Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023
Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hannibal Pianta Lecture - Tues., Aug. 19, 2014

Tuesday evening Bob and I joined Susan and other members of the Randolph Roadrunners Volksmarch Club at the Universal City Library for a lecture by Paul Kahl, Jr. about Hannibal Pianta, a master modeler/architectural sculptor. The Volksmarch Club provided a dinner of meats, cheese, rolls, chips, fruit, potato salad and a variety of desserts, including Susan's blueberry crisp, which was warm from the oven.

Charlotte Kahl, Paul's mother, is chair of the Old Spanish Trail 100 group. Hannibal Pianta's ornamental cast stone work, and his father, John's, plaster work grace many historic buildings along the Old Spanish Trail. John Pianta was an immigrant from Italy who was already working in Texas. John worked as chief plasterer on the Texas State Capitol in Austin, and the Georgia State Capitol.

When Hannibal immigrated from Italy in 1905, he set up shop with his father who was already producing plaster ornamental capitals (decorative work at the top of a column). The significance of the cast stone ornamentation, as opposed to chiseled stone, is the rapidity with which building ornamentation can be created. Forms are used for the wet "cement" mixture to set up. Once dry, the cement ornamental pieces were trucked to building sites and installed. The ornamental "cast stone" used by Hannibal has lasted for almost 100 years with no cracks, crumbling or spalling (chipping or splintering) and feels smooth to the touch.

Paul Kahl and his mother, Charlotte, have been researching Hannibal's architectural art work on old buildings.

Our speaker: Paul Kahl, Jr.
Hannibal Pianta working on a large cartouche.
Much of the photography showing Hannibal Pianta's work is copyrighted so I could not include those photos in my blog. However, Paul Kahl, Jr. is an accomplished artist who has painstakingly recreated some of those old photographs in free-hand drawings. Paul gave me permission to publish photos of his artwork. You can see how beautiful ornamental cast stone work can be. [Caption in lower right or drawing below says: "Paul Kahl, Jr., Dec. 4, 2011, from photograph of work by Hannibal Pianta, ca. 1920's."]

Cast stone art work depicted in a drawing
by Paul Kahl, Jr.
Another drawing by Paul Kahl, Jr.
Here is another piece of cast stone by Hannibal Pianta:

In 2011, Charolotte created an architectural tour highlighting the work of Hannibal Pianta.

Below is a map of the architectural tour locations in San Antonio, and a photo of St. Gerard Catholic Church in Iowa, which has ornamentation by Hannibal.
Map of architectural tour in San Antonio,
and St. Gerard's Church in Iowa
Other cast stone ornamentation work done by Hannibal is prevalent on Thomas Jefferson High School, McNay Art Museum, Our Lady of the Lake Chapel, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Municipal Auditorium (now the facade for the new performing arts center), Central Trust Co. (now a Hilton), Cottonwood Building, the Aztec Theater and the Empire Theater, all in San Antonio, Texas.

Unfortunately Hannibal died at the age of 63 when the truck he was driving to a job site was hit by a train. Two employees jumped free of the truck, but witnesses said Hannibal did not try to jump out.

All of us at the lecture raptly listened to Paul talk about Hannibal Pianta. He was a true artist when it came to working with cast stone.

Thank you so much to Paul and Charlotte Kahl for the information provided on Hannibal and John Pianta. We enjoyed the talk. (And I loved Paul's artwork!)

We also appreciated the dinner sponsored by the Randolph Roadrunners Volksmarch Club.

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