco Art Student’s League, his submitted drawings were suspected of being copies after Remington.

. . . He quickly disproved the accusation. In San Diego Putnam received his most important private commission. Newspaperman Edward W. Scripps, 1856-1926, of the Scripps-Howard chain, with a residence at Miramar Ranch commissioned the 23 year old Putnam to create 50 larger-than-life bronzes of the earliest occupants in Southern California, paying him $100 a month. This was Putnam’s singular private commission during his lifetime. The project was never finished. Only three larger- than- life- bronzes were completed. The monumental Indian, immobilized in bronze today watches over the City in motion and the bay from its site in Presidio Park. Two other finished historic figures were a Padre and a Plowman; the latter posed by his brother George Putnam.

. . . In 1911, Putnam’s creative life came to a tragic and unfortunate end. The sculptor was found in the street unconscious and was rushed to a hospital. A brain tumor was removed with little hope of recovery. It was said that the sculptor died on the operating table. The man lived twenty years more, creatively impoverished and a malcontent. Scripps gave Putnam a retainer of $3000 a year. Scripps, not necessarily an art lover, considered him a valuable person and artist. At first pride prevented the artist from accepting but by 1912, Putnam welcomed the stipend.

. . . Twenty-two year old Grace married Arthur, four years her senior, in Sacramento, California, in July 1899. They settled in Lincoln where Arthur was employed at the terra cotta works of the Gladding McBean Company. In deference to her husband’s life and art, Grace gave up her ambition for a successful career of her own. Happy, but penniless, by 1900 the young couple was in San Francisco attending The Art Students’ League, living in a room above to save money. Grace became an instructor of children’s watercolor classes. The small stipend was a welcome addition to the Putnam’s meager holdings.

. . . With the birth of a daughter, Bruce, the Putnam’s moved to Berkeley, but because of a higher cost of living they soon returned to San Francisco to be with a supportive group of artist friends. After the turn of the century Arthur had an increasing workload and a growing reputation. Grace continued to take an avid interest but produced little. With an advance from cultural leader Mrs. William P. Crocker, and urged by friends, they went to Europe to continue their studies.

. . . During the year of the devastating earthquake and fire in San Francisco, 1906, the Putnams were in Rome in a building facing the Borghese Gardens. For the next eighteen months they continued their studies in Italy and France. In New York on their return, the Putnams visited the studio of Gutzon Borglum, 1867-1941, identified with the four monumental heads of American Presidents carved into the landscape of the Black Hills of South Dakota. He urged Arthur to stay and offered to share his studio. While tempted, Arthur declined the invitation. California beckoned.

Unknown photographer, Arthur Putnam working in his San Francisco studio, a stranded derelict on the beach.

. . . Back in San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes, Putnam had more work than he could handle as an architectural sculptor. He maintained a studio on Sacramento Street above Van Ness Avenue where, according to his biographer, “he worked the finest and most pressing of his many architectural commissions, those that exacted constant supervision.” His studio was later occupied by painter George Demont Otis, 1870-1962. It was his home and studio, however, built before there was an Ocean Boulevard, on the beach, on a 25 x 125-foot lot that was most meaningful to the artist for its isolation.


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