Posts tagged with "Palm Springs Art Museum":

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A Barbara Stauffacher Solomon retrospective explores her lesser-known work

Barbara Stauffacher Solomon: Breaking All the Rules runs through January 20, 2020, at the Architecture and Design Center of the Palm Springs Art Museum. Organized by Brooke Hodge, the museum’s director of architecture and design, it is not a traditional architecture, graphic design, or art exhibition, but straddles all these lines, hence the title (similar to that of a small monograph on Ms. Stauffacher Solomon published by Hall of Femmes). If you are in Palm Springs, it's an exhibition worth checking out. The Architecture and Design Center occupies E. Stewart Williams’s Santa Fe Bank Building, one of those great Palm Springs banks that took inspiration from a world-famous architect; in this case, Mies van der Rohe. The “universal space” holds several pieces from Stauffacher Solomon’s diverse career, which is hard to pin down. Although visually powerful, the narrative can be a little difficult to piece together. Stauffacher Solomon is best known for her graphic design at the Sea Ranch on the Northern California coast. She has been credited with the invention of “Supergraphics” as a result of her work there, and she got almost as much press coverage as the architects for her simple, bold moves. But that work has been largely excluded from this show, as it focuses on selections from the rest of Solomon's career. It is important to understand her story. "Bobbie" grew up in San Francisco and lost her first husband to a brain tumor at a young age. In order to make a living and raise their daughter, she moved to Basel, Switzerland, to study with Armin Hofmann. This sets the stage for Stauffacher Solomon's subsequent work in graphic design, landscape architecture, and fine art. She is always moving between the rigor and discipline of Swiss Modernism and the radical spring of groovy California. She reveals some of this in the videos on display, which provide a context for appreciating the drawings, paintings, and new supergraphic—and her own mischievous delight. A group of eight of Stauffacher Solomon's ping-pong-themed paintings takes up the most space in the museum. Immediately, the visitor is intrigued by the sound of ping-pong being played somewhere just out of sight. The paintings, the exact size of ping-pong tables, hung horizontally when originally shown in 1990 at the San Francisco Museum of Art. In Palm Springs, they are displayed vertically, which is interesting given the relatively low ceiling height. Each canvas depicts a lushly illustrated green Californian landscape complete with white lines and nets. In addition to the sound of ping-pong balls bouncing, there are several actual ping-pong tables with paddles and balls. The paddles and balls were removed in San Francisco, but here, all are encouraged to play. An accompanying selection of drawings shows these rectangular green spaces in the urban landscape.
“To ping is to sing.” “To pong is to go wrong.”
Commissioned for this show, Solomon designed a new accompanying supergraphic overlooking the Ping-Pong tables with those few words. A supersized red ball appears to hurl through space. Stauffacher Solomon's supergraphics at Sea Ranch were rooted in the severity of her mentor Hoffman’s training but also showed her rebellious side, with bold use of color and humor (find the suggestive figures in the Sea Ranch’s Moonraker Pool Center next time you visit). Her work there, painted in a few days, covered an unfinished building that had gone over budget. Since her contributions to supergraphics and Sea Ranch are well known in the design worlds, this smaller show explores less familiar aspects of her career. Following the success of her interpretation of Swiss Modern graphics, Stauffacher Solomon returned to school at the University of California, Berkeley, and worked with the overlaps of architecture and landscape architecture. She ended up painting all kinds of green rectangles, including the series that resembled ping-pong tables. Her master’s thesis was entitled “Notes on the Common Ground between Architecture and Landscape Architecture.” Her ideas later coalesced in a book from Rizzoli, Green Architecture and the Agrarian Garden. This phase depicts her evolution from almost pure graphics to landscape depicted graphically. Yet her first book from Rizzoli, and the art that accompanied this period, was still rooted in the discipline of graphic design. Her journey moves on to a series of artworks that she gathered in a second book from Rizzoli, Good Mourning California, which embraces her home state and its many quirks yet foretells its possible demise. Some of the drawings of women seem influenced by German-American artist Richard Linder. The pieces are rougher, wilder, even angry. Without watching the two videos in the exhibition, it might be difficult for the uninitiated visitor (i.e. not a design aficionado) to make sense of Breaking all the Rules. Listening to Stauffacher Solomon describe her life and work on the videos provides the necessary frame of reference. She describes her early art studies, working as a dancer at San Francisco’s Copacabana nightclub while still a teenager, meeting her future husband at 17, befriending leading bohemians, rebuilding her life as a very young widow and mother, being disciplined by Swiss Modernism, applying that discipline to California in the 1960s, becoming the darling graphic designer of the city’s architecture scene (no surprise—trying to rein in the future chaos of postmodernism), and trying to synthesize thoughts on architecture, landscape architecture, design, the environment, and everything else. It will take a different show (and larger venue) to tell Bobbie Stauffacher Solomon’s design and personal story more completely, but this is splendid first look. Be sure and play some ping-pong.
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Another arts festival returns to the Southern California desert

