Peregrine flight

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bea and Leonard

Beatrice Levy - Aura

I had a very pleasant morning down at Balboa Park utilizing the research library and voluminous photo archive at the San Diego History Center. An editor friend was researching an upcoming article. The archive has millions of photos of the region dating back 150 years and lithographs and drawings too. The staff was so very helpful and we went through volume after volume before finally cornering our elusive quarry.

Afterwards another nice lunch at Cucina Urbana, the vasi with burrata and garlic, a chicken skin and prosciutto and fried egg pané and salad. My friend had the squash blossoms. A great meal.

I love to research. It is one of the most satisfying components of my life as an art and antique dealer. Because I learn something every day and for some strange reason that is very important to me. Like this drawing from my recent haul in the desert. Probably not worth very much but it opened up a field of inquiry or two in my brain.

Beatrice Levy  - Courtesy - Blue Heron Gallery

This is a drawing of Leonard Bloomfield by Bea Levy. Very competent pencil sketch. So now we have two questions right off the bat - who is Leonard Bloomfield and who was Bea Levy? Thankfully both of these individuals left clear imprints in the sands of time.

Here I borrow from Wiki:

Leonard Bloomfield (April 1, 1887 – April 18, 1949) was an American linguist who led the development of structural linguistics in the United States during the 1930s and the 1940s. His influential textbook Language, published in 1933, presented a comprehensive description of American structural linguistics.[1] He made significant contributions to Indo-European historical linguistics, the description of Austronesian languages, and description of languages of the Algonquian family.

Bloomfield's approach to linguistics was characterized by its emphasis on the scientific basis of linguistics, adherence to behaviorism especially in his later work, and emphasis on formal procedures for the analysis of linguistic data. The influence of Bloomfieldian structural linguistics declined in the late 1950s and 1960s as the theory of Generative Grammar developed by Noam Chomsky came to predominate.

Beatrice Levy (1872-1974) etching Aldine Square (alternate title is Delivery in Old Town) 1938 ed. 9/50
Courtesy - Blue Heron Gallery

Bloomfield was from Chicago, taught German and Philology (the study of literature and of disciplines relevant to literature or to language as used in literature.) He did seminal work in Sanskrit, Tagolog, Ojibwa, a panoply of languages. Obviously a brilliant man.

I was introduced to Bea Levy's work last year. Beatrice Levy was also from Chicago. An artist, I obtained one of her prints from Dixon. An excellent WPA print from Chicago. Much different from the nouveau style of the earlier Aura pictured above. Died in La Jolla. Here is what I found out about Beatrice:

Beatrice Levy was an etcher, engraver, block printer, drawing specialist, and teacher. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under Ralph Clarkson and with Charles W. Hawthorne in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She had a studio in Chicago’s 57th Street Art Colony.

Her work was exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition (1915), the Century of Progress in Chicago (1933-1934), and the New York’s World’s Fair (1939).

Levy was President of the Chicago Society of Artists, Supervisor of the Works Progress Administration Art Project Gallery, and Supervisor of the Easel Painting Division in 1936 for the Federal Art Project. In 1950 she moved to California, where she taught at the La Jolla Museum School of Arts and Crafts (1961-1962) and continued to exhibit her work.

Birth place: Chicago, IL

Death place: La Jolla, CA

Addresses: Chicago, 1947; La Jolla, CA, 1973

Profession: Painter

Studied: AIC; Charles Hawthorne; Vojtech Preissig.

Exhibited: Chicago SE, 1914-19, 1922-31, 1935-45; AIC, 1917, 1919, 1922-23, 1928-40, 1942-46, 1949 (prizes, 1923, 1930); Pan-Pacific Expo, San Fran., 1915 (prize); Carnegie Inst., Pittsburgh, PA, 1929; PAFA Ann., 1923-24, 1929, 1931; SE, 1938, 1940, 1944-45; NAD, 1945-46; LOC, 1945-46; Fifty Prints of the Year, 1932-33; Springfield Acad., 1928 (prize); Chicago SA, 1928 (prize); Ceramic Traveling Exh., Yokohama, Japan, 1963-64; Coronado AA (prize) & San Diego FA Guild (prize)

Member: Chicago SA; Chicago SE; Chicago AC; San Diego FA Guild; Renaissance Soc., Univ. Chicago; La Jolla Mus. Art

Work: AIC; Chicago Munic. Coll.; Bibliothèque Nat., Paris, France; Los Angeles Mus. Art; LOC; FA Gal. San Diego; Smithsonian Inst., Wash., DC; Vanderpoel Coll.; Corona Mundi Coll., NYC

Sources: WW73; WW47; Falk, Exh. Record Series.

Well Beatrice, just when did you meet the handsome and bright boychik Leonard? Any sparks?

In any case, you nailed his likeness very well. Good job.

The San Diego Museum of Art has a number of Levy's works including this 1953 lithograph, Juggler:

Both highly talented individuals. Interesting, the two of them. Did he grok her artwork, did she have an appreciation for language and semiotics?

Look forward to seeing what else I can dig up about this pair. Would like to buy her modernist lithos if you are selling for a reasonable sum.


Anonymous said...

I love her color work. Her best work is the color etchings like the one you showed. Never saw an abstract. I have one now of a sort of arts and crafts landscape with the Field Museum in Chicago..


Ken Seals said...

wonderfully interesting story!

grumpy said...

great sleuthing job Robert, she was obviously a very talented and versatile artist able to work in so many mediums and styles, wonder how she came to draw his portrait?...feeling incredibly lucky myself as today I scored a beautiful Ray Fedorchak watercolor in one of our local thrift establishments for pennies on the dollar; it's all about being at the right place at the right time...cheers, G

Anonymous said...

Interesting research. Remember that a printmaker friend of mine in La Jolla handled Beatrice L's estate - that’s where the print that you have from me came from. Unfortunately, Dorothy Stratton left L J for Washington D C - she was a member of the Washington Printmakers. I must assume that she has passed since she was much older than I.

Anonymous said...

Did none of your artistic friends not notice that Levy's pencil portrait of Leonard looks a lot like a young version of you??

Blue Heron said...

No they did not. Interesting...

Blue Heron said...

Wish I could find a pic of Beatrice. Anybody?

HP said...

My grandmother, Dorothy Stratton King, was Beatrice's conservator.

I would love to share the pictures I have of her. Some were done professionally in Chicago showing her working at her large press.

I also have her journals, which would certainly explain the portraits. She did many.


Blue Heron said...

Would love to get more information, Heather. Please pass on whatever you think might be pertinent and interesting.



HP said...

Sending the pix of Beatrice Levy (at last) to your email address. Hope you saw the pages on Dorothy Stratton King, Bea's conservator, in the new 4-volume book on California artists by Maurine St. Gaudens. Lovely to see some of your art featured there as well.

Blue Heron said...

Thank you so much! Looking forward to receiving them.