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New: Armando Valdés Peza, famous Designer from Piedmont

This year I acquired quite a few lots from an auction, some items were between Harriet Dean, and her long term partner, Elsie Whitaker Martinez (daughter of author Herman Whitaker and wife of famous Piedmont artist, Xavier Martinez) to her daughter Micaela "Kai" Martinez DuCasse and friends. While starting to organize and research this extensive lot, I came across an oral history of Micaelea Martinez Oral History Interview​ which mentioned Armando:

Also, at that time, our household included Armando Valdes Peza, who was a talented young Mexican who came to this country after the 1927 revolution. His family were aristocrats, and they were completely put down and their money and everything was taken away from them. But the family scraped enough together to send him up here for his education. He arrived in the Bay Area and someone sent him to Piedmont High School because there was a very fine art teacher, Mrs. Sonnenschein, there at the time. She found that this poor boy, very sensitive with very little English, was so talented, and she got in touch with my father and said, "Here's somebody that you can help. He really needs your help."

He was an extraordinary artist. He went back to Mexico eventually, and got lost in the world of the faded aristocrat--many of them had come from Spain, and they lived this crazy kind of life. [brief tape interruption after phone rings] He loved, of course, that world, couldn't help himself, and he loved luxury, and instead of being willing to have starved to become the great painter that he could have been, he took the easier path and he became very well known as a dress designer. He had a very up-to-date column in one of the best of the Mexican papers which kept track of all the fancy people and their activities.

I've started a page for Armando and plan on adding his page as I read and scan the rest of the letters between him and the Martinez/Dean family.


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