September 2013 Vol 1. issue 1
11 Objects dâ€™arts The Swag Collection
Down in the Depp J D
ohnny eppâ€™s Hollywood Revival
Mid-Century-Modern The photography of Julius Schulman
CONTENTS Departments 5
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR A glimpse from the editor of SoCal magazine
aGENDA Food/Drink/5th Floor/Portrait
Every Californians needs and objects of desire
Johnny Depp and his outlook on life at turning 50
24 Julius Shulman Architect through his lens
el fin lasat bid of news before farewell
A MOMENT OF CLARITY THESE WILL BE YOUR YEARS A moment of clarity is when you suddenly get a deep understanding of some truth that’s been out of reach for you. When your vision becomes unclouded and focused by a mad rush of what has been called an epiphany or revelation. Before attending FIDM I was pretty lost in what I wanted to achieve in life, I had no direction or goals. After couple years of debating on a future I decided to do something I enjoyed which was to design! To me it wasn’t about conforming to the practicality of most men and women who are pusehd to go in the same direction as the rest, instead, realize and wake up to the opportunities and follow your passion. Take up what gives you joy and persue your dreams. Live life knowing you took risks and accept that failure is not a bad thing, failure should in fact open up your eyes and know that either what you’re doing is not right or learn from it and come back stronger. The message is that once you realize the correct path to embark your journey on, these will be your years. It is your time and the sun will hit you like a bullet of faith. You were once confined to the mediocracy but now the best of you will unfold and you will find warmth. The lights will all appear, these will be your years.
REAL CROnuts The closest thing in L.A. to the real Cronut? Rockenwagner’s Crö-dough
ockenwagner has jumped on the faux-Cronut bandwagon. “To be honest, I did not want to pursue it at first,” says Rockenwagner, who a couple of weeks ago rolled out his version of the Cronut, the croissant doughnut by Dominique Ansel in New York that sparked a global craze after it launched in May. “It’s a fad. But Pat pointed out to me the cupcake craze. I kept saying, ‘It’s gonna die, it’s gonna die,’ and eight years later it still hasn’t died. So why not our version of Cronuts and be able to direct the trend? And people keep asking for them.” Having had the original Cronut at Dominique Ansel and nearly every incarnation of faux-Cronut I could get my hands on in Los Angeles -- including Spudnuts’ in Canoga Park, the brioughnut from Confexion Cupcakes in Pasadena, SemiSweet Bakery’s crullant, Crumbs’ version, Kettle Glazed’s and more -- it’s the closest thing to Ansel’s in L.A. that I’ve tasted. It is a high, compact croissant-doughnut much like the Cronut, but is a little smaller in diameter and only slightly shorter; has a pastry cream filling (some knock-offs don’t); and is similarly coated with a sprinkling
of sugar. Its glaze is not as silky -- in fact it’s a little brittle -and has more of it. But Rockenwagner’s is also crisper than the original. What’s this version called? “Doughssant,” says Sullivan. “Crö-dough,” Rockenwagner says, “I like Crö-dough, with an umlaut over the o.”For now the bakery is making them once a week on Fridays or Saturdays for its Rockenwagner Bakery and 3 Square Cafe locations, their availability advertised on social media. Meanwhile, special orders are flowing in -- for up to 4,500 Crö-doughs. Yes, a single order for 4,500 Crö-doughs. The Rockenwagner commissary bakery already runs ‘round the clock and has grown from eight bakers in 2009 to “70 to 80 bakers now,” Rockenwagner says. It turns out 70 different doughs for 350 products, including breads and pastries such as the pretzel croissant and Linzer cookies. The Crö-dough is made with Rockenwagner’s croissant dough (regular not pretzel), whose fat content has been tweaked “so it gets a little more crispy,” he says. “It took a couple of experiments,” 9 Sullivan adds, “with the folding of the dough to get the right
the aGE libation
Villan’s DRINKS Villian’s Tavern is Frightfully Fun
his place is an exactly what you’d imagine when you hear the phrase ‘gothic dive bar with LA vibes.’ Owner Dana Hollister (who’s also a designer to local A-listers) describes it like this: “If Jimi Hendrix and Jack the Ripper had opened a bar in the San Francisco’s Haight in the 1860’s, this is what it would look like.” She’s right. It rules. You can find it just on the fringe of LA’s arts district, and as such, it attracts a pretty edgy and arty crowd! There’s over 28 draft beers on offer, and a heap of (yum) fatty bar food with names like ‘Devil Dog’, ‘Demon Burger’ and ‘Babe on a Bun.’ But the real reason people like MKTO’s Tony come here, is for the music.
