Posts Tagged ‘Emmy Lou Packard’

Kaiser mural art – thriving on a large scale

posted on March 8, 2016

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

“Kaiser Permanente’s support of the arts is both visionary and practical. By generating a sense of well-being, the artwork contributes to the main purpose of Kaiser Permanente – the business of keeping people well.”

-Jane Van Cleve, American Craft, June-July 1984

 

Trieste-med

“The Trieste,” © Anthony Holdsworth, 2015. Digital mural at Kaiser Permanente Mission Bay Medical Offices..

This week the brand-new Kaiser Permanente Mission Bay Medical Offices opened with a splash – including a splash of color from eight huge digitally reproduced murals by Bay Area artist Anthony Holdsworth. Holdsworth was commissioned last year to paint a series of eight iconic San Francisco neighborhoods that represent the cultural and topographical diversity of the city.

The artist’s observations are displayed in adjacent text panels. “The Trieste” on the ninth floor offers this story:

The Caffe Trieste has been a center of intellectual life in North Beach since it opened in 1954. It is famously associated with the Beat poetry movement and the script for The Godfather, which was written in this cafe. I felt that no painting of the Trieste would be complete without including the founder “Papa Gianni,” Giovanni Giotta, and his friend, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who founded City Lights Books and often frequents the cafe. Both men are in their mid-nineties. Women who posed specifically for this painting are (from left to right) cafe regulars Brigid McCormick, Wanda Chan, and Rose Gomes. Also included is Ida Pantaleo Zoubi, who runs the café.

The 10-foot-tall murals are on permanent display in the reception areas of eight floors. The original paintings are part of a solo exhibition at the SFMOMA Artists’ Gallery at Fort Mason, which continues through March 27.

Detail of wood sculpture panel (one of 84) by Roy Setziol, commissioned for the entrance of the new Salem Medical Office, 1982. From brochure. KPNW discrete collection, art program portfolio box 90.

Detail of wood sculpture panel by Roy Setziol, Kaiser Permanente Salem Medical Office, 1982.

But “big picture” vision has always been a hallmark of Henry J. Kaiser and Kaiser Permanente, and these are not the first large visual installations at Kaiser facilities.

In 1982, the new Kaiser Permanente medical office in Salem, Ore., commissioned a “floating fascia” of 84 sculpted 6×6-foot Alaska cedar panels by noted local artist Roy Setziol. The panels graced the entrance area and captured “the significant moments of family and human interactions with medical science.”

These fascia were consistent with the practices in the Northwest service area of supporting the arts. When Bess Kaiser Hospital opened in Portland, Ore., in 1959, artworks by Northwest artists were leased from the Rental Gallery of the Portland Art Museum and hung throughout the hospital. Eventually many of the pieces were purchased, forming the core of a permanent collection and displayed in Kaiser Permanente facilities in Oregon and Washington. This was the origin of Kaiser Permanente’s policy of allocating a portion of the construction budget for interior finishing to the purchase of Northwest arts and crafts.

Going even further back, in 1966 architect and designer Henrik Bull commissioned Bay Area artist Emmy Lou Packard (who worked as an illustrator in the Kaiser Richmond shipyards during World War II) to create a huge concrete and mosaic wall-mounted bas relief of “The Peaceable Kingdom.” This was the artistic centerpiece for the Mirabeau Restaurant at Henry J. Kaiser’s flagship Kaiser Center in Oakland, built in 1960. Packard’s son Don Cairns recalls that his mother’s sense of humor came into play when she used glass taxidermy eyes for the creatures – but swapped them out, so the lion had lamb’s eyes, and the lamb… you get it. The device apparently upset some patrons, and they were removed.

Mural, Willys plant, Brisbane, Australia, 1963; Slides: Kaiser Industries book 1

Mural, Willys plant, Brisbane, Australia, 1963.

Henry J. Kaiser owned the Willys Jeep line of vehicles between 1953 and 1970, with manufacturing and assembly plants all over the world. Slides in our archives reveal a fascinating mosaic mural at the plant in Brisbane, Australia, circa 1963. It depicts the various steps in design, casting, manufacturing, and assembly for those iconic and rugged machines. The fate of this mural is unknown.

Art – it does help keep people well. Paint on, and thrive.