It’s getting rather busy in California’s High Desert these days. With an ever-expanding set of art-related events, programs, and biennials taking place across the region, High Desert Test Sites (HDTS), a long-running artist showcase in the area, has announced its 2020 return. The event, titled HDTS2020 and conceived of as a “free-roving” art exposition, aims to revisit a 1972 slideshow lecture given by American land artist Robert Smithson titled Hotel Palenque via a series of new public artworks and events. The lecture, given by Smithson to his students at the University of Utah after a trip through Mexico in 1969, centers on an “eccentrically built hotel…simultaneously undergoing decay and renovation” that Smithson encountered while on his travels. Smithson considered the hotel a “de-architecturalized” space that existed both as a ruin and a site of reconstruction in keeping with the artist’s interests in fragmented landscapes and simultaneous states of being. The work, according to the Guggenheim website, was developed in tandem with a photographic series titled Yucatan Mirror Displacements (1–9) that Smithson created by photographing dispersed sites that had been augmented with the installation of 12-inch, square-shaped mirrors. For the 2020 run, HDTS has brought on guest curator Iwona Blazwick from the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The series will feature the work of eight artists, including Alice Channer, Gerald Clarke, Jr., Dineo Seshee Bopape, Erkan Özgen, Dana Sherwood, Paloma Varga Weisz, and Rachel Whiteread. Smithson will also be included in the showcase, which will focus on creating “a poetic narrative on the geometry of ruin, the entropic play of nature, and the ghosts of cultures both ancient and modern.” The artists are slated to create or place their works across the High Desert region, both in urbanized areas and within the desert landscapes. HDTS, a non-profit organization founded by artist Andrea Zittel, Los Angeles gallerist Shaun Caley Regen, and others in 2003, aims to “support immersive experiences and exchanges between artists, critical thinkers, and general audiences—challenging all to expand their definition of art to take on new areas of relevancy,” according to Zittel’s website. HDTS2020 will include a public discussion titled Desert as Situation on April 7 hosted by the Palm Springs Art Museum (PSAM) and moderated by Brooke Hodge, director of architecture and design at PSAM. The exhibition series itself runs from April 18 through May 9, 2020.
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Pacific Standard Time initiative reveals slate of architecturally-focused exhibitions

