Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Connections in Stone: Lummis, Jeffers and Kuster

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Charles F. Lummis Home, "El Alisal," Arroyo Seco, 1910. 

Recent publicity over the Historical Society of Southern California's lease for the Charles F. Lummis House not being renewed got me to thinking about Robinson Jeffers' Tor House and his wife Una's ex-husband Ted Kuster's neighboring house in Carmel. These three still extant icons in stone have many fascinating connections. For example, Occidental College is likely to be the new lessee for the Lummis House. Jeffers was a student at Occidental when he met the married Una. She divorced Kuster and married Jeffers and they moved to Carmel in 1914.

Robinson Jeffers Residence, "Tor House," Carmel Point, ca. 1930.

Lummis was the first writer with a national reputation to recognize Jeffers' work publishing two of the 18-year old's poems in Out West in 1905 and 1907. Thus Jeffers had to be aware of, and might have even pitched in on Lummis's 1898-1910 labors to build "El Alisal." Inspired by Lummis, Jeffers taught himself stone masonry and built Tor House between 1919 and 1930 or thereabouts.

Ted Kuster Residence, Carmel Point, 1924.

The cuckolded Ted Kuster married Denishawn Dancer Edith Emmons and moved to Carmel and much more rapidly built his own stone house next to the Jeffers in 1924 along with his pioneering Theatre of the Golden Bough. (For much more on all of this see my "The Schindlers in Carmel, 1924," and "Schindlers-Westons-Kashevaroff-Cage," and "Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrence.").

Charles F. Lummis, 1902. From Wikipedia.

An interesting sidebar on Lummis: I just finished Donald Hagerty's fascinating biography, The Life of Maynard Dixon and learned that Lummis and Schindler-Weston mutual friend Dixon were very close lifelong friends. Lummis was instrumental to Dixon's successful career providing much companionship and moral and financial support and published his art work and poetry in Land of Sunshine beginning in 1897 and later in Out West (see below for example). He also listed Dixon among his regular contributors on the magazine's monthly masthead.

"Genius of the West," by Maynard Dixon, Out West, January 1902, frontispiece.

Pauline Schindler also featured Dixon's art work on the cover of The Carmelite alongside the work of Robinson Jeffers during her tenure as editor and publisher (see below for example).

The Carmelite, June 19, 1929. Courtesy Carmel Harrison Memorial Library Local History Room.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tina Modotti, Lloyd Wright and Otto Bollman Connections, 1920

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Tina Modotti movie head shot, ca. 1920. Photographer unknown. From  Tina Modotti: A Fragile Life by Mildred Constantine, Chronicle, 1993, p. 33.

Tina Modotti was a stage performer in San Francisco's Italian community before marrying Roubaix "Robo" de l'Abrie Richey in 1917 and moving to Los Angeles to pursue a movie career. After three years of nothing but uncredited bit parts her acting career seemed to be gaining traction around the time she met Edward Weston in 1920. Tina's first major role could have been sparked by any number of mutual movie industry friends in her and Robo's and/or Edward Weston and Margrethe Mather's social circles including Anita Stewart, Myrtle Stedman, Olga Zacsek, Florence Deshon, Helen Richardson, Vivian Martin, Ramiel McGehee and numerous others. Perhaps another intro however was provided by Lloyd Wright who had many strong industry contacts through his heading up the set design department for Paramount Pictures and drama connections through his best friends Reginald Pole and Helen Taggart. He also had collaborated with McGehee on stage set design for his Cherry Blossom Players performances at the Alexandria Hotel and elsewhere in 1916-17.  (For much more on this see my "Edward Weston, R. M. Schindler, Anna Zacsek, Lloyd Wright, Lawrence Tibbett, Reginald Pole, Beatrice Wood and Their Dramatic Circles" (WSZW). 

Lloyd Wright, ca. 1920. From "The Blessing and the Curse" by Thomas S. Hines in Lloyd Wright: The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. by Alan Weintraub, Abrams, 1998, p. 14.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sarah B. Clark Residence, 7231 Hillside Ave., Hollywood: Irving Gill's First Aiken System Project

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Irving Gill ca. 1912, about the time he formed his Concrete Building and Investment Co.

Sarah B. Clark Residence, 7231 Hillside Ave., Hollywood, 1913. Irving Gill, architect, landscape design possibly by Lloyd Wright. "Pre-Cast Walls for the Concrete House," Keith's Magazine, October 1917, pp. 223-225.

Ever since I found the above anonymous Irving Gill house in Hollywood in the book Concrete Houses: How They Were Built (see below) it has been nagging me who commissioned the project and where it was located. This rather striking residence has not been published in any of the Gill monographs because Esther McCoy, David Gebhard, Bruce Kamerling, Thomas S. Hines and Marvin Rand either had not come across the three publications of the house, had the address incorrectly listed, or did not know of it's existence, thus making it difficult to find through secondary sources. Project photos were also likely destroyed in a fire or were inadvertently thrown out by a relative after Gill's death as explained in Hines's introduction to Irving Gill and the Architecture of Reform. (Monacelli Press, 2000, p. 17).