Painter, Graphic designer, Illustrator
Active in Piedmont, Calif.
Size: Transcript: 70 pages
Format: Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 12 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 7 min.
Collection Summary: An interview of Paul Carey conducted 1993 December 3 and 28, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of Amerian Art.
Carey discusses the San Francisco Bay Area art scene from the 1920s to 1990s; the Bohemian Club and its members; and his work as an illustrator. Accompanying material consists of a 10 page statement by Carey written in preparation for the interview, and an exhibition brochure for Maurice Logan which includes a short biography written by Carey, 1975; Carey was associated with Logan as an illustrator.
Biographical/Historical Note: Paul Carey (1904-2001) was an illustrator and painter from Piedmont, California. Carey attended California School of Fine Arts, 1924-1925.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators. Funding for transcription provided by the Gerald and Bente Buck Collection as part of the Artists and Models series
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
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Also in the Archives
- Oral history interview with Paul Carey and Stephanie Caloia, 1997 October 26
- Paul Carey papers, 1975-1993
This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Paul Carey, 1993 December 3 and 28, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Interview with Paul Carey
Conducted by Paul Karlstrom
At the artist's studio in Oakland, California
December 3 and 28 1993
The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Paul Carey on December 3 and 29, 1993. The interview took place in Oakland, CA, and was conducted by Paul Karlstrom for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
[BEGIN TAPE 1, SIDE A]
PAUL KARLSTROM: Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, a taped interview with San Francisco Bay Area artist, Paul Carey on December 3, 1993 at Mr. Carey’s studio in Oakland, adjoining the Piedmont area. The interviewer is Paul Karlstrom. Two Pauls. Well, Paul, we’ve had the opportunity to talk a couple of times recently over the last couple of months, and I’m very intrigued by your recollections, your memories of the whole art scene here in the Bay Area. You’ve worked here for a good number of years, and I gather I will hear about this. But I gather your career pretty much unfolded here in this area. You have been in a very special position to observe just how things have developed here. But to start, I think it’s important for you to identify who you are. Tell us a little bit about your background. When were you born and where?
PAUL CAREY: Yes, I was born in 1904 in Palo Alto, which was a very small town at that time. And, you want me to continue from there?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Sure. Yeah, just tell us about your background.
PAUL CAREY: Well, I started drawing when I was just eight years old, I guess, and then painting. I – there was a painter named John Stanton, who was the Dean of Painting at the old Mark Hopkins Institute. Well, he owed my father six hundred bucks. And so when I was a drawing contender my father said, “You might as well go and get some of my money back.” [Inaudible] John. And so, I did and it was an experience in the past. He gave me a book on the practice of oil paintings, which must have been written in the previous century. It was beginning with Umber and White, which I did a self-portrait over about five times. The number of white, and they said, “No, I think you have the prime color.” It was a strange kind of reminiscence, but he was a character.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What year was that you started?
PAUL CAREY: That was – it would have been about 1914, I guess, around in there. So, I didn’t continue painting all the time. Well, I did posters, everything for the school, cartoons, and lettering and [inaudible] type styles and all the things, you know, you do on your own. And I went to college for one year. I couldn’t get in at either Stanford or Cal because the principal wouldn’t okay me. I wanted to be an editorial cartoonist at the time. I made a cartoon that offended him.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, what was that? Tell us about that.
PAUL CAREY: There was a group that dominated the politics at the school.
PAUL KARLSTROM: This was in Palo Alto?
PAUL CAREY: Palo Alto.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Palo Alto High School?
PAUL CAREY: Palo Alto High School. And their boys always moved in. So, I wrote a cartoon picturing them with their, what for us was taboo, Greek letter. You know, you’re not supposed to do any of that fraternity stuff, but they are allowed to do it. So, I made a -– your accident today reminds me of it -– an automobile breaking down, but probably it was worse, parts flying out of it, explosions, and so on, with the name of this club on it. It turned out that the principal was the teacher of the Sunday School which all of these boys were members. He tore it off the wall and waved it and he said, “Whoever did this,” he said, “I’m going to find out.” He was going to kill me, I guess. So, he went into the library and I followed him in, and I said, “Well, that was my drawing you didn’t like very much.” And he never forgot it, so he wouldn’t okay me for Stanford or any other school. I had all the requirements, far more. So I went up to Oregon for the year, and during that time, one of my friends remarked that I was in the wrong place. I was drawing all over the books in every piece of white space. So I came down and went to the old California School of Fine Art. That’s where the Mark Hopkins is now.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Was that the University of Oregon that . . . ?
PAUL CAREY: The University of Oregon, no.
PAUL KARLSTROM: That was just one year though?
PAUL CAREY: One year, yeah. So, then, I went to the –- it was in the old building that used to be the Mark Hopkins Institute. And well, I saw Cézanne fortunately because he changed my life on those big German reproductions, Hemsteg [phon. sp.] put them out. Marvelous reproductions. And suddenly, the teaching of the school was all wrong, so I quit after a year.
PAUL KARLSTROM: So Cézanne -- what you saw in Cézanne did not match up with what the teachers were . . . ?
PAUL CAREY: The way the paint was put on, you know, like putty. It was repulsive. SO, a couple of friends decided to go out -- they had been there long enough -- Jack Atherton and Ed Hagedorn. And so I joined them and we hired models. And then I’d go out painting with Jack in Marin County; there was an understanding of his over there. So, I’d come in, he was very brilliant, a technically brilliant painter, and had a very successful career, with paintings in the Metropolitan Museum and Modern Museum and so on. We corresponded over the years, about twenty years, I guess. But at any rate, then I had to go into the commercial business. There was nothing else.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Could we pause there a moment and just briefly go back to the time of the California School of Fine Arts? What years were those? Were you there . . .
PAUL CAREY: That would be ’04, I guess. Wait a minute, not ’04, no, ’24. The year of ’24 and maybe overlapping ’25.
PAUL KARLSTROM: But you were really there just about a year?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, just for a year.
PAUL KARLSTROM: And what about the teachers? Do you remember any in particular? Who did you study with? What were they like?
PAUL CAREY: Well, there was only one teacher who knew anything. That was Gertrude Albright. And she was only there part-time, and had the landscape class, which she would critique. And she understood the post-impressionist paintings, but nobody else did.
PAUL KARLSTROM: So she was forward looking?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. And she had studied in Paris and came from an artist family, the Partingtons. The Partingtons had a school which Maury Logan [phon. sp.] studied out of at one time. So at any rate, two people, the Mackey’s, tried to talk me into staying.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Was Mackey teaching there at the time?
PAUL CAREY: Mackey was head of the school at that time. And his wife was teaching. She was a better painter than he.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What was her name? Do you remember?
PAUL CAREY: Constance. Very, very dry sense of humor, and more detached than Spencer who talked all the time, talked too much, which is a terrible way to teach.
PAUL KARLSTROM: It didn’t do much for you I gather?
PAUL CAREY: No, I didn’t want the -- I didn’t see that association. In other words, what could they give me? I was just beginning to find a style, to paint large paint areas. Well, printing didn’t help it either, but it disappeared eventually. Years afterward we became very good friends. They invited me over for dinner. Then he wanted me to go on the Board of the Art School, which I didn’t want to do, but I told him I’d teach for awhile, which I did.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, you did? When was that? Well, we’ll hear about that.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, at the Arts and Crafts, College of Arts and Crafts. Must mostly on illustrations. But I got my friends who are no in the Bohemian Club, were all from my class. They were all from that time. There was a lot of talent around. And in both ways, Nate Oliveira and Lundy Siegriest and there were some other guys with a lot of talent.
PAUL KARLSTROM: They were students of yours?
PAUL CAREY: No, they weren’t students of mine. They were in my illustration class, in the Club. Although, I taught [inaudible] composition, and got drifted way off in illustrations.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, no, that’s all right. Just one more question on that though. How would you characterize the instruction in the mid-twenties, at least at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco in general?
PAUL CAREY: I don’t think that there was any instruction really. I didn’t run into any. It was a matter of being there and having models and set-ups and pomegranates to paint and so on. In that sense, people developed in their own way, but I don’t think the instructors did them a hell of a lot of good. I would say Stackpole (Ralph) was good, who was a sculptor. At any rate, I don’t know. You know, some people love academic surroundings and some people don’t. I’ve never thrived on it. One of my sons is the same way. I had to kick him to get him through college. Later on he wins a Pulitzer Prize.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Is that right?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. He went on to win lots of others as well. He wins all the awards.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What field? I have to ask that.
PAUL CAREY: He’s an investigative reporter, so he was responsible for Marcos getting bounced out of his fat job. And he has a plaque from it. The Philippine government awarded him so it’s sort of like a medal of honor.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What’s his name?
PAUL CAREY: Pete.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Pete.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, and then this past year, we went -- I went back to Washington with him, and he had two awards, one in Washington and one in New York. And one was the -- well, it was on international finance. He and one of his friends, or associates, did a job on the Japanese government, on their foreign aide, and along with studying their foreign aide, how it’s different from the U.S. foreign aide. One of them was using it to make a few million bucks on the side. And so they exposed him. Evidently, the Mercury was read in Japanese Parliament.
PAUL KARLSTROM: So he’s at the San Jose . . .?
PAUL CAREY: San Jose Mercury.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, that’s great.
PAUL CAREY: Lance Culpert [phon. sp.], one of the top men in government, he started shaking his head and he said, “I think I’m in trouble.” So, at any rate . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, anyway, that’s interesting. You must be very proud.
PAUL CAREY: He’s good company. Of course, he knows art too.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, what about then, your moving out of school into the area of illustrations? That’s where you found your career?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, that’s right. There was no place to go but the commercial world, and Maurice Logan and another artist, a man who was in sales and management, got together and started an art service. And I heard about it. A very interesting character, there’s a story in itself. So I went right over there, and moved out of the sweat shop I was in and went to work for these fellahs.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Do you remember what the sweat shop was called?
PAUL CAREY: Yes, it was called Patterson & Sullivan [phon. sp.]. If they’re still living, they still have psychic scars from the persecutions. At any rate, that is when more and more, I didn’t like doing the damn stuff because we were doing literal drawings and paintings and [inaudible] or something, or else figures of these smiling women, and the forty-five year old men with their brides would be fifteen year old girls.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Feeding a fantasy?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. The studio lost their biggest account. And, I guess, six months or so later, I thought, jeez, there’s no reason for that. I knew the people who took it over, and I knew what they were doing. They didn’t know what the hell they were doing.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Now, that was the Maurice Logan group?
PAUL CAREY: No, that was for the Logan group.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh.
PAUL CAREY: It was Patterson & Sullivan when I left. So I went over and made one layout for them, and I had the whole account back the next day, so that permitted me to drop working on the board. So I took over running the place and then keeping them busy.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What was the name of the company?
PAUL CAREY: Well, this was the company named Logan. Logan, Stanniford and Cox originally. And then Carey came into it, and the name changed to various forms. But I found no interest in making the drawings, but I did find some interest in what the clients were trying to do, what they were spending a million bucks to get. It didn’t make sense. And so I found out that I could interpret the client and make it clear that he wasn’t interested in their particular design style that one guy had or another one had. They couldn't care less. They wanted to get their money back. And so that made clear -- I understood what Sandvic [another art group] had laid out for the direct appeal for this particular thing, not anything else. And the same thing is true for the annual reports. Sandvic couldn't get anybody -- couldn't get anything okayed by the chairman, so I knew they were thinking in terms of advertising, not financial relations, which is a totally different thing. It was creditability instead of motivation. So then I had their account for thirty years. So it detached me from board work and illustration, with more on graphic design. But I kept painting all the time and it showed. Exhibiting at the old -- what’s the name of that gallery in the city of Paris? Rotunda Gallery it was called. And I had shows there, and occasionally somebody from Southern California, I don’t remember who . . . But running the damn business got more demanding, I’d find I’d get an idea and develop yet one good painting, and have the ideas for continuing in that vein where I’d get busy for a month and I couldn't remember where it was. It was gone.
PAUL KARLSTROM: So you really weren’t able to do as much of your own work?
PAUL CAREY: No. There wasn’t the freedom to do it. The other thing is, if your thinking was wrong -- in order to be a painter you need not only time, but you need consecutive time. You need the time while you’re thinking about it all the time because you actually are, and there’s not much time when you’re not thinking about it. Changing the direction of the conversation and so forth. There’s more out of your own thinking, but then you need the continuity of the time to follow it up or otherwise it hits a dead end. So I don’t know of any painters who ever got anywhere without full time.
