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THE PASSING OF PICTURESQUE CHINA
TOWN AS VIEWED BY THE ARTISTS. fy HINATOWX Is passing. I I San Francisco's Chinatown, the \Y") talked of, the written about, the j^ visited— it is passing. Perhaps you don't see it. That all depends upon what kind of an eye ycu axe looking with. If it be a financial eye, of course you don't gee it. Business was never better, say the merchants up Dupont street. Tourists come and go, faster and thicker year after year. c The country Is prosper ous and there Is money enough afloat to reach the rare old lacquers and porce lains and ivories that bring the righteous and the unrighteous profit. If It be the eye of the statistician, you don't see it. Population within those dozen blocks is on the rapid increase, you Gay. Where once a few pioneer Chinese huddled, now there are thriving families rearing plenty of small fry to fill the tene ments even fuller. Ah. but if it be the eye artistic! Then you know only too well that there Is no longer In our midst a little, crowded treasure trove of Oriental colors that blend to harmony, of shaky walls and rotting structures that beg to be trans ferred to canvas. The artists have been robbed- of their treasure, they say, and the robbery was committed by a Board. Many men and women who are famil iar with every nook and corner and all the devious ways of Chinatown stroll through the narrow streets these days and glance about regretfully, as they note a change In some doorway; the absence of some awning, or the addition of some modern device. They are the people who look for lights and shadows, color eft>cts, types of hu manitythey are tile artists to whom Chinatown has brought much of happiness and no little measure of fame. It Is through their achievements that the place Is des tined to lire for years and years after the city will have razed the present quarter. It is from their viewpoint the deat% war rant of Chinatown was signed when some men, collectively known as a Board, be gan to buy whitewash, and it la their Chi natown that Is Flipping into the waste that past days make. Who would choose to paint a flooring of macadam? Who could see anything pic turesque in a- wall which stares one out of countenance with its unblinking white sees? Not an artist, purely. It used to be that not a day passed but the congested alleyways, the obscure courts and even the traveled main streets ¦were dotted with easels. Even though it rained there was always some typical, slant-eyed creature ready to pose. Art % students by the score found it inspiring to be working beside painters whose work was already spreading the fame of China town. Now on the sunniest days one may loiter about through the streets, in th* chops, anywhere, and find no sign of a pencil or brush. Pretty Chinese children play about the doorways. Curious figures silently shuffle in and out the passage ways, but the artists who knew them Fhave departed, apparently for all time. Why? Because everything that used, to be charming to them Is rapidly being - spoiled. The very atmosphere, I they complain, which formerly was to them redolent of ' Orientalism, qualntnesn — "old - world charm," they called It— has been replaced ±BX FLOWI3L KELLER.— BY THJX) WOB.ESL ,WY~ TJaiWMttAOS.— IT *KM WOBB& THE SUNDAY CALL. FROM AN ARTISTS STAND POINT CHINATOWN IS EACH YEAR BECOMING MORE IMPOSSIBLE. i? T is very true that from an artist's f standpoint Chinatown is each year « becoming more and more impossi ble. There used to be a certain de light in working there, right in the heart of San Francisco, and yet as far removed from the bustle and gar rishncss cf the modern oity as though one had sailed over seas. Most of that charm is lost, for with every attempt to Americanize the place, with the idea of producing order and ;ompelling cleanliness, the old Orien tal atmosphere is dissipated. I have always felt that had China town flourished in or near any of the great art centers of the world it would have been made famous for all tixua by brush and pencil. I never go there now — there is noth ing to attract one. Much that was ence so picturesque has either been covered over with whitewash or is De ing repaired and put in order for a coat of whitewash to-morrow. T. WORES. WHITEWASH AND ELECTRICITY ARE MAKING PICTURESQUE POSSIBILITIES BUT A MEMORY. - • ¦ ¦ " — "~*~~ — " ; . *=ipHEKE is no doubt that taeCliina- THERE is doubt that the China town of artists will soon be but a .11 memory. What would you have? The walls are being whitewashed, the passageways ere being lighted with electricity, everything that used to have charm is being transformed in color and picturesque possibilities. 1I1 I should not care to paint thero Again. T. What color there is is gaudy, rutre, regarded from the standpoint of present-day art. ' It was not so n few yecrs ago. Then there was at \ xnosphere there was faint, almost im perceptible smoke from the fireplaces giving tone. Of course it was never a pleasant : lace to work because of the dirt and the way the Chinese had of scram bling over one's shoulders. But an artist would rather have it so th«n as it is. Now that it is being made c'.