THESE NOTES ARE ABOUT a friend I never met, and whom, if she hadn’t existed, I might have half invented (maybe) on my own. Her name was Emmy Scheyer, but she was called “Galka,” and she came to the United States in 1924 from Germany. Landing first in New York, she spent time in the Public Library here looking up the addresses of most every cultural institution in the nation. When she wasn’t writing these museums about the several contemporary European artists she felt they needed for their collections, she was observing the pace of the natives, whom she thought of as endlessly rushing about on the “trellis” of the city. One of her letters netted her an invitation to lecture at the Oakland Art Gallery, and by the late ’20s she had become the controversial voice of new art in the Bay Area—the gallery’s “European representative,” and special art correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner.

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