PAUL KARLSTROM: The WPA.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, WPA. The Foundation of American Art because it gave these guys time to continue their own way for about four years. And by that time the styles have matured pretty much, and things begin to pick up just a little bit. Oh, yeah, particularly on the East. Rothko and almost any guy you name, had a period on the WPA. Here there’s Ed Hagedorn and others trying to be a fine artist. But in this period there were no outlets -- there were no teaching jobs except maybe a couple in an arts school and so on. The school had some teacher who would do a little bit of art and she’d teach it. And there were no galleries [inaudible]. Later on there became one or two. There was the Corvovie [?] [French] Gallery [phon. sp.], as they called it.
PAUL KARLSTROM: [inaudible].
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, they called it Corvovie [?] at any rate to simplify it. And they were one of the few in the Rotunda Gallery. And so there weren’t many places to show. And there were no teaching jobs. What’s a guy going to do? Well, some of them worked as carpenters and other trades of that kind, but very few of them ever developed fully. This was true in New York. You know, we would have had some of those fellahs if they’re sweating it out. They did some teaching and De Kooning, he could do anything. I don’t know what he did, but I know I saw one thing he did for an ad, and gee, it’s a beautiful thing. But they only bought one of them. They didn’t buy a second one. It was a desert, no man’s land.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Did you -- well, of course, you were gainfully employed. And even though it wasn’t maybe . . .
PAUL CAREY: Oh, I was making $128 bucks a month, you know, that’s pretty good.
PAUL KARLSTROM: And so you didn’t really qualify for the project, for WPA?
PAUL CAREY: No, I didn’t, and I didn’t want to put in time. I was busy painting when I had the time. And I went over and painted with the Society of Six a couple of times. I was living in Sausalito at that time.
PAUL KARLSTROM: How did that come about? Not to jump around too much.
PAUL CAREY: Well, Maury Logan, who I worked with, and I owned a studio with him. He painted with them, and I went over with Maury a couple of times. And incidentally, Maury is not one of the progressive artists. He was not one of the progressive artists. He’d show in the Society of Sanity in Art and the Society of Western Artists, he didn’t care.
PAUL KARLSTROM: We should probably, later on, talk more about him.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, of course, the Society of Sanity in Art, some women from Stanford called and asked me what I knew about it.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Was this recently?
PAUL CAREY: About a year ago or something, maybe a little more. And there was a continuation of it. She wasn’t the least bit interested in another guy named John Garth, who was a vicious, self-grandising bird. Oh, man.
PAUL KARLSTROM: The Society of Sanity in Art. Her name was Logan, as well, I think, wasn’t it? Out of Chicago?
PAUL CAREY: Yes, it was. Chicago, that’s right, yeah. Outrageous, ridiculous thing, and all the artists who were involved in it were just to get a show.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Is that right? Do you think that was the motivation?
PAUL CAREY: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Oh, yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Was it much talked about, you know, that organization?
PAUL CAREY: It might have been at one time, but I didn’t pay a hell of a lot of attention to it until later. At one time, its successor, John Garth, wanted to join the Bohemian Club.
PAUL KARLSTROM: He was local.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, he was local. No, he was an outrageous bird. He’d muscle in any place. He got on the S.F. Art Commission for the town, and he got them to okay a mural contest for the new prison building they were putting up. And that was a chance for them and he won the award. So somebody got a hold of a copy of his sketch and it was so bad. The whole town laughed at it. But he’s a story in himself, I must say.
PAUL KARLSTROM: You said he was trying to get into the Bohemian Club?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. So Willard Cox and Maury Logan said, “John can be all right.” They didn’t disagree with him particularly, but he was a pest. He seemed to be on your back all the time. You could forget about having anything to do with the Bohemian Club. John will take care of it for you. So he backed off. They didn’t let him in.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Let’s talk about that since the subject has come up. The whole business of Sanity and Art. A number of the prominent Bohemians, you mentioned one, Maury Logan himself, were aligned themselves with this group, which is, of course, everybody knows, quire reactionary, and quite anti-modernism meaning abstraction.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: How did this come about that they threw themselves in with this . . .?
PAUL CAREY: Well, in the first place, they didn’t understand it. “Contemporary,” like Cézanne, who’s some kind of a crazy wild man. The guy can’t paint, he can’t draw. What the hell are you talking about? In the Bohemian Club there’s only one guy there, was Bill Gaw. I don’t know whether you know anything about him, but he ran the Mills College of Art, and also in San Francisco, the College of Fine Arts. He couldn’t stand it because he was very positive pro-Cézanne with Maury and a guy by the name of Weaver, who was pro-Sanity in Art. He couldn’t stand Bill Gaw and finally he resigned. So then just before I got all these guys in, I ran into him and he said, “Gee, why didn’t you tell me? I would have still been there.” But I was too modern for [inaudible] Hagen when I went in, but I had Bill Gaw and then, Spencer Mackey as sponsor.
PAUL KARLSTROM: [inaudible] You mean, an American Bohemian Club president?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, he was a member, wasn’t he, of the Society?
PAUL CAREY: Oh, he was head of the damn thing.
[BEGIN TAPE 1, SIDE B]
PAUL KARLSTROM: Continuing an interview with Paul Carey. This is Tape 1, Side B. Paul, you were talking about the Paul Elder Gallery and some of the opportunities to see artists. You mentioned that Picasso and Tamyo – What was your – How do you remember your own position in terms of contact with other fine artists?
PAUL CAREY: I had very little contact with them because it was the Depression. They were working hard to make a living. And a hundred and twenty-eight bucks didn’t buy you much leeway. I had one child. Then we moved to Berkeley later. And so Sausalito was not an art colony by any means. Berkeley has always been, to some extent, academically dominant. And after I moved to Berkeley, then there were more relationships. Well, we had a gathering of poets, and painters – writers more than painters. Margaret Peterson was one of the artists, and [inaudible]. I met a poet named Lincoln Fitzell and two writers. Ferguson and he used to write on the Southwest. A very good writer.
PAUL KARLSTROM: You say this was after you moved – you were living in San Francisco, right?
PAUL CAREY: No, I never lived in San Francisco. That’s in – first in Oakland, and then very early in the early thirties, probably like ’33 or around in there, I moved to Sausalito. But then when my oldest son became six we had a taste of the schools there, and they were so antiquated. Seemed like in a different century. So we tried to move out and go to Berkeley. You ever hear of Charlotte Mack?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Uh-huh.
PAUL CAREY: Gave me the money to buy a house, and she used to call me her protégé or . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, was she teaching at the . . .?
PAUL CAREY: No, she didn’t teach at all. She started a collection called The Blue Four. That’s where . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, Galka Scheyer.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, and she was a good friend of Galka Scheyer. But, no, she taught chemistry at the University of Chicago at one time, but . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: What was her name again?
PAUL CAREY: Mack.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Mack.
PAUL CAREY: No. I don’t know a Charlotte Mack. But there were quite a few of her things in the San Francisco Museum, the Modern Museum, of the things she owned. But most of it, she didn’t – she sold. Some relative, cousin or something was broke, and so she sold off all of her paintings.
PAUL KARLSTROM: So she was one of the – so she was buying work from Galka Scheyer?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, that’s right.
PAUL KARLSTROM: And you were able to see these works then?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, and she had lunches there with Grace McCann Morley, head of the San Francisco Museum, the one who really started the place, and then created all those great shows.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Yeah, Grace McCann Morley.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, and then the German from Mills College who runs shows and Schmidt-Rottluf, and who else? The guy who got me the show at the museum here. Well, the German expressionist. The whole group. There’s quite a few of them that showed there.
PAUL KARLSTROM: That was Niemeyer?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. So I had lunch with him there. He was there and his wife one time.
PAUL KARLSTROM: So you did have this contact with the art world?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, some.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Did you see yourself as fitting in naturally with that, even though your career was commercial?
PAUL CAREY: I don’t know. I’m not always gabby and articulate. Sometimes I just shut up and don’t say anything for a week.
PAUL KARLSTROM: My wife says that’s what I should do more often.
PAUL CAREY: But, also, David Park and his wife who I met a couple of times for lunch.
PAUL KARLSTROM: This must have been in the 40’s now?
PAUL CAREY: No. Well, also the 40’s. We lived in Berkeley in ’39 and ’40, I guess. So it was the Sausalito period with Charlotte and also [inaudible]. She bought a little Picasso about this big for a hundred bucks. An abstract little kind of thing.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What ever happened to her collection? You say that she sold things off?
PAUL CAREY: Sold it all to a dealer, yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: But some things are in the museum?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, she gave like [inaudible] to [inaudible]. It cost her $1,000 bucks at the time, I remember. She almost bought the Cézanne. They wanted $27,500. A landscape too. A beauty. But she offered $25,000 and the guy wouldn’t take it. We would have had a Cézanne for many, many years. It took us many years to get one. She was a great woman.
PAUL KARLSTROM: How do you spell her last name?
PAUL CAREY: M-A-C-K.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Straightforward, okay. And you said a moment ago that you were like her protégé?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, that’s the term she used.
PAUL KARLSTROM: And then she was interested in your work?
PAUL CAREY: Well, I don’t know whether it was my work or what the hell it was. She was interested in my wife too, a very fine pianist, and she liked her company, I guess. But she did buy one painting of mine. I made a painting, which was an abstraction, as a matter of fact, which I do occasionally. It occurred to her that it’s never been a consecutive period. But also, she was related to the name Mack, to all of the famous Jewish families, the Haas, who did some sculpture. The ones who were really part of the arts in San Francisco.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, which Haas was the sculptor?
PAUL CAREY: Elise Haas.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, really?
PAUL CAREY: I think it was, but I never met them. She used to talk about her because they were very good friends. So all those families, Brandston, was part of it. I was at their house one time. One of my pals went in with me, and he walked up to one of them and said, “Gee, that’s a beautiful reproduction of a [inaudible],” whatever it was. The woman said, “Oh, that’s the original.” Is this thing on?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Yes.
PAUL CAREY: Oh, I’m gabbing away aimlessly.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, no. Well, it’s not aimless because what we’re trying to do – it’s interesting to hear the world in which you . . .
PAUL CAREY: That whole group of families were really the foundation of San Francisco culture. Enormously. Of course, the Crockers weren’t part of the Jewish family, but they were also very important. Well, so much for that.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, let’s talk a little more, if you would, about the situation in the 30’s and 40’s, I suppose the attitudes towards the modernism. I mean, you’ve described yourself as being basically interested in, sympathetic to – what should we say? – advanced art, and I gather from what you say though that the majority of artists that you had contact with were less sympathetic. How would you break the camps down?
PAUL CAREY: The ones who ran the commercial world or illustrations, magazine illustrations, they hated everything. They were competent in what they did, but they hated the stuff. They didn’t do it for any ulterior purpose. Whereas, some of the others did. The ones who claimed to be fine artists, they were no good at it. They used it to try to get a foothold in because people didn’t understand the contemporary painting. There were certainly very few people who did. And they thought there was something goofy about a Picasso. The mad man and a nut, you know. I remember the first Picasso I really liked myself. I didn’t think much of it, and [inaudible] one day, and a friend of mine was running the gallery. We had a little painting against the wall, and it turned out to be a reproduction of Picasso. And I was looking at it while I was talking to him and all of a sudden it hit me. “My God”, I said. “I’ve got to have that thing.” And so he sold it to me for five bucks. It was his. I still have it on the wall in the bedroom.
PAUL KARLSTROM: When was this?
PAUL CAREY: Oh, that was, gee, I don’t know. It must have been the late 20’s.
PAUL KARLSTROM: So you had an interest in Picasso already at that time?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, yeah. Well, that started in that time. And opened everything in Picasso. Whenever I’d see a reproduction of Picasso [inaudible] school in black and white I’d think, well, it’s lost in – and then you’d seen an original. Wham. There she goes.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, did you have any soul mates in this? Who were your kindred spirits?
PAUL CAREY: No, not really, except Ed.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Ed Hagedorn.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. We would go to the gallery once in awhile, particularly the Society of Six. And then we drew together over a period of twenty years. But I generally – I was pretty much of a loner in occupation because I would make my living. Not only if they didn’t like it, but it stuck. That’s terrible. Something evil about it.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Really? I mean, it was that extreme in some cases?
PAUL CAREY: Well, yeah, oh, yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, see, that’s sort of hard to imagine.
PAUL CAREY: Well, that cooked up some sanity. I even heard them use that word, but they say nuts, you know. [Inaudible] particularly Picasso. It took them years to understand, then eventually they go all of a sudden, “There’s a nice Picasso.” But that took forty years before they say that.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, if the Society of Six – now days, the Society of Six is viewed as sort of the first group of modernists in the Bay Area. From what you say, that isn’t necessarily an accurate description.
