Friday, February 20, 2015

Kem Weber's Whitley Heights Enclave


Kem Weber, ca. 1928. Photo by Imogen Cunningham. 

Typical plaque on homes in the Whitley Heights National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Bob Primes, current owner of Weber's Asanger House, 2062 Watsonia Terrace, February 21, 2015.

While browsing through Christopher Long's excellent recently released biography-monograph Kem Weber: Designer and Architect I noticed that Weber built his personal residence at what is now 6707 Milner Road in 1925 in the now iconic Whitley Heights neighborhood (see above and below). A recent promotion and a healthy raise in pay from his employer Barker Brothers whom he joined as a designer in 1921 enabled the construction of his dream home. The below photo of his house and the listing in Long's "Works by Weber" of two other houses by him in the same neighborhood built around the same time piqued my interest as these three residences were the first to be designed by Weber. A field trip was in order as the book contained no images of the Pumphrey House at 6727 Milner Road listed as being completed in 1925 or of the "Wookey" House listed at 2602 Watsonia Terrace and completed in 1926.  

Weber Residence, 6707 Milner Rd., Hollywood, 1925. Kem Weber, architect. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Kem Weber Collection. Also see Long, p. 60.

Some preliminary research in the 1926 City of Los Angeles Directory revealed that no such street address existed for the very short Watsonia Terrace. Weber was listed as a designer at Barker Brothers and residing at 6667 Watsonia Drive. There was no listing that year for Marshall Pumphrey despite Long citing the house as being completed while Weber was still working on the layout for his own home. (Long, p. 59). There were no other people at all listed as living either on Watsonia Drive or Watsonia Terrace. Further research indicated that Weber received a Notice of Completion for his three-story hillside home on October 28, 1925 which documented his address as 6707 Watsonia Dr. and the West Brothers as his builder. ("Notice of Completion," Southwest Builder & Contractor, October 30, 1925, p. 68). 

The 1927 Directory disclosed that a portion of Watsonia Dr. was renamed Milner Rd. and that Weber's address had changed to 6707 Milner Road. He was now listed as  a "department manager" at Barker Brothers. 

Street elevation illustrating decorative garage door and iron grill work. Photo by author, January 7, 2015.

Entryway and stairway to second level. Photo by Asanger House owner Bob Primes, February 21, 2015.

Living room. Photo by Bob Primes, February 21, 2015.

Living room fireplace, Weber House, 6707 Milner Rd., Kem Weber, architect. Photo by Bob Primes, February 21, 2015.

Kitchen and breakfast nook. Photo by Bob Primes, February 21, 2015.

Living room looking out to the patio. Photo by Bob Primes, February 21, 2015.

Wall mural of family by Weber. Photo by Bob Primes, February 21, 2015.

Weber studio, bottom level. Photo by Bob Primes, February 21, 2015.

Sidebar: An interesting anecdote on the Weber House circles around it's 1940's resident Edward James (see below), a noted English poet and surrealist art collector and important patron of Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte in the 1930s. James stored his vast art collection in the room above during the war years until he relocated to  Xilitla, Mexico near the end of the decade where he would later create the fantasy world of Las Pozas.

Edward James, ca. 1930s. Photographer unknown.

"Not to Be Reproduced," portrait of Edward James by Rene Magritte, 1937.

Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico created by Edward James, ca. 1960s.

Weber House, 6707 Milner Rd., Kem Weber, architect. Photo by author, January 7, 2015 from backyard of Weber's Asanger House, 2062 Watsonia Terrace.

Marshall Pumphrey appeared in the 1927 Directory as a "merchandise manager" for Barker Brothers and residing at 6727 Milner Road, two doors west of the Webers. Besides designing and building the Pumphrey's house and his own, Weber had spent all of 1925 designing and overseeing installation of interiors for Barker Brothers new flagship store then under construction at 7th and Figueroa which opened for business in January 1926 shortly after his house was completed. 

Barker Brothers Department Store, 818 W. 7th St., Curlett & Beelman, architects, 1926. Photo by Luckhaus Studio. LAPL Photo Collection. (Author's note: Josef Luckhaus was Richard Neitra's photographer of choice from 1930 when Willard Morgan moved to New York until the late 1930s when he transitioned to the fledgling architectural photographer Julius Shulman. For much more on this see my "Foundations of Los Angeles Modernism: Richard Neutra's Mod Squad" (FLAM)).

