The Famous San Francisco Artist You Never Heard Of: Antonio Sotomayor
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Treasure Island Museum | Room 111, 1 Avenue of the Palms, San Francisco, CA
Submitted by the Event Organizer
Known as “San Francisco’s Artist Laureate” throughout his lifetime, Antonio Sotomayor was a celebrated artist in many media and an author. If you are a San Francisco gadabout, you have probably seen one of his creations without really trying. Born in Bolivia in 1902, Sotomayor emigrated to San Francisco as a young man to train as an architect. Instead, he took a job as a dishwasher. Thanks to his talent and charisma, and his habit of doodling on menus, he swiftly evolved from dishwasher to commercial artist to society sophisticate.
The Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939-1940 offered opportunities for scores of local artists to create the sculptures and murals that would articulate the fair’s theme of “Pacific Unity.” Sotomayor was handed a remarkable commission: the enormous “Fountain of the Pacific,” fabricated at Gladding McBean, one of America’s foremost facilities for the creation of architectural and artistic terra cotta. Sotomayor once wrote that the “Map–Foundation of the Pacific was one of the most challenging” projects of his career. The fountain, now divided into sections, is among the fragments of the GGIE’s artistic legacy still surviving on Treasure Island. At the time of his death, Sotomayor had reason to believe that it would remain on Treasure Island, in public view, forever.
The fountain occupied Sotomayor for just six months in a career that spanned six decades. Many of his artistic endeavors created before and after the GGIE remain in the Bay Area, and in galleries and museums worldwide, for all to enjoy. Join us for this exploration of his legacy on the 83rd anniversary of the opening of the GGIE.
Speaker: Anne Schnoebelen is a board member and historian at the Treasure Island Museum, and one of the managers of its ”Little Island, Big Ideas” series. She has been advocating for the restoration of the Sotomayor fountain for three decades.
Part of the “Little Island – Big Ideas” Treasure Island Museum Program Series
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