June 24, 2004 - Art Deco and Arco
The gold guy you see here can be found in front of the UCSB Student Health Services Building. As you enter campus from IV, it is pretty much the first thing on your right. The style is art deco, a favorite subject of former UCSB professor David Gebhard who wrote the book on art deco in America. Literally. His book is called, The National Trust Guide to Art Deco in America.
Professor Gebhard collected a lot of art deco in his time, including this one. The gold guy was originally in the main entrance of the old Richfield Oil Building in downtown Los Angeles. In fact, there were four gold guys. Old Gears-for-Ears is only one of three that are display in front of the Student Health Center.
The three of them are arranged in a circle, each facing out to a different direction. Around the base are three words that align themselves with each statue. The words are Navigation, Aviation, and Industry. The gold guy above is Industry. The aviation guy on the left has ears like Legolas.
We heard from a dedicated subscriber that the fourth statue was not be displayed on campus because the head was stolen.
The Richfield Oil Building was torn down in 1968, shortly after Atlantic Refining Company and Richfield Oil Company merged to become the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO).
They built Arco Plaza in its place. British Petroleum purchased ARCO in 2000, but they didn’t rename the company, BARCO.
Artist Haig Patigian created the art deco statues. Patigian was an Armenian immigrant who, as a young child, fled from Turkish repression in the late 1800’s. He grew up in Fresno (lots of Armenians there), and moved to San Francisco at the turn of the century. There he made statues. He made a Herbert Hoover bust that’s on display in Hoover Tower at Stanford University and a statue of Thomas Starr King on display in the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, DC.
He also created statues of General Pershing, Helen Wills, and President McKinley. The one of McKinley is in the northern California town of Arcata.
That particular statue miraculously survived the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.
Interestingly, the dedicated staff of edhat.com wasn’t able to find another piece of art by Patigian done in the art deco style.
A tribute to firefighters by Patigian stands in Washington Square in San Francisco. Everyone knows that a picture of the statue of Ben Franklin in Washington Square is on the cover of the one of the greatest American novels ever written, Trout Fishing in America, by Richard Brautigan. Unfortunately for Patigian, his statue didn’t make the cover. He didn’t even make the first chapter. Franz Kafka, Adlai Stevenson, Tom & Jerry, and H. D. Cogswell did.
Rowman152, LostGirla, KallaPillar, Mikitchy were the only 4 edhat.com subscribers who correctly identified the statue as being in front of the UCSB Student Health Services Building. Rowman152 was selected as the winner of the movie tickets - Goldfinger, anyone?
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