Arch was born Lorraine Archibald Garner in Onida, South Dakota, on February 21, 1904. He never went by Lorraine, but as Archibald, or to most of his friends, Archie or Arch. His family moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1910, and then southward, ending up in Los Angeles. He graduated from Long Beach High School in 1922.

In 1925 he took up drawing with the intention of becoming a commercial artist, and in 1926 was working as such for the San Francisco Examiner. He became interested in sculpture during that time, and studied sculpture in San Francisco with Ruth Cravath, and then with Ralph Stackpole, at the California School of Fine Arts. He returned to Los Angeles in 1927 and established a reputation as a versatile artist, working as a portrait sculptor and as a sculptor/designer/graphic artist for 20th Century Fox Studios.

"Eve" (c.1930)
Probably a prop for a movie set.

Arch at work in Hollywood.

His versatility of style and scale, and his ability to sculpt in several media, netted him a number of commissions for public art throughout the 1930s and early 40s.

Astronomers Monument (1934)

The Astronomers Monument (1934) in front of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles is probably his most well known public work, having starred in many a Hollywood production.

Other public works include "Law," a sandstone figure in the LA Federal Building (1940-41); "Centinella Springs" a wood bas-relief in the Inglewood, CA, Post Office (1937); "Justice," poured stone relief, exterior, Fresno, CA, Post Office (1939-40);"Transportation of the Mail," nine Terra Cotta relief panels, exterior, San Diego, CA, Post Office (1938-39); "Saint Barbara" poured stone and metal figure (commission unknown and now lost)(1939). During this time he also executed numerous small pieces, for the movie sets and for private commissions, as well as teaching sculpture at Occidental College.
Justice (1939-40)

His primary output was portraiture, however, not only during the 30s, but for the remainder of his life. His portrait style was strictly realistic, somewhat larger than life-sized heads. His subjects included many artists: David Alfaro Siqueiros, the Mexican muralist; John Decker, painter; Robinson Jeffers, poet; Yasha Frank, painter; Peter Hancock, photographer; Tse Wing Kwong, painter; Hank Ketcham, cartoonist.

David Alfaro Siqueiros

The portrait of Siqueiros was done in Mexico City in 1942. Arch was living there, working in advertising display for Sanborns Department Store. He had become friends with Siqueiros in Los Angeles in 1932. Siqueiros had come to L.A., just out of prison for his pro-communist agitation in Mexico, and was working with the artists and students of Chouinard Art Institute.

While Arch was in Mexico City a decade later, they traded portraits. The Sequeiros Museum, in the former home of the artist, has the same photograph shown here, but not the sculpture itself. The painting the Siqueiros did of Arch probably is still in their collection, but has not been identified as being of Arch.

The portrait of Robinson Jeffers came about through the spur-of-the-moment actions of Ward Ritchie and Gordon Newell, and at their invitation, Arch. The occasion was the Occidental College Founders Day celebration of 1937, at which Occidental was giving Jeffers an honorary doctorate. Ward was a graduate of Occidental too, and Gordon had attended there for most of his college study, having been a frat brother of Ward's. Ward and Gordon were involved in the celebration, with displays of Ward's books and Gordon's sculptures as part of the exhibition. Both were very enamored of Jeffers and his poetry, and saw him as a heroic example of the creative man.

Robinson Jeffers

Ward hatched the plan that they should arrange for a portrait to be sculpted. He and Gordon immediately agreed that Arch should do the sculpting, as he was a portrait artist and could work quickly. This was important because no prior arrangement had been made with Jeffers. In fact, he had no idea that the plan was underway.

With only a phone call making the last minute request that he sit for a portrait, Jeffers agreed to sit for a short time. Ward packed Arch, Gordon, clay, modeling stand, and a camera into his car, and drove them to the house where Jeffers and his wife Una were staying. The session went quickly. Arch had roughed out a head from photos, and now completed modeling Jeffers' likeness in the soft terra cotta. Gordon snapped more photographs so that Arch would have a record from which to finish finer details. At some point in the sitting, Una remarked that Arch had gotten the characteristic flair of Jeffers nostrils, to which Jeffers responded by flaring them open widely.