PAUL CAREY: No, they’re not all the same. Maury was a conservative there, but he did paint in bright colors.
PAUL KARLSTROM: But is that enough to make for modernism, bright colors?
PAUL CAREY: No, I wouldn’t say it is modern at all. Whereas Clapp was the one who got them together. They were already together more or less, but he was their voice and he had contact with Kandinsky and got shows there. He had the little art gallery that San Francisco never had before they had any contemporary or even post impressionist stuff. He had it there, and he was a very liked guy. But Maury, on the other hand, was a conservative. But he didn’t care about this insanity in art or whatever it is. If they want some paintings for a show he’d send it over there. He couldn’t care less. But, nonetheless, [inaudible] but the . . .
[Blank area on tape]
PAUL KARLSTROM: So why don’t you tell me a little bit about him? About the nature of your relationship and things that you think would be interesting to know that maybe don’t appear in Nancy Buas’s book?
PAUL CAREY: There are some other things of more interest, I think here. But if you’d like to divert to Maury.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, we can save it, but it’s up to you.
PAUL CAREY: There’s some things, you know, I mentioned in this gallery stuff, that’s so important to me.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Okay. We’ll get to Maury later.
PAUL CAREY: First was prints and reproductions. And there they had these bit prints, which I used to see. And they had a print gallery where I saw my first show of photography. It was dignified as art. And that was still in the twenties. And the Depression wiped them out. And it was a great place. They had Raydown [phon. sp.] out there at one time. They had Mrs. Raydown shipping a lot of them over. And they showed them for awhile. But she wanted to sell a whole bunch for eleven hundred dollars, a hundred bucks a piece. They didn’t buy them. Then the next thing was – well, [inaudible] said some good things at one time. And some very good shows. And later there was a guy named Rabow, Alex Rabow. Do you remember him?
PAUL KARLSTROM: No, but there was Rose Rabow.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, right. But he was part of the Rabow – I mean, the Duveen family.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, I didn’t know that.
PAUL CAREY: Oh, yeah. And I used to drive up there at the noon hour and he used to tell us stories of Paris in those days, and even before his time. One story, one of the Duveens who was not married, his uncle. So he would come and have Christmas dinner with him every year. And so one time when Alex was twelve or thirteen then his uncle gave him a little painting, a little impressionist painting. He said, “During the year I sort of sold it to a dealer. I felt so damn guilty. I knew you weren’t supposed to sell anything that was a gift. And I worried about it all year.” And Christmas came and oh, he probably forgot about it. Nothing was said about it. Until we went in the other room and the guys were smoking their cigars and having coffee. And then suddenly his uncle moved over and tapped him on the shoulder, “Alex, where is that nice little impressionist painting I gave you last year?” And I said, “Uncle I sold it.” And the uncle said, “That’s the boy, Alex.” [laughs]
PAUL KARLSTROM: So he was showing his true colors?
PAUL CAREY: That’s a [inaudible] story. Yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Where was his gallery?
PAUL CAREY: It was on Sutter. About where Maxwell is. Down there.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Were most of the galleries more or less around that area?
PAUL CAREY: There were beginning to be. Previously they were scattered.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Where was Viccory Atkins and Torey?
PAUL CAREY: Well, they were on Post, I think.
PAUL KARLSTROM: But downtown?
PAUL CAREY: They were downtown, yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What were there, probably about only three or four galleries that were interesting at all?
PAUL CAREY: Well, at one time, yes. Viccory wasn’t even thought of as an art gallery, except for the print gallery, it’s a section of it. You know, that went back to the time when the – I wrote about that in the [inaudible] for the tall ceilings. When they needed a big painting, big paintings with big subjects and full-length portraits. And then I think it was in 1950 they got low ceilings. And there would be seven foot ceilings and they’d have wood paneling up half of that. There was no space. And so etchings were a big deal. They all collected etchings. Then they’d have reproductions of Caros [phon. sp.] Martin Sings [phon. sp.] and Maxfield Parrish, and then a few holy pictures. But not much art. There was no place for it. So it wasn’t until the contemporary art moved in. Now the guys liked Diebenkorn. He paints for the wall, haunted house. And they all gave various, given reasons that are given for the swing of the big paintings, but I think he was tired of them and there wasn’t space for any. And people had the houses and walls got vacant. All those big plain walls. So, well, that’s another area. But Rabow, he was a great guy to talk to. He had so much background. He worked for a dealer in Paris and he’d make discoveries and found a Courbet one time. They left it on mistake. And he got it for eighteen hundred francs or some ridiculous price. But his experiences were very exciting to hear. And with being in Punzel’s [phon. sp.] place and then Rabow’s, there was always some place where you’d see something. And then when the San Francisco Museum was getting started, when was that?
PAUL KARLSTROM: I forget actually.
PAUL CAREY: I think ’30. And the Legion of Honor had some very good exhibits there at one time. A Cézanne and some of Monet’s best. The Cathedrals and Gauguin. And another time a Picasso show. But that was after – see, Oakland had the Six and then they had Mills College with the expressionists shows, then finally the Regent came along. They had some very fine shows. I have a catalog somewhere if you’re interested in some of them.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Did these exhibitions then have an impact on the area? Do you think they really made a difference in terms of influencing artists or inspiring them?
PAUL CAREY: I don’t think so. We talked about the great 1913 in New York and some of those things.
PAUL KARLSTROM: The Armory Show?
PAUL CAREY: The Armory Show. Then the fair here influenced some of the guys. They go there more. I don’t know, they didn’t seem to go to the museums.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Did you go to the – you could have gone to the 1915 Panama-Pacific?
PAUL CAREY: [laughs] Well, yes, I could have.
PAUL KARLSTROM: You would have been what, only?
PAUL CAREY: I went once.
PAUL KARLSTROM: You did go?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, I remember it very well because I was a kid about this high. [inaudible] where all the sculpture was. I turned around my head and here was a guy’s testicles right in front of my face. Well, I was about shocked. I didn’t know anybody ran around like that. [laughs] That was my memory.
PAUL KARLSTROM: That’s all you remember from it?
PAUL CAREY: That just about wiped the rest of it out.
PAUL KARLSTROM: You don’t remember if you – presumably you went with your family? Maybe with your father or something like that? Is that probably the case?
PAUL CAREY: What?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, do you think it was a family outing? Probably your family?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. We just went up to see the fair.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Did you go into the section with the art, the big art pavilion?
PAUL CAREY: I have no idea. I don’t think so.
PAUL KARLSTROM: You don’t remember that?
PAUL CAREY: No. But Stanton gave me passes and told me where to go. After the fair they had shows in the Palace of Fine Arts. But they were mostly of, say, Joshua Reynolds. I had a catalog from that and I wrote about the red down next to the eyeball.
PAUL KARLSTROM: So you were paying some attention then at that point?
PAUL CAREY: Some. But they didn’t – the old man said, “This doesn’t excite me that much until you get to Rembrandt.” Rembrandt, I used to kind of like that.
PAUL KARLSTROM: But you don’t remember any of the modernists’ work?
PAUL CAREY: No, no. I didn’t know that existed. I don’t think. It’s hard to tell, you know. You’re born in an era and you probably relate to it to some extent even though you don’t know it. But you get a chance to be exposed to things. But I didn’t find the old masters terribly stimulating but they were okay. Well, the very beginning up until now pretty much I think.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Getting back to your career, now you continued for many years in the commercial illustration and this kind of work.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. The kids grew up. Until we got them out of the house.
PAUL KARLSTROM: So how would you characterize then the development of your career professionally? Perhaps a little bit later?
PAUL CAREY: Well, it was harder to keep the damn studio going. It was necessary to do things like Borris for example, there’s a couple of different Borris. I seemed to have been a little more creative than a lot of the old fossils sitting on the porch. So [inaudible]. From the art standpoint, it doesn’t really relate to it except the College of Arts and Crafts. Then Gurdon Woods was there. I was on his committee. Running next to David Park again. And what’s her name? The one with the very good colors? But at any rate, he had a different guy represented graphic design and somebody else’s painting school. So I used to [inaudible]. Some of them.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Did you say you actually taught at CCAC?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, I taught night school. Yes. I taught for about four years, I guess. And then I began to hear echoes of what I said last year, the same thing. So [inaudible]. Then I’d go back later and I taught for awhile. But I don’t know why they’d worry about that. It got to where they couldn’t hear a word I said anyway. My voice was too soft. But I always told them, “Don’t bother listening to me. If you want to draw instead, why go do it. It will do you a lot more good.”
PAUL KARLSTROM: When did you retire?
PAUL CAREY: I retired in about 1972 or three, around in there. And so all of a sudden to have this nervously exciting experience and all this time was mine. The most incredible sensation. You know, no clients. No customers. No committees. I resigned from everything. And I wouldn’t be on any committee. I quit being on the committee of the club. And the freedom of having all the time to yourself, it’s like you’re a man delighted. But even then it took a long time to get to clear out the past reaction because of the switch of the basis of pop art and [inaudible] of any popular art. It’s how quickly it can communicate. And for advertising it had to be instant communication. I have a little story that’s going to fascinate the pop art period. It becomes [inaudible], which it seldom is, I haven’t seen any very thoughtful pop art. It may have gone on the market and people love anything they can understand, and they hate anything they can’t understand, particularly painting. If they can’t understand the damn thing they say, “Geez, get that thing out of here. This is awful.” But then they see one that, “Yeah, well, gee, that looks like Aunt Mary’s place.” And so that was taking over. And it gets me. The whole market business bothers me. I had a dealer come in here. I thought he might be interested in showing. And he spent a long time and made notes. But he said there isn’t much chance because he’d done only abstract, two-dimensional. So I was depressed for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t paint or anything. It was a stupid exercise. Why have somebody come in if they’re not interested. I did have a woman come in through Nancy Boas. She saw a Caradis [phon. sp.], which is a reproduction, and she came in with her husband who was a retired anthropologist. So she was excited over everything and he sat out in the car until she’d get through. And finally it took too long and he came in. And pretty soon he began to get kind of interested. Then we went down to my storage area downstairs. That was right down his alley. He got quite excited over things. And finally he wanted to buy one.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Great. Did he?
PAUL CAREY: No, he didn’t’ want to pay any money for it.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well at least they were interested.
PAUL CAREY: But she was so excited over one. I gave it to her cheap.
[BEGIN TAPE 2, SIDE A] [session 2, tape 1; 30-minute tape sides]
PAUL KARLSTROM: Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. An interview with artist Paul Carey at the artist’s studio I Piedmont, California. December 28, 1993. This is the second session. And this is Tape 1. The interviewer is Paul Karlstrom. Well, Paul, we have been chatting now about how best to start out this second session. Last time, earlier this month, we really covered quite a bit of ground in terms of your own career and experience. And it seemed to me we agreed that it would be nice now to take a look at the – from your perspective – of the situation here in the Bay Area from as far back as you want to go, but specifically looking at some of the people that you came into contact with and some of the events that you thought were important that would characterize, shall we say, your experience of the creative arts, especially the visual arts, here. And we were talking earlier about some of your – you had some thoughts, I believe, about the circumstances, he situation back at the earlier period in terms of areas of activity.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. Well, for me it all began in Palo Alto as a young teenager in a town that was totally lacking in any interest in art. Very little in any of the arts. Stanford University was in its beginnings. And it was totally academic, the printed word was the total concern. Not the music. Not the art. And even the printed word was the word already printed. Not the word to be printed. As later they had students there who left because of the dryness of the place. Like Steinbeck studied there for awhile. But it was kind of brewing, there’s a turmoil going on. And the great man of contemporary American music, Henry Cowell was a youngster there. And he used to go over and see the same painter I studied with and spend evenings with.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Who was that again?
PAUL CAREY: Henry Cowell.
PAUL KARLSTROM: No, but the painter?
PAUL CAREY: The painter. John Stanton. John Stanton was the painter. But I hard Henry play the piano with his arms and elbows and play on the strings and saw on a banchi. About his grandfather who was a Varian. And the Varians later on were one of the geniuses that started Silicon Valley. And Hewlett Packard and the Varians were the first ones who were kicked out of class, in a sense, what they said, told them to get out and make these things by the head of it, it was Fred Terman. Fred Terman was the genius who started that school. His father was the genius who started the intelligence test. He was a psychologist. And so things were beginning to get quite exciting. But this was later. And the art never played much of a part of it. Other arts were a little more lively. However, San Francisco was in the beginnings of an art colony that has had no equal at any time before or since. There were about three or four buildings in a radius of about four blocks. There was a building Ed Hagedorn and I used to use to draw the model from. I think it cost about six dollars a month for a room. And you had a light over there so you could see what you were doing. It was for – not a home – a Last Resort for beach seamen. And there were two suicides during the time they were there. These people had no union, no pensions, no homes. There was no part that was where they came from. They died of intense loneliness. This was a miserable environment. Maybe that had something to do with what Ed did later; his work before he was strong and his expression. And then there was the artist building and Ann Mundstock brought the modern dance from Germany. And this was an exciting place. She had parties there with talented people in all the arts. I particularly remember a man named Zemach. You can read about it, I think you said in Shangalis’ [phon. sp.] biography. He was the head of the Moscow Art Theater, and he directed here a play called “The Zimack”. And one evening he entertained us with song and dancing. And it was the most intensive rhythm that I have ever heard. Unforgettable. Unforgettable rhythm.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Zeback?