The Getty-sponsored initiative, Pacific Standard Time, has released a partial list of the exhibitions associated with next year’s upcoming installment of its Southern California-wide arts extravaganza. Held every two to three years since 2011, the upcoming Pacific Standard Time installment for 2017 will focus squarely on facilitating cross-cultural artistic pollination by showcasing artworks and research from North and South America in the Los Angeles area. Pacific Standard Time is being presented by more than 70 partners located within a California area spanning Santa Barbara to the north, Palm Springs to the east, and San Diego to the south. Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA (PST:LA/LA), as next year’s initiative is known, aims to utilize the Southland area as a staging ground for the provocative presentation of works hailing from regions of the continent that feed into L.A.’s multicultural expanse. According to a promotional Youtube clip for the project, “A single form of artistic expression can be born in one place and reshape an entire region thousands of miles away. That’s the power of Latin American and Latino Art’s influence on Los Angeles,” adding, “It’s time for Southern California to turn a spotlight on its cultural and artistic roots.” Though the exhibitions presented will cover topics as diverse as luxury goods from the pre-Columbian Americas to post-World War II utopias in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, PST:LA/LA’s program also aims to showcase a variety of architectural- and design-related exhibitions that touch on critical architectural issues and their impact on art. The Getty Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) are doing much of the heavy lifting in this department, with LACMA presenting multiple architecturally-related shows. LACMA’s Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985  will look at the exchange of architectural dialogues between California and Mexico and examine how the Spanish Colonial, Pre-Columbian Revivals, Craftsman, and Modernist architectural movements played a role in defining each locale throughout the 20th century. The museum’s Home—So Different, So Appealing, exhibition—part of a collaboration with Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and organized by the Chicano Studies Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles—aims to present an "alternative narrative of postwar and contemporary art by showcasing the work of Latino-American and Latin American artists from the late 1950s to the present who have used the idea of "home" as a grounding feature in their work." LACMA will also play host to A Universal History of Infamy, a collective exhibition of more than 15 artists and collectives who have developed multi-disciplinary projects while attending residency programs organized by the 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica, California, including the work of Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa and his A Brief History of Architecture in Guatemala from 2013.  The Getty Research Institute's Urban Transfer(s): Building the Latin American Metropolis from Independence to the Threshold of Modernism will consist of a visual survey of the growth experienced by Latin American cities between the 1920s and today, tracing a narrative arc spanning from the decolonization period of the late 19th century to contemporary urban conditions for the metropolises that now dot the continent. The Palm Springs Art Museum will hold Living Architecture: Lina Bo Bardi and Albert Frey, a comparative look at the work of Brazilian Modernist paragon Lina Bo Bardi and Southern California architect Albert Frey. Bo Bardi translated Frey’s text, Living Architecture for Domus in 1959 and each helmed practices that engaged with Modernism in architecture as well as furniture and urban design. The Craft and Folk Art Museum will show The U.S.-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination, and Possibility, a collection of work by individuals who grapple with the U.S.-Mexico border wall in their work, featuring work of artists and designers like Teddy Cruz, Adrian Esparza, Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, and Ana Serrano. Last but not least, the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery will hold Learning from Latin America: Art, Architecture, and Visions of Modernism a collection of work from Brazilian, Cuban, Mexican, and Venezuelan artists who have engaged with the contested legacies of Modern architecture in their work. To explore the growing list of exhibitions, visit the Pacific Standard Time website here.
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Desert X to bring the art fair circuit to Coachella Valley

File under “X.” A new happening is coming to California’s high desert. Slated to open in February 2017, Desert X is “three-month site-specific international contemporary art exhibition,” aka, an arid art event timed to align with Palm Spring’s Modernism Week as well as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Writer and curator Neville Wakefield, known for curating site-specific works, will serve as inaugural artistic director. It’s promised that his knack for engaging alternative spaces will be on view as artists install in non-traditional spaces—one might expect landscape interventions a la High Desert Test Sites in Joshua Tree—as well as more conventional settings such as the Palm Springs Art Museum, a late modern design by architect E. Stewart Williams and A. Quincy Jones’ midcentury Sunnylands Center & Gardens, renovated by Frederick Fisher and Partners in 2012. “The desert has long exercised its fascination over the minds of artists, architects, musicians, writers and other explorers of landscape and soul,” noted Wakefield. He sets a high bar for the commissioned art works, asking that they simultaneously reflect the ideals and politics of the contemporary art world and respond to the desert context. The press release suggests that the pieces will “amplify and cast a gimlet eye on the geographies, ethnic/social and historical/geologic layers that exist in the southern California desert, while also looking to major movements in contemporary art world-wide.” The exact hows and whos of Desert X remain a vast and unknowable mystery, to borrow the evocative language of the press materials. “The landscape of harsh desert, high mountains, lush golf courses and a vanishing sea, holds a rich history and maintains mythical proportions in the narrative of the American West—one that includes ancient Indian tribes, prospectors, pioneers, and cowboys,” explained Susan Davis, Desert X founder and board president. “We see Desert X as unique in shining a spotlight on the rich preexisting architectural, natural and cultural legacies of the area, while offering the public a way to explore, activate and interrogate current, timely and historic issues through contemporary, creative practices.” However, Desert X’s board is well connected to the regional, national, and international arts organizations, including major arts institutions, such as Whitney Museum of American Art, the Park Avenue Armory Conservancy, the New Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Serpentine Galleries, and Creative Time. The truth is out there: Wakefield will share his vision and plans for the inaugural exhibition on January 29, 2016 as part of the Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2016.
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Desert Modernism in Palm Springs cleared for National Register of Historic Places