After the portrait was finished, several plaster copies were made. Two of the portraits were given to Jeffers, one of which he incorporated into the masonry along the sash of a small window on the ocean side of the Tor House in Carmel. This one appears to be in terra cotta, and therefore could be the original from which the other castings were made. The other was at Tor House for many years, until it went to a private collection somewhere in the Midwest. A photograph of it is in the Tor House collection. The photograph makes the piece look as if it is either of plaster with a faux-bronze finish, a method he often used on his portraits, or actually cast in bronze, although I think this unlikely.

Jeffers apparently didn't care for the portrait, or at least preferred the one made by Jo Davidson several years before Arch's. It is easy to imagine why. Davidson's is much more actively expressive, even joyous in its countenance, and somewhat smaller than life sized, making it lighthearted and playful looking. Arch's, because of his ultra realistic style, is quite probably the more accurate likeness, but is rather severe looking. Jeffers was not entirely comfortable with the austere severity of character that was usually attributed to him as the result of the darkness of his poetry, and this might well have colored his appreciation of the work.

A plaster copy is in the Special Collections archives at Occidental College, where it is sometimes displayed. Another plaster copy, given by Arch to the city of Carmel's Sunset Center, has subsequently been given to the Tor House Foundation. Many years later, a bronze copy was made for Deetjen's Inn in Big Sur, where Deetjen has a 'Jeffers Corner' in the dining room of the café. The bronze was taken from the copy at Sunset Center, the footwork having been done by Jim Hunolt. Jim was a former employee of Deetjen's and a resident there. In the sixties, he began sculpting under Gordon at the Sculpture Center that Gordon and Arch had founded on Cannery Row in Monterey. Jim became Gordon's star student, and a close friend from that time on.

There is a plaster copy in the Special Collections of the University of California, Santa Barbara library. It was shown in an exhibit there in 1978 on the occasion of the donation of a private collection of Jeffers material. The article on the exhibit in the Santa Barbara News Press erroneously credits the work to Gordon.

I know of no other copies, although there may have been more made, given the number of Jeffers fans in Ward's circle of friends and colleagues. I know of no copy having been in Ward's collection, although it seems likely that he would have had one, given that it was his idea in the first place.

In the 1950s he moved with his wife, Virginia, and his two children, to the Monterey Peninsula, where he continued to do portrait sculpture, and taught at Monterey Peninsula College. With his long time friend and fellow sculptor, Gordon Newell, and some other artists, he established The Sculpture Center on Cannery Row, where he and Gordon taught and worked. During the 50s and 60s he worked with Hank Ketcham, designing and modeling toys, puppets and dolls for him, as well as designing and building the Dennis the Menace Playground in Monterey.

Toward the end of his life he worked again on large stone pieces. A black granite cat for the Herman Estate in Pebble Beach, and bear in white marble for a private estate in the San Francisco area.

The Cat (we never called it anything else) was sculpted first in oil clay, the form transferred via huge calipers to terra cotta, cast in plaster, and the final form in true scale transferred to the stone. Black granite is extremely hard, and cannot be chiseled like marble or other softer stone. A nine-point crushing chisel, powered by compressed air, is used to rough in the sculpture. Then the surface is polished manually in many stages of polishing stones, and finally buffed to a high sheen. It's a long and tedious process. My good friend Tip McPartland and I worked for Arch doing many hours of smoothing and polishing. The project was done in the back yard of Doc's Lab on Cannery Row.

This was one of the very few works that Arch ever signed. He was of the opinion that signing a piece marred it with something that only served the ego, and not the appreciation of the work of art. All of us kids pestered him to sign it, and he eventually agreed, but did so on the bottom surface where, of course, it would never be seen. It would be the last work he ever completed.

He died at home in Pacific Grove, CA, on May 7, 1969. The bear he was working on at the time was completed by Gordon Newell.