Tamara Rey Patri Biography

Tamara Rey Patri




Tamara Nicol Rey Patri was born at Children's Hospital in San Francisco, California on Aug. 22, 1920 to Robert Nicol and Nora Keating. In the 1930s and '40s, she studied at North Beach's California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute, and at the long-gone California Labor School, an "Old Left" stronghold where she developed her politics and aesthetics. That school eventually closed down during the 1950s "Red Scare."

In 1945, she married Noel Rey, the manager of a French weekly newspaper called Le Courier Francais des Etats-Unis. When he died in 1956, she took over the job until the paper closed in 1963. She married again in 1969, this time to Giacomo Patri, an artist and widely known bohemian of his day and the founder of the Patri School of Art Fundimentals formerly on Jackson Street. They initially met when she agreed to model for his classes.

Tamara worked in painting, printmaking and photography, though she became primarily known for her sculpture, which came into its own in the 1970s and had an industrial, unadorned feel. She liked to use salvaged wood and scrap iron, among other humble materials, in fashioning her tall, angular pieces.

She was also a parks and green space activist in San Francisco (planting, for example, a slope of trees in the industrial environs of Wisconsin and 22nd streets in 1967) and was co-founder of History and Architecture Resources and Training, a nonprofit group that develops local history curricula for schoolchildren.

Tamara Rey Patri died at home in San Francisco on Feb. 10, 2001.