Barker Brothers ad featuring the lobby of the downtown store designed by Weber and featuring the painted tapestries of lifelong friend Maynard Dixon. The Clubwoman, March 1926, p. 12.

A review of Barker Brothers new downtown store appeared in Dark and Light a week after it's January 1926 opening. Dark and Light was the organ for U. C. Southern Branch Art Department's Arthur Wesley Dow Foundation magazine edited by close Weber-Schindler-Weston-Neutra friends Barbara Morgan and Annita Delano. The reviewer Mildred Schiebler compared the store to the "Paris Exposition" of the previous year and somewhat negatively critiqued the above "severe" lobby and Dixon wall hangings. The same page featured a brief Rose Krasnow review of the recent Pan American Art Exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum in Exposition Park singling out the work of Maurice Sterne.

Schiebler, Mildred, "Shop and Studio: Barker Brothers," Dark & Light, January-February 1926, p. 4.

Wright, Lloyd, "Collossi," and Weber, Kem, "Art and Business," Dark & Light, January-February 1926, p. 1.

Morgan and Delano included a poem by Lloyd Wright and an article by Weber on the cover and a wood block print by Franz Geritz in the same issue (see above and below). The two women were clearly major cross-pollinators of the artists, architects and designers in their modernist circle evidenced during their tenure as editors of Dark and Light between it's inception in 1922 until the end of the 1926 academic year. (FLAM).

"Bernard Shaw," wood block print by Franz Geritz, Dark & Light, January-February 1926, p. 5. (For much more on Geritz see my "Schindler-Weston-Franz Geritz-Arthur Millier Connections").

Weber's promotion to "Managing Director of the Decorative Art Studios" coincided with his creation during the first half of 1926 of the Modes and Manners Shop on the third floor at the store's new edifice. (Long, p. 59). The opening of Modes and Manners in August of 1926 was the culmination of a years-long dream for Weber and it did not come easy. While working virtually non-stop to design the Shop's interiors, he also had to design and compile new furniture product to display and stock the shelves with modern decorative wares. 

Modes and Manners Shop, Barker Brothers, Kem Weber, designer and manager, 1926. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Kem Weber Collection. Also see Long, p. 64.

"Modes and Manners Shop," Los Angeles Times, August 15, 1926, p. III-26.

Modes & Manners, Barker Brothers, June-July 1929.

Catalog cover design for the second exhibition of the Modern Art Workers at the Los Angeles Museum, Exposition Park, March 2 - April 4, 1926. Designed by R. M. Schindler. Courtesy of the Schindler Archive, UC-Santa Barbara Art and Design Collection, University Art Museum.

During this period the extremely busy Weber also found time to affiliate and socialize with the "Modern Art Workers" who first exhibited in the Hollywood Art Association's Schindler-designed gallery space at the Hollywood Library in the fall of 1925 through the largess of the Schindlers around the time the Webers were moving into their new home. (For more do a "Weber" page search in my "The Schindlers and the Hollywood Art Association"). 

Catalog checklist for  Exhibition by The Modern Art Workers, Los Angeles Museum, Exposition Park, March 2 - April 4, 1926.  From Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art exhibition scrapbooks, 1926. 

The group also exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum in the spring of 1926 where Weber's self-portrait was on display. The above Los Angeles Museum exhibition checklist portrays a veritable who's who of the artists in Schindler's and Weber's orbit including "Workers" president and Schindler client Gjura Stojana, the group's spokesperson and manifesto author Stanton MacDonald-Wright, Annita Delano and fellow U.C. Southern Branch art teacher, Barbara Morgan, fellow Delano art teachers at Otis Art Institute Harold Swartz, Edouard Vysekal and Frederick Monhoff, Conrad Buff, Ray Boynton, Henrietta Shore, Helena Dunlap, Henri De Kruif, Mabel Alvarez, and many others. The "Workers" also had a show at the Hollywood Writer's Club around this same time.  ("Modernists' Show at Los Angeles Museum, L.A. Times, March 14, 1926, p. III-19, FLAM and "Richard Neutra and the California Art Club" (RNCAC)). 