PAUL CAREY: Zemach. Z-E-M-A-C-H. He as now in Israel. And helped develop the beginnings of the arts over there in Israel. Then in art itself it hadn’t quite acquired that vitality but it was beginning to steam. The excitement was there. And Stackpol was there. Had a stack with all the sculpture and was an important figure.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Ralph Stackpol?
PAUL CAREY: Ralph Stackpol. Yeah. Who later went to France and had a great career in France. He was considered very important over there.
PAUL KARLSTROM: This was in the thirties?
PAUL CAREY: Yes. I would say it was the early thirties. The Art School, here there were a lot of people, the sculpture classes. In painting it was the doldrums. And I had enrolled there. I knew nothing about contemporary painting or Miles’ relationship with John Stanton. I went to some exhibits of the old masters. But not much stir going on there for me. I saw a Cézanne reproduction. And this was for me the great revolution. My personal revolution. Nothing was ever the same. And Ed Hagedorn and Jack Atherton and I left art school and hired models and painted outdoors in Marin County. Ed never painted in the outdoors. He was strictly an indoor man. But Jack became very successful later in the East and had his things in the Metropolitan Museum and the Modern Museum and many others. And [inaudible] moved on. The magic realist. And I was still trying to make a living.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Could you perhaps spend a little time telling about Hagedorn? Because here’s an artist that isn’t real well-known, but an interesting, an unusual modernist, I would say. You knew him pretty well. Isn’t that right?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: You spent some years associated with him.
PAUL CAREY: Yes. Well, Ed and I were friends, we shared working from the model about twenty years.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What about him?
PAUL CAREY: And he had a rough background. His mother died in childbirth. His father disowned him when he was about nineteen or twenty years old. And part of the reason for his disowning him was the damn crazy drawings Ed was making. Rigid. Rigid. Egotistical father insisted that he have his will against Ed’s will. Well, Ed’s will won as far as he was concerned. And he failed to divert him in his direction. His direction was German Expressionism.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Now his father didn’t mind that he was an artist, but he didn’t like the kind of art he was doing?
PAUL CAREY: The kind of art, yeah. The crazy art. And that of course, the Germans and the German art that Ed was doing with a decadent caliber, hard kind of art. So his grandmother and an aunt took him in and lived with them at an apartment on Hyde Street, which is a dark, miserable place. I was there to dinner a couple of times. I think they had me to dinner to see what kind of company Ed was keeping. But at least he had a living. And then he got a room in the Montgomery Block and he got away from the – well, they tore the other building down. And it was high time. So for quite a few years we had models there and other artists would come in occasionally, like Jack Schnier. Jack had had two or three degrees at Stanford University. One in engineering, I believe, and one in psychology. I think there was another degree. He was a very erudite young feller.
PAUL KARLSTROM: He was interested in psycho-analysis, I think, early on, maybe at least as much as art.
PAUL CAREY: Yes. I never saw much of Sneer except during the sessions, while he was working. But he used Ed as his, the last degree, his PhD you might say. He copied everything Ed did. He watched him like a hawk. Ed would pick up a brush and Schnier would quickly find one like it and use the same paper. He’d look to see what kind of ink he as using. And he did quite well. He made some drawings very much like Ed’s and he had great success in an exhibition as a fine draftsman. And he became a prominent sculptor. He went on from one style to another and he was a good craftsman. He was head of the USC Art Department for a period of time. And I saw very little of him. But I always remember just seeing him one eye painting and the other one’s trying to follow him as closely as possible. I couldn’t quite accept it.
PAUL KARLSTROM: That’s very interesting, because Schnier’s attraction to Hagedorn as a model, because one wouldn’t think of that kind of enthusiasm looking at Schnier’s later work, which I really not much like that.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, particularly his last work which was a Lucite, transparent things. But he started out with wooden engraving and wood sculpture. And then to – who was an American classic? Mans- . . .?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Paul Manshift?
PAUL CAREY: Manshift, yeah. Influenced quite a bit by Manshift. And he went through different influences. But I must say, he’s a very competent guy. Whatever he did, he did very well. But the fact he wasn’t a great artist was not his fault. And Ed remained the great artist. You couldn’t steal it from him.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What about Hagedorn? Do you feel that in those early days – his father was disapproving of his direction, it seemed crazy – did Hagedorn see himself as a modernist? Did he have this self-conception that he was sort of pushing outside of the established, the traditional, the academic?
PAUL CAREY: No. [Quote from art school teacher: when Ed was making extreme free drawings Teacher: Picasso can o that but you can’t.]
PAUL KARLSTROM: Did you two talk about that at all?
PAUL CAREY: No, I don’t think so. No. That was his direction. And it was a natural direction for him. His father’s name is Hagedorn and the other side of the family was Kafka, which is guess is [inaudible], German perhaps. But he was very deeply introverted. His words seemed to come from way down, from his belly, and came out with difficulty. And he had an intense dislike of middle-aged women. But he lived his grandmother. [laughs]
PAUL KARLSTROM: Why was that?
PAUL CAREY: I think because of one of the two people, there was his grandmother and one aunt, and the aunt was like a father. She was on Ed’s back all the time, hassling him. You know, getting after him and this and that and the other thing. And Ed said, “She’s trying to kill me. It’ll take her time but I think she might succeed.” Then the extreme case was when the Blue Four’s exhibited at Oakland and Galka Scheyer brought them out; Klee, and Kandinsky, and Jawlensky, and Feininger. She came to Ed’s studio and bought a few paintings, and then wanted to represent him. She asked if she could represent him along with the Blue Four. Perhaps he’d be the fifth. And he threw her out and slammed the door on her.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Now why would he do that? Professionally that didn’t sound like a very good move.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. Well, one she was a middle-aged woman, I guess. But not quite that old. But I know other examples. Lundy Siegrist one day confided when we were out painting. Lundy was at the height of his early career, very internationally known, and exhibited in Europe and so on. And one of the galleries said, “Now, if you will turn all your work over to me I’ll show you throughout the country. I’ll build you up. You’re a good artist. You ought to be well-known.” He said, “I told him, ‘Well, if you’ll guarantee me $10,000 a year [inaudible].’” Well, $10,000 here at that time was well over $100,000. Lundy knew it. He knew it at the time. But why does a guy do those things? He never had the opportunity again. Nobody ever made that offer. Ed never got an offer like that again. [Ed’s grandmother gave Ed $10,000 which he put in the stock market – he made a great profit.]
PAUL KARLSTROM: How would you explain that?
PAUL CAREY: I think, and I feel it myself, that my work is my private work. It’s the greatest privacy, greatest piece of private property that I own is my own work. It’s part of me. And when Ed and with his extreme drive, I tell you, it’s dangerous property if anybody’s monkeying around in it. And I think he and Lundy, it was not quite as vital a personality and certainly not as disturbed. But I feel it’ about the only reason why. And there’s always some of that. Even I am not concerned with exhibiting. I like doing my own work and I like having it around. When I’m doing it over again I feel like it. But exhibiting is not a goal. And yet it’s accepted as the great goal. Until you’ve exhibited you’re nobody. And that’s the commercial side of it. The dealers are only interested in whether or not your work will sell. If it doesn’t sell they’re not interested in it.
PAUL KARLSTROM: And therefore it’s no good, right?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, that’s right. I think the only exception to that is Charlie Campbell. He is one of the people that I know with sales potential like Gordon Cook doing those things ad so on. And Charlie is okay. He’s a god, honest dealer. [John] Berggruen wouldn’t have the slightest, couldn’t understand why anybody would exhibit work that doesn’t sell. Well, at any rate, back to Hagedorn, he, the main thing in the early years, made great drawings. They were really terrific and – he was known locally and admired. Very few people were enemies with him. And the WPA gave him a chance to get into Society to get him to have some other friends. I’m about the only friend he had, I think, previous to that. And so he exhibited in those exhibitions, and particularly in prints. He got into etchings and other print forms and exhibited nationally with the Print Society or whatever it was called. And I understood he even had something in the Smithsonian at the time, maybe he exhibited there. But I don’t know. But for other people, other artists, the WPA, well, it’s the most unbelievable thing that I have ever heard of. They got seventy-five bucks a month and that was pretty good. They could live on it in a most modest sort of way. But it extended careers from art school into several years of further development, further maturity. Before that the artists of my time, they later got into commercial art. There were no teaching jobs. And that was it. So their fine arts side, their expressive art side declined until gradually most of them didn’t believe in it anymore. No interest in all that painting going on. I must have claimed to be the one exception. I spent all my noon hours finding stuff that was worth looking at. And there were some good galleries by the time . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: This again, we’re talking thirties or later?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, well, let’s see. I moved to Sausalito at the end of the twenties. No, about ’30, I guess, ’31.
PAUL KARLSTROM: So there were a few good galleries that you found interesting?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. Putzel. Did you ever know Putzel’s gallery?
PAUL KARLSTROM: I’ve heard of it, yeah.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. He had – it was in John Elders on the third floor. And he later on, he was the guy who put Rothko on the map in New York. He brought in to – what’s her name? Guggenheim.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Yeah, Peggy Guggenheim.
PAUL CAREY: And then she took it on and it went on from there. And so with that gallery he had I saw the first Dali [phon. sp.] I ever saw. That was about 1935.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What do you think of that? What did you think of this first Dali?
PAUL CAREY: First Dali? Oh, I thought it was quite remarkable. Astonishing in every respect, both in imagination and rendering. There was nothing comparable that I’d ever seen. There was nothing comparable to Dali. And I think he’s still overrated, in spite of all the junk he did in later years. But at that time . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: You mean you think he’s underrated?
PAUL CAREY: Underrated. Yeah. At that time – well, he lived that weird, his philosophy, the strangeness of it. I was told by one guy, he lived down in Carmel, I think, for a little while. And took him down on the train and he said he had to hold him back all the time to keep him from jumping out the window. And Atherton exhibited with him in New York, said he’d come to New York and get a hotel room and he’d turn all the lights, except one light bulb in the middle of the room, and then he’d paint these meticulous, realistic things. And he was no doubt an extraordinary genius. You’re talking about genius. There you have it. But he had the showmanship at the same time, which got the best of him. And what he was doing was not only a way out but it was irrational and laborious and out of his control.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Was that appealing on the basis of your experience or observation? Was that aspect appealing to a number of artists in the Bay Area? The irrational? The Dali examples?
PAUL CAREY: I don’t know of any young – well, to tell the truth, I didn’t know a lot of people. I was a loner. And, see, all the commercial artists I associated with had no interest in this. This is a solo noon hours and all of this in all my spare time. And then I kept painting all during that time in my own way, the best I could. So how much was shared I don’t know.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, what about Hagedorn? Did –
PAUL CAREY: Ed never went around the galleries very much.
PAUL KARLSTROM: He didn’t’?
PAUL CAREY: And the – where he go that broad understanding of all the Germans I don’t know, because they weren’t very much reproduced. Nobody was interested in that, Galka Scheyer couldn’t even get I the galleries to show any place in the country. And that was the tamer side of German Expressionism. But Ed got magazines and he’d scour around where he could see these things. So all the people, well, it was true. There were some at Mills College. What’s that’s fellah’s name at Mills College?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Niemeyer?
PAUL CAREY: Niemeyer. He brought our shows of Schmidt-Rottluf, Beckstein.
PAUL CAREY: Beckman.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, names are not my –
PAUL KARLSTROM: Yeah, Max Beckman.
PAUL CAREY: Beckman, yeah. Well, he taught there. And then the Blue Four, of course, was exhibiting. Galka Scheyer showed them at the Oakland Art Gallery. The Oakland Art Gallery was the only place, the gallery, the museum where you’d see anything. The Legion of Honor and the DeYoung and The Modern Museum hadn’t started yet. And there was nothing in Oakland except the Oakland Art Gallery. And one of the Society of Six ran the gallery and – what was his name?
PAUL KARLSTROM: That was Clapp.
