I blogged on the painting ‘Katherine’ a week ago, then, realized this was one of works my sister posed for. Christine Rosamond Benton often used herself as a model.
Brother and Sister Artists
In loving memory of Christine Rosamond
We walked the same secret paths
of a shared childhood
When I turned
you were there
this female that came with me
when you were born
You are the one I did not have to
go look for
You were close by
when I spotted a butterfly
When I turned over a rock
your small hands
grasped the crayfish
When I dipped my brushes
in the colors on my pallet
you watched carefully
as if I made stitches
with a needle and thread
The idea of making
The gift of creating
The magic we shared
with inquiring eyes
Look at my work
and see I am one with you
Christine was not aware she was related to Philip Boileau when she died in 1994, nor was anyone she knew. I came upon the ‘Painter of Fair Women’ when doing our family genealogy. What my discovery does is raise my sister out of the commercial morass her fledging gift was cast into by those who beheld dollar signs dancing around the heads of the beautiful women she rendered – like cherubs from hell!Philip was the son of Susan Benton the sister of Jessie Benton. Both sisters lived in Paris. They held salons in this capital of European culture, and in Newark and San Francisco. If there is such a thing as a creative celestial salon for Artists and Poets who have left the planet, then here is a list of kindred souls who have left a great part of themselves behind.
Thomas Hart Benton
Christine Rosamond Benton
Shannon Rosamond, Drew Benton, and myself, are alive and rendering works of art and writing poetry. Being creative is the family strategy for survival. In the spriti of the Benton sisters, let us consider our kindred a living Benton salon where our children of the future will come for inspiration.
Yesterday, Jeremy Dundon, and his six year old daughter, Jasmine, came to my house for a visit. In compiling this slide show above, I noticed how much Jasmine looks like Muffy, our kindred on the Wieneke branch. There is a Rosamond titled ‘Jessie’ and ‘Bree’ the daughters of Garth Benton. ‘Garden Child’ is my nephew, Cean Presco, the son of my brother, Mark Presco.
A year ago my sister Vicki called me and wanted to make amends, and go forward. She told me our aunt Lillian had died, and Mark had disappeared himself. I conclude that this family disunity is just an illusion, because there exist a dichotomy in regards to all those who create, being, no matter how isolated, we are bid to show-off our creations. For family members who are not artists and poet, I suggest you look to the children you brought into the world as your finest work, and understand they are immortal, as they bare God’s Gifts into a creation greater then ourselves.
Then there are those artists (who are not our kindred) who were influenced by Rosamond’s beautiful women. Here is a family that has taken on a life of its own, and are captured in a beautiful family tree, forever.
Let all members of my family look upon their good influences, and own the courage to be happy.
Christine Rosamond Benton was born in Vallejo California October 24,
1947. Christine is the second child of four born to Victor William
Presco, and Rosemary Rosamond, the granddaughter of the Back to the
Earth writer and Poet, Royal Rosamond.. Royal married Mary Magdalene
Wieneke and was the proprietor of Ventura’s first general store. The
beautiful Rosamond women grew up a hundreds yards from the Pacific
Ocean and can be titled the Quintessential California Girls.
Christine employed several family members as models, including her
Before Rosemary and her three sisters reached their teens, Royal
moved to the Ozarks (Eminence Missouri) to write about the Scotch-
Irish Hillbillies that would make the artist Thomas Hart Benton
famous. Christine would marry Thomas’s cousin, the artist and
muralist, Garth Benton. They would have one child, Drew Benton, who
is the child we see in Rosamond’s `Beach’ being led by Christine’s
artistic hand along the seashore. Here is the hand that drew, that
beckoned many women to take charge of their life, overcome all
obstacles, and realize their dreams. On March 24, 1994, Drew and
Christine were swept off a dramatic cliff at Rocky Point near Carmel.
In a heroic attempt to save her daughter, which she just managed to
do, this world famous artist was swept out to sea and drowned.
