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 later 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.
-- 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