Tag Archives: oklahoma

Julius Shulman: Oklahoma Modernism Rediscovered

19 Feb

I just got word that Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OKCMOA) will have an exhibit of Julius Shulman photographs of Oklahoma Modernism beginning April 30th. There will be a lot of activities going on the opening weekend including a visit by Mr. Shulman himself (health permitting) and screenings of “Visual Acoustics,” the new documentary about Shulman and his long career, directed by Eric Bricker. I also heard mention the possibility of an architecture tour this same weekend. This is very exciting and will warrant a trip to OKC for sure. Read the press release, below.

Oklahoma City, OK—Organized by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OKCMOA), Julius Shulman: Oklahoma Modernism Rediscovered is the first-ever retrospective of photographs taken in Oklahoma by legendary architectural photographer Julius Shulman. The exhibit runs from April 30 through June 7 and will feature over 65 images – many unseen by the public for decades – of buildings designed by such world-renowned architects as Bruce Goff, Herb Greene, William Caudill, Truett Coston, Robert Roloff, and Paul Harris. Twenty-one architectural projects from six Oklahoma cities and towns will be represented in the exhibition including homes, banks, churches, museums and hospitals.

“When several of Julius Shulman’s Oklahoma photographs began appearing in the recently published books of his work, a handful of passionate local collectors reached out to him about the possibility of exhibiting this virtually unseen work. Mr. Shulman was very enthusiastic about his work in Oklahoma and agreed to work with our Museum to develop this special exhibition in collaboration with the Getty Research Institute. We believe these extraordinary images stand alone as photographic works of art while celebrating Oklahoma’s unique architectural heritage,” stated curator Brian Hearn.

Perhaps best known for his iconic photographs of Los Angeles’ Case Study houses and of Palm Springs architecture, Shulman’s incredible body of work includes more than 70,000 images. Now archived at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, Shulman’s photographs encompass a 70-year-and-counting career that includes thousands of images of buildings that would have been likely overlooked by the architectural world had he not photographed them.

Throughout his long career, Shulman often ventured inland from his base in California to explore the modernism movement in other regions of the United States. During these trips, which spanned over 30 years, he frequently stopped in Oklahoma and photographed some of the state’s most innovative modern architecture. The long, low lines and bold forms of mid-century architecture were an especially good fit, when placed against the backdrop of Oklahoma’s flat plains and vast, often mercurial skies, and Shulman’s lens dramatically captured this symbiotic relationship in images of Greene’s “Prairie Chicken” House, Goff’s Bavinger House, and Roloff’s State Capitol Bank, among others.

Indeed, Shulman’s stunning Oklahoma photographs – and his tenacity in getting them published in national magazines – brought much-deserved attention to the Sooner State and helped launch the careers of Greene, Robert Alan Bowlby, Conner & Pojezny, Murray-Jones-Murray, and other area architects and firms.

As he approaches the century mark, Julius Shulman has himself become an icon in the architectural world, and this exhibit celebrates his incredible life and career. In addition, it pays tribute to the visionary architects whose designs continue to be appreciated and admired today.


Roadside Architecture Log

5 Jun

Debra Jane Seltzer is a New Yorker on a mission to photograph roadside architecture across the country. Her travels and road trips take her all over the nation, and she documents it all, obviously a keen observer of roadside life. She meticulously categorizes and indexes her photos by state and type, which includes a nice mid century modern section. A fantastic online museum of roadside design, the organization works. I was able to find this beauty – the Neptune Sub building in OKC I have admired in the past.

Roadside Architecture

Roadtrip Blog

Roadtrips on flickr

Revisiting Bruce Goff’s Architecture

2 May

bruce goff houseLike any other art, architecture must be experienced before one can write adequately about it. Bruce Goff designed many remarkable buildings but I will comment on one of two I have visited and why I think, his work needs to be revisited.

Bruce Goff – a child prodigy who started working in an architectural firm at the age of twelve was the Dean of the College of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma in the 1950s. His creative spirit looms large in that school where his remarkable architectural renderings and those of his students hang on the walls around the College. Like Frank Lloyd Wright, he took pride in drawing and saw the art of drawing as part of the architecture that would take shape. Nowadays, I fear drawing is seen as a means to an end. Like the ancients who created myth, Goff saw drawing as a vehicle to articulate our humanity. The purpose of myth was not to give an historical account of heroes but rather to try to articulate the inexhaustible dealings and feelings of people. It is to Bruce Goff’s credit that he had the skill to translate his ‘dealings and feelings’ from drawings into architecture.

The Pollock House in Oklahoma City, reveals a mastery of color, light, space, illusion and materials. Like Gaudi and Wright, Bruce Goff had a profound respect for nature and local materials. Like Frank Gehry, he was a sponge that soaked Classical music and was inpired by Balinese artistic traditions and the Pollock Hosue reflects this. Spaces flow into other spaces. Mirrors deceptively create greater depth in the rooms. Like repetition in music which sustains a moment and creates a sort of infinity of that moment, the enlargement of the rooms by the mirrors challenge the certitude that three dimensional space is all exists.

The pool and the sound of water flowing recalls Feng Shui and an Eastern reverence for nature and stillness. His daring cantilevered roofs show a disdain for conventions and throw down a gauntlet at gravity.

He had a fascination with a blue-green color, of which some of his other buildings have bluish-green stones.

Neither he or his work should be forgotten and we must try to preserve his surviving structures.

Written by my friend, Architect Doyin Terriba – who studied at the University of Oklahoma. Photo provided by http://www.narrowlarry.com