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Shark and Olive is curated by a Portland-based creative, painter, and art enthusiast. Shark and Olive features finds that represent a never-ending celebration of art, architecture, design objects, and furniture.

Posts tagged modernism
Modern Mondays: Corita Kent's POP

I love when I "discover" (more like finally learn about) artists from the POP ART movement. While visiting PAM for the Warhol print exhibition- which was absolutely refreshing to experience. Finally, a Warhol exhibit that shows the arc and development of the artist. For those that are not familiar with Warhol, this collection of prints showed how he developed and matured into the POP ART icon that we know. His Shadow prints were a favorite highlight among the exhibition due to how magnetic, yet subtle they are compared to the more commercial/popular prints.  

Additionally, I was blown away by another exhibition featuring an artist from the same POP movement: Corita Kent. The curation for this smaller exhibit was fantastic even though it was in what I like to call the "basement" of the museum. Thankfully, PAM is getting a new design, which will hopefully correct the maze of disjointed gallery spaces. Personally, Kent's 'Power Up, 1965' and 'Me must be turned upside down to become we, 1972' with text quoted from D.H. Lawerence were my favorites. Not only for what they communicate, but the COLOR. The color works to give additional depth to the weight of what Kent is communicating through text. This exhibition couldn't come at a better time in regards to our current political and social climates. Kent's innovative and beautifully depicted calls for social justice, peace, kindness and hope are just as needed today as they were 30+ years ago.

Comprehensive overview of Corita Kent found here: SISTER MARY CORITA

Modern Mondays: Nor-Cal Modernism

California modernism has long been generally associated with architecture & design from Southern California. However, Northern California has a vital architectural history that contributes to California modernism.  Pierluigi Serraino successfully demonstrates this in: NorCalMod. Icons of Northern California Modernism.  The author rediscovers the complexity and richness of Northern California modernism that for many in the Bay Area and surrounding communities is hidden in plain sight. 

Modern Mondays: Mid-Century Garden

Springtime has arrived, with a tease of summer weather.  All I want to do is lounge outside with a cold beverage-in-hand with books (or magazines) galore.  Mid-Century modern outdoor furniture has seen a surge in reproductions or like-minded designs from popular furniture design stores and pop-ups.  And there is reason for it- timeless design aesthetic with simple and effortless looking lines that complement lounging.  I am also partial to power-coated steel and wood outdoor furniture. These materials couple well with bold textile accents.  Also, the true vintage ones have beautiful aqua, pinks, and orange colors that offer the perfect pop of color to an outdoor backdrop. Now get outside.

Modern Mondays: PoMo and MoMo are a No-No in Portland

Portland, and Oregon on the whole, has a substantial presence of Post-World War II architecture.  One of the more prominent mid-century works is the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.  Portland is also home for a post-modern work of architecture, Michael Grave’s designed Portland Public Service Building.  Locally, several mid-century modern, and especially post-modern, works of architecture are not held in high esteem from the design community through City leadership.  Yet, the City has approved locally designed mix-use developments that directly reference mid-century and post-modern design aesthetics.  When these new developments enter their middle age, will they too be called obsolete, tacky, and ugly?

Modern Mondays: Veteran's Memorial Coliseum

Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and built between 1960 and 1961 is a premier jewel of International Style modernism in the city.  The structure consists of glass and aluminum, with a non-load-bearing curtain wall cube, and a central ovular concrete seating area within. It is a true engineering and architectural masterpiece that offers uninterrupted panoramic views of Portland from the seating area. The Veterans Memorial Coliseum is also a war memorial, with exterior sunken black granite walls inscribed with the names of veterans in gold paint.

At its completion it was the largest multipurpose facility in the Pacific Northwest. And a significant structure within the larger urban planning Rose Quarter Development project. In 2009 is was proposed to demolish the Coliseum to make way for a new sports facility. The city was almost successful in demolition, but the greater community of Portland, including architectural preservationists and historians, successfully applied for National Register of Historic Places status for the building. In 2011 it was placed in National Register.

Modern Mondays: Cape Cod Modernism

One of my favorite aspects of Cape Cod Modernism is how these design leaders of architectural modernism began by building for themselves. Their homes were their creative laboratories, anchored by a sense of place on the Outer Cape. I personally love the sense of experimentation with both material and spatial organization that is reflective in these modern residences built from the 1930s to the 1970s.  The Cape Cod Modern House Trust (CCMHT) has been preserving these homes and making them more available to the public since 2007. For more information on these homes, please visit CCMHT.

Modern Mondays: Pietro Belluschi and Residential Modernism

Pietro Belluschi designed elegant modern residential (and commercial) architecture in the International Style. His materials used for residential designs were especially suited for the Pacific Northwest climate. Portland has a large concentration of Belluschi residences. They are functional, design-driven, and to this day contemporary in their timelessness.