During this period Weber was also a member of the Arts and Crafts Society of Southern California which was a 1924 offshoot of the Hollywood Art Association. Weber lectured frequently at the group's meetings and collaborated and exhibited with its members including the Schindlers, Herman Sachs, Douglas Donaldson, Porter Blanchard and others at various venues. (For much more on this see my "The Schindlers and the Hollywood Art Association").

Modes and Manners Shop, Barker Brothers, 1926. Kem Weber, designer. Portrait of "Lillian" by Peter Krasnow, 1925. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Kem Weber Collection. Also see Long, p. 65.

Weber had a penchant for including the work of his close artist friends such as Edward Weston, Henrietta Shore, Maynard Dixon and Peter Krasnow in his showroom settings at Modes and Manners and wherever he was exhibiting his work. Like with Dixon's striking tapestries in the ground floor lobby seen earlier above, Krasnow's 1925 portrait of "Lillian" was selected for the above 1926 Modes and Manners setting. Krasnow and Weber shared a strong mutual admiration for each other's work evidenced by Krasnow's below article in which he beams with pride over Weber's recent East Coast success in Macy's 1927 "Exposition for Art in Industry." At this show Weber included pieces by Krasnow, Edward Weston and Henrietta shore in his well-received showroom displays. (See my FLAM for much more on all of this.).

Krasnow, Peter, "Kem Weber - A Wide-Awake Dreamer," Argus, September, 1928, p. 11.

Schindler, Pauline G., "The History of a Race Is Told by a Modern Craftsman in Wood," The Handicrafter, March-April 1930, p. 21.

Besides her estranged husband, Jock Peters, Richard Neutra and Weber, Pauline Schindler also actively promoted the work of close mutual friend Krasnow as did Galka Scheyer whenever they got the opportunity. While assistant editor of the arts and crafts journal The Handicrafter for example, Schindler published an article on Krasnow's ceremonial chest commissioned by the Temple Emanu-El (see above). (For much more on the Krasnow-Weston-Schindle-Scheyer-Weber circle see my PGS and FLAM).

Galka Scheyer by Peter Krasnow, 1927.

In the midst of all the Barker Brothers activity during this period Weber somehow found time to design the interiors for Robert Stacy-Judd's Aztec Hotel in Monrovia and design and build another neighboring residence for his close artist friend Jacob Asanger on an adjoining lot at 2062 Watsonia Terrace. Asanger received his Notice of Completion on July 7, 1926 which also listed his builder as the West Brothers. ("Notice of Completion," Southwest Builder & Contractor, July 9, 1926, p. 62). This was confirmed by a 1927 City Directory listing for "artist" Jacob Asanger residing at 2062 Watsonia Terrace which Google Earth placed directly north of the Weber House. There was also a listing for an artist named Howard Wookey, not at 2602 Watsonia Terrace but at 1332 N. Sycamore. Armed with this information it was time to drive to Whitley Heights and investigate.  

Front elevation, Asanger House, 2062 Watsonia Terrace, Kem Weber, architect, 1926. Photo by the author, January 7, 2015.

While snooping around the house at 2062 Watsonia Terrace (see above) which the 1927 Directory listed Jacob Asanger as the resident, the house's current owner Bob Primes came out and introduced himself and graciously showed me around. It turned out that the house was indeed designed by Weber and the original owner was indeed Jacob Asanger. The Wookeys turned out to be much later owners of the house. That mystery solved, I was able to piece together this article.

Los Angeles School of Art and Design, 602 S. Alvarado St. USC Digital Archive.

