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Things That Are Not There Anymore - Valley Circle Theater, Mission Valley
Photo courtesy of Michael-Leonard Creditor/flexible fotography

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The San Diego Museum of Art just launched the exhibition Joaquín Torres-García: Constructing Abstraction with Wood. Torres-García celebrated as a modernist painter, teacher and author exhibited with the most famous artists of his time including Antonio Gaudí, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg and Marcel Duchamp. Visiting the show, you will witness 80 wooden constructions (small-scale boxes, abstract male and female figures, masks and assemblages), as well as oil paintings and drawings that demonstrate the connections between his experiments in two- and three-dimensional forms. The show runs through May 30th.

Sculptor Henry Moore is being portrayed as a radical who explored a dark world of sex, war and death, in a new show that challenges his modern image as the creator of gentle figures that adorn wind-swept plazas around the world. London's Tate Britain gallery has brought together more than 150 of the artist's sculptures and paintings in what has been billed as the biggest exhibition of his work in a generation. From claustrophobic drawings of skeletal figures sheltering from air raids to primitive stone masks and vast, erotic wooden female figures, it traces Moore's work over more than 40 years.

Remodeled Beyond All Recognition: 3615 Dorothy Way (AKA Lloyd Ruocco's Bauman
Residence). Photo by Douglas W. Simmonds

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Easily one of the most often asked questions of Modern San Diego is "How do I find out who the architect of my home is?" There are a number of answers to such a query, and none really better than the other. It always seems that we learn about history serendipitously. When I hear this question a number of scenarios (rather than straight answers) come to mind: Are the blueprints in the home? Was the last seller of the house the original commissioning client, architect, or someone aware of the history of the home? Does the real estate agent who specializes in the area know who designed it... or how about a long-time neighbor? Outside of these and additional ideas I can come up with at a moment's notice, one has to do some searching of publications available via the public library, the San Diego Historical Society (or your own local historical society), the local newspaper and old telephone books as well as City or County tax assessor's records. While a chain of title doesn't always reveal the answer, there are always clues. In some cases you can look up previous owners of your home in the phone book and give them a call. Someone will know the answer. You may be wondering why I bring this up today...

...Easily the driving force behind this website is the "Eureka!" moments, and those shared with other devotees of modernism are easily the best. Going back 10 years, when I purchased my home, one of my neighbors mentioned that a house down the street was by an architect and was published in Sunset Magazine as "A House for a Young Couple" or something along those lines. I kept a watchful eye on the home and witnessed, prior to learning who designed it, a slumlord cut the house up into four tiny bedrooms, move the garage, cover up clerestory windows and actually change the roof line and front facade into something much less dramatic. I gave up on wondering aloud who the house was designed by. Yesterday Todd came over with an old Sunset Magazine with an article on a Lloyd Ruocco home he was dying to learn where it was -- the article failed to mention a neighborhood or a street name. Easily identifiable in one photo was that the house was perched on the rim of a canyon. The rendering of the home looked familiar to me but I failed to connect the dots. After our visit, and a conversation about looking up the client's name in old phone books, Todd called to say the house that I can see from my own backyard, on the rim of the same canyon, was by Lloyd Ruocco. And better yet, it is currently in escrow. While I wish I had better news, as the house is remodeled beyond recognition, we toured the house today and looked earnestly for the long-lost blueprints (that would make possible a restoration effort), we came up empty. When the new owner of 3615 Dorothy Way checks their mail they will find a note from me telling them they have just purchased Ruocco's Bauman Residence and a copy of the Sunset magazine article detailing the original luster of the home -- and why it has a huge redwood sliding wall of glass...

San Diego architect Tom Tucker died of lung cancer last week at his Escondido home. Mr. Tucker was 86. Read his obituary HERE.

Sacramento has mid-century fever! On January 26th some folks are hosting the first tour of its kind in the area. On the tour are Eichler homes by Jones + Emmons as well as local architects like Carl Sparks. Read more HERE.

In a recent post I asked for any information on the Mira Mar Motor Inn & Restaurant/Ship Room at 815 N. Coast Hwy. in Oceanside. Thanks to one reader, there is a ton of information at the Tiki Central site. Check it out HERE.

