|Home -> Other California Books -> Art-Lovers Guide to the Exposition -> Palaces Facing the Marina, and the Column of Progress|
Palaces Facing the Marina, and the Column of Progress
The walled-city idea, which throws most of the fine architecture into interior courts, is even more severely carried out in the north facades than in the south. The palaces on the Marina, indeed, present a wall unbroken except by the central doorways and the slight corner projections. The small domes at the corners give a Moorish touch, reminiscent of Southern Spain, and the portals are direct adaptations from Spanish masterpieces.
Palace of Mines
The north facade of the Palace of Mines is free from all ornament except the richly decorative central portal. This is worthy of prolonged study, being one of the finest bits of architectural ornament at the Exposition. It is designed very closely after Spanish models, and is of that transitional period of Spanish architecture that came between the Gothic and the Renaissance, when Gothic had been enriched through the influence of Moorish art, and was just beginning to feel the impulse of the Italian Renaissance. Note how rich is every part of the detail; then note how all detail is subordinated to the mass effect of the whole.
The statues in the niches of the portal are by Allen Newman. The central mantled figure is called the "Conquistador," or conqueror. The artist has here portrayed in spirited fashion a fine type of Spanish nobility. The figure in the side niches, with an old-style pistol in his belt and a rope in his hand, is "The Pirate."
The east facade of the Palace of Mines duplicates that of the Varied Industries Palace, and the west facade forms one side of the north Court of Abundance.
Palace of Transportation
Here the one notably artistic feature is the central portal on the north side, which is an exact replica of the Spanish doorway of the Palace of Mines.
The Column of Progress
This monument symbolizes the energy, the unconquerable spirit that is forever pressing forward to overcome new obstacles, which has led to the building of the Canal. The idea of such a monument was conceived by A. Stirling Calder, the architectural design is from the hand of W. Symmes Richardson, the reliefs at the base are by Isidore Konti, and the crowning statue is by Hermon A. MacNeil. The Column of Progress as a whole is among the finest artistic achievements of the Exposition, and more than any other, perhaps, is worthy of perpetuation in permanent materials to commemorate for all time the opening of the Panama Canal and the holding of the Exposition.
Reliefs at base. The high relief frieze on the square base of the column represents mankind heeding the call to achievement. On the south face are allegoric figures calling mankind to the struggle, the two women holding palm branches, the insignia of victory. On the other three faces are shown groups of figures striving forward at the call, pressing on to achievement, some joyously, some laboriously, some stopped altogether in thought. The whole frieze suggests the beginning of progress.
In the spiral that winds about the column certain interpreters have found a symbol of the upward march of human achievement; but as this spiral decoration is found on the Column of Trajan and the Column of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman prototypes of the Column of Progress, there probably is no special significance in its use here.
Supporting the crowning group is a drum with crouching figures of toilers in relief, entitled "The Burden Bearers."
The Adventurous Bowman is the title of the surmounting statue. The heroic Bowman, facing the skies and the seas, and launching his arrow into the unknown, is the symbol of the impulse that leads men to dare all to achieve victory. At the left of the central figure is a man of smaller stature, leaning against the Bowman to give him support. On the other side a woman crouches, looking up as the arrow speeds on its way. The ring-like object in the woman's hand, which is so hard to identify when one views the group from the ground, is a wreath.
There is about the Bowman a remarkable sense of movement, of energy, of pressing forward, no matter what the view point of the spectator. The monument should be seen from as far north as possible, near the corner of the California building, perhaps. From here, from the Esplanade as one approaches from either east or west, and from the Court of the Universe at the rear, the group has the same inspirational quality, the same sense of joyous effort, of courageous striving toward achievement. The placing of the monument where it closes three important vistas is commended for study to those who have in charge the artistic destinies of our cities.
Palace of Agriculture
The north facade of the Palace of Agriculture is bare except for the central portal, which again duplicates that of the Palace of Mines.
Palace of Food Products
The north facade of this palace duplicates that of the Palace of Agriculture. But when one turns the west corner into Administration Avenue, one finds an entirely different atmosphere, where the Spanish architecture has given way to Italian. The dominating feature of the building's west facade is an immense half-dome, officially called "The Half-dome of Physical Vigor." This is an exact replica of the "Half-dome of Philosophy" on the Education Palace.
Sculpture. Before the half-dome here, on columns, are replicas of Ralph Stackpole's statue of the physically vigorous man in thought. Inside the half-dome is a repeated figure of a man with a wreath, by Earl Cummings.
In the niches along the walls are two alternating compositions, "Abundance" and "The Triumph of the Field," by Charles R. Harley. Abundance is typified by a seated woman, with the conventional overflowing cornucopias beside her, as well as a conglomeration of details suggestive of the riches of land and sea. This group certainly belongs to the Food Products building, but it really ought to be inside, with the flowers made of butter and the tower of raisins. The Triumph of the Field shows a man seated, and around him a museum of ancient symbols of agriculture, and of agricultural triumph, such as were once carried in the annual harvest festivals. These two groups are among the most amusing things at the Exposition; but artistically they can hardly be said to count at all.