Given that Palm Springs is a destination for sun-soaked desert modernism, it’s surprising to learn that a number of structures by the area’s best-known architects are not protected. That changed earlier this month when the California State Historical Resources Commission voted to nominate ten buildings by Albert Frey, including Palm Springs City Hall and the iconic Frey House II, as well as the Town & Country Center in Palm Springs designed by Paul R. Williams and A. Quincy Jones for the National Register of Historic Places. The vote was a milestone in preservation efforts in Palm Springs, a city that’s recently seen parts of its architectural history bulldozed for new developments. Recently midcentury modern Spa Resort Casino complex, noted for its concrete-vaulted entry colonnade and designed by William Cody, Donald Wexler, Richard Harrison, and Phillip Koenig, was demolished in the face of preservationist opposition. The Desert Sun reported that the National Register placements are moving forward despite opposition by two owners: The Mount San Jacinto Winter Park Authority, which oversees Frey’s Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, and Town & Country Center owners Wessman Development. The Tramway owners cite potential development restrictions down the line as their challenge to the nomination. John Wessman’s objections stem from a larger architectural and urban issue: the redevelopment of central Palm Springs and the fact that the Palm Springs City Council city rejected a Historic Site Preservation Board recommendation to list the Town & Country Center as a Class I Historic Site. As The Desert Sun noted:
Wessman argues that the building is a poor example of mid-century architecture and is problematic to lease due to its awkward layout, low ceilings and other deficiencies. The building also stands in the way of a proposed new street for the area that would form an east-west axis connecting the Palm Springs Art Museum with other areas like the Palm Springs Convention Center.
Writing for AN in 2011, Tom Stoelker reported that the museum's relationship to the Town & Country Center is "tricky."

There is the opportunity to connect the museum to tourists and residents, expand within the new complex, and gain visibility—literally—from blocks away. On the other hand, they’ll likely incur the wrath of Palm Spring’s vigilant preservationist community. “We are very interested in working with the city and Wessman, but we are by no means endorsing the destruction of Town and Country,” said museum spokesperson Bob Bogard. “The museum is very interested in an east-west corridor.”

The complete list of nominated Frey buildings are: Kocher-Samson Building (1934), Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher Sieroty House (1946) Loewy House (1946-47) Carey-Pirozzi House (1946) Palm Springs City Hall (1952) Fire Station #1 (1957), Frey and Robson Chambers Frey House II (1964) Tramway Valley Station (1963) Tramway Gas Station and Visitors Center (1965) North Shore Yacht Club (1959)
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Modernism Week: Sneak Inside Palm Springs' Future Architecture and Design Center

Another weekend, another Modernism Week. One of our favorites: a look inside the Palm Springs Art Museum's future Architecture and Design Center, located inside E. Stewart Williams' sleek Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan (1960). The International Style building is being renovated by Marmol Radziner, who also worked on Richard Neutra's nearby Kaufmann House. The museum has already raised more than $4 million to buy and renovate the building, and is now just $1 million shy of what's needed to get work underway. The organizers hope to break ground in the next few months and open the center by fall 2014. But for now, its interior is still lots of quirky fun, including a chance to walk inside the old bank vaults, check out the old drive through teller, and explore the old kitchens and mechanical systems.
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Modernism Week Surprise: Palm Springs Preparing Architecture Center

Last weekend at Palm Springs Modernism Week we stumbled upon a treasure for architecture fans. The Palm Springs Art Museum is renovating E. Stewart Williams' 1960 Santa Fe Federal Savings and Loan building, turning it into the future home of the Edward Harris Center for Architecture and Design. Williams' International Style bank, featuring floating slabs, floor to ceiling glazing, and ultra thin columns, will contain exhibit space, public program areas, offices, an archival study center and a museum store (located in the former bank vault). On its lower level it will contain a 2,700 square foot area for the museum's collection. The center is scheduled to open in Fall 2013, says the museum. We can't wait! Historic pictures and renderings of the future space after the jump.