Tuesday, June 27, 2017

ODD BITS: Century-old museum moves inside a new museum in Denver

Denverites -- no, you're not hallucinating.

This is a real photo of the city's 150-ton Kirkland Museum of

Decorative and Fine Arts being moved to its new site, 8 blocks away. 

or, as the Denver Post more cleverly wrote in their top headline (11/6/16):

"Historic 150-ton Kirkland Museum trundles across 
downtown Denver as it moves to new location" 

from article:
"Chris Ayres, 34, brought his 6-year-old son David from their home in Lone Tree to watch the move. "This guy loves watching big things move," he said of the boy. Below: onlookers are baffled, trying to figure out where they can buy more of the great, legal weed they've been smoking. "We can't wait to see it going downhill" exclaimed Todd Johnson, 47, who was at the corner of 13th Avenue and Pearl St. with his family.

Above: The 105-year old former Kirkland Museum 
The museum houses a stellar and eccentric 30,000-piece collection of 20th century decorative arts, from zany Clarice Cliff ceramic tableware to elegant Wiener Werkstätte silver flatware and textiles, Art Noveau furniture and metalwork, Charles Rennie Mackintosh chairs and picture frames, lots of mid-century modern furniture, and, of course, paintings by Vance Kirkland himself.

Above: Crowds begin to gather to watch The Big Move.

Above: The 105-year old former Kirkland Museum

Below: Artist's rendering of new Kirkland Museum, 8 blocks away from original site; 
another view showing incorporation of old museum

For more detailed info about the new Kirkland's architecture, visit

from the Denver Post

And now, a small peek at what's inside ...

Above: Jules Leleu Settee (c. 1933) from the S.S. Normandie

Below: a whole lotta mid-mod furniture, plus paintings by Vance Kirkland.

The Kirkland Museum houses three principal collections,

 and includes the original school and studio of artist Vance Kirkland.
 My husband and I visited several years ago, and were blown away 
by the quality and quantity of the artwork on display.
I'm a big Clarice Cliff fan, so I would have been happy
 just to see that!! 

The photos below were taken by Michael Schonbach
 in August 2013.

Eva Zeisel ceramics

Clarice Cliff's line of Bizarre Ware pottery -- hugely popular in the 1930s; wildly collectible today

Below: A crocheted 1970s dress and an iconic Andy Warhol soup can frock

Below: the thin line between collecting and hoarding?

Having attractive vitrines for display purposes helps a lot.


The new venue is scheduled to open in Denver in early 2018. See http://www.kirklandmuseum.org/ for detailed info. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ODD BITS: Small products, big smiles

I've just discovered some zany food-related products 
created by Israeli industrial designer Avihai Shurinwhose studio specializes 
in highly original, stylish and whimsical everyday products. 

"We believe that small products make big smiles!"

Nibble the biscuit to style Sam’s hairdo.
(Cookie cutter is below.)

Below: Pepo fruit slicer turns unwieldy watermelon into
easily handled ice lollies.

Sunnyside egg shaper --->

Below: Just Hanging Simian Kitchen hooks

Mobilo - Mobile in a Bottle

~ oOo ~

Originally published on Mad for Mod blog
July 28, 2015

Monday, June 5, 2017

CELEBRATIONS: Frank Lloyd Wright's 150th Birthday! (June 8)

We interrupt our 3-part series on upcoming Modernist exhibitions to put on our party hats and celebrate the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright's birth. 

Arthur Heurtley House, Oak Park IL, 1902
The Arthur Heurtley House, located in Oak Park, Illinois, is one of the first 
of Wright’s famed Prairie houses. In 2000, when a $1.2 million restoration 
project was nearing its end, the house was designated as a 
National Historic Landmark.

FLW's iconic domestic commission, Falling Water, built in 1935 in
Mill Run PA, has been called "the best all-time work of American architecture"

This giant of architecture and design, and very quotable raconteur ("Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles"), was born in a Wisconsin farming town on June 8, 1867. This was before the invention of radio, the airplane, the hand-held camera and the vacuum cleaner, not to mention all our modern conveniences such as air conditioning, personal computers, post-it notes and mind numbing i-everythings. It seems like the less he had to work with, the more his imagination flourished.

Wright's output and longevity as an architect and urban planner were astonishing: he designed more than 1,000 structures, 532 of which were completed. His fertile period spanned more than 70 years. Wright called his design philosophy "organic architecture", meaning that he wanted his structures to exist in harmony with both humanity and nature. "Fallingwater" pictured above, may be the greatest example of this philosophy.

Though highly respected and considered an excellent teacher, humility was not one of his strong points. "Early in life I had to chose between honest arrogance and hypcritical humility. I chose the former and see no reason to change."

So much has been written about Wright that it seems redundant to the max to
Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/f/frank_lloyd_wright.h
try to pen anything more about this singular creative force. So we will leave you with photos of some of our favorite FLW houses and public spaces, as well as a (partial) list of upcoming activities honoring the birthday anniversary of this force of nature.

Taliesin West, Wright’s winter residence in Scottsdale, AZ, built in 1937
 Over the years, it expanded to include a large studio and architectural school much of which was designed by the architect’s students. Today, Taliesin West is home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. It is also open to public viewing.

