Ruth Ball, Portrait of Alice, oil, SDMA collection.

. . . Ruth Ball, 1879-1960, was a colleague and friend of Miss Klauber. She received her professional training in Cinncinati, Philadelphia and New York. Recorded as a sculptor, her commissions included sculptures of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. commissioned for a local businessman. Her sculpture of swimmer Gertrude Ederle was exhibited at the Amsterdam Olympiad. She is best known as an architectural sculptor in San Diego where a mural of athletes was done for the Fallbrook High School, and the Marine Insignia, familiar to many who were stationed in San Diego. A member of the San Diego Art Guild, she taught classes for servicemen in the area during WWII.

. . . It was Alice Ellen Klauber, however, born in San Diego, May 19, 1871, at the family home on the west side of Sixth Street (now, Sixth Avenue) between A and Ash, who was to contribute most significantly to the artistic, educational and cultural development of the Southern California community. Considering the geographic isolation of late frontier style living in San Diego from the larger and more influential centers of eastern America’ s extravagant ‘Gilded Age’ culture considered the epitome of sophistication and modernity, her acquaintance with many of the prominent figures in the art world was rather unique. In San Francisco as a young girl she had already established a life long friendship with the fabled Steins, Leo and Gertrude, long before they gained international recognition as patrons of modern French art. Gertrude was to become a contemporary cultural phenomenon recognized for her literary ‘Rose is a Rose.’ In Paris, her home became a salon for writers, authors and philosophers whose ideas shaped the standards of the twentieth century. Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso owe a great deal to the Steins for their success as paradigms of modern painting. Their paintings looked down from the walls on those engaged in lively conversation. Gertrude, born in 1874, was three years younger than Alice. She was one for five children born to Daniel and Amelia Stein. Daniel’s search for opportunities, led the family to Vienna and Paris and finally to Oakland, California, where they settled in 1880. Investments in real estate and stocks became the bases of the family fortune. A student at Radcliffe, Gertrude studied with philosopher George Santayana and psychologist William James, and subsequently enrolled at John Hopkins Medical School. By 1901, deciding medicine bored her, she was in Paris and remained there most of her adult life. According to one family relative, Gertrude was a possible ‘shirt tail’ relative of Alice. They both shared a love of reading and later their paths crossed frequently when Miss Klauber was traveling. Among others seeking the intellectual stimulus at their Parisian apartment salon were writers including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and Ezra Pond.

. . . Attractive, bright, intelligent, small of stature, friendly and quick witted, Miss Klauber’s demeanor belied a rare sense of humor and a kindly and generous nature. Her facial expression, according to local artist-colleague-friend Everett Gee Jackson, “was usually serene and dignified. She would have been a perfect portrait model for Titian.” For Jackson, her smile was “warm, sympathetic and agreeable.” She definitely was an inspiration to local portrait painters for there are paintings of her to be found in the community. Cosmopolitan Anni Baldaugh, for example, painted her in a portrait, Alice with Flowers, 1940: (Present location unknown). Several are to be found in the collection of the San Diego Museum of Art. Intellectually curious, an avid reader and a lifelong student living in the midst of a supportive family, she made friends easily, literally collecting them. Her generous and gracious outgoing nature, however, was balanced by a need for solitude periodically when she would retreat to Encanto.

. . . Even during the heat of summer, among the willows near a little house in Encanto owned by her father and where he died in 1911, she would read, paint or luxuriate in solitude. Writing seemed a natural proclivity to the whole family. She had intentions to publish her thought on a variety of philosophical and practical subjects hastily jotted on any note paper at hand during her lifetime. Among them were thoughts about education, the Exposition of 1915, confession of old age “to be dedicated to any reader who has passed his 75th birthday, who is still doing any of his own thinking.” 11 There were also notes on themes of Poetry, Love and Nature as the composite symbol by which we eventually reach a sympathetic God, and the arts in their religious and mystical manifestations. Such topics and the pursuit of exploring them suggest deep thinking that was generally characteristic of the Klauber family. Some of these notes were entrusted to her friend and painting partner Margaret Robbins. The late San Diego watercolor artist Margaret Robbins, a devoted friend and sometime chauffer, acknowledged that “no single person in San Diego did more for the City culturally than Alice Klauber.” 12 Of a seemingly restless nature, Miss Klauber changed addresses with some frequency in center city, at the Park Manor Apartments, and in La Jolla.

Stella Klauber, Abraham and Alice on the steps of the Encanto home, courtesy of the Klauber family.

. . . Ed Fletcher, pioneer developer of Grossmont, had urged opera diva Mde. Schumman-Heink, who settled in San Diego in 1910, to develop a world wide respected musical community in the area. She surrounded herself with well known authors, musicians, and painters, including Zane Gray, Carrie Jacobs Bond, Alfred Jansen, and Sadie May. A young actor-comedian, Charles Chaplin, even setup a tent film company there. Both had contributed $10.000 each to the effort, but it fell far short and failed. Other groups had attempted to create art centers in East County with little success. Miss Klauber was an acquaintance of many because of her own cultural interests. Circumstances of her visit to the area depicted here are unknown.

Unknown photographer, Alice in Grossmont, courtesy of the Klauber family.

. . . An avid traveler she journeyed throughout the world confirming her knowledge of the things first hand, offering and recording her impressions with intelligent observation. She left a multifarious record in journals and sketch pads of her travels at a time when ships were the principal mode of international travel with fewer passengers, and at a more leisurely pace. She was always a part of a lively and intellectual scene and an influence on promoting cultural growth and the fine arts. Thoroughly immersed in an appreciation of the fine and rare in life’s experience including art, Miss Klauber is at last attracting interest in current research within the larger context of the history of American art. 13 Her love of art, generally, and her efforts to foster a cultural life in a growing San Diego made her a catalyst. When the octogenarian died in a Lemon Grove rest home on July 5, 1951, an obvious void was created in the community’s cultural scene. Throughout her lifetime, Alice Klauber would be associated with some of the most prominent personalities in modern American and European art history.


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