The Perpetual Art Student:
A Lifetime Pursuit of Learning
Klauber, Artichokes, oil, San Diego Museum of Art collection.
. . . Ars longa, vita brevis est.
. .. . . . . . . . .. -Horace
. . Literally, if you want to be remembered beyond a lifetime,
paint a lasting and famous picture. That is the challenge to would
be artists. The art of a master will live long after his death. To
paint a masterpiece however requires training and a developing connoisseurship.
Miss Klauber was no exception even though there is an apparent humility
about her approach. With the support of her family, she began seriously
training as a young girl in San Francisco.
photographer, Alice Klauber in an unknown Sculptors studio,
courtesy of the Klauber family.
photographer, View of a bust portrait of Alice, date unknown, courtesy
of the Klauber family.
. . . It has been suggested in conversation
that the sculptor may have been Alices colleague and fellow
artist Ruth Ball by one of Balls former students and friend,
Stan Sowinski, who also was acquainted with Miss Klauber. Apparently
she had a studio in the Melville Klaubers Gill-Mead home at
Sixth and Richmond Streets near Balboa Park. Gill planned a studio
for Klaubers wife, Amy, who had studied painting with Emil Carlson
in San Francisco, on the third floor of the home that was razed in
1979. Ball was essentially a noted local architectural sculptor. Her
paintings were usually given away according to Sowinski. Apparently
Alice had arranged for Ball to stay there in a basement room where
she slept on a cot. (conversation with Stan Sowinski, December 9,
photographer, Two views of a bust portrait of her, date unknown, courtesy
of the Klauber family.
. . By 1870 San Francisco had made inroads as the cultural
center of the West coast that offered some competition for Eastern
cultural centers, giving Californians a sense of cultural achievement
to the frontier residents of the romantic West. Fortunes had been
made from the gold fields and statehood had given a sense of economic
and political stability. Railroads linked the East and West Coasts.
Spectacular mountain ranges had lost their mystery and the West Coast
citizens such as legendary lawman, Wyatt Earp, had settled into a
more sedate and domestic life style. Stately mansions were built by
the neauveu riche that became repositories of large gilt-framed
canvases by the romantic landscapists, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran
and Thomas Hill. Mexican-Spanish traditions and Asian exoticism were
blended and art schools and art centers were attracting teachers and
students from across the continent and Europe. The Romantic and mysterious
West was closing. The competition between Eastern and Western style
and sophistication has never fully abated.
. . The first Association of Artists in California, the Art
Union, was organized at the end of the Civil War, 1n1865, fifteen
years after California declared statehood. Billed as the first art
school in the West, the San Francisco Art Association resulted from
a meeting in the Spring of 1871 at the home of English watercolorist,
Juan Buckingham Wandes Forda 1817-1902. Joining him were William Alvord,
Benjamin Parks Avery, 1828-1875, Edward Bosque, 1832-1917, Samuel
Marsden Brooks, 1816-1892, Richard Bush Gideon Jaques Denny, 1830-1886,
Thomas Hill, 1829-1908, William Keith, 1838-1911, William Lewis Marple,
1827-1910, Pietro Mezzara, 1823-1883, and Ernesta Narjot, 1827-1898.
Their stated purpose was to train fine and commercial artists and
art teachers. The Association opened February 9, 1874, with Virgil
Williams, 1830-1886, as its first director. Entrance required students
to provide examples of their drawings. The first class of forty students
assembled in the formally designated, California School of Design,
at 313 Pine Street. For unknown reasons, six School of Design students
left to form the Art Students League in 1884 and hired Theodore Wores,
1858-1939, as their first instructor. They rented a studio at 729
Montgomery Street. Members managed studio matters and hired the teachers
and models, sharing all expenses. Here, when being a serious artist
was unthinkable for a man let alone a woman, a teen aged Alice Klauber
began her formal training. She studied with later faculty members
Emil Carlsen, 1853-1932, Arthur Mathews, 1860-1945, Bruce Porter,
1865-1953, and Frederick Yates, some of the most advanced painters
of the time. The class was now made up with 27 students. Frederick
Yates provided Miss Klauber with an introduction to Laurence Binyon
then on the staff of the British Museum and an early specialist of
Oriental art. Her independent study and interest, especially Japanese
art, was already evident. She appreciated the poetic attitude toward
life expressed in both Japanese and Chinese art and felt it exerted
its influence upon her own work. In 1892 when she returned to San
Diego, she had acquired about twenty examples making her one of the
earliest collectors on the West Coast. 51
She was probably San Diegos first bonafied connoisseur
of Japanese prints, wrote Reginald H. Poland, director of
the San Diego Museum of Art, 1925-1950, to Judson D. Metzger, a highly
recognized authority on the medium. Miss Klauber has prominently
identified with the work of the Fine Arts Gallery. In 1926 she organized
its Oriental arts department and was actively engaged in building
interest in the arts of the Orient for many years. She acquired many
and has an insight into their beauty that is not fully
shared by all of us.