In 1953 Christine and her family moved into the Victorian home of
William Broderick located on the corner of 13th. Avenue, and East
29th. Street in Oakland. William had married Alice Stuttmeister, the
daughter of Doctor Frederick William Stuttmeister, a dentist who
lived (or had an office) at 315 Sutter Street.. This address is
listed in `Who’s Who in Art’ and is located in the heart of San
Francisco’s Gallery area.
The Stuttmeister owned an estate on Berlin Road in Germany and were
Free-thinkers, also known as the Forty-Eighters.after the thousands
of Europeans who fled Europe after a revolt against royalty and the
Catholic church, failed. The Stuttmeisters fled to Chile and then
came to San Francisco where they would be listed in the `Who’s Who In
San Francisco’ and `San Francisco Pioneer Families’. Doctor
Stuttmeister married Auguste Janke, the daughter of the co-founder of
Belmont California, Carl (Charles) Janke who owned a theme park he
titled `Tanforan’. Belmont historians say Tanforan was a village in
Germany, but recent research suggests the Janke family allowed the
Turnverein Society to hold gymnastic events here on the weekends. A
citation in the Daughters of the American Revolution says Carl Janke
brought six portable houses around the Cape in 1850, and erected them
in Belmont in hope of selling them to Forty-Niners that had struck it
rich in the gold fields. Two of these portable homes were moved to
Delores Street in the Mission district, and are listed as the two
oldest homes in San Francisco. One of the homes was bought by Count
Leonetto Cipriani, a Italian Senator and a relative of Napoleon.
The Count did some extensive additions, and in 1864, William
Ralston `The Man Who Built San Francisco’ purchased Cipriani’s villa,
and did further remodeling. Ralston Hall was titled `The White House
of the West’ and was the meeting place for many California artists
and writers. Mark Twain and Bret Hart were amongst the Bohemians who
found cultural sanctuary in a house put together with screws. William
Ralston was instrumental in founding the San Francisco Art
Association that was located on Pine Street overlooking the
California Stock exchange. Members of the Bohemian Club met in the
same building. Here one could find Joaquin Miller and Bret Hart who
was the discovery of Jesse Benton the wife of the Pathfinder, John
Fremont, whom the city of Fremont California was named after.
Joaquin Miller lived in the Oakland Hills above the Stuttmeister farm
and orchard located in the city of Fruitvale that would later be
incorporated into the city of Oakland. Miller was titled the `Poet of
the Sierras’. His farm was called `The Heights’ and was a Mecca for
California artists and poets. This eccentric Bohemian was friends of
William Broderick and would accompany Melba Charlotte Broderick, the
mother of Victor Presco, to San Francisco where Melba met her
husband, Hugo Presco, a professional gambler in the Barbary Coast.
Miller carried the infant father of Rosamond on these adventures that
proved too much for Melba who divorced Hugo when Victor, Melba’s only
child, was three years of age. Joaquin Miller was invited to England
by the Pre-Raphaelite poet and artist, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and
had dinner at his house with most of the Brotherhood present. The
four Presco children would converse with Miller’s daughter on the
phone, she calling herself `The White Witch’..
Victor Presco operated Acme Produce out of a Victorian warehouse
located at Fourth and Webster street in Jack London Square. His two
sons, Mark and Greg Presco, began to work the summers with their
father when they were eight and nine. Victor dreamed of becoming a
millionaire via a family owned business. He had turned down an offer
made by his Stuttmeister aunts who wanted Vic to run their family
owned moving company. Vic had gone to Oakland High School with the
two Jenson boys that Melba took into her home after their parents
died in a automobile accident. Jackie Jenson played for the New York
Victor emulated Jack London and modeled his life after London’s
novel `The Sea Wolf’. This is why Vic joined the Merchant Marines
after graduating from the San Francisco Naval Academy. While on
leave in Seattle, he met Rosemary Rosamond, who was in the Waves. Due
to her high I.Q. Rosemary worked in a code room spying on the
Russians. Rosemary had dated the Errol Flynn when she was eighteen.
Mary Rosamond chased Errol his friend out of the Rosamond house in
Ventura when they came serenading just before sunrise.
