Have you discovered this book?

Cannon book spineIf you’re interested in the art and artists of Northern California in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, you need to be aware of a magnum opus by a fellow alumnus of U.C. Berkeley , Robert W. Edwards. It’s called Jennie V. Cannon: The Untold History of the Carmel and Berkeley Art Colonies, Vol. 1. (Oakland, Calif.: East Bay Heritage Project, 2012).  At my suggestion, the author has posted an online facsimile of the entire text on the Traditional Fine Arts Organization website, http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/10aa/10aa557.htm. It’s about much more than Jennie Cannon, although he’s done a great service in bringing out the story of this prominent artist who faded into undeserved obscurity. In almost 400 pages of fine print, he has compiled detailed biographies of more than 200 artists who worked in Berkeley or Carmel (with more to come in volume 2). In the introduction he writes:

From these histories we can draw some startling conclusions. For example, from the mid to late 1920s, a period when many consider that the Carmel art colony had reached its apogee, eight artists, who are recognized today as outstanding figures, can be confirmed as preeminent based on the frequency of exhibitions outside the Monterey Peninsula and the degree of critical acclaim during their lifetimes: E. Charlton Fortune, Arthur Hill Gilbert, Armin Hansen, Joseph Mora, Mary DeNeale Morgan, John O’Shea, William Ritschel and William Silva. However, the same contemporary sources indicate that ten other Carmel exhibitors were quite exceptional and given equal if not more attention in the press: Roberta Balfour, Margaret Bruton, Ferdinand Burgdorff, Jennie V. Cannon, Gene Kloss, Edith Maguire, Clayton S. Price, J. Blanding Sloan, William C. Watts and Stanley H. Wood.

Likewise, in the first Berkeley art colony Edwin Deakin, William Keith and Xavier Martinez are today viewed as “the celebrities,” but critics and the public between 1906 and 1911 held in the greatest esteem nine other Berkeley artists: Henry J. Breuer, Louise Carpenter, Charles M. Crocker, Carl Dahlgren, Jules Mersfelder, Perham Nahl, Charles P. Neilson, Eda Smitten and Elizabeth Strong.

For my own research on Anne Bremer, this book has provided references to specific articles in sources like the Carmel Pine Cone and Berkeley Courier that I might never have tracked down. So if you want to learn in depth about any artist of Carmel or Berkeley prior to about 1950, be sure to check this resource!

Poems by Anne Bremer

THE UNSPOKEN

Buried deep it lies,
A metal bell with a hollow sound,
Deep down in the ground.

Scanning the skies
For stars to wear
As moondust in our hair,
We walk around.
With simulated glee each goes,
Peering for tiny flowers of rose
Spangled on the ground.

So carefully covered, hidden it lies,
This metal bell of hollow sound;
With finger on lips, we move around;
For no one dares, oh, no one dares—
See the smiling mask that each one wears.

COMPENSATION

On days when I remember
The days I would forget,
I walk among the flowers
Of the garden I have made;
Flowers of clearest azure
Grow, I find, in shade.

THE JOURNEY

Unwearied the seasons come and go,
Unfailing recur bud, leaf, fruit, snow.
The vast blue solitude abides,
Each walks alone below—
Two seldom walk abreast.

When the circle is rounded by the tides
And the journey ends—who would not rest?

TWO PATHS

I had not hoped last year
To look on budding cheer.
Mauve heather spray-drops bloom
Like pale nuns, wrapped austere;
And on my window sill
Two sappy leaf-blades, slim,
Enfold a daffodil.

Slowly I climb the hill,
The tangled web nearer, each day;
One furtive, wistful glance
I cast—the other way.

QUIETNESS

In city crowds, in whirls of sound and motion,
In remote lands, under far sky,
Though years together, we have been strangers,
My soul and I.

Aged walls of apathy close in upon us,
The pleasant social smile has ceased to satisfy;
We are alone together, . . . no longer strangers,
My soul and I.

SUNSET

Waves majestic,
Rising, seething,
Foaming, crashing;
Pools of molten gold
Poured upon fluid chrysoprase.

