Saturday, January 3, 2009

End of Christmas school holidays

This time reminds me of the eagerness of the children wanting to go back to school. We were all fortunate having good teachers for all of them. Except one. And that's not bad for all the years we spent in the Danville Public School System. The two older children went to the only High School in our area, San Ramon High School. By the time the younger two were ready, we were told they had to go to the new school in the area, Monte Vista High School. I did not want our children to be split up and figured out that if I had an address in downtown Danville, they could all go to the same school.

So I rented the upstairs in the old rail road station for my studio. I thought I was so smart. But the Principal of the new school decided he could get our two daughters for his school. Late in the spring he went to "plot's" eight grade classroom and invited her to be someone everybody could go to, to find out what to do in case of a problem. I don't remember her actual title but it was so highfaluting that If some one had asked me to do something I would have insisted on that title. So I had a new studio and we would have to split ourselves in half when our two schools played each other during the football season.

I was asked to be the person in charge of fundraising for our new PTA. I suggested that we have an Art Show in the spring. And I stipulated that it had to be of such high quality that we would become known for it. No grandmother would show in our show. And how would you manage this? I used what ever nerve I had and made an appointment with the art critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, Mr. Wasserman. He was also a professor of Art at the women's college in Berkley. He suggested that we contact the five universities in Northern California. Each school would give us five names of the most promising artists in their area. We invited these persons to show and all but one accepted. Then we began raising money for one or more purchases of these artworks that our public deemed worthy as a gift to Monte Vista High School. Because of knowing nothing, we made things more and more difficult with each step we took. Some of the artists we exhibited became giants in the American Art scene. One example...... Robert Bechtle who showed two paintings, one of a car and one of a woman named Thelma. We chose Thelma for the purchase award. I think the price was $2.000. Ten years later, Thelma was deemed to be worth $ $10.000 and the car was in the $45.000 range.

There is more to say about this art show. There is drama and sherriffs and police and utter relief coming up next time.


Katherine Bennett said...

From 1919 to 1956, the graduating classes of Gardena High School in Southern California did a similar thing--they bought a painting for the school. In this case, they bought works by the California Plein Air school. The students took this very seriously, visiting the artists' studios and so forth. After a time, the collection became known and the best Plein Air painters were vying for the honor of being chosen by the students. The collection has turned out to be one of the finest collections of this type of painting in existence.

I learned all of this from watching Huell Howser's show, of course. Where I get ALL my information....

Katherine Bennett said...

By the way, if anyone is interested in reading about the Gardena High School paintings, there's a nice LAT article about them here:

And... does anyone know where they are now? If I remember, the collection was in danger of being broken up and sold off by the school district, which would be a great shame if that happened.

Anne said...

Dear Gertrud,
I've often said I felt as though I were visiting you and sharing a cup of tea. We were exchanging stories in my picture of the scene. I've had to change things a bit. Absolutely none of my stories compares with yours! What a fascinating life you've lived. I'll just content myself with preparing a cuppa and sitting back to read your blog. I can barely wait for the next installment.
Happpy New Year

Haphazardkat said...

on pins and needles awaiting the next blog installment! :)

Vancouver, WA