Granada Hills' 108 Eichler homes in the Balboa Highlands area was recently investigated as becoming a historic preservation overlay zone. Meet a homeowner and learn more HERE. Shortly after the article was published by the Daily News, THIS ARTICLE confirmed that the L.A. City Council named the tract in Granada Hills as a preservation zone.

Apparently Richard Neutra’s Mariners Medical Arts Building in Newport Beach is once again being threatened. from the wrecking ball. The medical offices at 1901 Westcliff Drive in Newport Beach were deemed by city officials as “one of the best examples of Neutra’s medical building typology, and as one of the few remaining intact examples, the Mariners’ Medical Arts building is highly significant, and is an exemplary execution of Neutra’s approach to designing architectural environments in a holistic manner for the medical profession.” Yet the building is threatened again. Read more HERE.

On February 29th the Cleveland Museum of Art celebrate the reopening of Gartner Auditorium, the museum's assembly space designed by architect Marcel Breuer in 1971. Read more HERE.


Things That Are Not There Anymore - 11th Avenue and E Street
Photo courtesy of Michael-Leonard Creditor/flexible fotography

Saturday February 6th, 2010

San Diego's first mid-century modern theater, The Capri, became an unlikely outpost of San Diego modernism. In fact, the Capri became a showcase for some of San Diego’s most progressive artists of the era. Beyond the building’s facade appearing to be a Mondrian painting; and Miró-inspired mosaics in the bathrooms, the lobby became a curated gallery, displaying work by important local artists. Read more HERE.

Pablo Picasso’s 1963 painting “Tete de Femme (Jacqueline)” fetched 8.1 million pounds ($12.9 million), twice the presale top estimate, at Christie’s International in London as telephone bidding from Russian buyers boosted the market for 20th-century European art. The head-and-shoulders portrait of the artist’s second wife, Jacqueline Roque, had been estimated at 3 million pounds to 4 million pounds. Read more HERE.

The Palm Springs City Council voted to designate the 1962 Royal Hawaiian Estates condominium complex, designed by Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison, a historic district. Read more HERE.

Below is the schedule for  Palm Springs Modernism Week. Apparently two hotels have already been booked to capacity; all days, except Monday, are sold out for the double-decker bus tour; and tickets to the event's annual gala also are selling at a brisk pace. Attendance is expected to top 10,000! Learn more HERE.

Feb. 12
2 p.m. Palm Springs Modern Committee Walk of Stars dedication for architect Albert Frey, 300 S. Palm Canyon Drive. Free event

Feb. 14
7:30 p.m. Design Onscreen Architecture & Design Film Series presents “William Krisel, Architect,” Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road. $12

Feb. 15
7:30 p.m. Design Onscreen Architecture & Design Film Series presents “Desert Utopia: Mid-century Architecture in Palm Springs,” Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road. $10

Feb. 16
10 to 11:30 a.m. Design Onscreen Architecture & Design Film Series presents “Philip Johnson: Diary of an Eccentric Architect,” Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road. $10

Feb. 17
7:30 p.m. Design Onscreen Architecture & Design Film Series presents “The Modernism of Julius Shulman,” Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road. $10

Feb. 18
6:30 p.m. Chef Johnny Vee and Victoria Price present menu items of the 1950s and 1960s, Ace Hotel & Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive. $50

Feb. 19
4 p.m. (through Sunday at 2 p.m.) Vintage Airstream and Trailer show, Ace Hotel & Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive. Free

Feb. 20
6 to 8 p.m. Vintage Fashion Show, Hotel Zoso, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive. $45

London’s Tate Modern is currently hosting a new show "Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde: Constructing a New World." This is the first major exhibition in the U.K. dedicated to the Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931), who beyond his own art was, the founder of De Stijl magazine (as well as the ‘movement’). The show includes Doesburg’s stained glass, Bauhaus designs, De Stijl furniture including works by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld. Additionally, the visitor will experience examples of commercial and popular art, as well as excursions into Dada, Constructivism, film and musical composition and much more.

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