PAUL CAREY: With the long cigarette holder. Yeah, Clapp. Clapp studied in Europe and so he got exhibitions there from the Crocker, I mean, the Chrysler Collection. Now you’ve got [inaudible]. And I remember a Braque there. I’ve never forgotten it. It was red, solid red. Red paint with marble dust in it. You would never see those things any other place in the Bay Area. Then he corresponded with Kandinsky for awhile. So he helped open up the bias of the Society of Six, the group that he painted with and so on. And one of them was quite remarkable and who stopped painting entirely and disappeared. Never heard from again. That was Van Eckman. A very good friend of Lou Siegrist. Lou Siegrist, once in awhile he’d be in a gallery and say, “You know, there’s a guy in here asking about you, if you were around.” He’d say, “What does he look like? Did he have bright red hair?” “Yeah.” “Goddamn. That’s Van Eckman.” He would never contact him or anybody.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Really?
PAUL CAREY: [inaudible]. Yeah. Then when he lived in Carmel, he was a very talented fellah. He was born in France, I think. But he didn’t have a lot of drive. He’d paint and then not do anything. He didn’t seem to have conviction. Well, of course, there were no sales. Nobody ever sold anything. So if you’re interested in making a few dollars, that’s not the way to do it. But he did some very good work. And Nancy Boas put on a show of his at St. Mary’s not long ago. And they still look pretty good. But he was not of the contemporary, the modern school of composition like Van Eckman was. And the others, Logan was purely from a previous period. He used bright color but he was not modern in any other sense.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Okay. Excuse me. Let’s turn the tape over.
BEGIN TAPE 1, SIDE B] [session 2, tape 1]
PAUL KARLSTROM: This is continuing the interview with Paul Carey on December 28. This is Tape 1, side B. Paul, you were talking about some of the artists that you had contact with. And we left off talking about some of the memories of the Society of Six. You were talking about Oakland and the Oakland Gallery and so forth.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, well, they had no success at all. Locally, the San Francisco Art Association was quite active, dominated the area. They didn’t seem to be interested in Giles who was the most talented of the group. They exhibited in Oakland. In fact, Oakland was perhaps the only live place in the area for a long time, until the San Francisco Museum opened. Legion of Honor, or course, had some print shows. I don’t know what date that would be. I don’t know if I still have the catalogs. But they had one show with three Cézannes, and four or five Gauguins, and a couple of Monet cathedrals. You know, very exciting shows. And it was quite shortly after they were sort of begun. And they had a, you know, the show I remember very well too is the actor who was a gangster.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Robinson?
PAUL CAREY: Robinson, yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Edward G. Robinson.
PAUL CAREY: His collection was great. It was the greatest Roualt I ever saw.
PAUL KARLSTROM: This is probably though Post War?
PAUL CAREY: Post World, I don’t know.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Late forties, fifties?
PAUL CAREY: Forties. I don’t know. The only way I can date things is like when I lived in Sausalito and went to Berkeley. And Berkeley, I can remember that because it was 1939, it was the rainiest year in history. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights.
PAUL KARLSTROM: It’s pretty biblical.
PAUL CAREY: The house across the street from me collapsed. At any rate, when we moved to Berkeley it was again widening my horizons a little bit. I used to see the faculty group. Haley and Lorah. But particularly Margaret Peterson. But my friends were mostly writers. And Harvey Ferguson who was a novelist o the Southwest. And also he wrote with Faulkner and other guys. And very competent guy. He could write a good letter. Menkin [phon. sp.] was a great admirer of his work. And then Howard O’Hagen, Margaret Peterson’s husband, who drank too much, he never accomplished much. But after they moved from Lipery [phon. sp.], the island that they lived on outside of Italy, they came back to Canada. He was awarded a PhD at the university in Canada.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, McGill?
PAUL CAREY: McGill, I guess. And then one of his books is used in the schools for his style, literary style. It’s part of the curriculum. He was a bum most of the time. He thought drinking was a romantic experience.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Real Bohemian?
PAUL CAREY: But we had a terrific group. Harvey, and then Lincoln Fitzell, the poet.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Who’s that?
PAUL CAREY: Lincoln Fitzell, the poet. And not as well-known as the others, Ray Strong who was around at that time, he and his wife, they were not well. Ed illustrated the book that Rex wrote, poems, I guess.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Hagedorn did?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. But Lincoln was more a poet in person than his writing. Magnificent individual.
PAUL KARLSTROM: You mentioned Margaret Peterson, in fact you mentioned her pretty regularly?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. I got acquainted with Margaret when Howard was in Canada, as he was frequently. So I used to take Margaret out occasionally. We’d go down to Sweets Ballroom and get some of the excitement with jazz going on there. Totally black area. And all dancing with all the groups sitting around or standing around the stage listening to the big bands in those days. And, well, we got to be good friends, and to know Howard. And he had lunch with me and him and Lincoln Fitzell one day. Lincoln was kidding him about his necktie. I said to Howard, “That necktie of yours, that’s a flag no nation will ever fly.” And Lincoln reached over, “I think I’ve found a friend.” We were good friends forever.
So the art end of it was still going on. And there were more and more exhibitions to see. And Raybow was there then. And he had stories. One story in particular. He was part of the Duveen family. And one of the Duveen had Christmas dinner with them every year. One year they gave him a little Christmas painting. He was only about twelve years old then and he knew that you shouldn’t sell gifts. But he sold this one. So when the next Christmas came along he was scared to death of what the uncle would say. And nothing was said until finally they were just about to break up when the uncle came over and said, “Alex, how is that nice little impressionist painting I gave you last year?” Alex said, “Uncle, I sold it.” The uncle patted him on the back. “That’s the boy, Alex. That’s the boy.”
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, what about Margaret? Because there’s something about her that you obviously admired or still admire?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. She studied there at UC and Vaclav Vital was the best teacher to her. But the [?] School is coming in through the first ones that went over there. And then Wessels and so on, continued. She was not affected by that so much. Picasso is her hero. But later on, primitive art, and particularly the Northwest, she went up to Canada with Howard and they lived in Kowdchan Bay [phon. sp.], an area of very few villages, Indians in their canoes wandering around there. And became very much attracted to it. And their influence then became the pre-Columbian art.
PAUL KARLSTROM: That was after she left Berkeley?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, after she left. I’m jumping quite a ways because the point in her career after it was when Martin dies and McCarthy came along and they had an oath that everybody had to sign. She refused to sign it, which implied that she must be a Communist. Which she must have been, I guess. But not strictly, not a party member. The idea of Communism. She considered the greatest Communism was the way the Indians lived. Those in the psychology department resigned as a body. But they took them to court to get their jobs back. But see, she was through. But I asked her one day, “Aren’t you really kind of tired of teaching?” She said, “That’s right.” She was always able to raise money from wealthy people like Charlotte Mack and a few others, until she would insult them later on for having so much money. And so she went to Egypt and she and Howard then finally wound up on a little island, the Olean Islands off of Sicily, Lipery. And there was another island, I think it was less expensive than the one. But they lived there in the most primitive circumstances. No running water. They’d have to get buckets of water.
PAUL KARLSTROM: And when was this?
PAUL CAREY: That was – we went to Sicily in that time period. We visited them. I don’t know. Yeah, we were going to go see them. There was a boat that went to the main island once a day. Then you’d have to get another boat to the other island, which was once a day or a week, then to come back, if ever.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Was she painting over there?
PAUL CAREY: She always painted panels, hers, heavy. The dealers didn’t like them very much.
PAUL KARLSTROM: You mean thick impasto? Is that what you mean? She would build up paint?
PAUL CAREY: No. She worked later mostly on tempera. But, you know, a lot of panels. They don’t need to be that thick. And then you didn’t even have metal frames. So exhibiting was, it was hard to find people that were interested in doing it. Then later she moved to Canada, and we visited them out there. Spent three weeks there. And Steven Pepper was also there. He was head of the art department.
PAUL KARLSTROM: At Berkeley?
PAUL CAREY: At Berkeley, yeah. And they lived there. In the middle of winter there would be leaks with snow all around it. It was a romantic idea, I guess. But she painted a great deal there. I used to see her working at it. She used hot colors. She had one painting there that had a terrific passage of ultra-marine blue in it. I thought goddammit, I hope she leaves that. She painted it out.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Were her subjects Native American subjects? Sort of tribal things?
PAUL CAREY: No. Early, like in that one catalog I have there, it was a certain look, quality about it of . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, yeah. This one.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, this [inaudible] exhibition.
PAUL KARLSTROM: And so this is a catalog of an exhibition.
PAUL CAREY: This was in Canada.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Margaret Peterson.
PAUL CAREY: Not to long ago. In 1978.
PAUL KARLSTROM: That cover could be construed as some Northwest coast entry.
PAUL CAREY: That’s right. This is taken off of the – well, you know, all the influences we have over the art around here, most of them are French. Mine is French. Cézanne and all that period. And Diebenkorns, purely right out of Cézanne, Matisse. And Ed was German and so on. Her influence, it’s different at least. She didn’t follow the pattern. And these things are pretty powerful paintings.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Yeah, you see a Picasso interest, that’s for sure.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, a lot of Picasso went along with her all the way. She also had the conviction. The only people I knew who had that much conviction were, one was David Park who got some from Margaret. And Ed Hagedorn who had only one possible way to go. But locally, it’s totally forgotten, except for a few surviving ex-students.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Yeah, I was just going to say that for one, Jay DeFeo cited her as a very important influence, perhaps the most important at her time in Berkeley.
PAUL CAREY: For the students, yeah. And Bishal also, he gave her credit for being important in what he was studying at Cal. And the rest of the department couldn’t stand her.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, why is that? Why don’t you characterize this? UC Art Department?
PAUL CAREY: That’s kind of hard to do because Ed, I can describe him and right away know he’s an introvert, the most total introvert you ever saw. Margaret was not. She was totally dedicated to her art. And to Picasso. And to Ravena with mosaics. And then to the art of the Northwest. And she never pulled her punches. She wasn’t afraid to insult somebody. And insulted most of the department. When she left and came back for awhile Gurdon Woods said he offered her a job.
PAUL KARLSTROM: At The Art Institute?
PAUL CAREY: He said why don’t you have the school take her back. He said, “Oh, hell no. She’d wreck this place.” She almost wrecked it anyway. Well, what they call wrecking it made it vital. You know, they’re nice enough guys. Well, Haley, and who’s the other guy?
PAUL KARLSTROM: John Haley? Earl Warren?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, Earl, yeah. He was always ambitious. The kind of art politics area. Haley was not. But he got soaked up in too much teaching. So there was no vitality there. Margaret was the only one with vitality. She had plenty.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Would you describe then the university department as somewhat academic, contemporary?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. Modern, they managed to make the most vital new movements academic immediately. And this was an achievement, I guess, in a way. But not Margaret. She did what she wanted.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Do you think that maybe with them, the established, the institutional framework like a university art department, this is almost inevitable?
PAUL CAREY: I guess. But you see, Loran and I, a friend from Minneapolis, said – Oh, yeah, his name was Olsen. He changed it to Loran. Well, there again, you think, what the hell did he do that for?
PAUL KARLSTROM: What was his name?
PAUL CAREY: A friend of mine, what did I say? A Swedish name.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Olsen?
PAUL CAREY: Olsen, yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Why did he change it to . . .?
PAUL CAREY: It was part of his ambition, I mean, that was a better name for art. And a friend of mine, I used to see him a lot, said that he claimed no artist should ever marry and they shouldn’t have children. If you have any children it will impair your future. As he said, if he ever had one, if his wife ever had one she had a Cézannian operation.
PAUL KARLSTROM: I don’t know if Earl has any children.
PAUL CAREY: No, he doesn’t, no, no.
PAUL KARLSTROM: But he certainly likes to have wives. You know, I don’t know. And that’s a terrible thing to say. Because I know Earl and . . .
PAUL CAREY: And I’ve talked to him on the phone not too long ago.
PAUL KARLSTROM: If he did, it was recently. Because I think that he’s still . . .
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. He was not well, I know. But we talked about getting together but we never did it.
PAUL KARLSTROM: I’ll check into that and let you know.
PAUL CAREY: And Haley, I think, is still living or did he die?
PAUL KARLSTROM: No. John died. He did.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. He looked like a healthy fellow. Well, at any rate . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: So Margaret was really the lively one?
PAUL CAREY: Oh, yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: And that must have been what – I wonder if Sam Francis studied with her as well. I think – he was at Berkeley at that time.
