Sunday, January 16, 2011

Going To Extremes

Jefferson Park part of historic West Adams

I'm walking in the dark through my neighborhood (6-6:30 a.m.) most often but on the weekends my schedule gets thrown off like yesterday. Taking advantage of the light I took my camera and went to the extremes. First stop was the Glen Lukens house by Raphael Soriano. It's quite exciting to see progress being made on this bit of architectural history. Someone's restoring it and that's a good thing. Apparently it's the catalyst that gave us stararchitect Frank Gehry.
Glen Lukens

I was taking classes at USC, summer classes in ceramics and art, drawing, art design, and the ceramics teacher -- Glen Lukens at the time -- was having a house designed by Raphael Soriano, and Glen somehow looked at me and said, "I just have another hunch." He said, "I would like you to meet Soriano," and I did, and I watched how Soriano -- a guy with a black suit and a black tie and a beret, you know -- I mean, he was a really funny guy. But there was something about it that excited me, maybe the drama of it, maybe the theater of it, and he knew what he was doing. He was very Miesian. He did very stark things, and that all excited me. Based on Glen's recommendation, I took a class at night in architectural design, and I did really well. I was skipped into second year. (interview)

front of Lukens' Soriano house

two views of Lukens' studio

Lukens house entrance
Now owing to the intent of this blog the question becomes what would I do with this house as a decorative artist, a muralist? What makes sense? I'd need to know more. My commission work is tied to the architecture the setting and the inhabitants. I know Lukens was a potter with a keen interest in ceramic glazes. That's fertile ground for developing a decorative painting scheme but I also thought of the Bauhaus master Oskar Schlemmer who headed the wall painting workshop. Where he was figurative I might substitute plant imagery but I like the general thrust and can see that sort of thing working quite nicely on Soriano's building either inside or outside, perhaps both.

Oskar Schlemmer/Figural Cabinet/version 2/1922
Oskar Schlemmer/Figural Cabinet/1922

Oskar Schlemmer/House of Dr. Rabe/Zwenkau/1930-31

Now walk with me down the street and around the corner to the other extreme, an 1888 farmhouse. It's hard to grasp how little development was here in my neighborhood not to mention Los Angeles when this was built. It was nearly forty years until the much more well known Adamson (dairy farmhouse) was built out in Malibu.

Starr Farmhouse side and cow
Starr Farmshouse facade

two extremes a short walk from my house

It looks like the project is stalled at this point but I serious doubt David is giving up. This house is so plain spoken I'm not sure it could stand a Turkish corner like other houses of the period. Do you see that big window above the front door? That room in there. I'm thinking traditional Japanese. Something plain, minimal, and serene. Otherwise I'm just so afraid this place could turn too Pottery Barnish. Something from the land of the rising sun might be just the thing. 

What would you do?


The Oksar Schlemmer idea has been hatched! I painted a children's playroom. Read all about it here:

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  1. I see the Glen Lukens house as a Mondrian canvas.

  2. Coincidentally I happen to watch a show last night on TV that featured a plot involving a forged Mondrian. (Hustle, a British import) I like Mondrian's work because I've seen some in person where it's revealed that they are much more textural than reproduction would leave one to believe.

    Having said that I don't really see the connection to M and this house other than a superficial one. But perhaps I'm being a little myopic because I'm so sure Schlemmer is perfect for this house. Full discloser: I've been looking for an excuse to mentioned Schlemmer in my blog since I started it. I also want to be part of the discussion that seeks to dispel myths.

    The Bauhaus is widely misinterpreted for being all about white walls and total absence of decoration which is flatly wrong. Schlemmer's wall painting workshop introduced a colorful and animated approaching to decorating walls furthermore Gropius was a great advocate of color in architecture. Lukens was known for his great knowledge and interest in rich deep color in his glazes. Throwing a pot is quite physical,dance like even. Schlemmer is also well known for his Triadic Ballet so there's that too.

  3. What would I do? Anything by you will be wonderful. Paint on Scott!!!!

  4. I'd love to paint something for one of your projects Peggy!

  5. Scott, you have been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award. Here is a link to my post to see what it is all about. Congratulations! Mark

  6. What would I do? Commission you to paint your proposal, of course. Fascinating post. Totally.

  7. I studied the Bauhaus in school and I produced a Dada performance piece about Oskar Schlemmer. But he really captured my imagination when I saw a wonderful exhibit of his work in Baltimore (1986). I'd love to get a commission to use him a reference!


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