Robert Tetlow (1922-1988)

A Berkeley Watercolorist Rediscovered and Remembered

JUNE 1 to JUNE 29, 2019

For 36 years Robert “Bob” Tetlow taught landscape architecture at the University of California. He began his lifelong teaching career at UC Davis in 1952 before coming to Berkeley in 1954 where he became known for his dedication as a teacher, described as one of those people “absolutely committed to creating a quality environment.”

Born in Astoria, Oregon, Bob studied briefly at Oregon State University before enlisting in the United States Navy in 1941. After his war service in the Pacific, he entered the University of Oregon to earn his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture in 1949. Seeking advanced work in landscape architecture, he came to the University of California at Berkeley and gained a Master of Landscape Architecture degree in 1951. A few years later he returned to Berkeley where he dedicated his life as teacher for the next three decades. He taught a wide variety of courses in landscape design, graphics and drawing and landscape construction. His teaching was enriched by the breadth of his background in art, music and literature. Bob chaired the Department of Landscape Architecture from 1977 to 1981. This was a period of time when he asserted his strong beliefs in design education and effectively bolstered the design curriculum which had been sometimes overshadowed by regional and environmental planning issues during the 1970s.

In his own practice, Tetlow’s most noted work was for the Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. In 1959, he wrote the master plan for the gardens which embraced the philosophy of minimizing human impact on nature—a philosophy that ran throughout his work.

Bob was a talented and accomplished artist, in both photography and watercolor. An exhibition of photographs in collaboration with David Arbegast in 1959, entitled “Man’s Impact on the Bay Area Landscape,” drew attention to environmental problems and helped prepare the way for environmental activism in the Bay Area in the 1960s.

Although Bob held numerous exhibitions of his exquisite watercolors throughout the Bay Area, he maintained a low profile as an artist. This is the first exhibition of his work since his death.

We are honored to have the opportunity to offer his watercolors in the gallery. The paintings are offered subject to prior sale.