PAUL CAREY: I think so. I think – yes, he moved, of course, he started – David Park got him out of the hospital, you know, to go to the Institute. But I think then he went over and studied over there. And it looks like it might have – that his work could be influenced by Margaret’s point of view more than anybody else there.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, did you know – you mentioned Nelson, interesting people as we pass along here. David Park. And now we’ve brought up the name Sam Francis. Did you know David?
PAUL CAREY: Well, I’ve run into him quite a bit. Like Charlotte Mack used to have luncheons. And she had the Parks one time when we were there too. And the guy from Mills College. And all these very interesting people. And a couple of times David and his wife were there. And then later I was on the committee and Gurdon Woods was there, a school committee. And there’s Park and the woman painter of that period who still had a show not long ago. It was awfully damn good in the old days. Sinton.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, Nell Sinton.
PAUL CAREY: Nell Sinton. Yeah. She was – in this show there were three or four early ones and damn they were good. Of course, now they’re not, there’s no intensity there. Where was I?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, you were talking about David and your contact with him.
PAUL CAREY: Well, yeah. We used to go back and forth to the meetings over there. And he’d drive or I’d drive. And then in the meeting I would dross swords with him once in awhile. He was immovable in his ideas.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Like what? What were his ideas?
PAUL CAREY: Well, one thing, design and advertising art came up. And he said, “Oh, well, of course all those people eventually have no character.”
PAUL KARLSTROM: No character?
PAUL CAREY: I said, “Well, David, you’re speaking of some good friends of mine. I’d like to introduce them some time. They’re really great people. They’re serious about what they do. They don’t want to do what you do. They think you do it and you’re terrific. And that’s not their world. And this world of design and the opportunities, it seems to suit their talent.”
PAUL KARLSTROM: So do you think that, in a sense, he was narrow-minded? Dogmatic? If it wasn’t his way it wasn’t art?
PAUL CAREY: Well, I don’t think he would impose his way on other people teaching. It’s just personal conviction. And he got off to a terribly late start. He worked, as I understood it, he worked in a factory, an electric factory or something at night. And then taught at the school in the day time and tried to find some time for painting. At that period his work was Picassos and I always thought it was very much influenced by Margaret Peterson. And Nancy Boys is very much interested in this comment because she thinks maybe he was. And I remember early paintings of his in the exhibitions. And they were weak. They were weak paintings. The main characteristic later. But he got that conviction finally, powerful really. And they are great paintings. And it’s a shame that he didn’t have more years where he could have been productive. Because it’s my firm conviction that no painter can ever get anywhere, fully develop his talent without full time, all his days being all his own, his full time. And I don’t think you can name a painter who that wasn’t true. They all had money from some source. And the ones here, well, take Diebenkorn, he never had to make a living. His family was well to do. And other guys have died out of the picture who didn’t. Sometimes the sacrifice was too great to try to do it. At any rate, David is an example of a guy having the sustaining power to manage to keep it alive until he got the time to do it. And he did. And he couldn’t have done it without that amount of conviction. Margaret, when she didn’t have the university, if she taught two more years she would have had a pension. But that didn’t have anything to do with it. So she got money from other people. And they’d have shows where she’d come back to town, and paintings, I had a couple there I bought for twenty dollars and so on. She lived with no fear, without starving to death or anything. The rest of us, gee, you know. Well, if you’re raising a family it’s another matter.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What about Sam Francis? You mentioned earlier . . .
PAUL CAREY: I didn’t know much. I only met him once or twice.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Because I think you mentioned, I don’t know if it was recently, but that you had some conversation with him.
PAUL CAREY: Well, yeah. Down at – he used to show at Smith Anderson. And I had a show down there a couple of years ago.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Did you?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: With Paula Kirkabe?
PAUL CAREY: Against her wishes, because what I did was not her . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, really? How did that come about?
PAUL CAREY: Well, she is strictly, deals in more abstract. And . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: That’s Paula Kirkabe?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. And also looser kind of suggestive – it’s hard to describe that area. But she had an assistant there who set up a show for me. It was in the little back house there in the rear.
PAUL KARLSTROM: On Emerson Street?
PAUL CAREY: Is it Emerson?
PAUL KARLSTROM: I think so.
PAUL CAREY: I guess so, yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: In Palo Alto?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. At any rate, she didn’t promote it at all. She didn’t want people to know that she was promoting the show, that kind of work.
PAUL KARLSTROM: But you met Sam Francis then simply in connection with the gallery?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, and what I heard about him. And I know that Dave was the guy who spotted him after the War, and perhaps during the War. And the artists used to go out and draw pictures of the guys who were wounded. I used to go out and make drawings too. And this is what Park was doing and he saw these drawings of this Frances thing. Gee, this guy’s pretty good.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Where were these drawings?
PAUL CAREY: Drawings that he was doing at, what’s the name of that Army hospital in San Francisco at the Presidio?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, Letterman?
PAUL CAREY: Letterman. That’s where he was, yeah. And so he was trying to draw. And I’ve forgotten what his ailment was.
PAUL KARLSTROM: I forget too. But he was pretty serious, I think. It was quite a long time, I believe, that he was laid up.
PAUL CAREY: But he looks like a husky bird. Stocky.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, not anymore, unfortunately.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, I guess not.
PAUL KARLSTROM: He’s got cancer.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. I keep saying, “What the hell’s the matter with all these guys? They don’t hold up.”
PAUL KARLSTROM: Yeah. What’s your secret? Are you going to tell us your secret in this tape?
PAUL CAREY: [laughs] As you see, I have no secrets. And also I feel I can say anything about the dead. The living guys I speak [inaudible] about.
PAUL KARLSTROM: That’s why you always want to know if they’re still alive. This tape is getting close to finishing. Let’s put a new one in.
[BEGIN TAPE 2, SIDE A] [session 2, tape 2]
PAUL KARLSTROM: Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. This is continuing session 2 of an interview with Paul Carey. This is Tape 2 on December 28, 1993. Paul, we’ve been doing what I think is a very interesting kind of grand tour of some of the individuals that you’ve known over the years that are involved in the Bay Area art scene. Some of them pretty well-known. Others somewhat forgotten and less well-known. I was wondering if there were any other individuals that you wanted to mention in this context at this time, that you feel were important in one way or another to this area, but that maybe have been somewhat forgotten, or their place not perhaps as acknowledged as it might be. Matt Barnes is a name that you brought up earlier.
PAUL CAREY: Well, in looking over that period there are a lot of artists at that time whose names I don’t even recall. And some of them were pretty good. They exhibited regularly. For some reason Matt Barnes comes back to me. And he was one of the few friends of Hagedorn’s.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, is that right?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. I can picture him and usually they’d be talking in front of the Monkey Block in the street. Ed with his hat on and an overcoat, long nose. And Matt with his clothes that would be maybe on Montgomery Street, except they were covered with white dust and they were all ancient. And he is missing two or three teeth right in front.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Really?
PAUL CAREY: He was an ex-plaster. A very nice guy. A real Scotsman. I always used to enjoy seeing him. He did night scenes in almost primitive style, San Francisco night scenes, that had a lot of interest at the time and popularity.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, is that right?
PAUL CAREY: Neil Sampson bought one. Yeah. And he sold them occasionally. But he has totally disappeared. Dropped out of all existence.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, it’s amazing because he seems to me one of the real intriguing individualists.
PAUL CAREY: Did you hear of him at all?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Yeah.
PAUL CAREY: You have?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Hm-hmm.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. That’s all I knew about him. I’d just see him and he and Ed would be talking.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Did he have shows in town? Did you ever see his work exhibited?
PAUL CAREY: Yes, he did. But I don’t remember where. I’m sure he exhibited at the Art Association shows. We all did at those shows. And that was about the only place to show. There were no galleries anyway. The only places to show were in places like the Art Association or the museums. But the museums never showed local art. So during the WPA somehow there got to be places that showed. [Inaudible] I think he did. But Matt was an original. I can say that for him. I don’t know if he ever studied. I don’t think he’s ever studied anywhere. And he was just a very warm, genuine personality. Not an art personality of any sense. I don’t know if he knew much about art except that he made these paintings.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What did you think of the paintings? You saw some at the time.
PAUL CAREY: I thought they were pretty good. There was a friend of mine named Sampson, Neil Sampson who was on the WPA. He bought one and he thought very highly of Matt. He thought he was a terrific artist. Have you ever seen any of his work?
PAUL KARLSTROM: I don’t believe so. Neil Sampson?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, Neil Sampson died very early. And he was a victim of the Depression.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Oh, you mean, was he a suicide?
PAUL CAREY: Well, he was on the WPA doing etchings and he came from Wyoming. He used to do cowboys and Indians. And he used to hang around the old Black Cat. So he had a girlfriend and she got pregnant. And being a dutiful sort of a guy he thought, well, the picture is changing. I’ve got to make a living. So the fair had started about that time. When was that? About 19 – the great fair?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Golden Gate International?
PC Golden Gate International.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, ’39.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. He had training from the, studied at the Chicago Art Institute. So he made a poster. Somehow he could talk his way into things quite well. And it was a very good job. So he used that everywhere to sell and pick up more things. And pretty soon he was developed and had a studio of his and was hiring employees. He worked night and day. Had the insecurity of some of those people who got caught during the Depression and had responsibilities. And it just worried himself sick, trying to make a dollar. And I know one guy who had three heart attacks, one after the other. As soon as he had one, then he’d go back to the same habits. Working until 12:00 at night, and then take the train home, and then get there in the morning. The Depression had a lot of casualties.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, how did Sampson . . . ?
PAUL CAREY: Sampson, he used to get thinking about a job he had in there that wasn’t right and he’d get up at 2:00 in the morning and have a shot of whiskey and work until it was time to go to work. So he was always waiting. He wanted to get back to his painting. But he said he couldn’t do it until he had enough time. I told him, “If you haven’t got enough time now you ain’t got enough time then.” So he died without ever reaching that point. Of course, it’s true. You have to keep what you’ve got alive the best you can. And, of course, as you know, a lot of it drifts away. So when you do get the time it’s not what you might have done if you had it long ago. Who cares?
About the one I can think of – I can see certain guys, but I can’t remember their names. But he used to be in all those shows. But the Bohemian Club, none of them belonged to the Bohemian Club. In the first place, there was zero they could pay them. If it was two dollars they wouldn’t be able to. And so Maury Logan was the backbone of the artists of the Bohemian Club. He was a member, I think, in 1917. And his father, I think, through a painter, a woman painter, we lived in Carmel, it was a very good impressionist painter, so they knew Logan. And so they were friends of Jackson . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: Fortune? Charlotte Fortune?
PAUL CAREY: Fortune, yeah. Their father knew Logan’s father. And so he brought his pals over one time. And Beavis was one of them. And Sterling [inaudible]. And so he used to hang around Logan’s place and Maury would hear him chattering around there, breaking and talking. And decided that he wanted to be in the arts somehow or another. Well, his education ended at probably the third grade, maybe he made the fourth.
PAUL KARLSTROM: I didn’t know that.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. Well, he was always very sensitive about that. Then he went to art school and he studied for seven years, one art school and another. And mostly Hopkins Institute. And studied with Stanton, and that’s where one of the most famous quotes from Stanton was “when in doubt use purple”. That’s a classic [inaudible].
PAUL KARLSTROM: Stanton, of course, was another member of the Bohemian Club.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: And what I would like to do now, you yourself for a long, long time was a member of the Bohemian Club, which is a gentleman’s club in San Francisco that dates back to the late Nineteenth Century, and over the years has had some of the leading people in art, in the arts and in literature as members. And, of course, quite naturally, it’s changed over the years. But I think you more perhaps than anybody else around, certainly as an artist yourself, have been in a position to watch and sort of observe the changes in this club, which undeniably is one of the most important institutions in California in terms of art and culture. And some of the artists were members. But I think it would be very interesting now just to talk about the club as what it – and in terms of its role as a cultural institution.
PAUL CAREY: Its role has changed, of course. It still has the role. But when it began in 1870 art was a big deal. The artists were celebrities. And there was no radio and no television. And so you had a different role in it than it ever has had again since. So the big names of the time, and there were some Jules Tavernier who came over from France. And he was a very competent painter. He came out to cover the Indian Wars, and then he settled into the Bohemian Club and painted just for the club. And the other one who was an extraordinary painter was Carlson, [inaudible] Carlson who came to teach at the – at that time, I’ve forgotten whether it had a different name. It later became the (Hopkin’s) Institute. But anyway, came out just to – but he made his living teaching. Then there was Hill and, boy, I don’t know. The most successful of them all?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Lauritz?
PAUL CAREY: No, not Lauritz.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Of course, he was a member also.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, he was a member too. I’ll think of it after awhile. They were the most important painters of the day. And most of them had studied in France. But nothing much rubbed off on them. They came back and did what was popular. They were pop artists, really, all of them. Hill, he made more Yosemite paintings than any man in history. The man’s [inaudible].