C I N D E R E L L A MAN
B A S E D O N A T RU E S TO RY
Renee Zellweger ,
the GEn 5th floor
Window Dressing Themed windows make brilliant vignettes on FIDM’s 5th floor.
punk garbage DRESS
Desert inspired dress using the resources found in the area.
EARTH DRESS WITH ROCK
By Dagmar Winston Photographs by Kyle Swinehart
ach semester at fashion school, FIDM, located in downtown Los Angeles, the 5th floor is host to a variety of window displays created by the Visual Communication students. Each semester they are given a theme and told to run with it. The results, quite often, are spectacular. This semester’s theme is nature and instructor Katherine LoPresti instructed students to build their window displays with “as much organic materials as possible.”The students work as teams to build everything from the dresses to creating the typography for the windows. The group effort pays off as the nine windows are often the center of 12 attention for visiting parents and prospective students.
Long dress with scissor and glitter
SUBMERGED UNDER WATER MODEL
the Enda portrait
RICHARD NOGUC HI
FIDM’s PD student Richard Noguchi has been in the spotlight for his amazing designs, SoCal magazine has had the pleasure to meet the designer and take a glimpse into his mind. Richard has a background in marketing before attending FIDM, his passion to pursue the graphic design has been influenced by non other than David Carson. Richard Carson. Richard states that he is captivated by how David Carson has the ability to use typography to manipulate space in what looks like chaos but instead has a sense of harmony and organization. He is intrigued with the constructivism movement and it’s apparent in his work. Richard’s plan in the design field is to integrate his work. Richard’s plan in the design field is to integrate his marketing skills along with his talent in graphic design to create effective, crafty designs. Richard Noguchi is on a path of success and people here at SoCal magazine are thankful for the opportunity, it won’t be the last time you’ll be hearing his name, so keep your eyes open.
SWAG objects of desire
As part of J.Crew’s “In Good Company” collection, which brings together collab pieces from over 50 partnerships with brands boasting a heritage vibe, this cotton chambray swim trunk makes us nostalgic for the Southern Californian beach life of the Sixties. www.jcrew.com
BMW BMW m5 2013 Still the king of all sports sedans, the new M5 improves in every way. www.bmw.com $92,000
j. crew apolis swim trunks
LEVI JEANS 501 ® Original fit jeans The ultimate icon of American culture, the one that started it all—the Original 501® jean. They’re tried and true, pure and simple, the one and only. www.levi.com $52
Headgear headgear styling/ hair care 16
Introducing the ultimate, all-male, all-Aussie styling and hair care range designed exclusively for the guy looking to get noticed. The only male-specific, salon quality product range available outside of salons, Headgear’s high-performance and easy-to-use range promises to keep men’s styles at their peak for longer. www.head-gear.com/au $14.99
CROCKETT & JONES
tom ford black orchid
Brown calf leather boot from Crockett & Jones featuring a round toe, lace-up front fastening with broke detailing and a rubber sole with a stacked heel. www.farfetch.com $634
Discover the fragrances of Tom Ford, where scent and skin meld into the ultimate canvas for seduction. www.sephora.com $72
nike menâ€™s blue roshe run sneaker by nike The legendary Roshe Run Sneakers by Nike is materialized with a breathable mesh upper for a lightweight feel and it also boasts a reinforced cushioned sole for enhanced comfort. www.gluestore.com.au $99.99
Joye eRoll is the latest design of a mini electronic cigarettes from Joyetech. The eRoll PCC charging case fits the iPhone design with gorgeous style making it the most modern and presentable e-cigarette yet. www.joytech.com $69
