Ishi died 100 years ago, March 25, 1916–anthropology’s man of two worlds, the last stone age man, the last wild man, museum specimen, and closest friend. Raised on the Ishi story, we commemorate this sad centennial with reflections on his friendships cut-short, his camping experience, his influence on modern archery, and beyond to his architectural influence and its own untimely end.
With an enthusiasm for mid-century modernism sparked by his home renovation my brother engaged in a fantastically obsessive photo study of the front doors of homes in Eichler housing tracts at Fairhills, Fairhaven and Fairmeadow in LA and Orange counties as shown above.
Last summer’s trip to Berlin, City of Graffiti, has us thinking about the lively yet criminal place of graffiti in the community. The Berkeley Arts Museum visits the subject in Barry McGee’s exhibit of constructions, sketches and graffiti art closing December 9th, 2012. The museum building itself is not to be missed, as it too is subject to closure as an art museum in 2015 as a result of ever-stiffening seismic requirements anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Big One. Meanwhile, the building’s impending loss as a dramatic and now-unrepeatable gallery space is a tragic and crushing blow.
Along with San Francisco’s Bank of America Building and Ghiradelli Square, the Clark Beach House in elevation above and immortalized on PG&E’s heliodon machine left, counts among the most published and recognized of the work from the office of the architect William Wilson Wurster, one time west coast darling, and educational innovator as Dean at MIT and UC Berkeley’s re-envisioned Environmental Design Department. Known for his serious understatement and disdain for luxury and over-designing, his work remains largely disregarded today seemingly as a result. With the One Percent currently under attack, the possibility for a resurgence of modesty in home design seems better than any time since the Reign of Terror.
Pictured above Charles and Ray Eames gaze at Shaker founder Mother Ann Lee(1736-1784), believed to be the Second Appearance of Christ in female form. Below Hannah Cohoon’s gift drawing “Tree of Light, or Blazing Tree” received in a vision in 1845.
Could this design from the Housekeeping Campground Map in Yosemite Valley be the original inspiration for LA architect Rudolf Schindler’s radical home design on King’s Road? (See our post Sun-worshipers and Free-thinkers.) As Schindler describes it, the home “… fulfils the basic requirement for a camper’s shelter: a protected back, an open front, a fireplace and a roof…”( ‘A Co-operative Dwelling’ , T-Square, February 1932).
In 1921 amidst the falling oak leaves of September and October Rudolf and wife Pauline enjoyed an idyllic few weeks in camp shelters in Yosemite Valley. Having just terminated his employment with Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolf and Pauline planned their modern life and modern home in Los Angeles. Four independent and utilitarian studios conjoined in a communal relationship would provide a background for work and play. They would be joined in this experimental four-plex by housemates and friends Clyde and Marian Chace.
Photographed in LA in 1931, barefoot Galka Scheyer adopts a modern attitude in the sundrenched window of Rudolf Schindler’s revolutionary Kings Road House which proposed new arrangements for living and working, defining what it means to be modern, at least in California.