Born in Bavaria in 1887, the same year as Schindler, Asanger immigrated to the U.S. with his family in the late 1890s where they soon settled in Los Angeles. Asanger studied art at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design ca. 1905. Located at 602 S. Alvarado overlooking Westlake Park (see above), the school was the premiere art school in Los Angeles prior to the opening of the nearby Otis Art Institute in 1918 and Chouinard School of Art in 1921. The neighborhood surrounding Westlake Park was the epicenter of the arts community in Los Angeles throughout the 1910s through the 1930s. Drawing from his Foster & Kleiser experience discussed below Asanger would in 1933-34 teach poster and commercial design at Chouinard. (Chouinard, An Art Vision Betrayed: The Story of the Chouinard Art Institute, 1921-1972 by Robert Perine, Atra, 1985, p. 250). (For much more on Chouinard and Schindler's, Neutra's and Siqueiros' time there just before Asanger's see my RNCAC).

Jacob Asanger, "Evolution of Whole Wheat Bread," billboard design for Foster & Kleiser, n.d.

Maynard Dixon, "Pierce Arrow," billboard design for Foster & Kleiser, 1917. From The Life of Maynard Dixon by Donald J. Hagerty, Gibbs Smith, Layton, UT, 2010, p. 123.

Maynard Dixon, "Savage Tires," billboard design for Foster & Kleiser, 1916. From The Life of Maynard Dixon by Donald J. Hagerty, Gibbs Smith, Layton, UT, 2010, p. 122.

 "White Trucks," n.d., artist unknown.

Weber was an employee at Foster & Kleiser in San Francisco in 1916-17 working alongside the likes of Maynard Dixon (see work above) and Roi Partridge with whom he became lifelong friends. He also taught at the California School of Arts and Crafts alongside Xavier Martinez and Perham Nahl until WWI anti-German sentiment forced his departure. (Long, p. ). Based upon his commissioning of Weber to design his Whitley Heights house and studio, it seems likely that Asanger also knew Weber from his San Francisco Foster & Kleiser and California School of Arts and Crafts Days. 

Asanger moved to New York during the War and exhibited with the New York's Art Student's League in 1918 and created numerous paintings and etchings of Adirondacks landscapes. In 1919 his commercial work appeared in Applied Art: A Collection of Designs Showing the Tendencies of American Industrial Art. Published by Franz Ferenz, the book also contained commercial art by Joseph Urban and Willy Pogany, another artist Ferenz would also reunite with in Los Angeles.

Maynard Dixon, 1931. Photo by Dorothea Lange.

(Author's note: Close mutual friend Pauline Schindler would also feature the work of Dixon and numerous other friends with the Webers on the cover of The Carmelite during her 1928-29 editorship (see below for example). (For more on this see my "Pauline Gibling Schindler: Vagabond Agent for Modernism" (PGS)).

"Sun Worshop" by Maynard Dixon. The Carmelite, June 18, 1929, front cover.

Foster and Kleiser began operations in Los Angeles in 1918 and provided much needed "day jobs" for the local artist community, including Asanger after his 1925 return from New York (see above for example). Other artists in the Schindler-Weber circle on the payroll at the same time as Asanger were Nicholas Brigante and Charles Austin. ("Lawrence Murphy: An Undiscovered Master Painter," by Kirk MacDonald). Asanger was employed off and on at Foster & Kleiser at least until 1940 as his occupation was listed as outdoor advertising in the 1940 census and he was still living at 2062 Watsonia Terrace with his wife Franciska. (More on the Asanger House later below).

Barker Brothers, Hollywood, 6834 Hollywood Blvd., El Capitan Building, Morgan, Walls & Clements, architects, 1926. LAPL Photo Collection.

Based upon the success of their new downtown store Barker Brothers decided that Hollywood was a logical choice for a major expansion. In the summer of 1927 they leased 150,000 sq. ft. of the $1,000,000 El Capitan Building from Hollywood developer Charles Toberman and turned Weber loose on designing new interiors and a ground floor Modes and Manners Shop. Having recently completed another major project, the interiors for the Mayflower Hotel, the certainly exhausted Weber hired close Schindler circle mutual friend Jock Peters to assist him in this additional monumental task. (Long, p. 74). (See also my FLAM for much on Peters' involvement with the interiors of Bullock's Wilshire two years later.). 

Besides Modes and Manners, Weber's domain was likely the sixth floor which contained the production shop, "...said to be the only shop in the country where modern furniture and accessories are designed and executed in the same establishment where they are exhibited for sale." ("Barker Branch to Open Today," Los Angeles Times, October 7, 1927, p. I-5).   

