. . . From Alice Klauber’s student years at the San Francisco Art Association with the first art school in the West, her study and enthusiasm for art never abated. Her study trips with Chase and Henri, detailed elsewhere, seem to have been the most meaningful to her. Through correspondence, beyond the European ventures, the mutual friendship, especially with Henri, inspired her development as a practicing artist. William I. Homer has pointed out in his book about Henri, the artist’s involvement with the theories of color and composition developed by obscure Chicago painter, Hardesty Gillmore Maratta, b.1864, and to a lesser degree with the teachings of Jay Hambridge. The color and system of Margo colors Maratta promoted were extremely popular among leading American artists during the decades of the teens and twenties in the 20th century, and testimony on their behalf could be found in art journals. In their exchange of correspondence, Miss Klauber must have queried Henri about the system since she received a complex letter dated December 11, 1911, from him that includes diagrams and palette arrangements. The lengthy letter, nearly 20 pages, complete with diagrams, notes and recommendations were intended for her use but he advises her, it takes study “which the average artist or student is not willing to give.” Despite the emphasis on the Maratta color scheme, Henri felt, “His work goes far beyond color - more profoundly into form than any other in our time has gone.” The colors were important in their intrinsic values and usage, “the power of producing the effect of light through the relationship that exists in these colors.” During the course of writing the letter to Miss Klauber, Maratta had called Henri and told him that he too had received a letter from her. He told Henri he would send her a box of his pigments at Henri’s recommendation. The Maratta paint line had no greater testimonial than that of Henri. George Bellows, too, added his voice in recommending their use.

. . . Never admitting to being an artist herself, as a practicing painter, Miss Klauber exhibited frequently over the early years. Locally her social activities seemed more newsworthy than her achievements as an artist, if a paucity of newspaper accounts is considered any criteria. In 1916 Miss Klauber was represented in one-man exhibitions at Orr’s Gallery, in the California Building, Balboa Park, in the Prado Galleries, and in the studio of her friend and fellow artist Esther Stevens Barney. During the San Diego Exposition of 1915-1916, she maintained a portrait studio with two other young artists, Alice Mary Clark and Ruth Townsend, in what is known today as Spanish Village. In reviewing her show at Orr’s Gallery in 1916, Beatric de Lack Kromback wrote, “Her color is fresh and flows readily and simply from her brush.” The lessons of Henri were well taken. By 1920, according to San Diego artist and art writer Krombach, “Impressionism was a matter of course and no longer regarded as a daring feat, a mere fad or an impertinence, and American viewers were now sympathetic with artists who visualized their own impressions and expressed them to the best of their knowledge. Traditional art had succumbed to self expression and recording impressions.” It is within this context that Alice Klauber’s work was considered in a review of an exhibition at Orr’s Gallery in 1920. Twenty-two works note her personal impressions; “no two are alike. She seemed to be motivated by form and light as a means to express her passions and according to her own statement.” A member of the San Diego Art Guild from its inception in 1915, Miss Klauber intermittently was among the jurors of Museum sponsored Guild exhibitions. During these early years, she, also, exhibited in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. When the La Jolla Art Association was organized October 5, 1920, At the home of Ellen Scripps aand with Eleanor B. Parkes presiding, Miss Klauber was one of twelve charter members and exhibited with the group. At times she was a jury member for their membership showings and had been a member of its By-Laws Committee, with Jane Bell, Maurice Braun, and Charles Fries. During 1921 Miss Klauber sold one painting from a March showing of the group. Existing reviews of her exhibitions are filled, generally, with the usual platitudes in describing the shows. In the landscapes she seemed to prefer as subject matter, she is “concerned with the visual impression without regard for illustrative or dramatic interest.” The moods of nature that characterizes each picture bearing titles such as The Coming Rain, Sunny Afternoon and Road in Spring are executed with “vigorous brushing and sureness of touch.” A 1929 Prado Gallery exhibition displayed subjects of China, Japan and Malaysia done during a visit to that area. In 1934, Miss Klauber returned to Japan to study, independently, seventh and eighth century wood sculpture. She became acquainted with Scandinavian Oriental art scholar Osvald Siren, 1879-1966, who visited the San Diego area often on his way to the East. He was attracted to the area by the Theosophical Society located on Point Loma where he stayed on his recurring visits, and where his daughter was a student at the Raga Yoga Academy. It was not unusual while Miss Klauber would be speaking at the local Museum on Oriental art, for Siren to drop by and give an impromptu tour. Such visits by the scholar were always newsworthy.

Alice Klauber, Kyoto, 1929, watercolor.

. . . In Japan in 1934, Miss Klauber met Dr. Helen Chapin who later spoke at the Fine Arts Gallery in 1940. Dr. Chapin had resided in China and Japan, and spoke both languages. She had spent seven months in the temple of Yakushiji, Nara, and was the first woman to climb the famous pagoda built in the eighth century. Prior to her series of lectures at the local museum, she had been an assistant in the department of Asiatic Arts, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, for eight years. Klauber’s independent study and long time acquaintances with such preeminent international scholars made her well qualified to accept a role as the first curator (honorary) of Asian art at the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego. While in Japan her activities were recorded in the local press. She attended an autumn exhibition of contemporary painting and sculpture in Tokyo representing the best of working artists. The exhibition was presented in two parts, one wing dedicated to traditional styles and the other wing showing work influence by modern European styles. The former she admired for the craftsmanship and devotion of the artists and the latter she felt was lacking and that there were no similarities in the newer efforts of the artists to European styles although she did comment on the influence of Cezanne being everywhere. She concluded with comments regarding Eastern originality and vitality that would be admired by European contemporaries. Most of the paintings were watercolor on paper or woven silk, and they must have inspired her for there are watercolors she did while on her visit in the collection of the San Diego Museum of Art.

