Alfred R. Frankel 2017-09-02 02:41:18
SAM STOLTZ— When the Civil War ended, Florida, like the western United States, was a destination for pioneers. In central Florida a large oak tree on Lake Eola marked the grave site of Orlando Reeves, a soldier killed in the Second Seminole War, and the place became known as Orlando. The area teemed with wild turkey, bear, and plenty of deer. Panthers and wildcats came around the cabins at night …and wolves. The first settlers built homes, some only a cabin of palmetto logs. Today Orlando is a destination for tourists to, “The Wild Kingdom” of Disney World. Today, if you want a sense of what that earlier time was like, you could look back to the paintings of artist Sam Stoltz. In Chicago, while working as an illustrator for the American Poultry Magazine, Stoltz was called, “the world’s greatest poultry painter.” In Florida, I like to think of him as our, “greatest nature painter. “ I first met Sam Stoltz back about 1983 at the old Larry Engle Antique Show in Tampa. Stoltz had been dead for fifty years. My good friend antique dealer Michael Turbeville had a Stoltz painting of an egret and flamingo flying side by side over the Everglades. Brilliant in color and design, in an original pecky cypress frame, it was my first Florida painting and started my life long journey to discover The Artists of Old Florida. Stoltz and his wife Patti moved to Orlando in 1925 to test his skills in the booming Florida real estate market just as it was beginning to crash. Patti is described by Stoltz early biographer, Graced Hagedorn as: “a darling person, beautiful, sweet and very intelligent.” Sam teamed up with H. Carl Dann, a popular real estate developer. They built his first home in the Adair Park section of Orlando in a Mediterranean Revival style he called Spanish Orlando. Stoltz built many homes in Orlando, their main features massive handhewn cypress beams with mammoth fireplaces built of Florida fieldstone. The great size of the homes gave space for life-size paintings of fishing and hunting scenes. The homes featured textured stucco and logcabin- style walls, Cuban mission tile roofs, multicolored broken-tile terraces, doors and trim of pecky cypress, and many windows. Stoltz’s love of nature led him to embellish his Florida homes, inside and out, with depictions of herons, flamingos, pelicans, cardinals, doves, fish, deer, and even monkeys, some painted on plaster or glass, some sculpted in plaster relief or stucco, some in wrought iron. Stoltz, Carl Dann and a Mrs. J.C. Otey started a second business, Flamingo Arts, Inc. in 1929. Mrs. Otey produced hundreds of handbags that were hand decorated with designs painted on silk by Stoltz, no two alike, of flamingoes flying across the sky, or standing by a pool, beautiful Florida landscapes of cypress, pines and palms. Stoltz was a master artist. His painting, The Strife of the Sea, was one of four of his works chosen for exhibit in the Florida building of the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress. The painting represents an actual incident in the Gulf Stream. A sailfish and a tarpon are hooked at the same time, the lines are crossed, and a large shark is attacking the struggling fish. The bait is shown high on the leader, as the tarpon strikes. Pelicans hover overhead and man-o’-war birds are ready to attack. The shark’s dorsal fin is clearly visible with the tarpon leaping into the air to rid its mouth of the hook. Sam died at his home on Lake Maitland in 1952, Patti, in 1970. Long before his death the Orlando Sentinel noted his pioneer log cabins: “To Sam Stoltz, Orlando’s artist, builder, is credited the honor of being the first to grasp the suitability of log cabins to Florida’s climatic conditions. The artistic and distinctive features of his luxury log cabin homes, designed, constructed and decorated by this master builder, have added much to the attractiveness of a community where palatial home are the rule rather than the exception.” Grace Hagedorn quotes writers for the long defunct Orlando Post: “He was fabulous, a fabulous person, not only was he talented, but he had such a sense of humor, such a sense of values, and such understanding! As long as examples of Sam Stoltz’s work endure, people will echo, fantastic! A fantastic talent!” CARL BRANDIEN— Today the banks of the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale are lined with commercial offices and highrise condominiums. Not far away the Nova Southeastern University Museum of Art stands on the corner of Las Olas Boulevard and Andrews Avenue. Back in 1940 when Carl Brandien arrived, the city looked far different. The