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PALM SPRINGS MODERNISM WEEK 2022

I SUSPECT MY mathematician’s appreciation of rectilinearity attracts me to Midcentury Modern. SimanaitisSays has already celebrated this architectural genre in “California Cool” and “Postwar Architecture: Specialists’ Views.  Now from February 17 through 27, the genre is celebrated in Palm Springs Modernism Week 2022.

Poster by Shag (Josh Agle, painter, designer, and illustrator working in Southern California), 18 x 24 in. On sale for $25 through destinationpsp.com. This and other images from Modernism Week 2022.

Through the wonders of online trekking, I’ve been enjoying Modernism Week 2022. Here are tidbits of its program and schedule of events, together with related information gleaned from here and there. 

Program Guide. The event’s 130-page Program Guide has articles featuring Vera Neumann, innovative designer and democratizer of fine art; Jeanne Gang, 2011 MacArthur Genius founder of Chicago’s Studio Gang; Paul Revere Willams and other Black architects; Event Highlights, including special home tours, a vintage car show, and a vintage trailer show; and Hiding in Plain Sight, the E.F. Hutton building, a  significant 1955 addition to Palm Springs’ historic Town & Country Center.

Its accompanying ads are visual delights as well, and evoke plenty of memories. 

When furnishing the R&T offices, John and Elaine Bond chose designs by Charles and Ray Eames and by Ludvig Mies van der Rohe. See “Walk Right In, Sit Right Down.”

Schedule of Events. The complete list of events makes for fascinating reading, describing both the breadth and depth of the week’s activities. A goodly number of tours (e.g., “Frank Sinatra’s Neighborhood—The Movie Colony”) are already sold out. Prices and duration vary, many of them $40 for a couple of hours.

35 Wheels, poster by Shag.

A print release party of artist Shag’s 35 Wheels is one of the free events. Other freebies are films and music offered by CAMP. There’s also a High Purple Energy Architectural Bike Ride. Check listings, as tickets are required for some of the freebies as well.

The Lautner Compound. As described by Lisa Boone in the Los Angeles Times, February 16, 2022, architect John Lautner’s 1947 residential fourplex was formerly known as the Hotel Lautner and is now a collection of boutique rentals used for weddings and other events.

The Lautner Compound. Image from the Los Angeles Times, February 16, 2022.

John Lautner, 1911–1994, was an American architect who served apprenticeship at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship. Lautner is highly regarded for his contributions to Googie architecture, initially denigrated by traditionalists, but now appreciated for its whimsy and historical significance. 

A Fixer-Upper. There’s more to Palm Springs Modernism than celebrities. Several newspapers carried the story of Keith Zabel and Randy Shemaitis (interesting name, eh?) and their Midcentury fixer-upper. Lisa Boone described it in “Couple Transforms ‘Ugly Duckling’ into Modern Dream Home,” The Pueblo Chieftain, February 23, 2017. 

The San Jacinto Mountains nestle behind the 1960 Meiselman post and beam home renovated by Keith Zabel and Randy Shemaitis. Image by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/TNS The Pueblo Chieftain.

Boone wrote, “Based in Chicago, the couple vacationed regularly in the desert until 2011, when Shemaitis had an opportunity to move west for work.” 

Zabel said, “My passion for mid-century modern started in my 20s. I was drawn to the atomic and sputnik style that came about after World War II as the Soviets launched their first satellite in 1957, kicking off the space race. A lot of design efforts, from furniture to buildings to tchotchkes, were created with a space theme. I started collecting anything that had a starburst or orbital design.

Their Sputnik-shaped dining room chandelier reminds me of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lincoln Center chandeliers, also designed in the 1960s. Image from The Pueblo Chieftain

On its renovation and enhancements, Zabel said, “We just drive around Palm Springs for inspiration.”

Modernism Week 2022 gives opportunity for others to do the same. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022 

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