Sunday, October 16, 2022

On the Schedule: October 2022

October is busy, busy, busy, with the release of my book Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles... and an audio tour with Steve Chiotakis of three of the buildings in Common Ground, aired on KCRW.

Also launching this month: Community Corp at 40, a short film I co-produced about the Santa Monica-based affordable housing developer with a big impact...

...MOCA's new series Art for Earth's Sake (that I helped organize) opens 10/2 with Bonnie Brennan, President of Christie's Americas, being beamed in as a hologram (to save on travel!)... then on 10/22 hear from Charlotte Kent, Glenn Kaino and Nancy Baker Cahill on digital art and its energy impact IRL.

And my friends at FORT:LA (Friends of Residential Treasures) hold a Candy House fundraiser, with a performance by grand dame of punk Taquila Mockingbird, also on 10/22.

Then there are design fests at Palm Springs fall Modernism Week, opening 10/14, the AIA/LA Design Awards on 10/28, and starting 10/28, the Monterey Design Conference, co-emcee'ed by yours truly.


MOCA: Art for Earth's Sake

Sunday, October 2/Sunday, October 22; 5:00pm

Artists are increasingly exploring the climate crisis in their work. But what about the art world’s contribution to the climate crisis, from its boundless international travel to the growth of energy-intensive art forms and installations? Does tech have some answers?

MOCA considers the creative ways in which the art world is addressing its own environmental footprint in Art for Earth’s Sake, a series of public talks in the fall that I have helped organize, with Livia Mandoul. Invited artists, academics, activists, industry insiders and journalists will explore topics ranging from greening art facilities and art fairs to reckoning with environmental justice and considering whether holograms of art and artists might be the way to keep art local. Finally, the program will consider the impact of making the industry more sustainable on artistic expression itself.

The series kicks off on Sunday, October 2nd, at MOCA Grand Avenue, with "The Art World Meets the Crisis."Michael Wang, Deborah Scacco, Russell Fortmeyer, will set the stage with a conversation about artistic reflections on climate change along with the operational realities of transporting, displaying and making art. They will be joined by Bonnie Brennan, the New York-based President of Christie's Americas, beamed in as a hologram by David Nussbaum and Proto  -- demonstrating a tech solution to keeping a global industry local.

Then, on Saturday, October 22, also at MOCA Grand Avenue, artists Glenn Kaino ("A Forest for the Trees," above); Nancy Baker Cahill and moderator Charlotte Kent will meditate on Art on Screens and its Energy Impact IRL. Can the art world have its carbon cake and eat it? Is the Ethereum Merge a game-changer? Kaino and Cahill, two artists testing the potential of web3, will talk with Charlotte Kent, arts writer “with a particular interest in digital culture and the absurd,” about using tech creatively to solve the problems created by tech. 

This conversation is part of Grand Ave Arts All Access, an afternoon of free fun hosted by MOCA and neighboring institutions on Grand Avenue. In addition to the 5pm convo, at MOCA you can join an interactive workshop inspired by Cromosaturación (1965/2012) by Carlos Cruz-Diez, catch DJ sets from Sylmar Soundsystem b2b Langosta, Sanam, and Maral, a live performance by Soltera, and go gift-shopping at the store’s annual sidewalk sale.

Click here for more details.


Book launch: Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles

Think of "home" in Los Angeles and what comes to mind? Very likely the single family home in a large yard. But that is not the full picture. The region has also been a laboratory for marvelous experiments in multifamily living and over the past year I've been working on a book about some of them. 

Now Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles is done and will be published October 11 by Angel City Press. We will have a book party at Helms Bakery District on Saturday, October 1, at 2pm.

Common Ground is my valentine to an under-appreciated type of housing in Los Angeles: connected, mostly rental, centered on shared open space. In sum, a way of living that is a variant on the exalted SoCal single family home, and that can be lovely when stable, equitable and well-designed. It has been modeled in some marvelous complexes past and present -- from the bungalow courts and luxe apartment-hotels of the 1910s; through period-revival and modernist courtyard complexes, New Deal-era garden apartments; to contemporary, "affordable" and market rate housing complexes; and on to co-living and the return to low-rise backyard complexes.

