CARL OSCAR BERGQUIST
The sensuous curves of a country road playing hide-and-seek
over an undulating landscape was a powerful attraction to the educated
eye of Carl Oscar Bergquist. In his sketchbooks, watercolor paintings,
and photographs he portrayed thousands of images of back roads, farm-to-market
roads, ranch roads, and old highways long since supplanted by Interstates.
Clearly, he took great pleasure in the contemplation
of a tranquil roadscape, deliberately absorbing a particular view
and gently rendering it on paper with calligraphic strokes. A pair of
lines represent the twists and turns of a ribbon of asphalt, waving
like a pendant toward the horizon and instantly reveal a succession
of plump groundforms that constitute the meaning of "rolling countryside." Carl
knew well how to make the flat land of a blank two-dimensional surface
come alive via magical illusions of depth and movement.
it is, then, that the fateful setting of his demise on June 26, 1994,
was a highway scene that he was in the
act of recording in the instants before the tragic crash. Acts of
drawing and visual composition were certainly paramount to Carls
perception of, and in turn, expression of, life.
Carl was born in
Pasadena, California, May 18, 1919. And although we do not know much
about the artistic nature of his mother,
Elva Marie Carlson Bergquist, there is evidence that his father,
Reverend Karl Waldemar Bergquist, was sketching people, objects,
landscapes into the early 1930s. Six large mechanical drawings have
survived as well. The elder Bergquist had done the latter in Sweden
before emigrating to the United States in 1903. The earliest drawings
by Carl also date from the 1930s. He sketched friends and relatives
and the inevitable dream cars.
In 1927 the family moved from California
to Georgetown, Texas, where his father answered the call to serve
St. Johns Swedish
Methodist Church. Carl graduated from Georgetown High School in 1936
and went on to Southwestern University, majoring in Art and Drama.
his undergraduate days there still exist samples of his proficiency
in life drawing, painting, experimentation, and a small, but engaging
menagerie done on a 1937 trip to the famous zoo in Buffalo, New York.
Carl spent the fall semester of 1940 at the Chicago Art Institute
returned to Georgetown to complete his B.A. degree in August of 1941.
This date fit almost perfectly with the mobilization of all able-bodied
men for World War II. Carl was no exception.
Enlisting in the U.S. Navy Reserve, he served for
the whole duration of the hostilitiesfrom 1941 to 1945as
a Naval Aviator qualified in land and water-based, multi-engined
He advanced from Seaman Second Class to Lieutenant, Senior Grade,
piloting various aircraft on rescue, patrol, and bombing missions
in the South
Pacific, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air
Medal, with two clusters. His service did not prevent him from continuing
to draw. The images from this period are among his most poignant.
many portraits of fellow pilots reflect the frightening apathy of
young men in a battle zone. Other drawings and watercolors depict
and innocent paradise of undisturbed islands and tranquil people.
However, a few exhausting scenes of bomb-blackened landscapes also
For about two years after the "Big War," he
was a professional photographer practicing in Patterson, California.
But in 1949, after the failure of his first marriage, he came back
teach in more familiar settings at his Alma Mater in Georgetown.
Carl was a great success at teaching as attested by the students
their 1958 yearbook to him and included a full-page, typically grinning
portrait. In the middle of the ten years that he taught at Southwestern
he acquired a masters degree in graphic design (1957) from the renowned
Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
While in Chicago he took additional courses at the Art Institute;
more significantly, in August 1954 he met Katherine Nindos, a beguiling
young commercial artist, whom he married April 16, 1955.
his Georgetown post to work as a designer at the University of Texas
Press in 1959 but was shortly engaged as
an Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture the fall of
that year. His dedicated and skilled teaching of basic design, drawing,
watercolor painting led to successive promotions and tenure as Associate
Professor in 1966 and Professor by 1971. His contributions were recognized
by his elevation to Professor Emeritus upon retirement in 1984. Students
appreciated the gentle criticism he had to offer toward their own
development and the expertise he generously provided on all matters
of production in visual media, such as printmaking and photography.
