Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Missionary Position


For centuries red winged blackbirds 
have inhabited the Sonoma marshlands bordering 


The Royal Highway-
EL CAMINO REAL
The road that was to connect all the missions of California
in the early 18th century


In 1906, almost 200 years after the first mission was built,
 bell markers were placed along the 
the road side to commemorate

The King's Road

A bell marker on my way through Sonoma



FRA JUNIPERRO SERRA
1713-1784
Serra, a  driving force in the
Spanish conquest of California
was intent on converting the native Indians to christianity,
save their souls and insure their loyalty to Spain


Fra Junipero's  intentions were supposedly noble 
even if perhaps misguided
The Franciscan friar trekked mostly on foot along 
"The King's Highway"
establishing the first nine 
of the 21 California missions

Built one day's journey apart
along

The El Camino Real



THE MISSION SAN DIEGO
The First Mission


Buildings born of the amateurish abilities of the natives,
employing materials readily available in ALTO CALIFORNIA 


reflect simplified references  to Spanish and Mexican
 architecture with no emphasis on refinements or decoration


Thick adobe brick walls 
whitewashed for waterproofing,


covered walkways ,
protecting  inhabitants from  rain and sun
Mission San Miguel




THE MISSION SONOMA
the last of the California Missions

The missions were also built in hopes of stopping further 
Russian infiltration into California.
The adobe structures employed little timber
in stark contrast to the wooden structures built by  the
Russians 

FORT ROSS
Established as a Russian fur trading outpost 
just 30 miles north of the Mission at Sonoma



 The Russian trappers made use of local timber 
but design refered back to the architecture  in Russia 
A covered second story porch and a wood roof on a Fort Ross house

Russian advancement was curtailed but even their small foothold
left an imprint on future architecture.


Nothing new under the California sun



Mission Revival  Architecture


Homes, churches and public buildings 
built in the early 20th century inspired by
the Spanish missions


By the 1830's Anglo stylistic traditions had also  
infiltrated  California from the east coast .

The use of wood so readily available was incorporated 



THE LARKIN HOUSE
American ,Mexican, and Russian  influences came together 
in a poignantly California style exemplified by the Monterrey Colonial
with it's wrap around porches.  

Built by Thomas  Larkin in 1834 in Monterrey, California
(just 5 miles north of the Carmel Mission) Larkin House was  the first
example of Monterrey Colonial architecture

 CASA BONIFACIO
Others followed but interestingly the 
style has never achieved
wide national popularity

CASA AMESTI
Jose Amesti built a Monterrey Colonial house in the 1830's 

Constructed of adobe and wood with a wood shake roof
 the building was in a sad state of ruin
by the time  Frances Elkins and her husband 
purchased it in 1918 for $5,000.00

FRANCES ADLER ELKINS
1888-1953
A leading visionary of 20th century  interior design 

Frances recognized the beauty and potential of the house

Such projects as the restoration of Casa Amesti are not for the faint of heart

Friends were horrified  that anyone would take on such a disaster

The marriage did not survive the remodel and restoration 

Elkins was assisted by her brother, 
the already well established architect
DAVID ADLER
1882-1949


INTERIOR DESIGN-FRANCES ELKINS
Crumbling walls were restored and re plastered
Dentil moldings and door surrounds were added


A Bold and Daring Visionary

Elkins  decorated mixing styles and periods
in a way no one had before her 
Her career as one of the most important decorators 
of the twentieth century was launched
and a design legend was born



Between the  World Wars
 the brother and sister from Milwaukee, Wisconsin traveled
through Europe together
There Frances met and recognized the talents of Jean-Michel Frank
and Alberto Giacometti.
bringing back their creations for use in her projects


INTERIOR DESIGN-FRANCES ELKINS
 A timeless library with Jean -Michel Frank furniture

INTERIOR DESIGN-FRANCES ELKINS
Ladies Dressing Room- Lake Forest , Illinois
Jean -Michel Frank  dressing table