PAUL KARLSTROM: Keith, was that . . .?
PAUL CAREY: Keith, yeah. Keith was very successful and made hundreds of paintings. And was reputed to have an income of $60,000 a year out of painting, which was an awful lot of money in those days. My son, Pete, picked up an old catalog with an exhibition of his with the prices on them from a bookstore in Berkeley.
And another painter who was very good and you don’t hear much about, he got into doing night scenes, which was unfortunate, was – his son was a famous Broadway actor. He came out here in Shakespeare. He was my brother-in-law’s sponsor one time. The only reason he sponsored him was he entertained him. My brother-in-law found out later, because he looked like Napoleon.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Peters?
PAUL CAREY: Peters, yeah.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Charles Rollo Peters.
PAUL CAREY: Peters was a very good painter. Oakland has one. Very good composition one of the other guys could touch. At any rate, in that period there was a market for art. There was a lot of money and big mansions and they had big walls. And there was never big walls again until the modern architecture came along. So there was no art market. After the turn of the century and after the great earthquake and so on, the houses had low ceilings and [inaudible] that go. You have a little space here. So etchings were the big deal. And as far as paintings go, Martinez is a good painter. He taught and he seemed to have made enough money to have a house in my neighborhood. His daughter is still there, I think.
PAUL KARLSTROM: You met him, didn’t you? You met Martinez, didn’t you?
PAUL CAREY: I met Martinez. That’s when he gave me a drawing, yeah. He was a Taraskin Indian. But well-educated and he studied in Paris. And you know the guy who impressed him most was Raul. And partly because of his Catholicism and so he would become a Catholic and then he’d swing you over and become an anti-Catholic. His daughter became a nun and then she quit. And so on. But this church had a certain hold on him. But at any rate, he thought that Raul was the greatest painter of them all. And, of course, he’s not far wrong. You don’t see him very often.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, now, Martinez strikes me as an authentic Bohemian. And is this right? I mean, did he fit the role, the image?
PAUL CAREY: I don’t know, say as far as [inaudible] life and so on. The only thing I heard about him was when he’d get drunk he’d have a revolver and he’d shoot it off in the air.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Not in your neighborhood, I hope.
PAUL CAREY: I don’t know. I don’t see any holes in the walls of my house. Stanton, of course, had a family in Palo Alto and he’d get down there and just [inaudible]. In the early annals there’s a story of him and some of the gang. But they arrived in Oakland instead of going down to Palo Alto, without knowing it.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Now why, I wonder, was that?
PAUL CAREY: He had a family with the wildest bunch you ever saw. The kids were the delinquents of the town. They’d kick holes in his painting. An interesting man. But next door to him was Mr. Phimister Proctor, the sculptor, who was not a great sculptor, but he was very successful and did pioneers and all those kinds of things. And was quite a character. He belonged to the Bohemian Club and survived [inaudible]. And there was a transition period where there wasn’t any art market. There were a few of those fellows still making out one way or another. There was Gus Lilliastrum who used to do things for the Pantages Theater, decorations, wall decorations.
PAUL KARLSTROM: What was his name?
PAUL CAREY: Lilliastrum. Yeah, he was a Swede who never lost his accent. And he painted the Southwest too, but not a great painter.
PAUL KARLSTROM: When did you become a member of the club?
PAUL CAREY: Well, I became a member in 1945 or six.
PAUL KARLSTROM: But as a youngster you knew some of these older members?
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. When I was a kid Stanton used to give me tickets to the exhibitions here. Particularly when I was going to art school. My friends and I would go in to laugh ourselves, sick over all this old crap. [laughs]
PAUL KARLSTROM: Not much modernism there.
PAUL CAREY: No. This is not our style.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, you’ve described the situation, I think this is important to our purpose here, certainly in the beginning, and well into the Twentieth Century, virtually all the most prominent artists, and many of the literary types, were members of this club. And presumably there was a reason for it. One of which you’ve suggested, had to do with the market, with the opportunity to meet, I presume, to interact with patrons. But something changed it seems to me.
PAUL CAREY: Well, yeah. It changed. And art changed because the art of the Nineteenth Century that they did in San Francisco was art for sale, really. There was nothing profound going on. And people could understand it. Anybody could understand it. With modern art, the understanding diminishes very rapidly. And for some reason art even produces anger. People get mad at art. Who’s doing that terrible stuff? So the artists then continued on and once they -- like Maury, being a member of the Bohemian Club was the greatest thing in the world because it was background and so on. And this now, that doesn’t exist, that kind of a prestige. And the professional side of it, which in art the professional or the amateurs . . . And some of them are getting pretty good, quite interesting work. But the club as a whole has stretched from professionalism to amateur. And the great thing about the club today is the amateur talent. And there’s a place for – well, there have been judges and lawyers and doctors and so on who the lawyers seem to have a stage background. In college they acted and maybe even did a little bit afterward. And the doctors were musicians, and a lot of them were damn good musicians. And my brother, who’s a member of it fifty years, I guess, he played the violin and the viola. He had a little group of – one was a surgeon and one was an architect. One was a violinist and there was another one who played the flute who was an architect. And another one named Bill Barnes who’s a big guy who’s got a Master’s degree in music at Stanford, but became a Private Eye. So this is like all the strollers. Well, they’re all good. They played swing and made their own harmony and would go camp to camp.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Now there are the camps, when you mentioned camps, you mean the camps up at the Bohemian Grove?
PAUL CAREY: Absolutely, yeah. The River Rouge was kind of the core area on either side of it. And then up in the hills individual camps where the members would stay there’s one for the orchestra for a hundred people. For the band there’s a hundred people and so on. And they all have their own places to sleep. The ones with the money have a little more fancy places.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, let’s talk again, specifically about the artists in the Bohemian Club. And you’re mentioning camps. And there’s a camp called Monkey Block, which, of course, is named after the famous Monkey Block Building.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah, I got the club to build it. And at one time there were all the artists on this hill at one time. And Maury was on it, Rabow, and various guys before that. And some of them had some capability to do it and others didn’t. But I had a more – what do you call administrative talent than the rest of the guys. I could do, you know, too. So I took about three years for that and told them there’s an orchestra camp, a band camp but no artists camps. Let’s build one. Well, they finally okayed it. So now we had nineteen members in there, eighteen or nineteen. But when it started out there was a time where the president of the club said this club was [inaudible] club. But they never expected art. It reflects the century we live in, more or less, and art is everything that’s what’s on the walls was done half a century ago. So there was contemporary art.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Who was that? Who said that?
PAUL CAREY: His name was Bill Bond, was the president.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Most enlightened. Very enlightened view.
PAUL CAREY: Well, sure. So we got Maury Cox around. And I picked some people and he was president of what is now the Modern – they didn’t call it the Modern then, but that’s what it was.
PAUL KARLSTROM: San Francisco Museum?
PAUL CAREY: San Francisco Museum. And so he got [inaudible] and I think he was the one who had, oh, a hassle [inaudible]. Caused quite a ruckus, considering only one photography. He did everything. But any of the Siegriest and Tony [inaudible] and then the museum people went in. [inaudible]
PAUL KARLSTROM: He was director.
PAUL CAREY: Right. And Paul Mills. And then sculptures, [inaudible] and [inaudible]. We had a great group. And people would drop in. [inaudible] but [inaudible]. But regular members who liked contemporary art might have been more a part of the scene. But that never developed because somehow they raised the dues so if you didn’t use the facilities for a couple of months you’d pay thirty-five dollars or something. And Lundy didn’t make that much. And he quit. O’Hannon, I think his wife didn’t like him paying that. He quit. So then Gurdon Woods went to Santa Cruz and Paul Mills went to Santa Barbara. The whole thing got dispersed, until there was nobody left but me.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Really? There came a point when of the original group you were the only one left?
PAUL CAREY: Now that group is still there. And Bill Gaw, who is the only contemporary painter previous to that, he was mad at me, could have said, “Gee, you ought to tell me you couldn’t keep those guys in. I wouldn’t have resigned.” [laughs] So, anyways, it was down to popular art level and mostly retired commercial artists. And some of them occasionally would do interesting work, like Ken Rossi, and he would continue, certainly young guys. So these paintings were getting pretty good. And they may develop something there. But this is the life of the club. Take my brother Clu, for fifty years there he was going back and forth, telling guys from Palo Alto he couldn’t wait to get up there and start sawing away. There was no one more enthusiastic than an amateur musician, with a talent of any kind. And the ones who get on the – some of them directing plays and acting in plays. But that’s what the club is now, that’s the life of the club, is amateur talent. Some of the talent is professional, rather, regular members, because they have money. But that doesn’t mean they can’t perform. And even some of the men who don’t have talent have money. I know I ran into [inaudible] one time. And the one thing he could remember about the club was the day they had judges on stage, made an act for them on stage. And, oh, that was the greatest thing that ever happened to him. It’s amazing how that kind of participation is almost like a dream for some people. And this exists in the club. They can do it. And particularly if they have just enough talent to get in and start performing, they may develop talent. There were a lot of guys that developed that way. So what is called the jinx committee is the core . . .
[BEGIN TAPE 2, SIDE B] [session 2, tape 2]
PAUL KARLSTROM: This is continuing the interview with Paul Carey. This is the second session, tape 2, side B. And, Paul, we were talking about your involvement with the Bohemian Club, which at one time lived up to that name, starting in the Nineteenth Century. It was clearly the institution, the organization for the leading creative people. And what you’ve described here is a real shift, or change in that. And I was just going to ask you, what happened? Why did the leading artists in California, in the Bay Area, who at one time to a person were in the Bohemian Club disappeared, as you yourself have described? Something happened.
PAUL CAREY: Well, what happened largely, as I mentioned, was art became abstract. It got away from representational painting, and it’s narrowed it from subject matter. And that looks like the path where they used to walk every morning. And this kind of nostalgia. And so there are an awful lot of people who never will get these things out of art because they can’t stand to look at it long enough. But the whole pop art movement is coming and you see it as a substitute for this. And that is a throw-back to the time when art was instantly recognizable. But the great art today is not – Picasso is not instantly recognizable, whereas, the man who used the “Ben Day” is having a big show.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Lichtenstein.
PAUL CAREY: Lichtenstein. His work is immediately – oh, yeah, I can get that. Yeah, that’s great. Warhol, he was smart enough to see. The other thing is that the kids were all – you never see the work in the museums, maybe they see it more now than they used to – they’d see just what was in the magazines. Well, now there aren’t any magazines, so there’s no art to see there. I don’t know what they do. They see the funny papers and that’s about all.
I spoke with – we were looking for members – we were in the pop art area. The people wanted to get it but they were taking [inaudible] in that period. But he has expanded it now to tremendous paintings. A distortion, but it’s still popular in the greatest common denominator kind of subject matter. The only other way that the club might have, where art again might be revived is through the membership itself, not the artists, because the members of the committees get entrenched. Some of them are retired and it’s been the greatest thing they have. Little thing carved out for themselves. They can do nothing but just hang the paintings. They can choose what goes up. But the authority, they never dreamed of having, and they wouldn’t let go of that without – I don’t know, has great importance for them. And I just remembered the jinx committee who’s given the authority to tell the membership what committee or what artists could become members and what ones should not. And they still think he has done a great job. Nobody but the commercial artists on the [inaudible]. Until those barriers could be broken and those people overruled. Only through the general membership, some interest on their part that changes could occur. But it’s too bad that there can’t be some life to it, where they would become enlightened and see the annual exhibition. Instead of seeing more paintings of the path that they know so well. From the house to the outhouse. So the present is the world of the amateur. And then the rest are patrons who sit in their seats, and then see a show, and have a drink with friends, another business meeting. So art is getting pretty close to a lost cause. But somebody may come along and take it. I tried to do it for a long time. I gave up.
PAUL KARLSTROM: How so? How did you . . .?
PAUL CAREY: Well, at that time when [inaudible] and I got these guys in. And then when the Monkey Block Camp was built at the same time. It created a little lift for us. But museum directors and teachers, you can’t move around and so forth. And also the art chairmen were defending them. You actually tried to do something about it, just let it all drift away. And I got tired of it. I didn’t want to do it anymore.
PAUL KARLSTROM: You did a little exhibition on Logan at the club back in ’75.
