L.A. at Home

Design, Architecture, Gardens,
Southern California Living

Category: Pacific Standard Time

'Carefree California: Cliff May and the Romance of the Ranch'


Architect Cliff May was California cool: loved jazz, rode horses, epitomized the casual Western life. His ranch house designs were equally cool, with sliding glass doors substituting for solid walls, allowing for a stronger connection between home and garden — an approach that still feels modern today.

An exhibition opening Sunday at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum of UC Santa Barbara looks at that ranch house tradition, which dates to modest designs in the 1930s and transitions to luxury ranch houses Opie_East Mezzanine Way_6later in the architect’s career. “Carefree California: Cliff May and the Romance of the Ranch, 1920-1960” includes photographs, drawings, models, sales pamphlets, site maps, publications, even film and television clips.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum commissioned artist Catherine Opie to photograph two May homes, including his custom Experimental Ranch House, in which he lived for a short time.

On March 10, the Southern California Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians will host a behind-the-scenes tour of the exhibit followed by a visit to the May-designed Power Residence, a 1964 design in Camarillo. Tickets are $100 and include transportation and a box lunch.

The exhibit, part of the Pacific Standard Time arts initiative, kicks off Sunday with an ice cream and popcorn social, music, dance and spoken performances from 1 to 5 p.m. The show runs through June 17. Admission is free.

Noon to 5 p.m Wednesdays through Sundays. 552 University Road, Santa Barbara. (805) 893-7564.


Backyard OasisPalm Springs Art Museum's "Backyard Oasis"

LACMA exhibition on "Living in a Modern Way"

Eames living room moved to LACMA for exhibition

-- Lisa Boone

Illustration: Cliff May House Beautiful demonstration home, Woodacres (Los Angeles), patio perspective, circa 1945, pencil and watercolor on board, 10.5 inches by 16.5 inches. Source: Cliff May Papers.

Photo credit: Catherine Opie courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles

'Modern Way' symposium, garden tours this week

Mirman house

Home and garden events, classes and exhibitions for the week ahead are listed below. Suggest your own via reader comments. No store promotions and no frivolous links, please.

Feb. 23: A self-driven garden caravan sponsored by the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden makes three stops in Ventura County: Nopalito Native Plant Nursery in Ventura for drought-tolerant, succulent and edible plants; Matilija Nursery in Moorpark for natives and irises; and a private garden in Somis designed by landscape architect Amy Nettleton. Part of the Thursday Garden Talks With Lili Singer. 10 a.m. to noon. $20. Registration required: (626) 821-4623.

Feb 24: To encourage public discourse about architecture, urban design and city planning, the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects has coordinated a series of discussions with Los Angeles mayoral candidates. Moderated by Los Angeles City Planning Commission President Bill Roschen and Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne, the forums are meant to help the public learn more about each candidate's vision for the future. This week: Austin Beutner. 7 to 9 p.m. Free. Ronald F. Deaton Civic Auditorium, Los Angeles Police Department Administration Building, 100 W. 1st St., Los Angeles. Reservations required: www.aialosangeles.org.

Feb 24-25: “California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way” curators Wendy Kaplan and Bobbye Tigerman chair this two-day symposium featuring internationally renowned scholars who examine the exhibition's themes.  An evening panel with artists Jim Isermann, Jorge Pardo and Pae White considers the impact and legacy of modern California design. Symposium runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 24 (with panel at 7 p.m.) and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 25. Two-day pass $15 to $25; one-day pass $10 to $15. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 857-6010.

Feb. 25: Internationally recognized bonsai masters share their passion for the art form in this annual event that includes exhibits, demonstrations, a “bonsai bazaar” and a live auction at 3 p.m. each day. Festivities 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 25 and 26. Included in regular admission of $6 to $20. Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. (626) 405-2100.

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Palm Springs museum dives into pool culture in 'Backyard Oasis'

Bill Owens "We Don't Have to Conform"
The backyard swimming pool can be an object of desire or a sign of suburban sterility, an icon of the good life or a symbol of its demise. The Palm Springs Art Museum’s new show, “Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography,” looks at these contradictions and provides a revealing peek at this fixture of Southern California life, one that dots the landscape but nonetheless often remains hidden from view.

The photographs, taken from 1945 to 1982, are just plain fun to look at — the exquisite skill of the photographers, pretty bodies in pretty settings, recognizable pieces of recent cultural history. But a closer look uncovers a much more thought-provoking exhibition.