 

 

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/1Xa4Oyk

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Goodbye, Supermac!

posted on July 10, 2015

 

Lincoln Cushing,
Heritage writer

 

Frame from final Supermac strip, March 30, 1945.

Frame from final Supermac strip, March 30, 1945.

The World War II Home Front superhero cartoon strip Supermac ran in the weekly Kaiser Richmond shipyard magazine Fore ‘n’ Aft between September 8, 1944, and March 30, 1945. An earlier post explained the evolution and role of this remarkable wartime graphic narrative, and so far we have shared the first 14 strips – view the first seven and the second seven. In this conclusion, Supermac foils a devilish Nazi sabotage plot that involves rats and compressed air, at which point he gets drafted and the story ends.

The strip was cryptically credited to “P.T.C.”, which turns out to have been a collaborative effort. We know that one of the contributors was artist Emmy Lou Packard – the “P” – but the identities of the other two creative talents remain a mystery. Emmy Lou Packard left the shipyards October 26, 1945.

An exhibition of Emmy Lou Packard’s shipyard illustrations will be on display at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, Calif. from August 5, 2015 through the end of the year.

These final strips ran from January 12, 1945 until March 30, 1945. Click on them to enlarge.
Supermac- gone, but not forgotten.

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/1JZdYZd

 

1/12/1945

January 12, 1945

January 19, 1945

January 19, 1945

January 26, 1945

January 26, 1945

February 2, 1945

February 2, 1945

February 9, 1945

February 9, 1945

February 16, 1945

February 16, 1945

February 23, 1945

February 23, 1945

March 2, 1945

March 2, 1945

March 9, 1945

March 9, 1945

March 16, 1945

March 16, 1945

March 23, 1945

March 23, 1945

March 30, 1945

March 30, 1945

 

 

 

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Further adventures of Supermac

posted on May 13, 2015

 

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

Supermac fights the crazy whirley crane, 12/15/1944

Supermac fights the crazy whirley crane, 12/15/1944

Between September 8, 1944, and March 30, 1945, a working class hero comic strip named Supermac ran in the weekly Kaiser Richmond shipyard magazine Fore ‘n’ Aft. An earlier post explained the evolution and role of this remarkable wartime graphic narrative, complete with the first seven strips. He was the empowered spirit of the home front workforce, appearing in an employee magazine with a circulation of 80,000 copies.

These strips, from November 10, 1944 until the end of the year, carry the story arc through a whirley crane made crazy by loco weed as unwitting part of a sinister German sabotage plot and ends on a hopeful New Year’s note. The home front work force desperately needed that boost – the war was turning, but “Victory in Europe” day would not be until May 8, 1945 and “Victory over Japan” day August 15.

Here are the next seven strips. Click on any image to enlarge.
Catch up on the first seven Supermac strips here. The last in the series is here.

11/10/1944

11/17/1944

11/17/1944

11/24/1944

11/24/1944

12/8/1944

12/8/1944

12/15/1944

12/15/1944

12/22/1944

12/22/1944

12/29/1944

12/29/1944

 

These images are from the digital collection of Fore ‘n’ Afts collaboratively produced by Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources and the Richmond Museum of History.

Short link to this story: http://k-p.li/1Flmi6T

 

 

 

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Supermac! World War II shipyard superhero!

posted on March 18, 2015

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Supermac!

Supermac!

The weekly magazines published in the World War II Kaiser shipyards – Fore ‘n’ Aft for the Richmond, Calif., yards and The Bo’s’n’s Whistle for the Portland, Ore., area yards – offer a remarkable trove of material on home front working culture. And what’s working culture without cartoons?

Labor has always used cartoon art as part of its communications arsenal. From acerbic cartoons of the Industrial Workers of the World, to Fred Wright’s iconic art in United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America publications, to the “SuperScrubs!” comic in Kaiser Permanente’s own Labor Management Partnership magazine HANK, the cartoon/comic genre has always been a popular medium.

Between September 8, 1944, and March 30, 1945, a comic strip named Supermac ran in Fore ‘n’ Aft. The “super” concept character had already permeated popular culture the iconic Superman first appeared in Action Comics in 1938 – but this Supermac fella was…different.

He was small and scrawny, and struggled to find privacy in a big public yard when changing into his super persona. Over the short span of 26 cartoons strips he fearlessly fought German saboteurs and industrial mishaps. He was the empowered spirit of the home front workforce, appearing in an employee magazine with a circulation of 80,000 copies.