Franck muller aeternitas mega 4 The Aeternitas Mega is the pinnacle of success in the art of watch-making in terms of complexity and complications. A grandiose work of art culminating in the design of the most complex wrist watch ever made in the world thanks to the multifaceted skills of our watch-makers and constructors. www.franckmuller.com $2,400,000
MENâ€™s comfortsoft This v-neck has an exceptionally smooth hand thanks to ComfortSoft cotton www.suppolytheory.com $6
biosense classic memory foam pillow Perfect for any sleep position, our Biosense pillow relieves pressure and provides comfort. www.brookstone.com $59.99
Merkur merkur 33g Merkur 33G Safety razor Gold Plated www.shavercity.com/au $119.95
ART/ DESIGN/ CULTURE/LIFESTYLE
â€œThe one magazine that brings out the essence of Southern Californiaâ€? SOCAL publishes the latest news from local art and design, reviews of new developments in science, technology and culture. It covers gastronomic trends and the best places to visit and grab a bite, the new hotspots in town and best nightlife news basically Southerin californians lifestyle. In short, on the pages of SOCAL one can find absolutely everything about what we californians do and experience the culture through pictures and text.
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JOHNNY DEPP By: Eddie Kang
SoCal Magazine has got an all access to an exclusive interview with the one and only A-list star Johnny Depp.
I don’t know if I can relax,” he says. “Relax, I can’t do. My brain, on idle, is a bad thing. I just get weird. I mean, not weird. I get, I get antsy.
ohnny Depp says “I’m kicking 50 right up the ass. I can’t say that I’d want to be doing this for another 10 years,” reveals The Lone Ranger star. Not that he expects to quit Hollywood anytime soon. Johnny Depp tells SoCal magazine, ”I think while I’ve got the opportunity and the desire and the creative spark to do the things that I can do right now, I should do them. And then, at a certain point, just take it down to the bare minimum and concentrate on, I guess, living life. Really living life.” Depp continues, “And going somewhere where you don’t have to be on the run, or sneak in through the kitchen or the underground labyrinth of the hotel. At a certain point, when you get old enough or get a few brain cells back, you realize that, on some level, you lived a life of a fugitive.” But downtime is not easy for the actor, either. “I don’t know if I can relax,” he says. “Relax, I can’t do. My brain, on idle, is a bad thing. I just get weird. I mean, not weird. I get, I get antsy.”
The closest thing that I can compare it to was having known Hunter Thompson really well—we were very, very close—and witnessing him, because I studied him so deeply and lived with him for a period of time to try to become Raoul Duke, to try to become Hunter.
In so many of his best-known roles, Depp has seemed somehow ageless, neither old nor young but intriguingly indeterminate. Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco, Willy Wonka, the Mad Hatter, Barnabas Collins, and, yes, Captain Jack Sparrow: All seem, in their wildly various ways, ageless. All of them also have what Depp has spoken of as “a lost-soul quality.” That can be true of his more realistic characters, too, like Donnie Brasco or even John Dillinger. One of the things that sets Depp apart from his peers is a genius for impersonation. He famously based Sparrow on Keith Richards and Pepe Le Pew. Depp’s Raoul Duke, in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” is so eerily like Hunter S. Thompson it’s amazing that their friendship survived the performance. And if Michael Jackson hadn’t existed, would Depp’s Willy Wonka? Impersonation is evasive as most acting is not. It’s a way of drawing scrutiny and deflecting it at the same time.