Modern Mondays: MCM Italian Design

Not only masters of celebrating food and wine, Italians are forerunners in the world of design. I will be jetting off to Italy in the coming week, and I thought it would be fitting to have a Modern Monday that focuses on Italian furniture design. Clearly, I am a sucker for chairs, and this post features an adorable RIMA burnt coral armchair with an all metal frame. Perfect as a dinning chair with the Mario Bellini for Cassina table. I enjoy the monumental stature of the table mixed with the curvy lines of the RIMA armchair. Always on the hunt for lighting, the vintage Murano Chandelier by Cenedese is an elegant tubular delight. Prefer more whimsy in your home? Brass scones, “Il Diavolo” by Gio Ponti are essential. And, a space can never go wrong with modern brass and glass accessories.  Finally, a vintage metal desk (but could be used as a side table) adds a bit of masculine mid-mod pop. The dark wood and metal legs are timeless in their modernity.  Ciao a tutti!

Modern Mondays: Lilly Reich

Often overlooked, but not forgotten, is the German-born designer and close collaborator to Mies van der Rohe, Lilly Reich.  She began her career by designing furniture and clothing, along with shop window display designs. In 1912, Lilly joined the Deutscher Werkbund, and in 1920 she became the organizations first female director. Through their shared involvement with the Deutscher Werkbund, Mies and Lilly became close design collaborators for several Deutscher Werkbund exhibitions. Throughout the 1920s & 1930s they collaborated on several projects, including furniture pieces often solely attributed to Mies. 

Modern Mondays: Ezra Stoller

Ezra Stoller is by far one of the most prolific photographers of mid-century modern architecture. His images capture the sheer magnitude of Modernism, while also celebrating the industry behind this influential era of our architectural legacy. These intoxicating black and white photographs have helped define the culture behind (or cultural memory) of such iconic structures as the Seagram Building, Marin County Civic Center, and the Salk Institute. The photos included for this Modern Monday post are some of my personal favorite Stoller photographs.  

Modern Mondays: Brutalism

Buildings are physical representations of the social, economic, political, technological, and cultural climates of their eras of origin. Ultimately buildings represent our cultural heritage and our architectural history. However, mid-century modern era buildings are increasingly interpreted as antiquated architecture that is functionally obsolete and lacking use in today’s society. Our recent-past modern buildings are being labeled as “failed” or “useless” architecture. As a result, mid-century modern architecture is rapidly being demolished and replaced with newer sustainable structures believed to better represent our most current social and cultural ideals. Current architecture is believed to be far more aesthetically pleasing than their modern predecessors.

BFramed in the context of history, it can only follow that Brutalist buildings were going to be executed as formal monumental concrete structures that directly juxtapose (even challenge) their environments. But more often than not, the perspective of historic context is outnumbered by present aesthetic preference. For example, Prentice Women’s Hospital (Bertrand Goldberg) in Chicago, the Berkeley Art Museum (Mario Ciampi) in California, and several of Paul Rudolph’s brut beauties were technological and architectural triumphs of their time. However, the Brutalist buildings like other modern era buildings that rate low on the aesthetic-scale have been equally disregarded in their maintenance. The argument for demolition based on deficiencies caused by a lack of maintenance becomes all too convenient. The wide-spread demise of Brutalist civic and urban buildings is a demise of the ideologies behind the intent of the architecture and those housed within.

Aesthetics cannot be the pretext for significance or the preservation of architecture. Letting aesthetics judge value will strip our architectural history of some of the most influential and innovated examples of modern era architecture. In effect, we are killing, and ultimately denying claim to, a portion of our architectural history. There is value in the perspective of context and value in re-using and re-imagining modern era architecture. If aesthetic preference continues to get in the way, what use is there for the architect or an architectural legacy?

Modern Mondays: New Furniture
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New Furniture. Edited by Gerd Hatje. 

"New Furniture was conceived as a series devoted to the survey of international furniture. The first volume contains 275 illustrations showing the best and most interesting designs of chairs, sofas, beds, tables, cabinets, shelves, office furniture, and nursery furniture by designers from fourteen countries. This wide scope makes it possible for the reader to compare different trends and to discern future developments." - Modernism 101 

Modern Mondays: The Lovell House

Richard Neutra (1892-1970) is one of the most influential mid-century modern architects. His architectural designs are marked by crisp geometric modernism. His residential feats were predominately built in California, including the Lovell House. The Lovelly House has a steel skeleton, which was a first for residential design in the United States, glass, and prefabricated elements. It is a premier example of residential modernism. The Lovell House is a Los Angele Historic-Cultural Monument. 

Modern Mondays: Lafayette Park

Lafayette Park was Americas first urban-renewal project and is a premier example of modernist residential living. The development was a unique collaboration between Mies van deer Rohe, Ludwig Hilberseimer, and Alfred Caldwell. It was constructed between 1956-1958 and today is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The historic district includes The Plasisance, The Pavillion, The East and West Towers, and the Town and Court Houses. The buildings exteriors and interiors reflect a Bauhaus vision of clean articulated lines. For more information please vista, Mies Detroit

Modern Mondays: Bauhaus

The Bauhaus (1919-1933) was founded by German architect Walter Gropius. It is considered the most influential modernist art school of the twentieth-century. The Bauhaus incorporated both fine arts and design education, and at its core strove to re-imagine the material world to better reflect a unity of all the arts: architecture, sculpture, and painting as one unified creative expression. The school had renowned faculty including: Kandinsky, Albers, Mies van der Rohe an Marcel Breuer.