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 Aloys Ludwig Bohnen  (1880 - 1969)

About: Aloys Ludwig Bohnen


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Lived/Active: California/Minnesota      Known for: Portrait painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from John Ervin, a great nephew of the artist.

Aloys, I am 99.9% certain, was born in 1880, and, unless I'm greatly mistaken, passed in 1969.

He was commissioned by FDR as part of WPA to do most of the huge murals in San Diego, as train station walls, etc.  My mom said she thought most of them had not been protected, they were tearing those buildings down in recent years without much thought of saving those wondrous works of his, some of his most striking, content enough to name some local "Der Wienerschnitzel" as a national landmark or other, you know, though good photographs of the murals still survive. 

There is also a coffee table book in which his fabulous art deco mosaics of the Avalon Casino interior at Catalina Island survive as well, I've seen them. Some guy there at the Casino, John Hammond? or somebody or other, had overseen the works there, and had copped the claim for them, which was a bald theft of Aloys work, and several other artists involved, but last I heard from Mom, such falsehoods are slowly being corrected, since he also did most of the really original decor inside Chinese Theater in Hollywood, certainly both of those venues are of national prominence and enduring artistic relevance, given the quality of his work, especially, and the sites' themselves.
A number of Aloys' paintings now hang at the Bowers Museum here in Santa Ana, a town where he spent most of his last years after he left his studio in Point Loma, San Diego, which burned down along with hundreds of his works, almost all of his "oeuvre." 

Fortunately, there were a few dozen or so things which were not there at the fire, which survive, and some he was able to rescue, while sustaining burns for which he had to be hospitalized. He never painted again after that. 

He moved up here to OC and lived with Earl Fraser, a fine pianist and voice teacher who had taught my mom and her exceptionally fine soprano, until Fraser died rather young of a sudden heart attack, and then Aloys moved to a rest home nearby in Costa Mesa in his last few years after that. 

Even I, without the same zeal for painting as I have for classical music, am nonetheless wowed by a lot of the stuff Aloys painted or sketched.  He was crazy good at what he did. 

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Aloys Ludwig Bohnen was born in Minnesota of German descent on Sept. 20, 1889. Bohnen was a resident of Minneapolis in 1915 and active in New York before settling in San Diego in 1922. He maintained a studio in Balboa Park where he taught and was active in the local art scene until 1948. He died in Newport Beach, CA on May 16, 1967.

Member: San Diego Art Guild. Exh: SFAA, 1912; Artists of So. Calif., San Diego FA Gallery, 1926; Associated Artists of San Diego, 1929. Works Held: Bowers Museum (Santa Ana); National Academy of Design (New York City) (portrait of Donal Hord).
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
California Arts and Architecture list, 1932; American Art Annual 1915; Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); Death record.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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