Hollywood Modes and Manners Shop, ground floor, El Capitan Building, Kem Weber, designer. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Kem Weber Collection. Also see Long, p. 78.

Pumphrey House, 6727 Milner Rd., Kem Weber, architect, 1925. Photo by the author, January 7, 2015.

The Webers and their by then close friends the Pumphreys were obviously delighted with the opening of the new Hollywood branch as it would allow for more family time in nearby Whitley Heights. Pumphrey was a longtime employee of Barker Brothers and likely a strong supporter of Weber's vision of modernist design and Modes and Manners evidenced by his commissioning Weber to design his house (see above). Pumphrey had been with Barker Brothers for 15 years when he commissioned Weber to design his personal residence. Beginning with the firm in 1910 "...he advanced himself through every phase of selling, promotion, buying and merchandising." ("Pumphrey Again Joins Staff of Furniture Store," Los Angeles Times, April 17, 1935, p. I-10. Author's note: Senior Barker Brothers management giving Weber a raise and the okay to move ahead on Modes and Manners is what allowed the Webers to buy a lot and build their own house near the Pumphreys.). (Long, p.59).

Marshall Pumphrey, A.P. Wirephoto. "Pumphrey Returning to Barkers," Los Angeles Times, March 27, 1935, p. 14.

The Pumphrey House was undoubtedly decorated with the best furnishings Barker Brothers had to offer. From the below photo of the living room fireplace it appears that Pumphrey did not favor Weber's furniture designs for his personal residence but possibly commissioned some custom features from him such as the fireplace hood, screen and andirons.

Pumphrey House, 6727 Milner Rd., Kem Weber, architect, 1925. Photo by the author, January 7, 2015.

Pumphrey House living room fireplace, ca. late 1920s. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Kem Weber Collection. (Ibid).

The decorative metal work in the above and below photos could have been commissioned by Pumphrey via Weber to his Arts and Crafts Society friends Douglas Donaldson and/or Porter Blanchard who I discuss at length in my "The Schindlers and the Hollywood Art Association."

Decorative metal work, Pumphrey House entryway. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

Pumphrey House deck, 1926. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Kem Weber Collection. From Kem Weber: The Moderne in Southern California 1920-1941 edited by David Gebhard and Harriette Von Breton, The Art Galleries, University of California Santa Barbara, 1969, p. 55.

Decorative iron grill work, Pumphrey House. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

Pumphrey House, 6727 Milner Rd., Kem Weber, architect, 1925. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

Pumphrey House, 6727 Milner Rd., Kem Weber, architect, 1925. Photo by the author, January 7, 2015.

Marshall Pumphrey's brother James was also in a fairly high position in Barker Brothers' hierarchy evidenced by an article in the spring of 1927 describing an open house in the Fairfax district. 
"Hangings, rugs and each piece of furniture for this home were carefully selected under the direction of J. H. Pumphrey of Barker Brothers, who supervised all the interior furnishings. The friendly, inviting atmosphere which predominates in the Norman cottage type of home has been successfully interpreted by the interior decorator in each of the six rooms." ("Large Crowds View Opening of Model Home," Los Angeles Times May 1, 1927, p. V-8).

The Pumphrey's pleasure over a shorter commute and their elegant surroundings was short-lived as tragedy struck two months after the new Hollywood store opened. Reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin calamity of 1914, the Pumphrey's crazed butler-chauffeur chased 27-year old Margaret Pumphrey through the house firing at her with a .45 automatic pistol and wounding her in the side. When neighbors came to her rescue the butler committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. ("Housewife, Wounded by Crazed Butler, Expected to Recover," Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1927, p. I-2). This catastrophic event seemingly placed a great strain on the family as the 1929 City Directory had Marshall listed as residing at the Langham Hotel and with no listing for Margaret. The Pumphreys divorced sometime thereafter. (1940 Census).

As stated earlier, the below Asanger House was completed in July 1926, just a month prior to Weber's Modes and Manners Shop in the new Barker Brothers Building downtown. Weber designed a roomy, well-lighted studio for his longtime friend from which Asanger held court among his and Weber's artistic circle of friends. 

