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BOB CHANLERS CREEPY ART
Startling Paintings Drawn in His Pri vate New York Menagerie Sur rounded by Howl ing Animals and Strange Monsters. Henry Tyrrell ROBERT WINTHROPi C H A NLER valiantly throws his hat into the New j York ring as decorative Artist and craftsman by ex hibiting at the International Show come of the large, weird panels and ecreens which he has been execu ting on commission for great New York haste lriea like the Vanderbilt, and for the town and country houses of Mra. (Harry Payne Whitney, Mrs. Payne i Whitney and other advanced appreciators of the bizarre and the outre in the essen tially modern artist of -BlieTiff Bob." Paris has long since given official and complimentary recognition to these Chan lerian things—notably the big "Battle Under the Sea, , ■which received honorable mention at the Salon of 1912. "Giraffes in tne jungie had adventitious celebrity •ac one of the artist's gifts to Lina Cavalieri when 6he became his bride, but which re-' verted to "Bob" after the divorce. Pouf! that is but a trivial incident. The really massive, gorgeous and be wilderingly fanciful art work at which Mr. Chanler has busied himself during the past decade or so is more striking on its own original merits than any accidental notoriety could make it If anybody ever thought the Chanler studio a joke such an idea must now be discarded, U only for the reason that its output is in eager demand for the mansions of upper Fifth avenue— and, its creator tells with proper pride, "at mighty good prices, too." "I've been doing these things for Porcupine Screen. years," exclaims the big, bearded, spectacled enthusiast, who has the head of Benvenuto Cellini on the shoulders of Bob Fitzsimmons, as he stalks restlessly about a wondrous studio lined with vast cartoons and sketches, startling painted panels and Japanese screens in gold, silver, crim son and aluminum lacquer work, and piled up with American Indian troph ies and antique furniture littered with costly books and prints, serving as perches for Brazilian macaws and chama thrushes from India, among which Mr. Chanler's pet bulldog gam bols at will. "Why is it you fellows can't look at my paintings for what they are and cut out tlie sensational stuff 7" he con tinued in a good-natured growl as he glared upon the dazed and speechless visitor. "Can't you see they are orig inal decorative designs without their having a Paris Salon 'mention honora ble , tacked on? Have I got to give a reason for everything I do, as if I were a banker under investigation? Why shouldn't I take birds and ani mals and sea monsters, as well as hu man people, for spots of color in my compositions if I want to? Don't you know that in Parie they have a so ciety called 'Les Artistes Animaliers Francais,' including all the painters, sculptors, designers, illustrators, &c, whose models are especially animais? Screen for Henry Clews jr. A Visit to Mr. Chanler's Re markable Studio House Is the Sen sation of a Life Time. In Paris an artist Is ac cepted for what he is, as a matter of course, and not looked to for freaks and sensations. But, as I have said be fore, I have no time to be bothered with fool questions and idle curi osity. Here is my stuff —I'm going to exhibit come of my latest char acteristic things—let the public make what they can, or will, of it. If you're interested in my methods of work come along and we'll run through the place." A personally conduct ed "run through" Mr. Chanler's studio - house in Eist Nineteenth street. New York, is the sensa tion of a lifetime. It is something like a movfng picture film of the "Tales of Hoffman" and Jules Verne's "Around the world in Eighty Days" jumbled up with "Twenty Thousand Leagues Un der the Sea." Only such a place as this — bachelor living apartments, atelier and zoo combined —could ful ly explain the man and his ait. The exterior of the building ifeelf prepares you for something out of the common. It is one of a row of tile roofed, green-and-white stuccoed fronts with Moorish tiles and entab latures imbedded in them and quaint sculptured figures guarding narrow, mysterious doorways lit with green lanthorns on wrought iron brackets. Mr. Chanler lives next door to Don Quixote of La Mancha, whose devices and inscription fit well in the out-of th«-world aspect of the whole neigh borhood. Japanese valets, Swedish, housemaids and queer animal tamers from the far corners of the globe complete the 11 --llusion of Never-Nqver Land. Dining-room for Mrs. Payne Whitney. Steer carefully through this base ment eubway littered with electri cians' outfits, a miniature pool table, bird cage 3, Sioux papoose cradles, war bonnets and other miscellaneous junk, toward where you see the silhouette of a huge, black eplder monkey swlng ing by his tall from a metal trapeze and waving a purple duster clutched i$- one hand, in a huge caige against a submarine background of greenish opaque glass. This is Mr. Chanler's menagerie and aquarium annex. It Is—or was —in charge of Dan Rice, late of Bostock's, and a son of the original Dan of circus fame. Dan loves«animals and can talk with the "monks" in their own lan guage. The monkey cage has a group of simians, Including some of the rarest species in captivity—mangabees, ring tails, slotihs and the like—all alive and active and wildly decorative. Adjoin ing there