Women Designers Join the Cowboys at The Autry

May Hamilton de Causse, “Two Women” plaque, circa 1934. Photo by Susan Einstein.

Along with exhibits of Western landscapes and Hopi Katsina dolls at the Autry Center in Griffith Park, there’s a terrific show of 46 pioneering female artists: California’s Designing Women (1896-1986). It’s filled with 240 examples of elegant arts & crafts ceramics, sleek mid-century modern furnishings, chunky lucite jewelry, wild textiles, and dramatic graphics. The beautiful works by Ray Eames, Beatrice Wood, Deborah Sussman, and dozens of other unsung heroines, display close to a century of both fine and commericial art. It’s on through January 6, 2013.

One stunning piece that seems to fit the setting, was the “Rabbit Hunt,” a shimmering silver and gold leaf screen by Esther Bruton. It’s all organized by the Museum of California Design, and could easily have been part of The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time, though many of these artists were included in the multi-museum extravaganza launched last year.

Though I don’t often think of going to The Autry, it often offers great shows like “The Art of Native American Basketry” or the exhibition featuring fantastic Polish poster art of American Western movies from the book, Western Amerykanski. Reminds me of the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at UCLA. Worth a visit.

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Elevated Meadows and Grasslands in New York City

I first heard about the High Line at the wonderful Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach a few years ago. Julie Bargman of D.I.R.T. Studio, which works on reclaiming post-industrial sites and was also involved in the regeneation of Ford’s River Rouge Plant, described the inspired plan. The seeds sprouted into a big success with landscaping along the abandoned elevated railway tracks a glorious park full of flowers, trees, plants — and people — adding color and texture above Manhattan’s lower West Side.  And now it’s extending northward.

Like different rooms, a series of areas unfolds, including the Chelsea Grasslands with drought-tolerant grasses and drip irrigation to keep it green. A compost tea of natural fish fertilizer and molasses or flour for bacteria and fungi is brewed overnight. I like these rail-like troughs above mixed with the real rails. Julie referred to the importance of integrating parts of former industrial sites as an homage to our history. The High Line is a brilliant tribute, showing how this revitalization adds value with much-need green space in the city.

Perennials, grasses and shrubs include lots of native species. Pearly Everlasting and Red Cauli stonecrop were planted as well as hydrangeas.

The High Line’s Sundeck dotted with coneflowers, Baby Joe pye weed and sunbathers.

Year-round blooms include witch hazel in winter, asters in fall, compass plants in summer. Check with Ask-a-gardener for details on plantings.

NYC: Tolerant of beliefs, judgmental of shoes.

Billboards at eye-level share view with wildflowers at the Hudson River Overlook.

This industrial mix with nature is my idea of urban heaven. The High Line landscaping was designed by James Corner Field Operations and Piet Oudolf with architectual firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. It’s a must-see spot on any visit to Manhattan.




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“Hi” from the High Line


Above 23rd Street and Tenth Avenue

In a classic “Manhattan Moment,” while I was strolling along New York City’s elevated High Line Park from Chelsea to the Meat Packing District, enjoying the view from the former rail tracks and flowering gardens, I heard my name called. Okay, I lived there in the 1970s and ’80s, so I guessed I happened to be bumping into a friend from the day. But instead, I turned to see Cynthia from Dallas, Texas!  A friend of Joe Rhodes, she’d recently stayed with me in Pasadena, when closing up her mother’s home on Grand Avenue, just two blocks from my cottage. Okay, coincidence, maybe. Or meaningful synchronicity and an acausal parallelism, if you believe Carl Jung. What are the chances? And more importantly, what might it signify? Something to consider. But lunch at the Chelsea Market was a delicious discovery and Cynthia’s company, always fun.


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