Tract houses bring to mind the art of being the same, from the same colors, to the same style. They are identical walls of living quarters framing many suburban streets.Most architects don’t even consider them proper individual houses but more than half a century ago, William Krisel broke the monotony that was tract homes. Today, Palm Springs is honoring the man who helped shaped they city’s living spaces.
The moment you step into Krisel’s homes, you take a step backinto another era. The houses have angled roofs with oversized glass windows and a desert colored palette with accentingtons of golds and shimmery blues. With their simple lines and usage of glass walls, the houses bring much of the outside in, creating a seamless barrier between shelter and environment. The house of Heidi Creighton is a tract house with a flat roof and a sun flap, and eliminating the edgy flat TV in the living room would take you back to 1962. Most of the furnishing Creighton has chosen reflects the era and the house itself.
While Krisel’s work is spread across the United States, his project in Palm Springs proving that modern houses in the 1960’s could be affordable and more importantly habitable for the common man.He stated that even though seven of the tenbiggest homebuilders were his clients at one time, he has built more than 40,000 living units altogether.He also dabbled in landscaping, which was crucial to properly bring the outdoors in. Krisel says that a house can open your mind and change your lifestyle and that the ecology of a space plays a major role in how you design your home. In order to commemorate the 91 year old architect, house owners are restoring their Krisel homes to their original glory, just in time to celebrateModernism Week and renaming a street to honor him.
There is a neighborhood in Boston called “Innovation District.” On thedisintegrating corner of one of its old clay brick buildings, around 10-15 missing brickshad created anabysmal hole which someone had filled up with 500 colorful Lego blocks. Noone came forward to claim the unsigned artwork and the executive director of the arts communityEmily O’Neil expressed that the art community was elated that guerilla art making a reentry.A unexpected stumble across Instagram picture taken during the initial piecing together of the Lego patch was found and the artist Nate Swain was tracked down.
Swain turned out to be an ex-landscape architect, who had resigned his cubicle job in order to try and gain recognition as an independent artist.He had apparently seen the hole, and instead of seeing a problem, had left an artistic statement. Apparently, this was not the only joke Swain pulled on the city. He has placed pictures of seemingly furnished quarters in the windows of abandoned buildings and created a scaled down city in the waters of the Channel that can be seen only at low tide.
What his friends like to call “swain spotting”, and like much of his artworks, the Lego patch created partially as a prank and partially as political commentary. Swain says he wants people to laugh and perhaps question their city. This is only done when something really catches their eyes and breaks their unanimous trance.
Till now, the authorities responsible for thepublic collection of artwork in America have lamented thatthere are only twelve paintings by Frida Kahlo, a highly acclaimed Mexican artist in the country. In fact, Boston’sMuseum of Fine Arts has even been criticized in the past for not having a more ethnically varied Latin American compilation. However, all that changes as there has been one more recent addition to those displayed.
The first ever painting that Kahlo sold titled Dos Mujeres (Salvadora y Herminia). The back of the painting has the signatures of Frida Kahlo, her future husband Diego Rivera and the buyer, Jackson Cole Phillipsm the American industrialist and is dated with July 1929, almost 12 months after the artwork was created. The painting had remained with the heirs of Phillip for more than a couple of generations before they had it put up at an NYC art gallery for sale. The chairperson of MFA’s Art of the Americas exhibits, Elliot Bostwick Davis, recently found it there. While the museum wouldn’t divulge the exact amount it paid, the official record for Kahlo’s work is of the tune of $5.6 million.
Kahlo took up painting as a serious pastime and business venture after an accident in 1925. While she is especially known for her self-portraits, Dos Mujeres shows the portraits of two women who could have been her maids in her childhood home. Their coloring suggests they are indigenous Mexicans with one being paler than the other. They are shown standingin front of thick green foliage peppered with butterfliesand some sort of fruit. It could be that the maids had taken care of her during her recovery.
Since the acquisition of Kahlo’s works are strictly monitored by Mexico who consider her a cultural heritage, Any purchase of a painting would only have been feasible if the painting had been out of Mexico for an extended time. After its initial debut, the painting will be handed over to the conservation lab where, under the watchful eye of Rhona MacBeth, it will be scrutinized and perhaps settle some unanswered questions, like how it was brought so discretely back to America by Phillips, though MacBeth has a niggling suspicion that he rolled it and put it in his suitcase judging by the minuscule horizontal cracks in the paint.