Paramount Theatre, Oakland, California
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Page Three: Artists and Designers

click for image and description of Lower Suite Women's Lounge
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Timothy Pflueger
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Pflueger & Rivera
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Artists & Designers
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Timeline: 1929-1931
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Space Reserved
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Space Reserved
History of the Paramount Theatre
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(Page Three)

Artists and Designers
Theodore Bernardi (1903-1990) served as director of the artistic program for Miller and Pflueger on the Paramount Theatre project. A former designer for the architect John Galen Howard, he was active in the early 1930s in the Civil Works Administration in San Francisco and was a District Officer for the Historic American Buildings Survey. In 1945 he became a partner in the architectural firm of Wurster, Bernardi, and Promona.

click for image and description of women's smoking room Charles Stafford Duncan (1892-1952) painted the mural in the basement women's smoking room of the theatre. A painter and printmaker, Duncan was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, studied at the Mark Hopkins Institute, now the California Institute of Fine Arts, and was a member of the San Francisco Art Association, the California Society of Etchera, and the Bohemian Club. Duncan's awards included the SFAA Gold Medal and the Bohemian Club's James D. Phelan Prize in 1927, the SFAA's Anne Bremmer Prize and the Pacific Southwest Exposition's Gold Medal in 1928, and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor's William L. Gerstle Prize in 1930. He died in New York City in 1952 at the age of 59.
[Also see: AskArt collection of Charles Stafford Duncan material]

click for image and description of grand lobby entrance and fountain of light click for image and description of grand lobby ceiling Gerald Fitzgerald designed the cartoons from which the mosaics on the facade of the Paramount Theatre were made and was also the designer of the "fountain of light," the large (almost 35-foot-high) illuminated carved glass composition that is the principal decorative feature of the entrance end of the grand lobby. It was from Fitzgerald's preliminary designs that Robert Boardman Howard prepared the bas-relief sculptural panels of the auditorium, and Fitzgerald was also responsible for the auditorium and grand lobby ceiling designs. He studied architecture at the University of California at Berkeley and was a member of the Miller and Pflueger staff until the late 1930s. He served as an office consultant on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge project and was referred to by Pflueger as "a brilliant young artist." Data on his career after his leaving the Pflueger firm have not been found.

click for larger image of grand drape Michael A. Goodman (1903-1991) drew and painted the design of the grand drape, a deep valance of hard stretched velvet. He also served as an "idea-man" for the architects and artists working with Bernardi on the Paramount Theatre project. Goodman was born in Lithuania and joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley in 1927. An artist, architect, and city planner, he had received the San Francisco Art Association Gold Medal in 1925 and the American Graphic Artists Society Award in 1930 as well as other prizes before the Paramount was planned. Goodman formed his own architectural firm in 1934 and was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1945, the year he was appointed Professor of Architecture at the University of California, where he designed several of the Berkeley campus buildings. In 1970 he received the Berkeley Citation for distinguished achievement and notable service to the University of California. Since 1973 he was Professor Emeritus and Research Architect at the University.
[Also see: U.C., Berkeley: In Memoriam - Michael Arthur Goodman]

auditorium wall relief Robert Boardman Howard (1896-1983) executed the incised decorative reliefs (called graffito-work by Pflueger) for the auditorium walls and, with Ralph Stackpole, for the proscenium and ceiling panels. Howard, a noted sculptor and muralist in later years, adapted the mold-making technique he had used for making relief maps during U. S. military service in France during 1918-1919 for his Paramount Theatre work. He won the San Francisco Art Association First Medal for Sculpture in 1937, 1941, 1943, and 1944, and his work is represented in a number of leading musesms, including the Museum of Modern Art. A member of the California Society of Mural Artists, Howard worked with Pflueger on both murals and sculpture for the San Francisco Stock Exchange. He continued to reside in the San Francisco area until his death in 1983.
[Also see: Smithsonian Archive of American Art 9/16/64 interview with Robert Boardman Howard]
[Also see: AskArt collection of Robert Boardman Howard material]

Dorothy Wright Liebes (1899-1972) was special consultant to Timothy Pflueger for the textiles, including the stage curtains, used in the Paramount Theatre. She was then on the threshold of her long and distinguished career in textile design. After designing the appliqued gold and silver pattern of the house curtain, among other things, for the Paramount, she worked with Pflueger again in 1939, when she designed the white silk ceiling-to-floor draperies for his Patent Leather Lounge in the St. Francis Hotel. California-born (Guerneville, CA) Dorothy Liebes numbered Frank Lloyd Wright, Edward Durell Stone, and King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia among her international clients, and her commissions ranged from the Persian Room of the Plaza Hotel in New York to the main lounge of the S. S. Constitution. She specialized in custom-designed hand-loomed textiles, not infrequently combining metallic yarns with silk and cotton. Her textiles formed an integral component of the architectural settings in which they were used, and her influence raised the craft of weaving to the status of an art.
[Also see: Smithsonian Archives of American Art Dorothy Liebes biography and collections]
[Also see: Dorothy Liebes entry in Notable American Women: The Modern Period]

click for larger images and description of facade mosaic Milton T. Pflueger, A.I.A., Timothy Pflueger's brother, worked with Theodore Bernardi in designing work, including human and animal figures for the facade mosaic, and interior details. He also assisted Bernardi in directing the work of other artists. He joined Miller and Pflueger in 1929 and upon his brother's death in 1946 became head of the firm, then Timothy L. Pflueger and Associates. Milton Pflueger continues to head the firm, now Milton T. Pflueger and Associates, and was a consultant to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill during the restoration of the theatre in 1973.

Ralph Stackpole (1885-1974) was the sculptor primarily responsible for the proscenium ceiling panel on which Robert Boardman Howard also worked. (also see: Library of Congress photo of proscenium ceiling panel). A noted sculptor, and also a painter, Stackpole was born in Williams, Oregon, and entered the California School of Fine Arts in 1901. In 1906-07, he studied under Antoine Marclet at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and in 1911 he studied painting under Robert Henri in New York. After a second European stay in 1922-23, he returned to teach at the California School of Fine Arts for nearly twenty years. In 1930 he did the sculpture for Pflueger's San Francisco Stock Exchange, and in 1938-39 he again worked with Pflueger, when he created monumental sculpture for the Golden Gate International Exposition. In 1949 he settled in Puy-de-Dome, his French wife's native province, where he died in 1974. Ralph Stackpole's major artistic interest was the integration of monumental sculpture with architecture.
[Also see: AskArt collection of Ralph Stackpole material]
[Also see: Coit Tower & Murals, San Francisco Photos]
[Also see: Ralph Stackpole's contributions to architecture and art of City Club of San Francisco]
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