Now that he’s in his 50s, Depp’s challenge is the reverse: to keep flesh and blood from seeming cartoonish — or at least not too much.
Depp has collaborated with Tim Burton eight times. As a team, they are what John Wayne and John Ford or Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese once were (or what DiCaprio and Scorsese would like to be). It’s Burton, even more than the actor’s looks, perhaps, who has contributed the most to keeping Depp beyond the apparent reach of time. With his relish for unreality, Burton has served as chief enabler for the cultivation of Depp’s wrinkle-free, slightly inhuman side. Whether that enabling has been a good thing or bad is open to debate. What isn’t open to debate is how much of it there’s been. Even when set in Ireland or Polynesia, a Ford movie with Wayne feels at least a little like a western. Even when no crimes are being committed, a Scorsese movie with De Niro feels at least a little like a Mafia picture. Even when live action (as all but one are), a Burton movie with Depp feels at least a little like animation. Maybe Depp’s greatest achievement as an actor is to transform cartoonishness into a facsimile of flesh and blood.
A Sense Photographer Julius Schulmanâ€™s photography spread California Mid-century modern around the world. Carefully composed and artfully lighted, his images promoted not only new approaches to home design but also the ideal of idyllic California living â€” a sunny, suburban lifestyle played out in sleek, spacious, lowslung homes featuring ample glass, pools and patios. 28
space By Peter Gossell Photographs by Julius Schulman
ven if you’re confused by the fork in the driveway, which slopes up to the Edenic apex of Laurel Canyon, or don’t recognize architect Raphael Soriano’s mid-century design landmark, you can’t miss Julius Shulman’s place. It’s the one with the eight-foot-high banner bearing his name—an advertisement for his 2005 Getty Museum exhibition “Modernity and the Metropolis”—hanging before the door to the studio adjoining the house. As displays of ego go, it’s hard to beat. Yet the voice calling out from behind it is friendly, even eager—“Come on in!” And drawing back the banner, one finds, not a monument, but a man: behind an appealingly messy desk, wearing blue suspenders and specs with lenses as big as Ring Dings, and offering a smile of roguish beatitude. You’d smile, too. At 96, Shulman is the best known architectural photographer
in the world, and one of the genre’s most influential figures. Between 1936, when a fateful meeting with architect Richard Neutra began his career, and his semi-retirement half a century later, he used his instinctive compositional elegance and hair-trigger command of light to document more than 6,500 projects, creating images that defined many of the masterworks of 20th-century architecture. Most notably, Shulman’s focus on the residential modernism of Los Angeles, which included photographing 18 of the 26 Case Study Houses commissioned by Arts & Architecture magazine between 1945 and 1967, resulted in a series of lyrical tableaux that invested the high-water moment of postwar American optimism with an arresting, oddly innocent glamour. Add to this the uncountable volumes and journals featuring his pictures, and unending requests for reprints, and you have an artist whose talent, timing, ubiquity, and sheer staying power have buried the compe-
tition—in some cases, literally. “I realized that I was embarking on another chapter of my life,” Shulman says, the pleasure evident in his time-softened voice. “We’ve done many assignments”— Nogai puts the number at around 70—“and they all came out beautifully. People are always very cooperative,” he adds. “They spend days knowing I’m coming. Everything is clean and fresh. I don’t have to raise a finger.” As regards the division of labor, the 54-year-old Nogai says tactfully, “The more active is me because of the age. Julius is finding the perspectives, and I’m setting up the lights, and fine-tuning the image in the camera.” While Shulman acknowledges their equal partnership, and declares Nogai’s lighting abilities to be unequaled, his assessment is more succinct: “I make the compositions. There’s only one Shulman.” “The subject is the power of photogra-