Asanger House, 2062 Watsonia Terrace, Kem Weber, architect, 1926. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.


Entry courtyard, Asanger House, 2062 Watsonia Terrace, Kem Weber, architect, 1926. Photo by the author, January 7, 2015.

Asanger House front yard looking towards the rear of the adjacent Weber House. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

Asanger House entryway. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

Asanger House entryway. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

 Living room-studio, Asanger House, 2062 Watsonia Terrace, Kem Weber, architect, 1926. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

Architect and historian John Reed and Bob Primes in the Asanger studio. Photo by the author, January 7, 2015.

Asanger House living room-studio. Concert pianist Theodora Primes at the keyboard. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

Asanger used the above room for his studio where, per current owner Bob Primes, numerous Hollywood celebrities sat for portraits. The well-lit, comfortable setting now serves as a recital hall for his concert pianist wife, Theodora Primes (see above). Below are examples of Asanger's landscape paintings shortly after moving into his new studio.

"Red Rock Canyon," Jacob Asanger, 1927.

"Catalina from Palos Verdes," Jacob Asanger, 1927.

Asanger House dining room. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

Asanger House master bedroom. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

Asanger Housebathroom. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

 Asanger House upper front balcony. Photo by Bob Primes February 21, 2015.

Weber House on the left and the Asanger House in the center. Photo by the Author, January 7, 2015.

The closeness of the Weber and Asanger families is evidenced by their closely intertwined backyards with connecting stairways, gates and walkways.

"Barker Bros. Modes and Manners Shop," advertising poster Jacob Asanger. From American Art Deco: An Illustrated Survey edited by R. L. Leonard and C. A. Glassgold, Dover, 2004, p. 154. Originally published in 1931 as the Annual of American Design 1931 by the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsman by Ives Washburn, New York.

While still managing the Modes and Manners Shop Weber commissioned his and Pumphrey's neighbor Asanger to design advertising posters for the store (see above for example). The neighbors were also both associated with previously-mentioned Viennese immigrant Franz Ferenz and his Academy of Modern Art alongside fellow designer-architect Jock Peters and fellow Viennese architects Richard Neutra and R. M. Schindler. Later Nazi sympathizer Ferenz had a penchant for surrounding himself and staffing his short-lived art schools with German-speaking talent as evidenced by the below ads. (For much more on Ferenz see my RNCAC). (Author's note: Jock Peters also designed a house nearby the Weber enclave in Whitley Heights for his and Schindler's 1929 Park Moderne client William Lingenbrink in 1932 at 2000 Grace Avenue, a block away from Weber's house).

J. Asanger ad, Hi Hat, December 15, 1927. I am grateful to Christopher Long for sharing this ad which provided much inspiration for this piece.

Applied Art: A Collection of Designs Showing the Tendencies of American Industrial Artedited by Herbert E. Martini, published and copyrighted by F. K. Ferenz, New York, 1919.

As mentioned earlier above, Asanger and Ferenz crossed paths in New York at least by 1919, the year Ferenz published a well-received book Applied Art: A Collection of Designs Showing the Tendencies of American Industrial Art.  Besides the below commercial piece by Asanger, Ferenz also included work by another Viennese immigrant Joseph Urban and an Austro-Hungarian artist he would reunite with after following Asanger to Los Angeles, Willy Pogany. The above ad suggests that Ferenz became Asanger's agent of sorts shortly after his arrival from New York in 1927.

Applied Art: A Collection of Designs Showing the Tendencies of American Industrial Art, edited by Herbert E. Martini, published and copyrighted by F. K. Ferenz, New York, 1919, Plate 24, "The Arab," by J. Asanger. Decorative Painting in Tempera. Reproduction: Four color process plates, process inks on highly enameled white stock. 

Academy of Modern Art ad, F. K. Ferenz and Jock Peters, directors, The Argus, February 1929, p. 16.

From left to right, Franz K. Ferenz, Barbara Morgan (kneeling), David Giffen, Ragenhilde Liljedahl (Mrs. Giffen), unknown, unknown, Annita Delano, Richard Neutra, unknown, Harwell Hamilton Harris and Gregory Ain. (E. Merril Owens is one of the three unidentified students). Photo by fellow class-member Willard D. Morgan, early 1929. (FLAM).