A bird, solitary,
Speeding darkly, dips the curling crests;
Rising, seething,
Foaming, crashing;
Vast silences beyond.

Expand oh! soul, hold infinitude!
Spacious tranquility
Calmly silvering into night.

FOOT-PRINTS

Shadows of lilac echo the form
Of my arched shoe,
Where the bare, untrammeled toe
Of an agile Indian may have pressed,
Long years ago.

When Serra’s thonged and sandaled feet
Marred the smoothness of tawny sand,
Wistful memory followed birds
Flying in quest
Of genial land.

The tide for her shining lover will reach
When moonlight silvers dunes and beach;
Many feet have passed on your silent plain,—
Unchanging, changing—you remain.

LIFE EFFECTUAL

Slender lily smooth and white
whose perfume floats upon the air
like opalescent gossamer;

Butterfly poised, shimmering wings in light,
gold damascene: black, pure-yellow and jade;

Magic music, in its flight
softly winging aloft the soul;

If only a day, of spiritual height
calmly silvering to its goal.

STILL LIFE

Anne Bremer, Still Life, ca. 1921, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Anne Bremer, Still Life, ca. 1921, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Aubergin and yellow glazes,
Satsuma and rare old vases,
In the studio on the hilltop;
Silken curtains filter daylight,
Where the mellow shade falls softly
On a lacquered jar of rouge.

Golden glints of prisoned sunlight
Gleam within a wide-necked milk-jug,
Downy folds of scarlet velvet
Mirrored view their ruddy beauty,
And the frisking flames of firelight
Dance upon its polished surface.

On a wooden cart it rattled
In the quaint old town of Bruges;
Over stones and bumpy pavements,
Over crooked narrow streets.
Once it humbly served the many
Chubby, placid, Belgian babies.

Toddling babies cooed and prattled
While their mothers friendly gossiped.
Sun-rays skipped across its surface
In a wooden cart with others,
Ample-bellied shining brothers.

Golden glints of prisoned sunlight
Gleam within its bright brass surface;
Idle now, it lolls at ease.

SKETCH

Anne Bremer, The Highlands, ca. 1920, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Anne Bremer, The Highlands, ca. 1920, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Crooked gnarled cedars fringe grey sea;
Still falls a ghostly pall of haze
Lowering chill on rocky shore.

Savage waves, boisterous, lash grim crags;
Hungry waves, clamorous, pound and roar:
More, more, more!


These were all written in the last two years or so of Anne Bremer’s life, after she developed leukemia.  Shall I post some more?

What’s the header image?

It’s from a postcard representing the Golden Gate and the Panama Pacific International Exposition that took place in the Marina District of San Francisco in 1915. Albert Bender helped make insurance arrangements for the fair. Anne Bremer exhibited five paintings and was awarded a Bronze Medal.

A portion of the dome and arcade of the Palace of Fine Arts (where Anne’s work was shown) is at the lower left of the image.  The Palace of Fine Arts was designed by Bernard Maybeck and still stands today, the only remnant of the exposition, after a series of restorations.

Welcome

For several years I have been researching and writing about late-19th-century and early-20th-century California art, architecture, museums and patronage. My major long-term project is a dual biography tentatively titled Kissing Cousins, AMB and AMB: The Artistic Lives of San Francisco’s Albert M. Bender and Anne M. Bremer. Meanwhile, I would like to introduce you to these two remarkable people who had a major impact on the Bay Area cultural landscape.

Anne Bremer (1868-1923) was a highly regarded San Francisco-based artist, noteworthy for her interest in modernism and experimentation, especially after she studied in New York and Paris in 1910-1911. She held a number of leadership roles in the Bay Area art community. Her career was cut tragically short by leukemia. Albert Bender (1866-1941) was her cousin and beloved life partner. A successful insurance broker, he became a major patron of artists, museums, libraries, and performing arts organizations. Through Anne’s influence, he was particularly open to modernism, and he helped establish what are now the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Mills College Art Museum.

To read more, click on “About Albert Bender” and “About Anne Bremer” at the top of this page.