The strip was cryptically credited to “P.T.C.”, which turns out to have been a collaborative effort. We know that one of the contributors was artist Emmy Lou Packard – the “P” – but the identities of the other two creative talents remain a mystery. Based on publication credits, “T” might have been either Rose Thompson or Virginia Thompson; the “C” could have been Mary Chapman, Stan Champion, Mary Lou Clark, or Jack Cook.

Presented here are the first seven strips. The next set can be seen here.

[Disambiguation alert – a subsequent, unrelated cartoon figure also named Supermac appeared in the British press in 1958, skewering British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (1957 to 1963.)]

These images are from the digital collection of Fore ‘n’ Afts collaboratively produced by Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources and the Richmond Museum of History.

Short link to this article: http://bit.ly/1O7iKqr

Click on any strip to enlarge.

Supermac

Supermac, 9/8/1944

Supermac, 9/15/1944

Supermac, 9/15/1944

Supermac. 9/22/1944

Supermac. 9/22/1944

Supermac, 9/29/1944

Supermac, 9/29/1944

Supermac, 10/13/1944

Supermac, 10/13/1944

Supermac, 10/20/1944

Supermac, 10/20/1944

Supermac, 10/27/1944

Supermac, 10/27/1944

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Emmy Lou Packard – WWII shipyard magazine illustrator

posted on September 3, 2014

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

The World War II Home Front demanded huge sacrifices from civilians, and the Kaiser shipyards saw people from all walks of life working side by side. My uncle was an anthropologist at UC Berkeley who spent four years as a marine steamfitter in Richmond; he also wrote for the weekly Kaiser Richmond shipyard magazine Fore ‘n’ Aft – whose staff editorial assistant was none other than the well-known contemporary artist Emmy Lou Packard.14_0715_03-sm

By the mid-1940s, California native Packard (1914-1998) was already a respected artist in the San Francisco Bay Area. She had received her Bachelor of Arts at UC Berkeley in 1936, where she had been arts editor of the Daily Californian and the campus literary magazine Occident. She was also the first female editor of the Pelican, the humor magazine. Packard later studied sculpture and fresco painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She had befriended renowned Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and after her first husband Burton Cairns’ tragic death in 1939 Packard went to Mexico where she lived and worked with the artistic couple.

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Emmy Lou Packard’s first Fore ‘n’ Aft illustration, July 28, 1944.

During World War II, Emmy Lou became a draftswoman at the Ames Shipbuilding and Drydock Company office in San Francisco, and later moved across the bay to work in the Kaiser Richmond shipyards. She first appeared in the Fore ‘n’ Aft masthead on June 16, 1944. Soon, in addition to her editorial work, Packard began to contribute art to the newspaper. She created scratchboard illustrations and drawings, drew a recurring single-frame cartoon “Shirley the Whirley” about an anthropomorphic rolling-and-turning shipyard crane with attitude, and collaborated on a cartoon strip called “Supermac,” which ran from September 8, 1944, through March 30, 1945.

4_1_3_c

“Emmy Lou Packard talking to an unknown man at the Richmond shipyards. circa 1941–1945. Photographer unknown. Gelatin silver print. Collection of Oakland Museum of California. The Oakland Tribune Collection. Gift of Emmy Lou Packard.”

Her debut as a shipyard illustrator in Fore ‘n’ Aft was July 28, 1944, with a powerful depiction of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6 that year. Artillery shells bursting in a night sky blasted above the fold, accompanying a first-hand account by former Richmond shipyard worker Richard Cox.

Although she would continue to create a few more major graphics, her forte became “spot illustrations”– those sweet, tiny images that break up type-heavy pages. Often, but not always, the graphics would accompany a specific article such as tips on workplace safety or healthy eating.

The illustrations were never credited, so identifying those done by Emmy Lou is an inexact process. Her son, Donald Cairns, has helped to try and confirm the approximately 100 illustrations she created over her 15 months at Fore ‘n’ Aft.

Packard’s lengthy obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned the approximately 100 paintings she made of shipyard scenes, but said nothing about her work on Fore ‘n’ Aft. Her son’s website honoring Packard’s career briefly mentions that stint without details, but until now no comprehensive survey of those illustrations has been available.