Bergquist served on campus-wide committees in important roles as
chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee on Extended
Service and as a member of the Evaluation Committee for Graduate
Programs in Art Education and Studio Art. He was a particularly long
of the Roy Crane Arts Award Committee, beginning in 1974 and continuing
He served on many School of Architecture committees
as chairman or member: Exhibitions, Publicity, Research, Publications,
and Scholarships. He was very active on the Research and Scholarship
Committees. Routinely, he was called upon to provide designs, editing,
and photography for proposals and reports, especially in the preparation
of the four volumes of the Buescher Science Park Project during the
late 1960s. His altruistic commitment and support of students showed
through notably in the exceptional time devoted to the Scholarship
Furthermore, he was the major advisor for student publications. His
major contribution in this regard was the work he did with the excellent
publication Image in the years 1963 to 1968.
an important photographic project in the 1970s, documenting Texas
courthouses and their environs. Unfortunately,
these wonderful and unique photographs remain unpublished. Besides
depicting the obvious architectural grandeur of many of these county
also tried to capture the attitude and perception of the people who
actually did the design and construction, and the people who live
today with the courthouse as the conceptual center of their town.
(Twenty-four photographs are to be included in an exhibition of his
work April 17-May
5, 1995, in the School of Architectures Mebane Gallery.)
teaching, Carl also continued to serve the UT Press as a consultant,
two of his notable works being a dust jacket
design for Yesterday in Mexico by John W. F. Dulles, 1961, and
the complete design and illustration of Songs of Autumn and Other
Poems by Helen Corke, 1960. The latter design won a "Best of
the Year Award" at the prestigious annual book show held by
the University of Kentucky.
As noted, Carl Bergquist had practiced
professionally as a photographer and graphic designer before and
during his tenure
with the University. He held the position of President of the Austin
Professional Artists organization and was a member of the Professional
Photographers Association of America, and he was particularly active
in the Texas Water Color Society. His art has been exhibited in galleries
and museums in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Chicago, as well
local venues in Austin, Georgetown, San Marcos, and Lampasas. He
was responsible for many graphic products for commercial, religious,
individual clients during his career, many of them on a charitable
contribution basis: photography, posters, murals, publications, logos,
He juried art and graphics shows, lectured at workshops and conferences
and produced exhibits in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Austin.
talks and workshops included "Basic Design,"
"Visual Responses to the City," and "Yearbook Design" for
civic groups, the City of Austin, and Arkansas State College, respectively.
His "clients" included the Texas Foundation
of Voluntarily Supported Colleges and Universities, Southwestern University,
the Methodist Student Movement, the Wesley Foundation, St. Stephens
Episcopal School, the University of Texas Teacher Placement Service,
and UTs International Office.
Carl Bergquist was attentive to,
and compassionate with, students. He sought to awaken their observation
of things and
places around them and to urge them to master the communication skills
which would enable them to convey a better understanding of this,
future, worlds. He continued to teach drawing classes for two years
subsequent to his retirement, and students continued to seek him
at his home for private tutoring: a singular indication that his
insights and talent were appreciated.
The term "arbitrator" seems
to fit Carl well. His cool vision of administrative conflict defused
which other personalities might have escalated, and with students
a wry turn of phrase and quiet encouragement helped them weather
of scholastic criticism which come with the responsibilities of learning.
letter from Peter Selz, curator of the Museum of Art in New York
at the time, recommended Carl for the initial position
at the School of Architecture. Mr. Selz, who was the director of
the Institute of Design in Chicago when Carl was a graduate student,
these words and phrases: "talented . . . intelligent . . . pleasant
and likable person . . . real integrity . . . design of highest quality
. . . selected for annual exhibition." This resolution can do nothing
but reinforce those sentiments and give even greater strength to Carls
constancy and skill as an artist, a professional, and as a husband,
father, and grandfather. The appreciation of Carls personality
and a reinforcement of those much earlier compliments is reflected in
comments made in the days after his death in other memorials: "nobody
could match his charm and ability . . . he was one of the finest
that I had ever known . . . he was a mentor . . . very generous with
his time . . . he taught me to see the world, to understand it and
draw it . . . ."
Eulogies to Carl and to his two grandsons who
died with him have been made at heart-wrenching memorial services
Mexico and Georgetown. His family and friends know Carl was a steadfast
husband to his wife Kate and an exemplary father to their three children,
Jone, Bill, and John. They well know the depth of his character and
of his courage, his good humor and his skill, his lean manner and
Carl, the consummate artist and teacher, shall long
be remembered by his students and colleagues for the contributions
he made to our understanding of our environment through art. He conveyed
to us the spiritual linking of land, architecture, and people. Of
Carl will be missed most dearly by his close and courageous family
and many, many friends, but he also will be missed in the world of
large. Those of us who taught and learned with him at The University
of Texas at Austin are particularly thankful for that precious portion
of his life he shared so humbly with us.
Robert M. Berdahl,
The University of Texas at Austin
H. Paul Kelley, Secretary
The General Faculty
This Memorial Resolution was prepared by a Special Committee consisting
of Professors Richard Swallow (Chair), Peter Coltman, and Sinclair