After his Paris endowment ran out and having to exchange paintings for food, Redmond was forced back to California. Now happily married to a fellow deaf person, he was drawn to traveling its coast, painting tonalist sunsets and dark coastal nocturnes. He was sometimes accompanied by his great friend, painter Gottardo Piazzoni (1872-1945), who had learned sign language upon their friendship at the SF School . And he was able lo find “happiness in solitude”, one of his favorite places was the little town of Parkfield, near Monterey.
In the late 1800s, signing, the manual method previously taught in schools was banned, and deaf students spent their lives being forced to vocalize (the oral method). However, Redmond was also a “gifted” mime (entertaining even the Parisians), so Piazzoni introduced him to Charlie Chaplin to whom Redmond taught mime: Redmond went on to act in at least ten of Chaplin’s silent films. Chaplin had survived a difficult childhood and was very drawn to Redmond : so much so that he created a painting studio for him in his film complex. The relationship between these two painters and Charlie Chaplin is the subject of the play by Steve Haul. ” The Floating Hat”
Redmond relied on these acting roles for income during lean economic times when the demand, by the rich, for his paintings of fields of golden poppies (paintings which he detested) waned. Douglas Tilden, whose monumental sculptures rise above San Francisco streets and university campuses, turned to sculpting animals for screen sets. However Tilden struggled emotionally as well as financially for the rest of his life.
To start, when Tilden stopped teaching at the Berkeley School to devote himself to his art, the school appropriated one of his works on the grounds that it had paid for his study in Paris and his teaching was reimbursement. Then, in staying at his father-in-laws (he had married a former student, also deaf), he was declared mentally unstable after throwing furniture : a servant had locked him up and called the police because he entered the house through a window after losing his key. The marriage was not a happy one, and on separating, his wife, who suffered greatly from depression, rented his studio to theater groups. Tilden was relegated to a small shed next to his former studio at 834 Channing in Berkeley. After refusing charity from his neighbors, he was found dead there by a deaf neighbor. That was after the divorce.
Granville Redmond’s painting had increasingly become more Impressionist and colorful though his muted works of “solitude and silence” remained personal favorites. Supposedly when asked if deafness had been a hindrance, he laughed and pointed to his collection of rattles: the approach of rattlesnakes was definitely a problem for the deaf in plein-air. Silent films had practically stopped being produced by 1929 but Charlie Chaplin paid the expenses of Redmond’s final illness and sent a huge wreath, shaped like artist’s palette, to his funeral.