Franz K. Ferenz, (far left in the above photo) founded the Academy of Modern Art shortly after moving to Los Angeles from New York in 1927. A Viennese emigre like Schindler and Neutra, Ferenz first came to the U.S. in 1914, the same year as Schindler and Weber. A citizen since 1919, Ferenz became a successful book publisher and dealer and gallery owner at 425 Madison Avenue (at 49th St.) where he sold Viennese arts & crafts, books on fine and industrial art and etchings and prints. (Bulletin of the Art Center, New York, June, 1923, p. 242). 

Ferenz befriended Asanger, Pogany and Joseph Urban who was attempting to establish in New York a market for Weiner Werkstatte designs in the early 1920s. Coincidentally, Schindler unsuccessfully contacted Urban in 1922 inquiring whether he might get involved by opening a sales outlet in Los Angeles. (RMS to Joseph Urban, October 25, 1922. UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Collection). 

Academy of Modern Art, F. K. Ferenz, director. "A Practical Course in Modern Building Art" class bochure, Richard Neutra, instructor, 1929. (FLAM).

Advertising posters Jacob Asanger. From American Art Deco: An Illustrated Survey edited by R. L. Leonard and C. A. Glassgold, Dover, 2004, p. 154. Originally published in 1931 as the Annual of American Design 1931 by the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsman by Ives Washburn, New York.

Asanger and Weber also exhibited together in the AUDAC exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in the spring of 1931 alongside close friends Lloyd Wright and Will Connell. Asanger's posters were included in the Annual of American Design 1931 by the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsman which compiled the work exhibited in the AUDAC show (see above and below).

Annual of American Design 1931 by the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsman edited by R. L. Leonard and C. A. Glassgold, Ives Washburn, New York, 1931.

Contemporary Creative Architecture of California Exhibition poster, UCLA, April 1930. Poster designed by Pauline Schindler. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Kem Weber Collection. (Ibid).

Weber, Schindler, Neutra, Peters and J. R. Davidson had also just been in the New York Architectural League's 50th annual exhibition at the Grand Central Palace the previous month and in Pauline Schindler's Contemporary Creative Architecture of California traveling exhibition the previous year (see above). Coincidentally, Urban played a role in the inclusion of this group in the Exhibition. (See my RNCAC for more details.). This same work along with that of Asanger and numerous others in their circle was also exhibited later the same year in an exhibition curated by Pauline Schindler at Franz Ferenz's Plaza Art Center (see below). 

Announcement for "Exhibition of Contemporary Architecture, Interior Decoration and Store Design," Plaza Art Center, October 1931. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.

Verso of Announcement for "Exhibition of Contemporary Architecture, Interior Decoration and Store Design," Plaza Art Center, October 1931. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection. (For much more on Pauline Schindler's exhibitions of the work of the Weber-Schindler circle and Ferenz's Plaza Art Center see my PGS and RNCAC.).


This exhibition was held in October 1931 right after the hooplah surrounding the City of Los Angeles's 150th birthday celebration, i.e., the Los Angeles Fiesta held at the newly refurbished Plaza and the important Mexican Art Exhibition at Ferenz's Plaza Art Center the previous month.The exhibition featured the work of many close Edward Weston and Tina Modotti friends from their time in Mexico including Dr. Atl, Jean Charlot, Pablo O'Higgins, Diego Rivera, Adolfo Best-Maugard, Carlos Merida, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros presaging Ferenz's commissioning Siqueiros to create his controversial mural "Tropical America" on the Art Center's second-story southern wall the following summer. Through Ferenz's largess, Asanger was one of Siqueiros's assistants on the mural. (Millier, Arthur, "Brush Strokes: The Fresco Wave," Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1932, p. II-19)

David Alfaro Siqueiros on the scaffolding for "Tropical America," Plaza Art Center, August 1932. Photo by Ernest M. Pratt. From Ernest M. Pratt Collection, Charles Young Research Library, UCLA. (Author's note: R. M. Schindler remodeled a photo studio for Pratt and his then partner Viroque Baker in the neighboring Sepulveda Building which they moved into the previous year. For much more on the close Schindler-Baker relationship see my "The Schindlers and the Hollywood Art Association").

