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Franz Geritz [1895-1945]

[From the community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

GERITZ, Franz (1895-1945)

Mt San Jacinto


color woodcut / 9 inches by 12.25 inches / unsigned proof

“Franz (Frank) Geritz, painter, printmaker, illustrator, writer, and educator, was born in Budapest, Hungary on April 16, 1895. He immigrated with his family to the United States in 1909 and his education continued in the public schools of Philadelphia and Chicago. Geritz worked for the Pullman Company in Chicago before moving to Northern California. In 1921, he graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland where he was a student of Perham Nahl, Xavier Martinez, and Frank Van Sloun.

“Between 1920 and 1923, Geritz supported himself by freelancing for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, and the Los Angeles Examiner. By 1922 he was living in Southern California and began a ten-year career of teaching block printing at the University of California Extension, Los Angeles. In November of that year his article “How to Make Block Prints” was published in California Southland. In 1923, an Exhibition of Block Prints and Etchings by Frank Geritz was on view at the Los Angeles Museum in Exposition Park between September 13 and 31.

“He was a member of and exhibited with the California Society of Etchers, the California Printmakers, and the Oakland Art Association. In 1926, he showed in the Print Rooms of the Los Angeles Museum along with Loren Barton, Grace M. Brown and Francis W. Vreeland. He won a bronze medal for his color block prints at the San Diego Pacific Southwest Exposition and his color block print Mono Lake was selected in 1927 for the 100 Prints of the Year exhibition. In 1934, Geritz created a handful of block prints through the Public Works Administration and, in 1939, his work was included in the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco.

“After moving to Los Angeles he met musician Josephine Heintz and they married on March 26, 1927. Geritz explored the western states and rendered the splendor of Yosemite, Shasta, Mono Lake, and Zion in his block prints. He also worked in portraiture and created many block prints or etchings of friends and local personalities including Arthur Millier, Perham Nahl, Edward Weston, Xavier Martinez, Emil Oberhoffer, Margrethe Mather, Ramon Novarro, and Georges Baklinoff.

“His work is represented in the collections of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Brooklyn Museum, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, Library of Congress, San Diego Museum, and numerous county and city libraries within California.

“Franz Geritz died in Los Angeles, California on November 27, 1945.  His death was linked to a boyhood injury.” — from Annex Galleries website.



Toward a manuscript… (1.something)

ARCH 771 / Fall 2020 / Ramsay

As an exercise in “group think”, let me assign a writing exercise that will be valuable in the ongoing project — beyond your time and certainly beyond mine. [I’m presuming a lot here.]

Kate Macdonald, publisher of HandHeld Press, has asked me (some time ago, actually, so the potential may have passed by) to put the Agincourt Project in book form. You can visit her site here: https://www.handheldpress.co.uk/. My initial response/reaction was the dilemma of how to tell the story: Should it be written by one of the characters in town, say Anson Tennant’s great nephew Howard Tabor, who writes for The Daily Plantagenet? Or should it be written by an actual person — most likely by me — as “narrating the story of telling the story”? In other words, is the book a work of fact or fiction? I’ll be interested to have your thoughts. [’ve got a 76th birthday coming up and that seems as good a date as any to have a first draft in hand.

So there is Question #1: What form ought a book about a fictional community take?

The natural follow-up is about the warp and weft of that story. Buildings and the people who designed-built-financed-used-and maintained them can be made to tell a large though incremental part of the narrative. But what other elements of material culture would be useful? And what influences ought to be addressed? For example, has COVID-19 affected the community in a lasting and meaningful way? I suspect so. But what about other major events within and outside the community that also played a role? The influenza pandemic of 1918. The Great Depression and all those “alphabet soup” agencies created to put people to useful work. Wars, like the Civil, WWI, WWII, and Vietnam. Positive influences from philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie — the founder of the feast, so to speak.

