Modernism / Palm Springs

It's February, so that means it's time to go to Palm Springs. 
Find out more about the show, here.

Palm Springs Modernism Week is not just about buying junk. There are tons of great events, including a talk by my buddy Darren Bradley, who is part of an event called The New Photographers of Mid-Century Modern Architecture. It takes place on February 19. Find out more, here.
Photo: Edris Residence Architect: E. Stewart Williams, by Darren Bradley 


Photographer Dan Chavkin will be part of The New Photographers talk as well.  He also has new book, Unseen Midcentury Desert Modern, which includes architecture that has been largely unseen or overlooked. He'll be doing a book signing on February 14th. Go here for more information.
Photo Lilliana Gardens Glass House. Architects: Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison. 1954, by Dan Chavkin

On Monday, February 15th, Amy Auscherman, Herman Miller’s Corporate Archivist will be presenting From The Vault – The Herman Miller Archives. More on that, here.

Speaking of archives, our buddies at Archive will also be opening a shop in the desert for the whole month of February.

W.A. Sarmiento / Phoenix

     Western Savings, now Souper Salad (1974) by Wenceslao Alfonso aka W.A. Sarmiento 
The Peruvian-born architect studied under Oscar Niemeyer. I'm sure that's no surprise after seeing his work. W.A. spent much of his career building banks for an outfit with the not so original name of Bank Building & Equipment Corp. of America. He landed the job after getting in a car accident with an architect who worked at the company.
Phoenix Financial Center (1964-70) by W.A. Sarmiento 


This is at the top of the dome above. 

Source: Recent Past


That pot bums me out.


The original plan called for two towers.

Source: Recent Past

Oh well.

Source: Recent Past



Sadly, these aren't in use anymore. 

Sarmiento designed some great banks. This was in New Jersey.  
Banks are so boring now. 

Read more about him, here.

Ken Price / Parrasch Heijnen

Ken Price: A Career Survey 1961-2008 opened this past weekend at Parrasch Heijnen
This is the first show at the long time New York dealer's new gallery in Los Angeles.


 An early one

Late 60's cups.

Early 70's cup.

A space rock.



Check out the artsy guy back there.

It's Billy Al Bengston

The exhibition runs until March 8th.

A Ken Price exhibition is the perfect way to start a gallery in LA--Ferus style. 

Noguchi / Abelardo Rodriguez Market, Mexico City

Abelardo Rodriguez Market (1934), Mexico City


The market in 1934. It was a post-revolutionary progressive model which included social areas, day care and had a goal to bring art to the people.
Source:  Portal Academico

Diego Rivera curated the art program. Murals were painted by his students and visiting artists.

A wood sculpture in the lobby. Unfortunately, I have no idea who the artist is.

Fresco murals by American artist, Marion Greenwood, 1935

Marion working on the mural
Source: Archives of American Art

Her mural leads upstairs.
At this time Isamu Noguchi came to Mexico City, apparently in a car (a Hudson) lent to him by his friend, Buckminster Fuller. Marion and her sister helped Noguchi get a wall commission in the market by convincing Diego Rivera to let him join the project. More information on this is included in Marion's interview at the Archives of American Art

Noguchi and Marion went way back. In 1929, Isamu made a bust of Marion out of cast iron. The only one he did in iron.

Source: Isamu Noguchi: Portrait Sculpture, via Flickr


Noguchi: "I made a little drawing, a painting, which I submitted to Diego Rivera who was in charge. He approved it. I agreed to do it for the same price that the muralists were getting, so much a square meter. Which wasn’t very much, I forget what it was."
In his autobiography, Noguchi described the mural this way: "At one end was a fat ‘capitalist’ being murdered by a skeleton… There was war, crimes of the church, and ‘labor’ triumphant. Yet the future looked out brightly in the figure of an Indian boy, observing Einstein’s equation for energy… it took eight months to complete."
Source: Isa­mu No­gu­chi en el Mer­ca­do Abe­lar­do Ro­drÍ­guez, by Ma­ri­ce­la Gon­zá­lez Cruz Man­ja­rrez 



His­to­ria de Mé­xi­co by Isamu Noguchi
Noguchi: “How different Mexico was! Here all of a sudden I didn't feel strange for being an artist. All artist were useful people, a part of the community. A group of artists that worked at the Abelardo Rodríguez Market offered me a wall to sculpt if I accepted the same kind of salary that those who painted the fresco received, per square meter. I happily accepted. This was how I created my first large work, in colored cement and sculpted brick, two meters high and twenty-two long, which I called “The History of Mexico”
Marion Greenwood: He hacked out with an ax on built up brick a big relief, half sculpture, half painting, and then covered that with fresco paint. It was a very interesting technique.
The evils of fascism.

Labor wins.

Technology will save the day. 

Well, this was pre-WWII



Frida Kahlo next to Noguchi's mural.
Noguchi wasn't only making sculpture when he was in Mexico. In Hayden Herrera's biography of Frida Kahlo, Noguchi described a love affair he had with Kahlo. The two met at a Guggenheim function for artists. Noguchi explained an incident where he "had been in bed with Kahlo when her houseboy notified them that her husband, Diego Rivera, was on his way. Noguchi junmped out of bed, threw on his clothes, climbed a tree growing from the patio, and escaped over the roof. But one of Kahlo’s hairless Mexican dogs had made off with one of his socks, and Rivera discovered the evidence." Noguchi said Diego came by with a gun. He always carried a gun. The next time he saw Noguchi, he threatened to shoot him.

Still hanging above Frida's bed is a framed collection of butterflies that were given to her by Isamu.
In 2012 Patti Smith wrote a song called Noguchi's Butterflies and performed it live at La Casa Azul. More about that at, Lust Love Leitmotif