Ferenz relied upon on the show's curator Jorge Juan Crespo de la Serna to compile the Exhibition of Mexican Art. Ferenz hoped to leverage the exhibition and the massive publicity surrounding the Fiesta and the resurrection of the Plaza and Olvera Street into making his new Art Center the locus of a thriving arts scene. The much under-recognized Crespo was also responsible for Orozco landing his now iconic Prometheus mural commission at Pomona College in the spring of 1930. (Millier, Arthur, "Mexican Art Seen at Plaza," Los Angeles Times, September 6, 1931, p. 12 and Manrique, Aurelio, "Se Inaugura la Exposicion de Pintores Mexicanos," Los Angeles Times, September 1, 1931, p. 8. For much on Orozco and "Prometheu"s see my RNCAC and Brett Weston's Smokestacks and Pylons).

It was likely through soon-to-be Nazi propagandist Franz Ferenz's deep ties with the German-American Bund that Asanger won the design competition for a German postage stamp for the 1932 Olympics (see below).

Dr. Konrad Burchardi, president of the executive committee of the German-American Olympic Committee and Jacob Asanger. "Germans Issue Olympic Stamp," Los Angeles Times, 1932, p. I-10

Lingenbrink House, 2000 Grace Ave., Whitley Heights, 1932. Jock Peters, architect. From Google Earth.

I will close this piece on Weber and friends' Whitley Heights enclave with a coincidental factoid which further illustrates the close interactions of the Weber-Schindler circles. A few years after Weber completed his enclave and had Jock Peters assist him at Barker Brothers in 1927, Peters designed a house for his and Schindler's joint Park Moderne client William Lingenbrink at 2000 Grace Avenue around the corner and a block away from Weber's three houses. Lingenbrink was a developer with a fascination for modern architecture evidenced by two books he published in 1930 (see below). 

Modernistic Architecture by Willam Lingenbrink, Los Angeles, 1930.

Besides the below Park Moderne models designed by Peters and Schindler, the above book also featured Schindler's Lovell Beach House, Neutra's Jardinette Apartments, and Lloyd Wright and much art deco commercial work by others.

Park Moderne Model Houses by Jock Peters (top) and R. M. Schindler (bottom). From Modernistic Architecture by Willam Lingenbrink, Los Angeles, 1930.

Period brochure for Park Moderne, Calabasas, ca. 1929. Schindler unit top left. Others by Peters.

Modern Art in Storefronts by William Lingenbrink, Los Angeles, 1930.

The above books also featured store fronts designed by Peters (see below for example). Schindler also designed commercial space and storefronts for Lingenbrink in the mid-1930s.

Maddux Airlines Store Front, Jock Peters, Designer and Feil and Paradise, Architects. Modern Art in Storefronts by William Lingenbrink, Los Angeles, 1930.

Jock Peters, 1930. Photo by Brett Weston.  Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, Jock Peters Collection.

Around the time Lingenbrink's two books were published Pauline Schindler was curating her above-mentioned 1930 Contemporary Creative Architecture in California Exhibition. Pauline commissioned her former student Brett Weston, who then was living with her in Frank Lloyd Wright's Storer House, to photograph Peters for the show (see above). She sent the below letter to her "Contemporary Creators" offering to act as their agent in drumming up future clients. (For much more on this see my "Pauline Gibling Schindler: Vagabond Agent for Modernism" and "Brett Weston's Smokestacks and Pylons").

Pauline G. Schindler letter to Jock Peters, Richard Neutra, R. M. Schindler and Lloyd Wright, Contemporary Creators, March 10, 1930. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections,R. M. Schindler Collection.

Pauline Schindler, 1935. Portrait by Dorothea Lange. Courtesy Oakland Museum of Art.

I will continue to tweak and add new material to this essay as I find it so stay tuned. I highly recommend Christopher Long's groundbreaking Kem Weber: Designer and Architect for a more in-depth and broader look at Weber's fascinating life and career. As always I welcome your feedback.