V. The San Diego Exposition of 1915-16:
Henri’s San Diego Visit, 1914

. . . “Particular praise should be given to the work of Miss Alice Klauber, chairman of the arts of the women’s board at the Exposition, where efforts to bring interesting things to San Diego have been untiring…”

-San Diego, Sun,
December, 30, 1916

. . . “… the first exhibition of importance naturally occurred in 1915. It was a small but note-worthy exhibition in the art gallery sponsored by the Archeological Society which operated the California Quadrangle and represented the work of some ten American Painters, well known in the East and especially in New York. Mr. Robert Henri was responsible for the choice of artists, and he planed to show a group of the paintings of each rather than one work of a larger list. ‘The Eight’ was the group that was well represented: - they included George Bellows, Maurice Prendergast, William Glackens, George Luks, Guy Pene DuBois, John Sloan, Robert Henri and Carl Sprinchorn. There was a good space about each exhibit and the whole lacked the confusion of conflicting ideas so usual to Expressions of vaster ambitions.”

. . . “These ‘progressive’ works were often overlooked by critics who focused on the merits of the Indian Arts. An entire pueblo was imported for the Fair and included the master potters, Maria Martinez and Julian, noted for their black pottery ware. Their year long visit was not a pleasant one for the pueblo inhabitants according to those who remember.”

. . ............................................................................................. -Alice Klauber

. . . At midnight December 31, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson in Washington D.C. pushed a button lighting the grounds and opening of the Panama-California Exposition. 32 The Hotel San Diego, designed by noted Los Angeles architect Harrison Albright for developer and sugar tycoon John D. Spreckels, 1853-1926, opened its doors to welcome tourists and visitors to the Panama-California Exposition. Sounds from the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, also designed by Albright for Spreckels, and accompanying the world famous Wagnerian soprano Madame Schumann-Heink, 1861-1936, resounded throughout the area to open and eventually close the successful Exposition of 1915.

. . . Floodwaters ended a period of draught for the parched land of San Diego during the first month of 1916. City fathers had gone even to the extreme to resolve the seriousness by hiring rainmaker, Charles Hatfield, d.1958. He hastily left without payment when the rains failed to cease. Several years later he returned to claim payment unsuccessfully. The climatic conditions and a threatening World War I, however, did not dampen the enthusiasm of the community in its plan to extend the 1915 Fair another year in its anticipated and successful extravaganza celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal. It reopened March 15, 1916.

. . . As early as 1909, San Diegans had begun planning a celebration recognizing the engineering feat that linked the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean via a canal. What resulted was a cultural and regional World’s Fair that endeavored to reflect the past of the American Southwest and to obtain, in so far as possible, exhibits of things of the Old Spanish and Mission days linking the spirit of the past with that of the 20th Century. Local banker and organizer of the Southern Trust & Savings Bank, and President of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, G. Aubrey Davidson, 1876-1957, saw the economic potential in San Diego’s future as the southern most port at the western end of the Panama Canal. With the San Diego Chapter of the School of American Archaeology, he spearheaded a campaign leading to the Panama-California Exposition. With his honorary title, Col. D. Charles Collier, 1871-1934, was selected as Director-General. When it was extended in 1916 it was called the Panama-California International Exposition. It was Collier who persuaded Dr. Edgar Hewett, 1865-1946, Director of the American Institute of Archaeology, today the School of American Research of Santa Fe, to accept the position as Director of Exhibits. To give full attention in planning the San Diego Exposition, Dr. and Mrs. Hewett resided in San Diego and maintained an office in Santa Fe. The Fair was a remarkable undertaking for a small community of about 40,000 people that raised nearly two million dollars with some assistance from Federal and State sources.

. . . The assignment to develop exhibits based on scientific and agricultural contributions of native cultures went to Dr. Edgar Lee Hewett, and the local chapter of the School of American Archaeology. As a theme emphasis was placed on the development of mankind, stressing the life of Mayan, Aztec and Southwestern Indian cultures. Headquartered in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dr. Hewett, a renown archaeologist who led digs in Egypt and the Americas, was a familiar face in the community recognized as the first Director of the Museum of Man (California Building) and a faculty member at San Diego State College (today, University).

. . . Even though Col. Collier went to Washington to convince Congress that San Diego could put on the Exposition, San Francisco was sanctioned by the Federal government as the site of the official Pacific International Exposition despite the fact that it had been San Diego that had proposed an exposition, had incorporated and duly registered in Sacramento six months before San Francisco, had raised nearly three million dollars, and could offer an ideal climate as well as a significant location as a port city. 33 San Francisco had maintained that San Diego was unable to support a show of sufficient magnitude. Being a larger city, undoubtedly it had more political clout. San Diego, none-the-less, proceeded with Federal blessings and developed the Panama-California Exposition focusing on the area’s cultural achievements in its exhibits. Profits from its two-year run supported an expedition into the jungles of Yucatan under the auspices of the Smithsonian institution.

. . . Determined that the architectural theme would be of the Spanish Mission Style appropriate to southern California’s Hispanic heritage, and impressed by his credentials, City officials selected Bertram G. Goodhue, 1869-1924, prominent New York City architect and author of a standard reference on Spanish Colonial architecture in Mexico, over local applicant, Irving J. Gill, 1870-1936, to supervise and design a fairyland setting in Balboa Park. Goodhue would later design the Naval Training Center and the Marine Base in San Diego. Goodhue’s New York assistant Carleton Winslow is credited with the design of the majority of the other buildings. Created in a setting north of the City on an East-West axis, the site that officially became Balboa Park in 1910 was an opening set-aside by far-sighted earlier planners. 34 The resultant complex, emulating a Spanish square, was centered about the California Building, housing main headquarters and devoted to ancient America.

. . . During the course of the Exposition, Alice was introduced to famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who was developing a keen sense of "Primitivism" then. Miss Klauber proportedly gave him photographs of the display of Mayan cultural artifacts in the California Building. His Hollyhock house, more recently a municipal museum, and the John Storm house of 1917 in Hollywood bear evidence of a Mayan influence.

Alice Klauber, California Tower, 1915, oil.

. . . Today it houses the San Diego Museum of Man, and has become a southern California landmark. Because of its central theme, murals for the Central American exhibit were painted by Santa Fe artist Carlos Vierra. Irving J. Gill is credited with the administration building, the first to be built, and an entry bridge leading to the center of the complex from the West. The bridge spans a deep canyon in a dramatic gesture with a sweeping series of arches. Today automobiles flow beneath where once scrub brush and semi-desert landscape dominated. For architectural historian, Louis Mumford, Gill was “beyond a doubt one of the great leaders of modern architecture, worthy of the rank of Sullivan, Wright and Maybeck.”


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