PAUL CAREY: Oh, yeah. That was, I wasn’t a part of it at that time. And that’s about the only case of a one-man show in a big gallery. There never was one, except that one time when I – I think I told you that they invited outside artists to exhibit. Which may have been retaliation from management toward the madness of the world, fury of people, I guess, to modern art. And so Jack Atherton won first prize. It was the only award of an outsider event. And there have been several periods when there was some contempt, I think, that stirred something up there.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Do you think that because of its emersion in tradition, shall we say, emersion in tradition, and its very institutional quality that the Bohemian Club really cannot be sympathetic to change to advance – not even advanced – that’s why modernism is something from the beginning of the Twentieth Century, abstraction came in shortly thereafter. And yet, from what I hear you saying, there’s this resistance within this club that used to represent the avant-garde, or supposedly, Bohemianism, that there is an entrenched resistance or hostility to abstraction that it’s viewed as non-art? In other words, is that battle still being . . .?
PAUL CAREY: It’s more than that. The Bohemian [inaudible] didn’t last very long as a part of the club. In the beginning it was there and then they needed money. So it’s money that corrupts. You see? It’s too bad, you know. It’s great stuff to have. So then there’s an audience that rigged their membership, the regular audience. They don’t do a damn thing, but they just love all this stuff. They have no idea of doing anything about it. But, here and there, there are people who do get stirred up. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people. If I’m on a committee or something and goddammit I get an idea, then pretty soon I’m doing it. Which I had no intention of doing, so I’m not on any anymore. So I started a gallery when they didn’t have a gallery in the grove, you know, either, art gallery. And a few other things. But then suddenly, I think, what am I wasting all this time for? But some of the membership who had no other activity, but you would get interested in the club itself. Well, the board usually represent that element. However, usually, the president is the one that participated, was at least a participant. And, I think, the present board member, I don’t know who he is, but I think he’s very active in things. The rest of them, I don’t know anybody in the club anymore, as a matter of fact. It’s another world. And I certainly have no interest in getting active in it. But one of these days some people will come along and get organized and do something here, you know, and change it all. It has enough function as a show piece and as the opportunity for amateur talents go. And this is really what the club is for now. And then for the wealthy participants who went out to camp and . . .
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, power and privilege.
PAUL CAREY: Yeah. The only negative, a really strong negative, was the political characters. And that changed. At one time, you know, there were great opera stars, Thomas used to be around. And the old German barbarian, you know, what’s his name? And he’d direct the band, you know. Just doing all these things. And they were celebrities. And now the celebrities are George Bush and Ronald Reagan and Kissinger. And then others, you know, it’s full of Republican politicians. And the regular members that can be proud of this also and so on. And they heard it in talk, you know, when they grew up. And so celebrity worship, it’s another thing, drives the true nature of the organization. And particularly when the celebrity has no talent. If he has talent, why that takes your jets off the back. But you don’t get much out of George Bush.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Can you think of any change that might make the Bohemian Club once again more attractive to prominent, serious, practicing artists of our area? Because I think it’s pretty clear that that isn’t the case now.
PAUL CAREY: I don’t know.
PAUL KARLSTROM: They’re indifferent.
PAUL CAREY: There’s one approach. Joe Cleary tried to get the Nato-American kind of club. This was quite a few years ago when Nate was trying to get to first base there. And he said, “Gee, I’d like to have a little room, an image.”
PAUL KARLSTROM: And that’s probably a political comment as much as anything else, right?
PAUL CAREY: Well, no, it’s true. The club not only had no prestige in art, they had a negative, declined the negative feeling. And a person can like a particular painting, but then you hear something about it, oh, yeah, maybe it’s not as good as I thought. We’re dealing with a very subtle world. But I, as far as doing anything, you know, bringing it into the century, if someone would take the time and explore the membership and start a little group of – well, one thing I’ve, and the last thing I tried to do was we had a series of meetings on the auctions. And so I mentioned that at the roundtable one day, there were several of the guys there. And a million dollars for this and that. And that we could get a museum director and curator and dealer and the authorities in the various fields. Oh, boy, and gee, and let’s do that. But I threw the idea out and nobody picked it up. And I didn’t want to take time to follow it up. But there’s a case where they were bringing the membership in and the way – and they could get an understanding of a painting that cost fifty million dollars if they’d take the time to do it. So you can’t understand any painting without giving it a little time if it’s any good. So aside from that, with any that might have been drawing regular membership was the only way that it might have gained some vitality in the arts. Like it has in music, it’s pretty good. And, of course, supposed pop. It’s fun. It’s a place to have fun. But there is in the [inaudible] there’s that museum where there’s talks on science. And there are a lot of very bright guys in the club and great intellects. Once in awhile you run into one and you’re quite surprised that he isn’t only interested in pop music and so on. They have Sunday gatherings, Sunday concerts, pianos and violins and small groups. [inaudible] now this comes out of the music group. See, the Jinx Committee is the core committee for all the arts except for painting. Painting is a separate committee that doesn’t have to go through the Jinx Committee. But nonetheless, they dominated totally all of the membership going in, they dominated by “dinging” somebody if they wouldn’t contribute. And so they get fine arts in they can’t contribute the same way. They can’t make cartoons. Oh, they probably can in some. They may enjoy doing it. But they’re not known for it and the – well, there’s one painter that Gordon Woods put out and then he left town. But it’s still a very realistic, but pretty two dimensional. Charlie Campbell handles him. A nice guy too. He apparently wanted to join it but he got confused by first they had him as a professional and then as an amateur [inaudible].
PAUL KARLSTROM: So I guess that in your view the club is not exactly hospitable to serious professional artists?
PAUL CAREY: No. They are now – if you can get support, well, they’re not hospitable to the Jews either. And I just sponsored one here about a year ago. And it was interesting to see him go through. [inaudible] to defend it. And the other sponsor quit, withdrew from it and then they got sponsors so they wouldn’t be caught not voting on the guy. [laughs] He turned out to be a fellah that I helped get started. He started an online computer company early, early. So he made millions out of it. He finally retired and he got in the club, and, oh, boy, it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to him. He must have spent a couple of hundred thousand dollars on the camp. And he has luncheons there and he has two lackeys there cooking and serving the stuff. [laughs] [inaudible] and taking the place over.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Getting back to the bigger picture, and you’ve been describing what was really a phenomenon, an important institution within the culture of the artistic world of California, particularly the Bay Area. But it seems clear from what you say that over, really I guess you’d have to say, over this past century that institution which was in a sense the focal point, the center for the creative arts in California now is almost the opposite. And so what we have – I’m just – my question would be, does this represent to your mind any other kind of a change perhaps in the nature of the creative community, which is what we started out talking about, over this time? From the early part of the century to now?
PAUL CAREY: I think there is a change and say that little museum thing up at the grove, seeing it develop really in recent years, it used to be just about where there’s a redwood tree and now [inaudible]. But now they have all these subjects of great interest to the members, and the experts to explain it. But it’s mainly in the science kind of field. Well, in theory that must be true of art, that it [inaudible] some way. That that must be there also, that curiosity. But it takes somebody to carry it and do it. And I know it’s not me. There’s nobody in the art group now that is what you would call modern fine artist, there’s nobody in there at all. There is the one who used to teach at Arts and Crafts for years, and he’s very meticulous. So as far as I’m concerned, events may come along and somebody, some enterprising guy will say, “Hey, why don’t we do something here?”
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, what has taken the place, if as you’ve described, this particular institution or organization no longer is the gathering place for these kinds of creative people, and especially the visual arts? Do you see anything else out there that has taken the place? Is there a community, sort of a meeting ground, that you know about that would serve, would be serving a similar function? Or are we talking about something that simply is of the past, of history?
PAUL CAREY: No, I don’t think there’s anything there. And the guys that show, show to sell. You can sell your paintings. And I’m sure in the early days that was true of it as well. That’s why they couldn’t afford to pay their dues. But now it’s [inaudible]. I don’t give a damn whether I sell or not.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, yeah, that’s –
PAUL CAREY: [inaudible] for my own interest and if somebody buys it I’m highly flattered and delighted. But they never buy them.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Well, to wrap up, you said that you, earlier you said just in our off tape conversation that you managed your own career, which we say sort of hang on to get through a stage when you were basically in business and that you came to a point at a certain age when you could retire and . . .
PAUL CAREY: Margaret and David Park had conviction. I was stubborn. This is what I like, and I had to make a living, and this was the only way I could do it. And I didn’t like working on, doing commercial art on the board. So I took over management of it, by [inaudible] in turn with the client. Because the artist thought he was buying their art style. But, gee, he couldn’t think less of it. He was buying it to get his money back. And so some of the others programmed the thing in certain ways in order to make him happy. If you do then you have his account for the rest of your life, because nobody else is doing it. That’s the only way I made a living without drawing, doing commercial drawings.
PAUL KARLSTROM: But you were able basically then to finally, there came a point when you were able to retire and then you have really turned full time attention to your painting?
PAUL CAREY: Oh, yeah. Well, I actually never made any money. We always went to Europe and spent it. I got into designing annual reports because [inaudible] didn’t get anybody to do it. So I figured out why and I had that for thirty years. But, no, we never accumulated money, but I had some and then my brother died, who was in real estate. So he left me, you know, a couple of hundred thousand, I guess. A little less. And my son, Scott was in real estate and he checked over all the property in [inaudible] and found one that was enormously undervalued and I had enough money with a loan to get it. Because Scott kept going up, the income property keeps going up every year and I haven’t done a goddamn thing. But that didn’t happen until I was 72 or something like that. But I found, you see, it took me a good many years to, even though I wasn’t doing work on the board and I was doing some painting, there wasn’t the mental freedom all those years. So it took quite a long while to get junk out of my system. [inaudible] I see it in all the people [inaudible] and he was a very successful commercial artist. And he could paint realism, meticulous realism. But hard nose reaction stuff, it was where you got to the message over before you get people to turn the page. It’s wham, that’s it. And so his work was very popular. The last of the pop art things the dealers’ delight. It’s everything, it’s immediately recognizable and no subtlety. And Alex [inaudible]. He was an example of it. But they were good guys.
PAUL KARLSTROM: But that wasn’t for you? And in terms of making your art? You didn’t want to do that carry over from . . .?
PAUL CAREY: No, no. Then I taught at the art school and I taught illustration, which brought in a lot of these guys. And they were very talented birds. And they were all in the Bohemian Club. Maury was always getting them all in the Bohemian Club. Joe Clearly, [inaudible] and Ed Ingles and Marshall Potter. They were all good guys. And Cleary had the greatest talent of anybody, natural talent there. He didn’t have the intellect, but he was the only one there who likes good painting. [inaudible] He knew a piece of art right away and the others could not. And his work deteriorated now to really [inaudible] and that’s too bad.
PAUL KARLSTROM: Let me ask you to go back to answer the last question and go back to an interesting aside you made. And this will be the last question to tie it up. Going back to Hagedorn. You said that you inherited Hagedorn’s model. Why don’t you tell me that story?
PAUL CAREY: Well, I got Terran [?].
PAUL KARLSTROM: Terran?
PAUL CAREY: Ed [inaudible], I suppose, in 1940, working [inaudible] and seriously. And this group was a model. And without any intensity. The intensity of another’s work. And after awhile [inaudible] one pastel drawing [inaudible] when that was done. But gradually he would draw in the groups, but still [inaudible] who used to be in the art school, and had a group, and would come in. Ed would participate as long as [inaudible] be sure to call him in case they had a male model so he wouldn’t have to come. But this is all he did. So he threw – someone in his family gave him ten thousand a year, what do you call it?
PAUL KARLSTROM: Annuity or . . .?
PAUL CAREY: Annuity, yeah. Which he had and he wouldn’t spend any money on anything, so he got interested in the stock market. The last thing [inaudible], I guess, asked me had I ever heard of a company named Polaroid. [chuckles] Well, he left at that time and Ed says, “We’re worth a half a million.” It was mostly in stock, I think now. [inaudible] And [inaudible]. So he had the house and then he would entertain girls once in awhile with champagne. He liked [inaudible] so he got a big kick out of pornographic magazines [inaudible]. So at any rate, this kid was modeling quite well. He used other models too but he didn’t have other people in. So when he died I was talking to Terry St. John about it and he said, “Oh, yeah. [inaudible] the model. And I never draw in a group. I think you shouldn’t. Art’s a one man job.” And so he, [inaudible] other people around him to try to do something. And so he seemed to be very capable. And then I needed some help around the house and she cooked some stuff. And then what he said, she said, she couldn’t make enough modeling and so if I needed more work well, she’d like to do it. So she sweeps the walks out here.
PAUL KARLSTROM: So we’re talking about now? What’s her name?
PAUL CAREY: It is Stephanie [Caloia], her last name deserted me. Italian name.
END OF INTERVIEW
This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Paul Carey, 1993 December 3 and 28, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.