PHOTO GALLERY: ""Backyard Oasis" at the Palm Springs Art Museum

“I had been wanting for a really long time to do a show that looked at cultural geography,” the idea that place is not just its physical coordinates but also “the ideology that makes up people’s imagination of a place,” said Daniell Cornell, senior curator.

Life seems perfect in the 1970 photograph “Poolside Gossip” taken by Slim Aarons — from the pose of a lounging woman and her flip hairdo, to the glassy blue of the generous-sized pool, to the purples and blues of the mountain view.

The group of partygoers in “We Don’t Have to Conform,” a 1971 photograph shown at top by Bill Owens, practically screams Southern California stereotypes. Seven people, drinks in hand, sit in a hot tub with their feet raised at the center, touching, forming a leg tepee.

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Paul László at your table: 1954 design in table linens

Looking for some midcentury inspiration for your holiday table? How about a 1954 Paul László textile design that's part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Pacific Standard Time exhibit, “California Design, 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way”? As Adam Tschorn reports on our sister blog All the Rage, Los Angeles-based loungewear label Bedhead Pajamas has collaborated with the museum to create the table linens as well as T-shirts, pajamas and boxer shorts. Tschorn writes that the pieces are available through the LACMA gift shop and Bedhead’s store on 3rd Street in L.A. Check out the All the Rage post on the László design for more details.

And if you haven't yet seen the LACMA show, go. The textiles in the show are fantastic, as is the re-creation of the Eames living room. For a preview, Times photographer Bryan Chan created a time-lapse video of the Eames move. Over several weeks, Chan captured LACMA's art handlers as they packed up the belongings of Charles and Ray Eames in their landmark Pacific Palisades house and installed the contents of the living room in a full-scale replica at the museum.


Pacific Standard Time

L.A. at Home's 2011 spin on 1951 photo

LACMA re-creates 1951 L.A. Times photo

Eames House launches preservation campaign

-- Craig Nakano

Photo: Paul László textile designs. Credit: Grant Mudford


Modern living: A 2011 spin on a 1951 photo


0-LAT-Home-1951 The Times photo studio was abuzz (and aflame) earlier this week as we re-created an October 1951 Los Angeles Times Home Magazine cover, swapping out the furniture of the past  with California design of the present.

Inspired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's authentic restaging of that 1951 scene, the Home crew earlier this month took key elements -- indoor armchair, patio chair, planter, fire feature and so on -- and nominated contemporary California designers and manufacturers who embodied modern living. We added a category, pet beds, to acknowledge the larger role that pets play in our lives (and our pocketbooks). Then we asked you to vote.

More than 6,700 votes were cast, and the designs pictured in the photo at top represent your favorites, assembled and staged by writers David A. Keeps and Lisa Boone with an assist from Katy McNerney. Your choices -- a rechargeable LED outdoor lamp, a computer-cut room divider and more -- spoke volumes about what modern living means today.

PHOTOS: California design poll nominees and winners

INTERACTIVE KEY: The 2011 photo deconstructed

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LACMA re-creates 1951 Times photo for 'Modern Way' exhibit

Living Modern

0-LAT-Home-1951 The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will open “California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way” on Saturday with a 60-year-old magazine cover brought to life. An October 1951 cover of the L.A. Times Home magazine has been re-created as part of the exhibit, complete with plastic Eames armchair, Van Keppel-Green cord patio furniture and other pieces of modern living. It's a scene that Times editors presented with the headline: “What Makes the California Look.”

Full article: LACMA re-creates 1951 Home cover

“People are still clamoring for accessible modernism, and these pieces fulfill that desire as well as speak to interest in the past and in how people lived when there was promise and hope, the dawning of a new age,” said Bobbye Tigerman, co-curator of the show. “It speaks to contemporary desires and hearkening back to old times.”


"California Design 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way"

Time-lapse video: Eames House living room moved to museum

Eames House launches preservation project

-- David Hay

Photo: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Modern Auctions previews Dorso collection

Richard Dorso collection
Interior designer David John admits that he felt a little overwhelmed when Los Angeles Modern Auctions director Peter Loughrey asked him to style a vignette using some of the 400-plus pieces in the Richard Dorso collection, which includes works by the likes of Sam Maloof, John McCracken and John Baldessari, to be auctioned Oct. 9.

"It was a dream come true to decorate with Maloof, McCracken and Baldessari," John said. "I wanted to blur the line between living room and gallery space. Narrowing it down was so hard. You could go so many different ways with the collection."

