The Journal of San Diego History
Summer 1986, Volume 32, Number 3
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor

Painting Ladies ~ The Artists ~ The Images

b. San Diego, California January 21, 1879
d. San Diego, California January 4, 1965

Although perhaps better known in her day as a pianist, Miss Gilbert was a talented painter as well. Encouraged by New York portrait painter Helen W. Phelps, Bess enrolled at the San Diego Academy of Fine Arts about 1927. By 1928 she was showing her work, and exhibited regularly into the 1940s. Active in several civic and cultural organizations, Bess served on the board of the Fine Arts Society. She also worked with her sister Gertrude to save the original 1915 exposition buildings in Balboa Park. The two hosted many famous performers at their home, now relocated in Heritage Park, including Percy Grainger, Anna Pavlova, and black singer Marian Anderson when she was refused a room at the U.S. Grant Hotel.

(Ref. Modern Clubwoman Dec., 1930 pg. 5; San Diego Historical Site Report #8)