(1914 - 1998)
Emmy Lou Packard was active/lived in California. Emmy Packard is known for blockprint-ship portrait, mosaic, mural painting.
Biography from the Archives of askART
Lou Packard was born in California in 1914. She lived in Mexico City as
a child; while there she received regular art criticism and
encouragement from Diego Rivera. She studied fresco at the California
School of Fine Arts, and in 1940 she was Diego Rivera's assistant on his
World's Fair mural in San Francisco.
Biography from Clars Auction Gallery
Rivera's advice to her was
to avoid formal art training because it would spoil her originality. As
an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley in the
1930s she studied natural sciences, taking an occasional art course.
at school she eloped with architect Burton Cairns; they became the
parents of a son, Donald. Tragically her husband was killed in an
automobile accident in 1939, leaving her a widow at the age of
Packard's friendship with both Rivera and Frida
Kahlo was very warm. She lived in a small apartment that had been
Kahlo's; she ate meals with them and even took trips with them. She was
even subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities
Committee because of her close relationship with them, but was never
actually called to testify.
Packard was constantly involved in
community activities. She remarried and continued to spend an amazingly
active life. She was known for her work in watercolor, oils,
mosaic, laminated plastic, concrete and printmaking.
Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.
From the Internet, AskART.com
An Art for Living by Dee Whalen in Diabetic Forecast Magazine, January 1988
The following, submitted by Katherine Wong of Clars Auctions Company, is the obituary of the artist published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, March 25, 1998.
Biography from Packard Prints
"Emmy Lou Packard, Artist, Teacher And Social Activist"
- Allan Temko
SAN FRANCISCO -- A remembrance celebration of the life and work of
artist Emmy Lou Packard, who brought the same passion to the cause of
social justice and peace as she did to her paintings and prints, will
be held at the First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin St., at 3:15 p.m.
on Sunday. Ms. Packard died of diabetes and related illnesses in
a San Francisco convalescent home on February 22. She would have
been 85 years old April 15.
Throughout her long career, Ms.
Packard upheld the ideal of easily understandable public art.
Although she admired some abstract modern art and even bought
"elitist'' paintings by her friends to adorn the delightful studio
homes she created in North Beach, the Mendocino sea-front, and the
Mission District, her goal was always to reach out to the people en
Thus, her large murals and, particularly, inexpensive
woodblock and linoleum prints -- often of multiethnic children and
workers -- brought her a large following among radicals and
Yet, like her friend and teacher Diego
Rivera's works, her art never succumbed to Stalinist social realism,
although she did look to Moscow and later Beijing for many other
things. Her hand was too deft, her wit too incisive, for such humorless
Up until the 1990s, when she taught and encouraged
young Latino artists to work on a big scale for the common good, she
adhered to the goal of a Marxist popular art. Yet she herself
occasionally was close to abstract expressionism, as in the tremendous
sand-cast concrete mural that serves as a parapet on the Golden Bear
Center, facing Lower Sproul Plaza, at the University of California at
Berkeley. Done in the mid-1960s, it was finished just in time for the
huge student demonstrations for free speech and against the Vietnam War.
Such political engagement came to Ms. Packard almost as a family
inheritance. She was literally born into left-of-center politics,
in an agricultural cooperative community in the Imperial Valley that
her parents, Walter and Emma Packard, helped to found.
Packard tradition of feminism dates back to the 1850s when Ms.
Packard's great-grandmother, Elizabeth Ware Packard, led successful
struggles in 13 states to obtain due process of law for women, who
previously could be committed to mental institutions simply on the word
of their husbands.
Ms. Packard's father, Walter Packard, was an
internationally known agronomist. In 1927, taking his family with him,
he went to Mexico City as a consultant on the government's historic
land reform program.