phy,” Shulman explains. “I have thousands of slides, and Juergen and I have assembled them into almost 20 different lectures. And not just about architecture—I have pictures of cats and dogs, fashion pictures, flower photographs. I use them to do a lot of preaching to the students, to give them something to do with their lives, and keep them from dropping out of school.” It all adds up to a very full schedule, which Shulman handles largely by himself—“My daughter comes once a week from Santa Barbara and takes care of my business affairs, and does my shopping”— and with remarkable ease for a near-centenarian. Picking up the oversized calendar on which he records his appointments, Shulman walks me through a typical seven days: “Thom Mayne—we had lunch with him. Long Beach, AIA meeting. People were here for a meeting about my photography at the Getty [which houses his archive]. High
school students, a lecture. Silver Lake, the Neutra house, they’re opening part of the lake frontage, I’m going to see that. USC, a lecture. Then an assignment, the Griffith Observatory—we’ve already started that one.” Yet rather than seeming overtaxed, Shulman fairly exudes well-being. Like many elderly people with nothing left to prove, and who remain in demand both for their talents and as figures of veneration (think of George Burns), Shulman takes things very easy: He knows what his employers and admirers want, is happy to provide it, and accepts the resulting reaffirmation of his legend with a mix of playfully rampant immodesty and heartfelt gratitude. As the man himself puts it, “The world’s my onion.” Given the fun Shulman’s having being Shulman, one might expect the work to suffer. But his passion for picture-making
remains undiminished. “I was surprised at how engaged Julius was,” admits the Chicago auction-house mogul Richard Wright, who hired Shulman to photograph Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House #21 prior to selling it last year. “He did 12 shots in two days, which is a lot. And he really nailed them.” Of this famous precision, says the writer Howard Rodman, whose John Lautner–designed home Shulman photographed in 2002: “There’s a story about Steve McQueen, where a producer was trying to get him to sign on to a movie. The producer said, ‘Look how much you change from the beginning to the end.’ And McQueen said, ‘I don’t want to be the guy who learns. I want to be the guy who knows.’ And Shulman struck me as the guy who knows.” This becomes evident as, picking up the transparencies from his two most recent assignments, he delivers an impromptu master class. “We relate to the position of
delivers an impromptu master class. “We relate to the position of the sun every minute of the day,” Shulman begins, holding an exterior of a 1910 Craftsman-style house in Oakland, by Bernard Maybeck, to the lamp atop his desk. “So when the sun moves around, we’re ready for our picture. I have to be as specific as a sports photographer— even a little faster,” he says, nodding at the image, in which light spills through a latticework overhang and patterns a façade. “This is early afternoon, when the sun is just hitting the west side of the building. If I’m not ready for that moment, I lose the day.” He does not, however, need to observe the light prior to photographing: “I was a Boy Scout—I know where the sun is every month of the year. And I never use a meter.” Shulman is equally proud of his own lighting abilities. “I’ll show you something fascinating,” he says, holding up two exteriors of a new modernist home, designed for
a family named Abidi, by architect James Tyler. In the first, the inside of the house is dark, resulting in a handsome, somewhat lifeless image. In the second, it’s been lit in a way that seems a natural balance of indoor and outdoor illumination, yet expresses the structure’s relationship to its site and showcases the architecture’s transparency. “The house is transfigured,” Shulman explains. “I have four Ts. Transcend is, I go beyond what the architect himself has seen. Transfigure—glamorize, dramatize with lighting, time of day. Translate—there are times, when you’re working with a man like Neutra, who wanted everything the way he wanted it—‘Put the camera here.’ And after he left, I’d put it back where I wanted it, and he wouldn’t know the difference—I translated. And fourth, I transform the composition with furniture movement.” To illustrate the latter, Shulman shows
