The Palm Springs Art Museum can’t get enough of E. Stewart Williams. Having closed on a deal to buy the Williams’ Sante Fe Federal Savings and Loan building on Palm Canyon Drive, the museum now owns two. The museum’s building was also designed by Williams and completed in 1976. The iron rock facade, blends so well into the landscape it appears to be a gateway to the mountains beyond. With its concrete coffered entryway, the museum building contains obvious Brutalist references, whereas the bank building completed in 1960 takes its cues from the International style. Fine buildings both, but it must be said that with a giant white elephant of a vacated mall sitting in front of the museum building, having a presence on Palm Canyon won’t hurt. Museum spokesperson Bob Bogard said the new locale would be the ideal hub for Modernism Week activities and help direct traffic to the museum.
The Pacific Design Center’s Red Building, the final piece of a three-structure complex, is nearing completion. Designed by Cesar Pelli, the building’s jutting red glass facade is in now in place, and the project should be complete by this fall. Photographer Kenneth Johansson has been documenting its construction for the last two years. His pictures don’t just reveal the developing bones of the building, they showcase the often-overlooked construction workers who make projects like this happen. “I have all the respect in the world for these guys,” said Johansson, of the builders, who he calls “heroic” (you can see why). He plans to release a book on the project next year. Enjoy this slideshow of the construction from start to the present. (Click on an image below to start)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Through October 31
Best known for directing films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, and Beetle Juice, Tim Burton and his work as an illustrator, writer, and artist are being honored with a retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This new show celebrates the way that Burton has managed to put his own spin on movies in an industry known for its fear of the unknown. With over 700 items on display, including drawings, paintings, photographs, film and video works, storyboards, puppets, concept artworks, maquettes, costumes, and assorted cinematic ephemera, visitors get a glimpse into the mind of this modern day Renaissance man.
Though the show debuted on the east coast at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the LACMA version of the show, organized by Britt Salvesen, offers its own take on the Burbank native’s body of work. Burton collaborated with the exhibition designers to transform the museum’s Resnick Pavilion into an appropriately “Burtonesque” environment. He also created several new pieces for the exhibition, including what the museum describes as a “revolving multimedia, black-light carousel installation that hangs from the ceiling.”
Armory Center for the Arts
145 North Raymond Ave.
Through November 6
MacArthur-winner Jorge Pardo gained his reputation by blurring the boundaries between art, architecture, and design. In his temporary exhibit in the courtyard of the Armory Center, Pardo engages the surroundings, deploying four pepper trees to act as three-dimensional framing devices for groups of translucent hanging globes. What at first seems to be a festive environment becomes a contemplative one, as visitors sit on benches surrounding the base of the trees and take a closer look at the spheres. Each reveals an ethereal universe inside: delicate reflective materials sit protected from the surrounding activity, casting shimmering, changing light onto the world around them.
Architecture isn’t just for rich, young caucasians. In fact with explosions in senior, minority and student populations it’s time to take a hard look at how these changes impact architecture. You can do that tonight at a panel called Designing By Demographics at LA’s Brewery, sponsored by AN. The event, hosted by journalist and media expert Marissa Gluck, brings in experts from architecture, art and community redevelopment to discuss how demographics impact design, from senior housing, to childcare, and low income communities. Panelists include architect Patrick Tighe, designer of the Sierra Bonita affordable housing project in West Hollywood; Edgar Arceneaux. Executive Director of the Watts House Project, an arts and community redevelopment project in Watts; and a great lineup of architects, artists, and academics. No to mention The Brewery is one of our favorite locations in LA ( Telemachus Studio at the Brewery, 672 South Avenue 21 Unit 2).
We got to see one of our favorite new architectural documentaries on Sunday, called Unfinished Spaces: Cuba’s Architecture of Revolution, by Alysa Nahmias and Ben Murray. The film documents the creation, and subsequent scuttling, of Cuba’s National Arts Schools. Designed by architects Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti, the highly expressive Modernist schools, built mostly of Terra Cotta, were an example of visionary architecture and idealistic arts education for all, from dance to visual arts. But after the Castro government wearied of creative expression and embraced Soviet-style building, they changed their minds, shutting down construction, although classes later continued in the schools’ ruins. Now the country has once again done an about-face and is hoping to save them, despite a lack of government funding. Look at our next issue for a full review. And if you’re in LA, check out more screenings of the film on June 24 and June 25. Read More
Michael C. McMillen: Train of Thought
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak Street, Oakland
Through August 16
The Oakland Museum of California’s new exhibit looks at four decades of work by Michael C. McMillen, a California-based mixed-media artist. Curated by Philip Linhares, who is also a long-time collaborator of McMillen’s, the retrospective includes sculptures, tableaus, paintings, drawings, films, and large-scale installations. Found objects have long played an important part in McMillen’s work since childhood, when he began crafting toys for himself out of old radios and other discarded items. The artist’s creations often call to mind the cinematic landscapes of a Hollywood picture, somewhat appropriate given that he once worked making miniatures, like the motel model above, and props for films, including such sci-fi classics as Blade Runner and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. McMillen often uses architectural references and clever visual cues to transport viewers into an altered reality. He wants viewers to “come away from the experience seeing the world in a slightly different way,” McMillen said in an artist’s statement.
Los Angeles is gearing up for a two week, citywide celebration of design in its first ever edition of the L.A. Design Festival. (Ticket giveaway details at the end of the post!) The ladf, which launched last night, features an overwhelming number of events (more than 20!), including the Dwell on Design Conference (June 24-26), the AIA/LA Design Conference (June 24), A+D Museum’s Come In! 2 (June 14-July 24) tours of Richard Neutra’s VDL House (June 18 and 25) and Kanner Architects’ new Lafayette Park Rec Center (tonight), and a load of panels and parties, including Design for Demographics, which investigates how our changing population is influencing the design process. And don’t miss this highlight: Silver Lake non-profit Materials & Applications is staging a provocative look inside some of LA’s more daring design firms this weekend. The self-guided Summer Series—which also doubles as a fundraiser for M&A’s future installations—includes tours inside the creative spaces of past and future collaborators with the organization, like Ball Nogues Studio, Oyler Wu Collaborative, LOHA and the Office of Mobile Design.
David Hertz’s 747 House in Malibu— literally made from the wings and fuselage of a a retired 747— is not quite done (it’s residents are moving in now). But we’ve been able to get a few pictures of the house from photographer Sara Jane Boyers, who has been documenting the project since June 2008. Hertz obtained the 747 for $50,000, and has used every bit of it in the construction of the main residence and six ancillary structures (note the wing roofs and the engine fountain, for starters). Besides the obvious green-ness of being recycled from an airplane, the house also uses Solar power, radiant heating and natural ventilation. Enjoy these pix and stay tuned for more as the house finishes up.
We know Thom Mayne and Morphosis are moving. Now we know they’re moving REALLY soon. Their new headquarters, located just next to the new Expo Line tracks in Culver City, started construction last summer and are wrapping up this month. They need to move in by July 1, said Mayne, because the lease to their rented warehouse space next door is up. That should get things moving, despite some delays because of this year’s heavy rains.
Pasadena is celebrating its 125th Anniversary today and will continue partying all month and into the fall. Now a significant city with over 140,000 residents, it was a rural settlement when it decided to become the fourth city to incorporate in Los Angeles County on June 12, 1886. While many know Pasadena for its Rose Bowl, Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena Playhouse, and California Institute of Technology, the city is also home to “Bungalow Heaven,” a 16-block Historic Landmark District neighborhood featuring nearly 1,000 Craftsman bungalows. This month features tours of these homes and more.