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.
Daniels 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 Klaubers 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
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.
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 lifes 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
communitys cultural scene. Throughout her lifetime, Alice Klauber
would be associated with some of the most prominent personalities
in modern American and European art history.