I’ve grouped these in three large categories: FORCES (natural conditions over which we have no control, such as climate, geology, etc.); FACTORS (broad cultural phenomena or fads which very often begin elsewhere but have local impact, like government programs, benefactors like the aforementioned Carnegie, or the Stock Market Crash of 1929); and, finally, FACES (of which Carnegie might be one but also including local persons with influence, like teachers, public figures, in or outside government, businesses — even artists and architects who have left a legacy). Sorry, I like alliteration.

So there is Question #2: What elements or topics ought to be considered as significant parts of the story? 

For #1 I’d like each of you tackle that basic but vital question. Which approach would engage readers and hold their attention?

For #2 perhaps you could divide in three or four groups and each take on the basic outline of the story. Is chronology the best way to narrate? What other options might be equally good or even better?

De Bijenkorf (1.2)

Projects, so many projects, have remained just that: unfinished. Some of them are even in the category of “the unbegun”. De Bijenkorf’s Department Store is among those.

“The Beehive” (that’s what “de bijenkorf” means in Dutch), as I’ve written before, evolved from its first 25′ by 140′ foot storefront to incorporate the two neighboring buildings to the south. They would have been, of course, typical late Victorian storefronts, which means of course they would typically be dissimilar. In façade as well as floor levels. Unifying them would have no small project. And that’s why I thought immediately of the De Baliviere Building on Delmar Boulevard in St Louis.

Designed by St Louis architect Isadore Shank, it is one of the more successful adaptations of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “textile block” system of the 1920s — though technically, I suppose it’s not. This was also executed at once, however, rather than in pieces.

The ground floor of commercial retail space was ornamented with this pattern of terra cotta tile in an abstracted rectilinear pattern; some glazed black, some in natural terra cotta red. I guess this obligates me to conceive a pattern for De Bijenkorf, perhaps something derived from the hexagonal preference of bees. Unifying the interior spaces should prove far less complicated.

Materials like this, by the way, were logical in heavily industrial cities of the Midwest because they were relatively impervious to pollutants and could be easily washed with soap and water. They were also a welcome note of color in drab winters landscapes.

Dana Bartlett [1882-1957]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

BARTLETT, Dana (1882–1957)

Canal in Venice

ca 1920-1930

color woodcut / 12.5 inches by 10 inches (image)

Dana Bartlett, painter, printmaker, teacher, and gallery owner, was born in Ionia, Michigan on 19 November 1882. He studied at the Art Students’ League in New York with William Merritt Chase and Charles Warren Eaton.

Bartlett established a studio for a few years in Boston before moving to Portland, Oregon where he worked as a commercial artist for the Foster-Kleiser Company. For a short period of time he had a studio in San Francisco but in 1915 he opened his studio in Los Angeles. In 1924, Bartlett traveled to Europe where he studied with Armand Coussens in Paris and upon his return he joined the staff of the Chouinard Art Institute.

He was a member of and exhibited with the California Arts Club, the California Watercolor Society, the Laguna Beach Art Association, and the Print Makers Society of California. His work was included in the Painters and Sculptors exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, he exhibited at the Stendall Gallery in Los Angeles, and a solo exhibition of his work was mounted at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in December 1927. The following spring he opened the Bartlett Galleries which specialized in sketches and small paintings. Bartlett served as the seventh president of the California Art Club in 1922 and he founded and served as first president of the California Watercolor Society.

Bartlett’s work is represented in the Boston Public Library, Huntington Library, Laguna Beach Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles Public Library, National Gallery of Art, Sacramento State Library, and the Southwest Museum.

Dana Bartlett died in Los Angeles, California on 3 July 1957.

This delightful small print was found on the boulevard during Spring Clean-up Week in 2004. One person’s “trash” in another’s treasure.


The Mighty Muskrat

This is the Blue River, which flows today through the edge of Kansas City. A picturesque stream, it appears to have been a popular recreation spot at and probably before the turn of the century. I’ve always like the jumble of boathouses, summer homes, and their docks and hoped that Agincourt could have had this kind of resource. I called them the “River Rats”; after all, it is the Muskrat.