Vic Miller & Benton








Above is a photo of Garth Benton and his father-in-law, Vic Presco, on a fishing boat. I will be giving this image to the Oakland Museum, because it is of great historic interest.

Garth looks very much like his kindred, Senator Thomas Harte Benton, whose son-in-law was worshipped by the author, Joaquin Miller, who made more than one monument for Fremont on his property in the Oakland Hills, called ‘The Hights’. Miller may have named a park after Fremont that is highlighted by a pyramid fountain and one of the thousands of trees that Joaquin planted. Joaquin says after his father read him and his brothers the adventures of Fremont as boys, did he have a role model.

Vic’s mother, Melba, became a friends of Miller and his daughter, Juanita. Her parents and grandparents had a fruit orchard just below the Hights. When she gave birth to her only child, Joaquin would put my infant father on his lap and ride the trolley with Melba to the Ferry Building where they would catch a ferry for San Francisco. Miller acted as Melba’s bodyguard when she visited Vic’s father, Victor Hugo Presco, a professional gambler in the infamous Barbary Coast. I don’t think Hugo married Melba.

Miller watched my father grow up. As a teenager Vic admired Jack London. Near the end of his life my father told me he used Wolf Larsen as a role model in raising his two sons. When it came to raising his two daughters, he was like Scarlet’s nanny, Prissy.

Vic loved his daughters more than the law allowed. He worked his sons – like slaves! On our days off Vic tried to teach us how to play Bridge because Vic loved to play Bridge. We were ten, nine, and eight years old. While Vic berated his boys for being card-playing morons, he excused Christine who found the paint-by-numbers kit that Vic bought Mark in order to see if his eldest had any talent. While the men in Christine’s life played three-handed Pinocle, Christine is filling in the board with colors. When she was done, she came and showed us her rendering of a grey horse with a white mane. Vic rained down much praise, and bid Christine to show her horse to Rosemary who also praised this girl who would become a famous artist. After Mark refused the kit, Vic offered it to me. I refused to take up the gauntlet, saying;

“That’s cheating!”

There is no connection in the two biographies about Rosamond that I have just made. There is this lie about Rosamond’s parents oppressing her art – for my sake. This claim is accurate in these words;

“Fearing that Christine would steal her brother’s spotlight as the family artist…”

“Christine would steal her brother’s spotlight”

I suspect Alley Valkyrie stole my muse. I will not be attending the Fist Friday Art Walk in downtown Eugene, lest Prettybelle point me out to a couple of wounded female Ninja Psychos who would creep up behind me and sink their bitchy knives in my liver.

If Bret Harte was alive and reading this blog, he would run it as a serial in his Overland magazine that became Out West where my grandfather’s poems and stories appear.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2014

If Christine’s parents had embraced her talent, there might be existing works from her childhood, but this was not to be. Fearing that Christine would steal her brother’s spotlight as the family artist, Christine’s mother, Rosemary, forbade Christine to draw at home. The only time she could express herself was at school or in her closet, by flashlight, when everyone else was asleep. Though we don’t have images to prove it, Christine’s kindergarten teacher has said that, by age five, Christine was already drawing with adult skill. She can remember Christine’s pictures of animals having near perfect detail and perspective.

In addition to oppressing Christine artistically, Rosemary also dominated Christine with physical violence. Trying to support four children with only a high school education and little help from her alcoholic husband, Rosemary was often enraged. She took this rage out on Christine and Christine’s earliest known works reflect it. In Teenage Drawing II, her subject is reticent and withdrawn. In Teenage Drawing III, the woman looks shocked and angry.

John C. Fremont Monument (1904) Joaquin Miller Park, City of Oakland Parks and Recreation
“Joaquin Miller erected this monument where it was reputed that Fremont first saw the sun set over the bay in 1846.” Park Brochure
Miller was influenced by the “folly gardens” throughout Europe but especially in England

John C. Fremont Monument (1904) Joaquin Miller Park, City of Oakland Parks and Recreation

Interior of the John C. Fremont Monument (1904) Joaquin Miller Park, City of Oakland Parks and Recreation

From 1886 to his death in 1913, Joaquin Miller resided on a hill in Oakland, in a home he called “The Hights” [sic]. He planted the surrounding trees and he personally built, on the eminence to the north, his own funeral pyre (not used) and monuments dedicated to Moses, explorer General John C. Frémont, and the poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The Japanese poet Yone Noguchi began his literary career while living in the cabin adjoining Millers’ during the latter half of the 1890s.

The name (originally Fruit Vale) comes from the many fruit orchards (largely apricot and cherry) which dominated the area in the late 19th century. After the 1906 earthquake, the onslaught of refugees from San Francisco caused a population boom, and the unincorporated neighborhood was annexed into the City of Oakland by 1909.

Arrangements Completed for Interesting Program OAKLAND, Jan. I?.—Arrangements have been completed for the program to be given at the John C. Fremont high school Saturday evening, when Joaquin Miller, the “Poet of the Sierras.” will deliver an address on his personal memories of John C. Fremont, the great pathfinder. The. entertainment has been planned to raise money for the purchase of a bronze bust of Fremont to be placed in the front yard of tlie school. In addition to the address by Miller, the following program will be given: Fremont song, high jcbool chorus; song. Mi*g Zoe. Blodg«tt; dramatle reading. Mrs. Batna E. c. Kobert H. Thomas: violin solo, Mrs. Alfred Cutler Fay.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Vic Miller & Benton

  1. Reblogged this on rosamondpress and commented:

    I foretold the coming of Trump in this blog, because he first appeared as my father, who beautiful young secretaries titled ‘Vic The Nazi’. They worked for this Loan Shark in his home. During luncntime he would put on Nazi War videos and explain how Germany could have won that war. Then, it’s back to work taking homes away from little old ladies which Captain Vic got busted for. Here are artists protesting the High Rise of Von Trump.
    Artists protesting at the Puck Building, where Ivanka Trump lives with her husband, Jared Kushner. His family owns the building. Credit Benjamin Norman for The New York Times
    The contemporary art world in New York is not known for its political cohesion or conviction, at least in recent years. But more than 150 artists, curators and gallery workers turned out Monday night to march in front of a Downtown Manhattan building where Ivanka Trump, the future first daughter, has an apartment and is believed to keep some pieces of a notable contemporary collection.

    The quiet, orderly protest in front of the Puck Building, owned by the family of Ms. Trump’s husband, the developer and investor Jared Kushner, drew well-known artists like Cecily Brown, Rob Pruitt, Ryan McNamara, Jonah Freeman, Dan Colen and Marilyn Minter, whose work is the subject of a retrospective now on view at the Brooklyn Museum. Nate Lowman, an artist whose work Ms. Trump is known to collect, also marched, along with the art dealer Bill Powers.

    “The culture changes, and fascism rears its ugly head every so often and that’s what’s happening now,” said Ms. Minter, marching with a battery-powered candle and a sign that made a comically profane reference to Donald J. Trump’s claim to have grabbed women’s genitals. “We wanted to do something to start to the ball rolling, to grow a protest, and we’re artists, so we know how to make posters.”

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