 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY, NY
(exterior above; interior below)

For a comprehensive listing of events celebrating
Frank Lloyd Wright's sesquicentennial (!!)
link here

For a somewhat less worshipful article about FLW,
see the New York Times' article about the current MOMA exhibition

Frank Lloyd Wright Hated New York, Thought About Making the Guggenheim Pink, and Still Dreamed of Mile-High Skyscrapers

And for the kiddies, transform a gallery into an
interactive large-scale "coloring book" inspired by the architect's work

at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC


Thursday, June 1, 2017

EXHIBITIONS: (Part Two of Three): Modernist riches in the heartland

For those who live in, or will be traveling through, the country's heartland
over the next few months, there are many fascinating and eclectic exhibitions of the Modernist esthetic to savor. Below are some recommended shows
in Cleveland, Milwaukee, Denver, Chicago and Fort Worth.

 Muse with Violin Screen, Paul Fehér (c. 1930)
Rose Iron Work, Cleveland Art Museum

I may just have to buy a plane ticket ASAP to catch the Cleveland Art Museum's  The Jazz Age: America Style in the 1920s -- my favorite era, my favorite art genre. (It will run through New Year's day of 2018.)

After the First World War finally ended, people were in the mood to celebrate and find joy in life again.The USA became a global shining star of innovative fashion, music, architecture, interior decoration, metalwork, decorative arts and film. Talent and craftsmanship, urbanity and experimentation flowed back and forth across the Atlantic with an influx of European émigré designers coming to America and a rush of American creative talent traveling and studying abroad. A new language of design emerged to define a cosmopolitan era of innovation and modernity—the Jazz Age—capturing the pulse and rhythm of the American spirit. Art Deco had its heyday, and is still loved and collected by many aficionados.

 Jeune Fille Vert by Polish artist Tamara deLempika, 1929 --
"the first woman artist to be a glamour star." DeLempika's art
was noted for its sensuality and magnetism.

I love this soulful painting,
a copy of which which hangs in my living room. 

"I live life in the margins of society, and the rules of normal society."
                                                                                                            ... TdL
°     °     °     °     °    °     °
Have you ever wondered why some posters grab your attention and won't let go, and others barely graze your consciousness? The Milwaukee Art Museum, in coordination with the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, is currently presenting a fascinating graphic exhibition called How Posters Work, which explores wide range of social functions served by posters, from promoting a book or film, to advocating a political cause to providing information to pure art. Despite the rise of digital media, the print poster remains vital and often more compelling.

How Posters Work features more than 80 rarely seen posters from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition demonstrates how some of the world’s most imaginative designers have pushed the boundaries of two-dimensional design, harnessed the mechanics and psychology of perception, and mastered the art of storytelling to produce powerful forms of visual communication. Graphic art by the great Paul Rand (see Mad for Mod's posting "Everything is Design", dated 9/29/15) is included in this jazzy show.

         °     °     °     °     °     °    °     °     °
Ruskin Ceramic Ware group
Works on view illustrate Howson Taylor's continual experimentation 
with innovative and challenging glaze techniques, resulting in four primary  
genres—soufflé, luster, crystalline/matte, and high-fired flambé.  

Running now through November 12 at the Denver Art Museum,  Artistry and Craftsmanship: Ruskin Pottery, Enamels and Buttons showcases the Ruskin Pottery style of hand-thrown and hand-turned ceramics bodies with innovative glazes. Founded in the early 1900s by Edward Richard Taylor and his son William Howson Taylor, Ruskin Pottery was named after watercolorist, philosopher and highly esteemed critic of the Arts & Crafts movement, John Ruskin.

Throughout its 35-year history, the pottery produced decorative vessels, tableware, buttons, and small glazed plaques called enamels, intended to be set into jewelry made of silver or pewter.  

According to a curatorial note, "This exhibition features about 80 objects from 213 works of Ruskin Pottery given to the Denver Art Museum by Carl Patterson, the museum's conservator emeritus. This remarkable gift makes the DAM collection of Ruskin Pottery one of the largest collections in the world and presents great opportunities for research, exhibition, and publication."

Bowl, 1927. Porcellaneous stoneware with luster glaze.
Manufactured by Ruskin Pottery, West Smethwick, England.

Above and below: Ruskin enamels and buttons

°     °     °     °     °     °    °     °     °
Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture
Show runs March 26 through June 25. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX.  
 Watercolor of Ponte Vecchio, Florence by Louis Kahn (c.1930)

Renowned as a master of light and space, Kahn (born Itze-Leib Schmuilowsky) is celebrated here in drawings, models, photographs and films. He created many singular, important buildings, including the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA, the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh (consdered "one of the top 50 architctral achievements of the modern world"), as well as numerous domestic commisions. Also on view here are watercolors, pastels and charcoal drawings Kahn created during his travels.

The Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA image courtesy of News Wise

Kahn’s most iconic project is arguably Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban, the National Assembly of Bangladesh, located in the capital of Dhaka.  JSB was completed in 1982, twenty one years after construction began. Kahn was able to draw
plentiful illumination into this structure by using his remarkable sensibility
of spatial relationships and his ability to harness indirect natural light. 

 Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban (National Parliament House)
 Dhaka, Bangladesh

Louis Kahn, British Art Center at Yale University

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Seen recently at the Chicago Design Museum's show
Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist
(Some assembly required)


Coming next in part 3 ...  
Denver's newly renovated Kirkland Museum
Opening Spring 2018