banks of the river were lined with pines, palmetto and water oak; night blooming jasmine scented the air, Spanish moss was everywhere, and the water teamed with fish. All that is left of that sweet, fragrant time is the river itself and the paintings of Brandien, who styled himself: “the vagabond artist.” I first met Brandien back in 1990 at the November Renninger’s Mount Dora Extravaganza. I was wandering the back lot, up the hill, and down a row of dealers when I spotted a small oil painting of palms trees blown about in a “Hurricane at Tarpon Bend, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Sept. 15, 1945. ” On the back it was inscribed, “With our best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. R. Nelson, the Vagabonds, Carl and Kaye Brandien.” I purchased it for thirty-five dollars. For me it was the beginning of another love affair with a Florida artist, in this case really, a couple. I have always thought of the Brandiens as one. Carl Brandien was born in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1886. When his father died he spent some time in an orphanage. Greenwich Village, even back then, was central to the art of the city, drawing artists from all over the country. French impressionism was just coming into prominence and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art was opened. His youth prepared Brandien for the artists life… and great adventure. Brandien’s earliest art training was at the Art Students League in New York. In 1912 he studied at the Academie Julian in Paris; the Gallerie Firenze in Florence, and the Art Academy of Rome. Returning home Brandien worked as an illustrator for Life Magazine and won prizes at the National Academy of Design. When World War I began he enlisted as a Private. After the War, Brandien, with a forty-pound pack on his back, began traveling the world, earning his way by painting. In 1922, he moved from Spain to Italy and across the Mediterranean to North Africa where, while painting a scene of a Moslem burial ritual, he was seized by a mob and almost killed. Brandien periodically returned to New York for exhibits at the National Academy and the Ainslie Galleries on Fifth Avenue. In 1927 his work commanded up to eight hundred dollars. In 1929, while on a steamer passing through the Panama Canal on the way to California, Brandien met his future wife, Kathleen, a British citizen and a survivor of the sinking of the Lusitania. Carl was impressed that she had the courage to travel with only ten dollars in her pocket. They fell in love and began traveling around the world together, from Hawaii, to Singapore, Saigon, Sidney, Australia, to Morocco, and finally to France, as the “Vagabondage.” They were married back in New York City in 1937. Brandien received a commission from the Democratic Committee of New York for a painting of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Fleets visit to the city in 1934, as a gift for President Franklin Roosevelt’s birthday. He painted murals for the Friars Club, the Russian Club, a painting of opening night at the Metropolitan Opera for its director, and a painting for the Officer’s Mess at West Point. The Brandiens continued their travels until 1939 when State Department warnings about the possibility of war in Europe finally brought them home. They first came to Ft Lauderdale for the 1939-1940 season with Brandien exhibiting in Vero Beach and the Housekeeper’s Club in Coconut Grove. Four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor the Ft. Lauderdale Daily News noted, “Vagabond Artist Back For Season. Carl Brandien well known here as “the Vagabond artist has returned for his second winter season and opened studios at 6 N.W. Second St. Mrs. Brandien, wife of the painter said the couple would probably remain here permanently. The two spent the summer in New York doing considerable work roaming about Long Island.” They returned to New York in 1945 but just couldn’t stay away, returning to Lauderdale in 1948 and remaining permanently. When I graduated from South Broward High in Hollywood in 1956 they were still there. If only I had known. Kaye died in 1963 and Carl in 1965. They are buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 34, graves 716 and 716A. His marker reads, “Carl W. Brandien, Florida. PVT, 3 CO, 152 Depot Brigade, World War 1.” Her’s: “His wife Kathleen, Kaye.” He was born in New York City, she in England, but both considered themselves Floridians. Fred Frankel’s book, The Artists of Old Florida, 1840-1960, can be downloaded free at his website: theartistsofoldflorida.com.
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