January 23, 1915 - September 10, 2004
Mr. Spero Anargyros, a San Francisco based artist whose commissions took him around the world, was a classically-trained sculptor specializing in bronze portraits and monumental sculptures. He was a member of the National Sculpture Society. Local projects of note included his re-sculpting of the figures for the Palace of Fine Arts, one of San Francisco's most beloved monuments. Another of his San Francisco projects involved the carving of The San Francisco City Seal for the Hall of Justice at Seventh and Bryant Streets. This seal, carved from a single block of granite, weighs 21 tons. His bronze bust of Mayor George Moscone stands both in City Hall and in Moscone Center, and his nine-foot bronze statue of the ancient Arab coffee drinker who has been pictured on Hills Bros. Coffee cans since 1900 stands in the Hills Plaza building, the former Hills Bros. roasting plant.
In Sacramento, he re-created the three pediment statues for the state capitol as part of the capitol's 90 million dollar restoration project. His heroic-sized bronze sculpture of Captain John A. Sutter still gazes at Sutter's Fort from his perch across the street, in front of Sutter Memorial Hospital.
Mr. Anargyros was born in New York City in 1915 to a Greek immigrant father and a Swedish mother. He was expected to join his father in the family florist business, but at a very early age, Spero showed a clear talent and preference for a career in art. Encouraged in part by the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of New York City, his father allowed Spero to take up his studies at the Art Student's League. Many years later, when the Archbishop had been elevated to Patriarch Athenagoras I, Mr. Anargyros affirmed the faith the future patriarch had shown in the budding artist and sculpted the Patriarch's bronze bust that is located in Saint Katherine's Greek Orthodox church in Redondo Beach, California.
After completing his studies at The Art Student's League and the Master Institute Of United Arts, and then serving in Africa for two years during WWII, Mr. Anargyros worked for three years as first assistant to Mahonri Young on the enormous 70 figure Salt Lake City Monument titled “This Is The Place". Mahonri Young, a grandson of Brigham Young, was fond of introducing the young Anargyros as “my Jack of all trades and the master of them all, as well!"
By the nineteen sixties, Mr. Anargyros was an established figure in San Francisco’s North Beach Art scene, keeping company with the likes of “Trader Vic" Bergeron, Herb Caen and writer/adventurer Barnaby Conrad. His talent as a portrait sculptor spread far and wide, and he was the portraitist to such diverse subjects as Kirk Douglas and Warren Bechtel, not to mention several past presidents of the Bohemian Club and Sheikh Khalid Ben Mohammed Al-Quasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and its dependencies, Trucial States, Persian Gulf. He once said, “My work is real radical, you can tell what it is" When he became a member of the Bohemian club, he was an enthusiastic participant.
Old age didn't slow down Spero Anargyros. In his later years, though confined to a wheelchair, he completed a three foot by five foot bronze bas relief of Nelson Mandela, president of South Africa and Nobel Prize winner, and Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhist leader of Japan. He had once said, "I was lucky. Early in life, I found something I loved to do and I've been doing it, ever since.” Near the end of his life, even as his health began to fail, he would often say, "My life has been one great adventure after another."