me an interior of the Abidi house that looks out from the living room, through a long glass wall, to the grounds. “Almost every one of my photographs has a diagonal leading you into the picture,” he says. Taking a notecard and pen, he draws a line from the lower left corner to the upper right, then a second perpendicular line from the lower right corner to the first line. Circling the intersection, he explains, “That’s the point of what we call ‘dynamic symmetry.’” When he holds up the photo again, I see that the line formed by the bottom of the glass wall—dividing inside from outside—roughly mirrors the diagonal he’s drawn. Shulman then indicates the second, perpendicular line created by the furniture arrangement. “My assistants moved [the coffee table] there, to complete the line. When the owner saw the Polaroid, she said to her husband, ‘Why don’t we do that all the time?’” Shulman’s remark references one of his
signature gambits: what he calls “dressing the set,” not only by moving furniture but by adding everyday objects and accessories. “I think he was trying to portray the lifestyle people might have had if they’d lived in those houses,” suggests the Los Angeles–based architectural photographer Tim Street-Porter. “He was doing—with a totally positive use of the words—advertising or propagandist photographs for the cause.” This impulse culminated in Shulman’s introduction of people into his pictures—
commonplace today, but virtually unique 50 years ago. “Those photographs—with young, attractive people having breakfast in glass rooms beside carports with two-tone cars—were remarkable in the history of architectural photography,” Street-Porter says. “He took that to a wonderfully high level.” Surprisingly, Shulman underplays this aspect of his oeuvre. The idea, he explains, is simply to “induce a feeling of occupancy. For example, in the Abidi house, I
put some wineglasses and bottles on the counter, which would indicate that people are coming for dinner. Then there are times I’ll select two or three people—the owner of a house, or the children—and put them to work. Sometimes it’s called for.” “Are you pleased with these photographs?” I ask as he sets them aside. “I’m pleased with all my work,” he says cheerfully. “I tell people in my lectures, ‘If I were
modest, I wouldn’t talk about how great I am.’” Yet when I ask how he developed his eye, Shulman’s expression turns philosophical. “Sometimes Juergen walks ahead of me, and he’ll look for a composition. And invariably, he doesn’t see what I see. Architects don’t see what I see. It’s God-given,” he says, using the Yiddish word for an act of kindness—“a mitzvah.”
there you can see my redwoods,” he says, gesturing at the slope rising at the property’s rear. “Seedlings, as big as my thumb. They’re 85 feet tall now.” He pauses to consider an ominously large paw print in the path. “It’s too big for a dog. A bobcat wouldn’t be that big, either. It’s a mystery,” Shulman decides, pushing the Mercedes past a ficus as big as a baobab.
unrelated story. “I was born in Brooklyn in 1910,” says this child of Russian-Jewish immigrants. “When I was three, my father went to the town of Central Village in Connecticut, and was shown this farmhouse— primitive, but [on] a big piece of land. After we moved in, he planted corn and potatoes, my mother milked the cows, and we had a farm life.
I suggest a tour of the house, and Shulman moves carefully to a rolling walker he calls “the Mercedes” and heads out of the studio and up the front steps. As a plaque beside the entrance indicates, the 3,000-square-foot, three-bedroom structure, which Shulman commissioned in 1948 and moved into two years later, was landmarked by L.A.’s Cultural Heritage Commission as the only steel-frame Soriano house that remains as built. Today, such Case Study–era residences are as fetishized (and expensive) as Fabergé eggs. But when Shulman opens the door onto a wide, cork-lined hallway leading to rooms that, after six decades, remain refreshing in their clarity of function and communication, use of simple, natural materials, and openness to the out-of-doors, I’m reminded that the movement’s motivation was egalitarian, not elitist: to produce well-designed, affordable homes for young, middle-class families.
The mystery I find myself pondering, as we walk beside the terraced hillside, is the one he cited himself: the source of his talent. In 1936, Shulman was an ama-teur
“And for seven years, I was imbued with the pleasure of living close to nature. In 1920, when we came here to Los Angeles, I joined the Boy Scouts, and enjoyed the outdoor-living aspect, hiking and camping. My father opened a clothing store in Boyle Heights, and my four brothers and sisters and my mother worked in the store. They were businesspeople.” He flashes a slightly cocky smile. “I was with the Boy Scouts.”
