Friday, October 20, 2006

The Life Class At Work, Parts 1 and 2

In the back of an old file cabinet in the basement of the P&C, I found an old can of 16mm film. There was no label on the film can or the reel itself, but by holding up the first few frames to the light one could make out the words "The Life Class at Work."

I've had the film transferred to digital form and posted it to the internet in order to share it with others. It was too long to post as one clip, so I cut it roughly in half.

You will see that in the first part of the film Allen St. John is the instructor of a painting class. In the second half of the film, E.G. Drew gives a landscape painting demonstration.

I have been unable to confirm that either St. John or Drew were members of the P&C. In fact, on May 5, 1910, St. John's application to become a non-resident member of the club was refused. The only references I find to Drew (so far) are: on June 2, 1921, Mr. E.G. Drew's letter to the club was read at the monthly meeting (the contents of this letter are undisclosed); on February 4, 1924, a letter from one E.J. Drew (undoubtedly the same man) "of the Business Men's Art Club" was read at the monthly meeting. In that 1924 letter, Drew asked for permission to use the P&C's studio on Saturday afternoons from 2 to 5 for the purpose of conducting a study class. After some deliberation, the club politely refused Mr. Drew's request for Saturday afternoon, but formed a committee to see if there was some evening that it could offer him instead. (Allen St. John was also affiliated with the Business Men's Art Club of Chicago; he had a one-man show there in 1927.) I have not made it all the way through the records, so I don't want to rule out their membership in our club.

The other thing that is notable about the film is the setting. So far I cannot say that I recognize the setting as that of the current P&C clubhouse. There are no wide views in the film so it is hard to say, but I do not recognize the windows, chair rail, etc., as being from 1012 N. Dearborn. Given that Allen St. John was born in 1875 (some say 1872, he died in 1957), it is unlikely judging by how old he appears in the film that it was shot before 1921, when we moved to the current clubhouse on Dearborn.

If you find something that connects St. John or Drew to the P&C, let me know. St. John, especially, was a marvellous artist--he painted the cover art for Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan novels--and I would dearly love to claim him as one of our forebears.

Part 1:

Part 2:


Blogger chris miller said...


Those guys look so old -- but we're probably the same age as most of them.

Can you imagine going out in the woods to make a quick painting -- while dressed in a sports coat ?

Can you guess the names of the officers at the "confab" ?

October 20, 2006  

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