It was these romantic tales, along with the fine art and Victorian
furniture at the Broderick house, that gave Christine’s brother, Greg
Presco the clue that the Prescos were destined for something more
refined then being Lumpers in Oakland’s Produce Market. At eleven
John Gregory Presco showed talent as an artist. When he was twelve,
one of his paintings was chosen to tour the world in a Red Cross
show. Gregory’s watercolor of the produce marked was chosen for the
same show when he was sixteen. This creative gift was attributed to
Royal Rosamond who became estranged from his four beautiful daughters.
In Junior High School, Greg formed an alliance with his childhood
friend, Bill Arnold, who was an artist and playwright. These two
young Bohemians began to turn the Presco home into Art Colony, and
Bohemian Sanctuary after their heroes, Jack London, and George
Serling. Rosemary was raising her children on her own after she
divorced Vic. The house on San Sebastian street in Oakland became a
wonderland for children and many young teenage friends. Christine’s
oldest broth, Mark Presco, was the designated Parent in what could be
considered a commune.
After moving to West Los Angeles in 1962, Greg was determined to
become a famous artist so he could move his family back to San
Sebastian Avenue. Greg dropped out of High School and began to do
large canvases. When Christine would come home from school, Greg
would be waiting for her, they often sitting in the breakfast room
looking at art books. Christine would give Greg credit for her
overnight-success, she thanking him for showing what was good and bad
After leaving his job at May Company, Greg went back up north. He had
gone to live in the Village in New York after seeing an article on
the first Hippies in Life magazine. In San Francisco he moved in with
his childhood friend, Nancy Van Brasch/Hamren who became a Merry
Prankster. Nancy would later work for the Kesey family and have a
yogurt named after her. When Nancy, Greg, and the daughters of the
famous Pasadena artist, Jryl Zorthian, founded the `Idle Hands’
commune in San Francisco, Christine came there to live for a few
months. Christine had dated Brian McLean of the group `Love’. while
attending University High School in W.L.A. Melinda Frank was
Christine’s good friend, she later becoming the subject of a
serigraph she rendered for the family partnership.
In 1971 Christine Rosamond Presco took up a pencil and brush and
began to put her beautiful woman out in the world. She was living in
Santa Monica, living on welfare and barely supporting her oldest
child, Shannon. Not able to get a job, or a babysitter, she looked at
the minor success of her brother Greg as a way to improve he lot in
life. Entering one of her first oil painting in the Westwood Art
Show, a art promoter took note when Priscilla Presley purchased it.
Signing her to a bad contract, Ira Cohen of Ira Roberts Gallery in
Hollywood did not tell Rosamond how famous she was, her renderings of
beautiful, hip, independent women, could be purchased all over the
world. Leaving Ira, Rosamond set out to take control of her art for
the first time.
In 1970, Rosamond’s brother had announced he was a Pre-Raphaelite
artist, and let his hair grow long in emulation of Rossettit and
Swineburn. While walking on the Venus pier with Christine and her
boyfriend, Michael Dundon, a extremely beautiful young woman came out
of a darkened doorway and asked if she could walk with them. It was
after 2:00 A.M. in the morning. Rena Christianson had come from
Nebraska with her boyfriend, but they had gotten separated on Venus
Beach. Rena’s three older sisters were models, and one of them
appeared on the cover of Look Magazine in a bikini. The article was
about the California Bikini craze. Rena became Greg’s cherished
model, and when he came to visit Rosemary and his family, he showed
photographs of the large painting he did of Rena. While Christine
looked over her brother’s shoulder, she wondered if she could do
better. Rena was their Muse.
In 1986 Rosamond married Garth Benton. In 1988 the Bentons formed a
partnership with Lawrence Chazen, a financial advisor for the Getty
family, and partner in the PlumpJack restaurants, along with the
Pelosis and Gavin Newsom. Garth would work on a mural at the old
Getty Museum in Malibu for nine months along with Shannon, who along
with Drew, inherited this important artistic legacy, and this
profound California family history.