Thursday, September 25, 2014

EVENTS: A taste of Hollywood glamour at Palm Springs Modernism Weekend, Oct. 10 - 13

Because you just can't have too many photos of Cary Grant ...

... or his house ...

Modernism Week, a celebration of mid-century modern design, architecture, art, fashion, and culture that takes place every February in Palm Springs, CA, will give visitors a preview of its signature weeklong extravaganza this coming Columbus Day weekend. From Oct. 10 -13, the organization will highlight the city's exceptionally prolific Modernist architecture and design with a series of guided walks, double-decker bus tours, workshops, book signings, receptions, and -- of course -- shopping opportunities.

Here are some pics, and a brief listing of the numerous guided walks that will be on offer.

Frank Sinatra’s Neighborhood – The Movie Colony Historical Walking Tour

In this tranquil neighborhood lived some of Hollywood’s biggest stars such as Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, Van Johnson, Tony Curtis, Gloria Swanson, and Jack Benny. Frank Sinatra made it “his” neighborhood in the 1950s when his home, known as “Twin Palms,” became “party central.” Some of America's most renowned Modernist architects designed homes in this charming and prestigious area including E. Stewart Williams, William Cody, and Donald Wexler. The Movie Colony is also home to iconic architecture of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. This tour is a visual feast of the homes of Hollywood royalty and their unique architecture.
Above & below: Twin Palms
Frank Sinatra's "bold and lavish" house

Rat Pack Playground -- Modernist Homes of Vista Las Palmas

In this trendy Mid-Century tract development of Vista Las Palmas, the classic homes are affectionately nicknamed “The Alexanders” (in honor of the developers George and Robert Alexander). The talented team of Daniel Palmer and William Krisel were the primary architects. Although created through mass production, these stunning homes appear to be custom-designed. The Hollywood elite truly embraced the Modernist style of these tract homes when this architectural style was regarded as experimental and avant-garde. Early advertising even called the area the “Beverly Hills of Palm Springs.” Debbie Reynolds, Elvis Presley, Kim Novak, Barry Manilow, and the “Rat Packers” Dean Martin and Peter Lawford are some of the stars who lived and frolicked in the “playground.” Some of the desert’s most famous Modernist architectural treasures are also located in this neighborhood including the Kaufmann Desert House, an architectural masterpiece designed by Richard Neutra.

Below: Elvis' honeymoon house
Built in 1960 as a "House of Tomorrow"
by famed mid-century Palm Springs developer Robert Alexander
as a gift for his wife Helen (are you listening, Michael?)

Heart of the City Historical Walking Tour

Just south of Tahquitz Canyon Way between Palm Canyon Drive and Indian Canyon Drive sits the heart of the city — old La Plaza, the Welwood Murray Memorial Library, the Oasis Hotel tower, and the Andreas Hotel. Original stucco Spanish style buildings with traditional red tile roofs and arched passageways flank either side of La Plaza, as well as the historic La Plaza Theatre, which opened in 1936. The newly restored Andreas Hotel, originally the Royal Palms Hotel, was also built in 1936, and was the first air conditioned hotel in Palm Springs

Below: Andreas Hotel

Stars and Star-chitects in Deepwell Historical Walking Tour

In these well-manicured properties lived some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Loretta Young, William Holden, Carmen Miranda, Liberace, and Jerry Lewis.

Liberace's former home home is an elegant, surprisingly restrained Mediterranean estate. But he couldn't resist placing a large candelabra in front ; there are also several “L’s” strategically placed throughout the exterior of the property – including on the garage doors, in the driveway, and in mosaic tiles in the cement at the side door.

Wish I were here ...