is the aviary, where talkative English ravens as large as buzzards live unhappily with toucans —medium- sized tropical birds with enormous crimson beaks like giant lobster claws. The unarbltrated disputes of these strangely assorted birds have left the toucans champions, while the ravens mope silent and crestfallen. The aquatic models are gold fish, angel fish, devil fish, seahorses, eels, frogs, turtles amd horseshoe crabs, swimming about in a good-size pool that is convenient for herons and flamingoes to pose along Its margin and for the unwary visitor to fall into. "Give us that moonlight effect, Her mann," shouts Dan Rice to the elec trician somewthere In the subterranean depths. Through the vine-covered glass roof falls a silvery#effulgence like to that of the rising moon, flooding the place with eerie, crepuscular light, and you fancy you can hear the whippoorwills calling in the distance. "Now the sunrise!" A thousand-candle radiance bursts through, roseate and crimson now, and the illusion is so perfect that the tropical actually begin to squawk and chatter. "That's the wildcat in yon dark corner." Keeper Rice tells v*> and then adds apologetically, "The seven teen-foot python ain't come yet, but we're all ready for iiim. And then there's the rattlesnakes and the gila monsters from Arizona" "And do you paint these things di rect from life, Mr. Ohanler?" "Of course I do —how else would I get them in my pictures the way they are? I like best to sketch them free hand, but when I have an order to fill In a certain time I have to make a careful cartoon from detail studies and leave notihing to chance. Now come upstairs to the working studio and see if you recognize any of these models in my exhibition pictures." The studio —or rather workshop—is on the top flocr. On the way up eteep, winding stairs we pause in Mr. Chan ter's own library den —and* a woozy place it is, sure enough. Booksihelves are filled with costly illustrated works on natural history—"lnsects," "Fauves," "Audubon's Birds of Amer ica," and a hundred other standard sets. Plaster portrait busts, Navajo pottery and blankets and old-world art treasures abound. Philip Burne- Jones's "Vampire," with Kipling's verses, hangs framed on tlhe wall, to gether with rumerous autograph sketches from artist friends. And here, as everywhere else throughout the house, parrots, macaws, singing birds, cats and dogs, peer out from cages, perches and unexpected nooks. iThe window panes appear to be swarming with dragon flies, humming birds, beetles and all sorts of curious Insects. Look again and you will dis cover that these are just painted on glass, hundreds and hundreds of them, in fantastic decorative swarms. Another flight up, through the door marked "R. W. Chan'er's Studio—NO ADMITTANCE," and the first little novelty that catches your eye is a bleached human skeleton dangling from the high, cavernous ceiling. This also serves tlhe artist frequently as a model, and in his big swamp scene on six wooden panels you may note a very "life-like" (?) representation of its bony superstructure. "What is the motif of this cozy everglade panorama with the 'naky vine pattern populated with birds and beasts of the forests?" Mr. Chanler is asked as his man sets up the sections of ten-foot screens and ceiling-high panels. "Oh, I call that 'Henry Clews jr., or the Dreamer's Solitude.' It's a sort of allegorical conception of my friend Clews, don't you see—not in portrait form, but a psychological representa tion of his mental and artistic envir onment. Those cranes and pelicans are the bourgeoisie, staring stolidly in presence of the artist's spirit, which they can neither see nor understand." One of Mr. Chanler's completed ex hibition pictures is an African jungle with serpents, gorillas and others heavily painted in a sombre color scheme, while tttie wide open mquth of a hippopotamus furnishes a bright splotch of red In the foreground. A large unfinished canvas in Mr. Back from "The Tournament.*! Chanler'3 own peculiar medium of geld, silver and aluminum paint snows a baud of Indian warrior 3on horse back. There Is some stunning draw ing and really dramatic composition here —for "Bob" hae spent ft good deal of time in the far West recently and is especially fond of horses and savaga Redskins. "The Tournament' and mediaeval court scenes, for Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney's house at Wheatley Hills, I*. 1.," he continues, "are perhaps the most elaborate work I have done in the line of pure decoration and crafts manship. "These panels for Mrs. Whitney "s bedroom are what you call semi- Gothic in style and tiheir general ef fect resembles that of seventeenth century Savonnerie tapestries, such as you see in the" old French chateaux. But they are, of course, in a totally different medium—an invention of my own, though witlh some practical hints from the late Stanford White. I buiM up my canvas with loads of blacli paint, upon which I emboss my de sign in accurate detail and then paint in the high reliefs with a pigment composed of aluminum, gold and sil ver and Chinese white." Mr. Chanler is obviously in sympa thy with the modern art movement, but he draws the line at some of its extreme developments, such as that of the cubists. "Those fellows are in earnest —some of them," he declares, "but It is the self-delusive earnestness of the neu rasthenic."