^an there will soon b3 nothing to paint. :¦ It is a pity. I believe that every net Ist who has worked there regrets that Chinatown cannot .be permitted to grow old with the passing year* nd to change only as age would dic tate. AMEDEE JOULLIN. CSBUnETSB ?A N i • EE3jXJEXk™ "37 yrn^r^ !WT3"2nEPJL toy a decided flavor of twentieth century progressiveness. Chinatown: as every one knows, is be- i Ing put In a sanitary condition; at least ; there are strivings- for that result: there- ; fore Art must betake herself to other i haunts. < Far how could any one with artistic cravings satisfy them in a room where i every object strtmls fully revealed in the | radiance of an incandescent lamp. Time was when that rame room was tilled with shadows and with a soft light falling fit fully hire anfl then from a wonderfully wrought, incense burning lamp. Then it was that artists were at work. It used to be that chimnrvs were un known in the precincts of the soft-step ping Chinese, and^when at successive hours during the ifay one Celestial after another would come to cook his little meal of rice und pork, there was always a pal» blue haze from burnin,? wood and charcoal, to soften the color of a flaunt ing canopy. The curling blue smoke is carried away In flumes now, and gaudy splashes of red and green and yellow flare distractingly on jme's vision. Fresh, clean planks in the Chinese thea ter repluce the rotting and begrimed flooring thu.L-v..is once a study in Itself. .Walls have b*en covered over with pa per in conventional patterns. Thrre is even a white cnamele-t Iron bedstead in one little Uen where less than a year ajco ten Chinese used to huddle on bad smell ing but picturesque mats. Smoke-stained rafters that were delight fully suggestive of age and primitive liv ing have been painted white. Out on the streets— even down Fish al ley, but more conspicuously in some of the wider avenues— evidence can be found of the passing. It was a good many years ago that Amedee Joullin painted Fish alley. He found it full of color, of rickety balco nies and flapping awnings in varying shades. Into oamboo baskets were gath ered bright-colored paper scraps. The baskets have disappeared and a cart daily gathers all such refuse from receptacles less antique and more practical. No wonder that Joullin Is one of those to say that Chinatown has had Its day. A stroll through the crooked byways is to him like meeting an old friend in whom some sad change has taken place. Joullin of late has been painting Indians, but his Chinatown pictures are among his best. In the days when Wores painted In Chi natown— Ft was Theodore Wores who back' Jn the early eighties "discovered" Its pos sibilities, although Jules Tavernler had worked there before— ln desultory fashion, Wores painted the pictures that brought him many shekels from people like Earl Rosebery, Sir Thomas Hesketh and Mrs. Hopkins Searles and Introduced Ban Francisco's Chinatown to the art connoisseurs of New York, Boston and London, there was not a vestige of white wash, not a thought of renovation. He was looked upon by the people he painted a something of an Interloper. The story is still told how, In order to get the In terior of a Josshouse, he became a paid up subscriber to the society. The piece of red paper on which his name Is in scribed In odd hieroglyphics may be seen any day posted on the wall of the Sacra mento-street josshouse In company with the names of hundreds of Chinese pa trons. That slip of paper Is an undis turbed memorial of the five years Wores spent among the Chinese. Perhaps more .than any other, he has pictured their lives and customs, and a comparison of his paintings with the streets and interiors as seen to-day will quickly reveal In the dif ference of scene and color the mutability of art subjects. The old Palace Hotel and the Royal, which once teemed with color and where in each room could be found material for a characteristic sketch, have the past year or so become as commonplace as the most practical Board of Health man could wish. On every street some ornate little bal cony, beloved by wielders of the brush, has been removed or painted over. Lean ing walls have been straightened and loose boards on the older buildings have been nailed down. On the roofs odd ef fects secured from a vista in which clothcspoles and ledges filled with boom ing plants were deliciously mingled are seldom found now. There will be still other departures. One man who used to paint there declared the other day that the inhabitants themselves are coming to lack something that at one time made them excellent subjects for studies. Per haps they, too, are yielding to the pres sure of civilization, and while learning the use of English and soap they may be lostng the distinctiveness that has hith erto made them so much worth while to ™ Afll ¦ 'luanv-arK . uuuuuf rouxxxai; :j artists. Were a man to begin painting there to-morrow he would not. as Jules Pages did when he worked on his famous picture, the one that received honorable mention at the Paris salon of 1898 and that 'helped him to win nnaily the medal, have to have some one constantly by him to keep the inquisitive Celestials from hanging on his shoulders and his easel. They probably would glance at him from a distance unconcernedly. Peixotto sketched in Chinatown last year, but he did not attempt color, a sig nificant fact. It is said that he will have the distinction of being the last of the artists of any note to seek themes in Chi natown. Even the students, those who send broadcast calendars and Christmas cards, are looking elsewhere for studies, for. like the painters 'in oil and the many who have done exquisite things in water color and pencil, they feel the change that has gradually been transforming the lo- ¦ cality, and they, too, no longer find la- ¦ sr>lration there. Chinatown is passing. 'With everr bucket of whitewash the end la hastened.