. . . Among the most original personalities Miss Klauber had become acquainted with around the time of the 1915 San Diego Exposition was the potter known simply as Maria. The San Diegan admired the unique craftsman and in her association with the Archaeological Society may have been instrumental in attracting Maria Martinez to the San Diego Exposition for the duration of the Fair. Earlier, Miss Klauber had tried her hand in making black pottery when she visited the Southwest with Natalie Curtis and Dr. Hewett. Maria’s specialty is the much-admired black pottery that she and her family developed and today is sought after by collectors around the world. A Tewa Indian of New Mexico’s San Ildefonso Pueblo, Maria Martinez ranks with Bernard Leach, 1887-1979, and Shoji Hamada, 1894-1978, as one of the major creative figures in the pottery craft field during the 20th century. Dr. Hewett figured prominently in the 1915-1916 Exposition planning exhibitions. It was he who had asked Maria to assist him in reconstructing some of the fragments of pre-historic black pottery found in excavations near her pueblo at the time. As a result the artist was motivated to continue her work refining black pottery and producing new work that, some argue, surpasses the early ancient leftovers.

. . . In 1927, the Albights - Adam Emory, 1862-1958, and his sons, Ivan Lorraine, b.1897, and Malvin Marr, b.1897, - spent the winter in San Diego, leasing a studio in the New Mexico Building in Balboa Park. 52 Amy Jo thought ‘Aunt Allie’ might have studied earlier with Emory in San Francisco or Los Angeles. Any influence they may have exerted is undetectable in her work. Ivan and Malvin were nephews of local attorney Jefferson Stickney and were acquaintances of several local artists including Alice, Everett Gee and Eileen Jackson. Everett had met them earlier while a fellow student at the Art Institute of Chicago and remembered the family well.

. . . In 1930, Hans Hofmann, 1880-1966, an important exponent of modern German Expressionism, arrived in the United States ahead of the impending conflict that was brewing in Europe. He departed Germany when the University of Southern California invited him to conduct classes for the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles in August and September 1931, and the following year from Mid-June to September. The faculty, in addition to Hofmann, included other distinguished artist such as Morgan Russell, 1886-1953, co-founder of Synchromism; Millard Sheets, b.1907; Phil Dike; b.1906; and Clarence Hinkle, 1880-1960. Dike and Sheets became nationally known watercolor artists of the American urban scene during the 1930s. To date, her notes on this chapter of her studies are limited to a very few sheets in the San Diego Museum archives.

. . . In the Caribbean in 1938, honing her own skill in observing and sketching aboard the Danish Ship S.S. Europa, in Kingston, Jamacia, and in St.Thomas, Virgin Islands, Miss Klauber attempted to capture the spirit and color of the area and is inhabitants. Quick sketches capture the women walking with huge bundles balanced on their head, donkeys pulling carts at a leisurely, almost listless pace, and views of the city, “built on three hills,” the waters filled with small boats. Color notes accompany many of the small landscapes, perhaps a reference for future paintings. (See Appendix C3.)

At the age of 73, in 1944, Miss Klauber was still attending classes. This time it was a session co-sponsored by the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego and San Diego State College (University) and conducted by the muralist, Alfredo Ramos Martinez, 1873-1946. Ramos had arrived in southern California in 1929 remaining until his death thirty years later. There were frequent trips to his home country, but they were of short duration. The course focused on fresco painting. Ramos Martinez was an early advocate of outdoor schools in Mexico. He urged the young to get outside, away from the stultifying effects of the classroom and copying plaster models. His ideas were novel and contributed to the introduction of modern Mexican art. Influential as the Director General of Fine Arts in Mexico City, he was among the first to encourage a modern attitude in Mexican art free of political overtones. Perhaps this is his principal contribution to Mexican art history and many well known artists acknowledge a debt to him. Klauber’s notes regarding his demonstrations are in the archives of the San Diego Museum of Art. In summary of the technical procedure she writes that similar principals permeated all his media of visual expression. “His result was strikingly like his newspaper drawings, his pastels or his oils - same technique, a steady very emotional, but always painstaking design,” and wryly concludes, “executed ‘leedle be leedle’.” In southern California the artist made frequent visits to the medical center at the University of California, Los Angeles, because of his daughter’s fragile health. He stayed at the Clark home, while in the area, in Coronado. Martinez was to become a familiar face and talent in the southern California art community. He was featured in exhibitions at the San Diego Museum and taught adult classes there with his friend and colleague at San Diego State University, Everett Gee Jackson. A known portrait and landscape painter, Ramos Martinez was, also, recognized for his large murals in the area including Coronado and La Jolla. His mural on the pediment above the entrance of the exterior of the Church of St. Mary, Stella Maris in La Jolla, done about 1927, was later enforced with tessarae to better preserve it. Murals that enhanced the dining pleasure of patrons at La Avanida Restaurant, in Coronado, survived a serious fire but have since been removed and, after conservation, were reinstalled in the Coronado library. The artist’s easel paintings were distributed through the Dalzell Hatfield Galleries in Los Angeles.

. . . Miss Klauber’s place in the overall picture of San Diego early artists is among that adventurous generation that responded to the Armory Show of 1913 and clustered about Robert Henri in an attempt to revitalize American art. She is among San Diego’s first modern painters whose art reflects the impulses of post-impressionism and plein air landscape painting.

Unknown photographer, On the reverse of the photograph, “Alice teaching a class of Mission children,”
date unknown as is the site, courtesy of the Klauber family.


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