Her own design for The Loop Chair
has become iconic

JEAN-MICHEL FRANK
1895-1941


Frank's dressing table designed 
for Hermes  and used by Elkins in the image above
was re-introduced by Hermes in 2011 

 While teaching at the Parsons Paris School of Art and Design 
Frank assigned  his students  the project to

"design a table so basic that it would retain its 
integrity whether sheathed in gold leaf ...
or burlap..." 
THE PARSONS TABLE
attributed to Jean-Michel Frank 
(believed to have actually been designed by the school janitor)



Sensing the dangerous situation in Europe
Frank left France in 1939 and went to  Argentina 
(unlike his less fortunate cousin , diary writer Anne Frank) 

His single most important design job remains 
exactly as he created it for the Born family of Buenos Aires

Frank also worked in New York designing the interiors of 
the Fifth Avenue apartment of Nelson Rockefeller


Giacometti lamps and Jean-Michel Frank tables 
are right at home today in the apartment of Mark and Renee Rockefeller
(members of the lucky gene club)

Jean-Michel was not so fortunate in the gene department.
Though he had escaped the Nazis he was not able to escape 
his father's suicidal legacy.

His work and that of his collaborator, Giacometti live on




"Tete de Femme"
Bronze floor lamp
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI


A Pair of White Plaster Lamps
by
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI
for
Jean-Michel Frank

Timeless design defies the passage of time



California Dreamin'

Strongly influenced by Frances Elkins'  mixing of style
as well as her love of clean lines 


MICHAEL TAYLOR
1927-1986
became a design legend in his own right


Always a true original even when inspired by other greats



INTERIOR DESIGN-MICHAEL TAYLOR
Creator of
"The California Look"

ALAS
Inspiration does not always inspire the best

The Fabulous Fifties.... 

                                          really ??????
Mission bells


and  kings


have mushroomed along 
EL CAMINO REAL
which bares little resemblance to 
the road of kings trekked by Fra Junipero Serra
300 years ago

 America has experienced many cultural changes


including the  advent of the home freezer 
 making  freezing meats and vegetables possible
and supposedly liberating the American woman


The only thing green about the 
HO HO HO
GREEN GIANT
was the marketing campaign
making fortunes for the frozen vegetable industry


Another California dreamer, 
                                  visionary and missionary


ALICE WATERS
The pioneer of California Cuisine


opened her innovative restaurant in Berkeley in 1971


Alice Waters 1971
Chez Panisse
after having studied abroad and experiencing a different way
of dining on fresh, seasonal, and locally grown ingredients

Fast food chains didn't exist in Europe when Alice 
visited France in the 1960's. 
Like Julia Childe before her
Alice fell in love with the flavors of foods 
prepared  with  fresh local ingredients .

What a concept ???? 
but in fact it was a whole new way of thinking in America

Her missionary position was not to teach America to cook well
but rather to teach America how to eat well


Serving only the best and freshest ingredient 
she sought out local growers and worked with them 
to grow foods without pesticides and herbicides 
creating the

SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT


Chez Panisse has been consistently voted one of the world's 
top fifty restaurants 
and continues to enjoy that standing after 44years- 
an amazing accomplishment. 

Merchandising of local organic produce 
at
SHED-HEALDSBURG

and serving of artisenal cheeses  
is all a result of  Alice Waters' mission


Her vision has inspired chefs across America and the world 



She is truly  
" THE GREEN GIANT"
Mission Accomplished

Rela

















3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your ramblings and your images are always so enlightening. I learn something new each time you post and look forward to the next entry as soon as I fully absorb the most recent one. I realize you only touch the surface on information you provide but you stir me to do more research and learn more.

Thank you and keep on posting

Suzanne Tucker said...

I love your posts, dear Rela... the way they seem like a lovely stream of consciousness yet always are defined by your most thoughtful and thought provoking threads... xox Suzanne

Anonymous said...

Rela,

How could I not take the time to scroll through this. you had me at Missionary Position.

Keep em coming!

Jerome