Frank Gehry, architect of the apartment building I have lived in for many years that got me thinking about the design, history and politics of multifamily housing in LA, calls the book "part architectural memoir, part call to arms," and Russell Brown, founder of FORT: LA, found it "an engrossing urban journey peppered with fascinating human stories that presents a vision of Los Angeles that is unexpected and revelatory." It is full of fabulous photographs of great buildings and stories of the talents that made them and the people that live in them.


Please join me on Saturday, October 1, at the book party. Click here to register, and if you can't make it, there are plenty more book events coming up in November. 

Buy the book

Or, order a copy online here, and note that Angel City Press is offering a 30% discount on all its books through October, to celebrate its 30th birthday. Promo code: 30for30. That's for Common Ground or any other ACP books including Googie Modern: Architectural Drawings of Armet Davis Newlove, co-authored by Alan Hess; Regarding Paul R. Williams, the book of photographs of Williams' buildings by Janna Ireland; and Thomas Mann's Los Angeles. Or you can buy the book on If you you like the book, I'd be so grateful if you'd write a little review for that site.

Audio tour of the buildings

I took KCRW's Steve Chiotakis on a tour of three of the buildings featured in the book: Lincoln Place, Rose Apartments and the "3rd Street Compound." Catch his reactions and commentary from residents, property owners and the architect Angela Brooks, of Brooks + Scarpa (Rose Apartments.)

Click here to listen to the episode on KCRW's Greater LA.

FORT:LA Candy House Fundraiser

Saturday, October 22, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Appreciating architecture can be an earnest business, except when Russell Brown gets involved. Last year, the independent film-maker (whose latest, Loren & Rose, is a captivating conversation piece starring Jacqueline Bisset) and a group of friends founded Friends of Residential Treasures: Los Angeles, a nonprofit devoted to raising awareness of L.A. homes, through self-guided trails created by invited tourguides. Brown avoids the obvious, seeking a wide breadth of "treasures," such as lesser-known homes by Edla Muir and James Homer Garrott while reviving interest in the late Frank Israel. The trails are packaged with witty titles, catchy design and humor. 

FORT:LA has already garnered an award from the LA Conservancy and now will host a fundraiser to keep going. The Candy House Fundraiser takes place Saturday evening, October 22, at a fab Los Feliz Spanish-Colonial revival house (address delivered on ticket purchase), complete with performance by punk-jazz priestess Taquila Mockingbird, and an auction whose goodies include a signed copy of Common Ground, by yours truly, or better yet, a private tour by me of the "sweetest samples of Multifamily Housing in LA."

Click here for info and tickets.

Community Corp: 40 Years of Building Community

"Everything We Stand for in Just 13 Minutes"

While researching Common Ground, which includes a chapter on the masterfully designed affordable housing of the last few decades, I got to learn a lot about Community Corporation of Santa Monica, a nonprofit developer that got its start forty years ago amidst a battle over rising rents and housing instability in the Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica. 

Under great leadership, the corporation set out to maintain, adapt and build new housing, and tapped some of LA's emerging architectural talent to do so -- including Ralph Mechur, Marc Appleton, Frederick Fisher & Partners, Koning Eizenberg, Brooks + Scarpa, Patrick Tighe, Stephen Kanner, Don Empakaris and many more. They modeled buildings centered on shared open space -- for passive energy savings and social reasons -- with distinctive design that offset their often challenging sites. Along the way they've forged a cohesive sense of belonging for the residents of the buildings.

On invitation from the current executive director Tara Barauskas, I got to tell their stories, along with the history and mission of Community Corp, in this video I made for Community Corp, in collaboration with videographer Hans Fjellestad, to mark the developer's 40th anniversary. Enjoy!


Also on the schedule this month...

Modernism Week, October 13 - 16. The ever-popular high desert Modernism shindig celebrates its fall preview -- now large enough to count almost as a Modernism week in itself.

AIA/LA Design Awards -- the party to celebrate its annual design awards winners and presidential honorees takes place on October 27, at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica. Congrats to Gabrielle Bullock, Shin Shin, Lance Collins and all the other honorees.

Monterey Design Conference, October 28 - 30. I'm honored to co-emcee this year's Monterey Design Conference, the annual archi-gathering at the beloved Asilomar, the complex of sixteen Arts & Crafts-infused “refuge by the sea,” designed by Julia Morgan. I'll be helping introduce luminaries including Leslie Lokko, Deborah Berke, Bijoy Jain and L.A.'s very own Lorcan O'Herlihy.

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