There, Ms. Packard, who drew and painted
precociously at the age of 13, was taken by her mother to meet muralist
Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo. Rivera later recalled the
beauty of the little girl ``with the face of a French Gothic angel
plucked from the reliefs of Chartres.'' When he came to San
Francisco to do a fresco for the Treasure Island World's Fair in 1940
(now at City College of San Francisco), she was his full-time assistant
and painted side by side with him on many areas of the
By then, Ms. Packard was a full-
fledged artist who had studied from 1932 to 1936 at UC Berkeley, where
she was art editor of the Daily Californian, the student newspaper, and of Occident, the campus literary magazine. She was also the first female editor of the Pelican, the humor magazine.
In 1934, she startled her sorority sisters when she eloped to Nevada
with the brilliant young architect Burton Cairns. She then
astonished the student body when she brought her baby, Donald Cairns,
to class with her. In 1939, her husband died in an auto crash.
Ms. Packard returned to Mexico to live and work with Rivera and Kahlo
and took the famous photographs of them that are now icons of 20th
century art. She also did some 300 oil paintings, water colors
and drawings that she exhibited in 1941 and 1942 at galleries in Los
Angeles and San Francisco, and a one-woman show of her works in oils at
the San Francisco Museum of Art (now the San Francisco Museum of Modern
Art), which firmly established her career.
By 1943, she left
aside her fine art to work as an engineering drafter in defense
industries, most notably in the Kaiser shipyards. As the war
wound down, she was able to do some 100 shipyard paintings, dominated
by cranes and other heavy machinery, but light and optimistic in
feeling. During that exceptionally productive period, she
experimented with plastics in light sculptures, illustrated third-grade
textbooks for the San Francisco public schools, organized the annual
San Francisco Arts Festival and was a founder of Artists Equity, a
group very like a union for artists.
A memorable moment, in
1949, was a group show of her paintings, together with work by her
friends Robert McChesney, Edward Corbett and her future husband, Byron
Randall. By 1952, she was producing wood and linoleum prints of
local crab fishermen, net menders, artichoke pickers and other
workers. Another trip to Mexico enabled her to study new
developments in mural techniques. She did many murals and other
adornments for schools, and had the happy idea of inviting the children
to help make mosaics or assemblages of seashells, pebbles, broken
ceramic tiles and other found objects.
Among her most
interesting commissions were for murals and room decorations for the
Lurline, Mariposa and other Matson Line cruise ships.
she and Randall moved to a Victorian house facing the sea in Mendocino,
where they had charming studios and a house gallery. She became known
as a formidable environmentalist, helping to protect the shoreline from
ugly developments. With equal fervor, she opposed the Vietnam War
and donated posters and drawings to groups such as Women for Peace.
But her marriage to Randall was dissolving. In 1969, she returned
alone to San Francisco, where she became a much-loved figure in the
Mission District, championing its Latino culture a generation before
others discovered its vitality and charm. She also led the
victorious fight to save Anton Refregier's frescoes depicting
California history in the lobby of the Rincon Annex post office on
lower Mission Street.
She spent much of her later years
preparing a biography and appreciation of Rivera, illustrated with her
photographs. She was unable to finish the work.
West Coast artist Emmy Lou Packard was born in California in 1914. As a child living with her family in Mexico City, she received regular art criticism and encouragement from Diego Rivera. In 1940, after studying fresco at the California School of Fine Arts, she was Rivera's assistant on his World's Fair mural in San Francisco. In addition to her work in fresco, she is known for her work in watercolor, oil, mosaic, laminated plasitc, concrete and printmaking, both in linocuts and woodblocks.
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She has had one woman shows at the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Raymond and Raymond Gallery (S.F.), the Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover, MA), Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, the Pushkin Museum (Moscow), and the March Gallery, Chicago.
She has received numerous awards for her painting and print work.
She designed and printed 300 woodcuts for the state rooms of the Matson Line ships SS Mariposa and SS Monterey, as well as mosaics and linoleum murals for the SS Lurline.
Her architectural commissions have included a 6 x 20 foot mosaic mural at the Hillcrest Elementary School in San Francisco, a 4 x 85 foot concrete bas relief for the Student Center, University of California, Berkeley, a 16 x 76 foot mural for the Fresno (CA) Convention Center Theatre, as well as a 70 x 16 foot glazed brick mural for a public library in Pinole, California.
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