Such an omission can be explained by the unfortunate art world disinterest in something considered as lowly as labor newspaper illustrations as well as lack of access to the source material. The second limitation has now changed; this essay was made possible by a recent partnership between Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources and the Richmond (California) Museum of History to digitize as many issues of Fore ‘n’ Aft as possible. The graphics displayed here are the fruit of that digital collaboration.

What do the illustrations reveal?

The Kaiser shipyards began making transport vessels for the British government in 1941, before the United States joined the war. Two magazines covered seven yards (The Bos’n’s Whistle was the publication for the Portland, Ore., area Kaiser shipyards), and many of the cartoons and illustrations in the early issues reflect what one would expect from a trade dominated by straight, white, male industrial laborers of the time – sexist, racist, and homophobic.

But as a vastly different Home Front workforce replaced them, editorial sensibilities evolved as well. What a difference it made to have a politically progressive woman wielding a pen. Packard’s work was patriotic without resorting to racist jabs or stereotypes; she portrayed workers with dignity and character. She drew women’s experiences from a woman’s point of view – numerous vignettes show children (one of her regular subjects later in life), shopping, home life, and the challenges of survival and adjustment in a tempestuous time.

When Packard left Fore ‘n’ Aft, the editors wrote a testimonial on October 26, 1945 attesting to her contribution:

“Emmy Lou Packard is a fine artist. She painted the people who work in the yards with a deftness and freshness. But more, she sketched and painted how these workers feel. She pictured man in the complicated throes of the huge shipyards, with twisting pipes and rolls of cable drums, boilers and ten-ton steel plates, and plate shop presses fifteen feet high. Always man was a part of this complexity and always he controlled the huge machines and materials.”

These are but a few examples of Emmy Lou Packard’s previously unexamined yet important work.

Exhibition of Packard’s work at the Rosie the Riveter / WWII Home Front National Park, Richmond, Calif., 9/5/2015-12/30/2015

Short link to this article: http://bit.ly/1uB7vLC

The wartime Kaiser shipyards offered extensive child care facilities and family health care. 1/26/1945

The wartime Kaiser shipyards offered extensive child care facilities and family health care. 1/26/1945

The pageant of around-the-clock workers arriving and departing from the yards was captured in this vignette. 3/9/1945

The pageant of around-the-clock workers arriving and departing from the yards was captured in this vignette. 3/9/1945

For many, the shipyards was the first experience in working alongside people of different races; here, black-white cooperation is graphically reinforced by the positive and negative shadowing of the ship they have built together behind them. 2/22/1945

For many people, the shipyards were their first experience in working alongside people of different races; here, black-white cooperation is graphically reinforced by the positive and negative shadowing of the ship they have built together behind them. 2/22/1945

Peacetime dreams became increasingly topical as the war neared its end; here, a couple contemplates the question that “You like pre-fabbed card, why not houses?” Henry J. Kaiser advocated mass-produced affordable housing. 3/9/1945

Peacetime dreams became increasingly topical as the war neared its end; here, a couple contemplates the question that “You like pre-fabbed cars, why not houses?” Henry J. Kaiser advocated mass-produced affordable housing. 3/9/1945

This hard-hat-wearing dinner-making mother succinctly shows women’s nonstop work at home and in shipyard production. 3/30/1945

This hard-hat-wearing dinner-making mother succinctly shows women’s nonstop work at home and in shipyard production. 3/30/1945

Humorous class commentary places this uncomfortable white-collar suit amidst a trolley full of shipyard overalls 7/13/1945

Humorous class commentary places this uncomfortable white-collar suit amidst a trolley full of shipyard overalls. 7/13/1945

Many Fore ‘n’ Aft articles featured the rich diversity of the labor force; this illustration about Latin American immigrant workers is beautifully rendered by Packard in a style that would have made Diego Rivera proud. 3/30/1945

Many Fore ‘n’ Aft articles featured the rich diversity of the labor force; this illustration about Latin American immigrant workers is beautifully rendered in a style that shows Diego Rivera’s influence. 3/30/1945

Shipyard production ran around the clock; this shows night shift workers talking to each other. 3/23/1945

Shipyard production ran around the clock; this shows night shift workers talking to each other. 3/23/1945

 

These images are from the digital collection of Fore ‘n’ Afts collaboratively produced by Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources and the Richmond Museum of History.

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