Other highlights in the upcoming auction include works by Richard Tuttle, Roy Lichtenstein, Vasa Velizar Mihich and Gustav Klimt. All lots are on display as part of an exhibit exploring the role of Dorso in the L.A. art scene. For John's vignette, the designer aimed for calm and peaceful, choosing approximately 40 artworks based on color, texture and pattern. Dorso's apartment "vibrated crazy energy," John says, so he wanted the vignette to "vibrate with color and intensity" but still "tone it down a bit and make it modern."

Get-attachment.aspx John also highlighted California artists, given that the exhibit is part of the celebration Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions will sell the Dorso collection with no reserve, meaning all lots including furniture and decorative arts will be sold without minimum bid requirements, spokeswoman Elizabeth Portanova said. For collectors living outside of Los Angeles, the auction house will offer absentee, phone and online bidding. All 418 lots from the collection can be viewed online. "We also offer condition reports on each piece, which must be requested by the client," Portanova said. "Condition reports are great for people who can't see the items in-person."

Los Angeles Modern Auctions is at 16145 Hart St. Van Nuys. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; (323) 904-1950.


Eames living room moved for LACMA exhibit

"California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way"

Pacific Standard Time: The Times guide

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Bethany Nauert

Eames living room moved for LACMA's California design show

A full-scale replica of the Eames House living room is a key component of the exhibition “Living in a Modern Way: California Design 1930-1965,” opening Oct. 1 at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Just how did the museum pull it off? Conservators descended upon the Eames House last month, cataloging the living room's contents — all 1,864 items — and then transported them across town for the show.

With its 17-foot-high ceiling, panels of glass opening to the grove of eucalyptus outside, and a vast range of objects collected over a lifetime, the Eames House living room is where two of the most influential designers of the 20th century spent hours talking, entertaining friends and playing with collections that informed their work. After the Eameses died (Charles in 1978 and Ray 10 years later), magazines of the day were left out for reading, fresh flowers were still changed out -- the entire scene kept tidy by a caretaker whom the Eameses hired more than three decades ago.

The ambitious effort to transport this world to the museum has been epic in scope: To ensure nothing in the house was damaged by insects, the museum placed all books, magazines, rugs, blankets -- anything made of organic materials, about 1,500 objects in all -- in a freezer truck for five days.

Almost four weeks after LACMA art handlers first arrived in the Palisades to pack up the living room, the museum was still meticulously installing the Eames collections in the Resnick Pavilion for "Living in a Modern Way." Times photographer Bryan Chan documented the move, consolidating hour upon hour of careful packing and unpacking into the time-lapse footage above.

Full article: Eames House living room, on view at LACMA


"Living in a Modern Way": Other elements of the show

Eames House: Landmark to be restored

Pacific Standard Time: The Times guide

Landmark Houses: The Times series


LACMA show on California design, 'Living in a Modern Way'

2-Greta-Magnusson-Grossman “California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way,” which opens Oct. 1 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, aims to dispel the myth that significant contributions by Californians during this period came mainly in fine art and architecture.

By extending the scope of the new exhibition to furniture, graphic design, fashion, surfboards, even the Studebaker Avanti designed by the great Raymond Loewy, "California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way" argues that what flourished in the state, particularly after World War II, was in fact a much broader movement. Nurtured by the rapid technological changes brought on by wartime manufacturing and by the thousands who came to work in California's defense plants, a new creative class thrived here. Frequent cross-pollination between disciplines created what curators call California’s new “middle-class Utopias.”

The lamp pictured at right, Model 831, is a Greta Magnusson Grossman design dating to 1949. Appreciation for Grossman's place in the midcentury design movement has been rising, and L.A. Times readers might recall a 2009 profile and photo gallery of a 1948 house in Beverly Hills that Grossman built.

Among the hundreds of other elements in the LACMA exhibit, below from left: a mid-1930s Airline chair by Kem Weber, a 1953 Arts and Architecture magazine cover by John Follis and James Reed, and a Dan Johnson desk from 1947.

Article: "Califoria Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way"

Photos: Preview of the LACMA exhibition

2-Kem-Weber-chair 2-Arts-and-Architecture-mag   2-Dan-Johnson-Desk

Eames living room moved for "Living in a Modern Way"

Eames House to be restored

Landmark Houses: The Times series

Pacific Standard Time: The Times guide

-- David Hay

Credit, top: Museum Associates / Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Credit, bottom, from left: Museum Associates / Los Angeles County Museum of Art, courtesy of David Travers, Dan Johnson


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