Golden Era Hollywood Homes in Old Las Palmas 

Old Las Palmas began its development in the late 1920s and 1930s and has one of the highest concentrations of celebrity homes anywhere. Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Katharine Hepburn, Gene Autry, Lena Horne, Dinah Shore and many other Hollywood stars have been residents here. This “must see” neighborhood truly nurtured Palm Springs’ reputation as Playground of the Stars. Leonardo DiCaprio recently purchased a celebrated Modernist home in this neighborhood. (See May 11, 2014 posting.)
 Below: Dinah Shore's "Tennis House"
Living Room

For more information, link to Modernism Week's website here.

EXHIBITION: Matisse drawings at Mt. Holyoke Art Museum

Nude at a Window

Forty-five rarely seen and "ravishing" drawings by Matisse are currently on display (through Dec. 14) at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in picturesque South Hadley, Massachusetts. Drawn from the collection of the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, the show is made up mainly of works from the mid-1920s to the end of the artist's life in 1954. The drawings were chosen and installed by one of the world’s greatest living artists, Ellsworth Kelly.

"You look at them, you register their legendary ease and simplicity, and it’s very easy indeed to take them for granted — to assume that in some strange way they were born and not made ... Matisse’s drawings are just like air. They expand and contract. They have areas of high and low pressure. The heat they give off shifts from zone to zone. And they have a quality that is at once manifold and indivisible." (Boston Globe)

Woman in a Chair

Link here for more information

Thursday, September 4, 2014

EXHIBITIONS: AMERICAN MODERNS -- held over by popular demand!

The Quadrangle in Springfield Massachusetts, an enclave of museums spanning the fine arts, science and history -- as well as the charming Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden  -- is a gem in a city that has admittedly seen better days. Nestled into a serene, leafy part of town, it makes an excellent destination where visitors can easily enjoy a full day, as I did recently when I went to catch the American Moderns exhibition at the D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts.

Now running through Sept. 7, 2014
at the D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA

American Moderns 1910 - 1960: From O'Keefe to Rockwell is a touring exhibition of fifty-seven paintings by American masters, each of whom represents in some way the beginnings of American Modernism. Leading artists of the day are featured, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, Milton Avery, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, Max Weber and Elie Nadelman. 

These painters addressed the social changes brought on by two world wars, the Depression, and modern technology; they were inspired visually by the urban grid, skyscrapers, and the streamlined shapes of modern machines. American Moderns features works in a wide array of styles, including Cubism, Synchronism, Precisionism, Expressionism, and Social Realism. Below is a taste of their work.

Manhattan Mosaic by George Copeland Ault

Black Pansy and Forget-me-nots, 1926
Georgia O'Keeffe

Entrance to "Cubist Experiments" section

Handsome Drinks, 1916
Marsden Hartley

Landscape with Clay Pipe, 1941 (above)
Pad No. 4, 1947 (below)
Both by Stuart Davis

A Reinterpretation of Norman Rockwell's
Triple Self-Portrait, 1960
by local artist John Simpson
(note the "extras" in the painting: a laptop computer, 
and a picture postcard of Andy Warhol)

This exhibition, which was curated by the Brooklyn Museum, will be on view at the Wichita Art Museum from Oct. 3 - January 4, 2015 and the Josyln Art Museum in Omaha Feb. 6 –May 17, 2015. Link here for more information.

Zany bonus exhibit
Stories from the Kitchen Sink by Ricky Bernstein
(runs through June 21, 2015)

We happened upon this altogether hilarious and jazzy exhibit at the D'Amour Fine Arts Museum. Artist Ricky Bernstein describes his cartoony collages -- made of glass and aluminum painted with oil and acrylics -- as "a slice of everyday life infused with fun, longing, disappointment and celebration." I especially loved the pieces called "Queen for a Day", "Hey -- A Girl Can Dream, Can't She?" and "Agility and Grace." More on this exhibit when I've had a chance to see it again. Meanwhile, here's some additional info.

            Gloria's soft-boiled egg topper

... by way of explanation  

"... with balance and poise, Phyllis whipped up a 
lovely cherry pie, and popped it in the oven."