. . . Prominent Eastern portrait painter and member of The Ten, J. Carroll Beckwith, 1852-1917, bemoaned the “somber gray” 44 of the buildings. For him the Exposition should be “joyous and buoyant, filled with color.” In his opinion, it was no fete but a failure. When art collector Charles Freer, passed through on his way to San Francisco to supervise the installation of his remarkable collection lent to their Exposition, he must have been unimpressed since there are no known references to any reaction. The progressive works were often overlooked by critics who focused on the rarities of the Indian arts.

Unknown Photogrpaher, Their backs to the viewer, Native Americans, including potter Julian the only male shown, as spectators of the San Diego Exposition in 1915. They are standing on a bridge over the lily pond, “Lagoon of Flowers.”, courtesy of the Klauber family.

. . . Dr. Hewett, through his association and work in the Southwest had instructed that a pueblo be constructed on the north east end of the fair grounds, on today’s zoo parking lot, for the duration of the Exposition. Here about six families representing the Acoma, Hopi, Navajo, Taos and Tewa cultures lived in the pueblo on The Painted Desert area of the Fair grounds for the duration of the Exposition. The potters, Maria and Julian Martinez and their extended family, noted for their black pottery ware were among residents.

Unknown photographer, Julian, husband of Maria Martinez and a noted potter, 1915, courtesy of the Klauber family.

Unknown photographer, Maria, far left, and her extended family in San Diego, 1915,
courtesy of the Klauber family.

. . . Dr. Hewett had engaged their services in discovering the secret of ancient black pottery at his digs in the American Southwest. They continued their discoveries and refined the desirable crafts sought by collectors today. Maria recalled the experience with fondness even though it was not pleasurable for the pueblo residents according to locals who remember. Maria was delighted to meet the legendary Geronimo at the Exposition and was fascinated by the old man’s scarred body. Before the Exposition ended they were nearly forgotten by the community. In addition to the paucity of newspaper reviews of the show, it seems many local artists were unaware of Henri’s presence by those who experienced the Fair. In conversation with Amy Jo Wormser, Miss Klauber’s niece, she recalled that some of the better local artists such as Maurice Braun and Charles Reiffel were impressed by his presence. Only their free and expressionistic brushwork, however, seems to support their admiration of Henri’s work. Few local artists left written statements about his visit or of the American painting exhibition. For the community, however, the Exposition was an apparent economic success and it was extended another six months.

. . . The international scope of the contemporaneous San Francisco Exposition posed a challenge for San Diego’s endeavor in general and to the art exhibition specifically. The world spotlight focused on the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, relegated San Diego’s Fair to a lesser significance in the mind of the public. Henri, also involved in a similar exhibition in San Francisco, notified Hewett that even artists who were invited to participate seemed vague as to where they were exhibiting and linking what they hear to San Francisco giving them credit for the whole. He did not want this latter show “presently in his hands” to infringe what San Diego had already done. Dismissing the uncertainty, Bellows wisely noted that it allowed an opportunity to “show on the other edge” for the first time.

. . . During the run of the exhibition and despite its paucity of reviews, it attracted the interest and enthusiasm of the Maxwell Galleries of Los Angeles that arranged a tour of the western states after it ended in San Diego, December 1915. Henri’s last concerns, according to his correspondence with Miss Klauber, were with the return of the paintings to their owners. The San Diego Exposition exhibition of American art was replaced during 1916 by a show of less exciting proportions, the Luxembourg Art Collection consisting of sixty paintings done between 1870 and 1910. The exhibition was primarily of war pictures of the strife between France and Germany. Evidence of viewers’ reaction to this exhibition is, also, scarce.

. . . The Exposition had given the community an economic boost and a sense of cultural acheivment. Its architectural style was to shape the taste and face of San Diego for the next half century.

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