“Most people whose houses I photographed didn’t use their sliding doors,” Shulman says, crossing the living room toward his own glass sliders. “Because flies and lizards would come in; there were strong winds. So I told Soriano I wanted a transition—a screened-in enclosure in front of the living room, kitchen, and bedroom to make an indoor/outdoor room.” Shulman opens the door leading to an exterior dining area. A bird trills loudly. “That’s a wren,” he says, and steps out. “My wife and I had most of our meals out here,” he recalls. “Beautiful.” We continue past the house to Shulman’s beloved garden—he calls it “the jungle”—a riot of vegetation that overwhelms much of the site, and frames an almost completely green canyon view. “I planted hundreds of trees and shrubs—back
We arrive at a sitting area, with a small pool of water, a fireplace, and a large sculpture (purchased from one of his daughter’s high school friends) made from Volkswagen body parts. Shulman lowers himself onto a bench and absorbs the abundant natural pleasures. “When I bought this land, my brother said, ‘Why don’t you subdivide? You’ll make money.’” He looks amused. “Two acres at the top of Laurel Canyon, and the studio could be converted into a guest house—it could be sold for millions.”
photographer—gifted, but without professional ambition—when he was invited by an architect friend to visit Richard Neutra’s Kun House. Shulman, who’d never seen a modern residence, took a handful of snapshots with the Kodak vest-pocket camera his sister had given him, and sent copies to his friend as a thank-you. When Neutra saw the images, he requested a meeting, bought the photos, and asked the 26-year-old if he’d like more work. Shulman accepted and— virtually on a whim—his career took off. When I ask Shulman what Neutra saw in his images, he answers with a seemingly
He resumes his story. “At the end of February 1936, I’d been at UCLA, and then Berkeley, for seven years. Never graduated, never majored. Just audited classes. I was driving home from Berkeley”—Shulman hesitates dramatically—“and I knew I could do anything. I was even thinking of getting a job in the parks department raking leaves, just so I could be outside. And within two weeks, I met Neutra, by chance. March 5, 1936—that day, I became a photographer. Why not?” Hearing this remarkable tale, I understand that Shulman has answered my question about his talent with an explanation of his nature. What Neutra perceived in the young amateur was an outdoorsman’s independent spirit and an enthusiasm for life’s possibilities, qualities that, as fate would
have it, merged precisely with the boundless optimism of the American Century—an optimism, Shulman instinctively recognized, that was embodied in the modern houses that became, as Street-Porter says, “a muse to him.” “[Shulman] always says proudly that Soriano hated his furniture,” says Wim de Wit, the Getty Research Institute curator who oversees Shulman’s collection. “He says, ‘I don’t care; when I sit in a chair I want to be comfortable.’ He does not think of himself as an artist. ‘I was doing a business,’ he says. But when you look at that overgrown garden, you know—there is some other
streak in him.” That streak—the free soul within the unpretentious, practical product of the immigrant experience—produced what Nogai calls “a seldom personality”: a Jewish farm boy who grew up to create internationally recognized American cultural artifacts—icons that continue to influence our fantasies and self-perceptions. I ask Shulman if he’s surprised at how well his life has turned out. “I tell students, ‘Don’t take life too seriously—don’t plan nothing nohow,’” he replies. “But I have always observed and respected my destiny. That’s the only way I can describe it. It was meant to be.”
“And it was a destiny that suited you?” At this, everything rises at once—his eyebrows, his outstretched arms, and his peaceful, satisfied smile. “Well,” says Shulman, “here I am.”
Los Angeles Art A place for inspiration
n a rickety green ladder, wearing his sponsor’s blue Osiris sneakers, the artist RISK dispenses another elaborate swoosh of gold paint with his spray can. Once a street tagger, RISK, born Kelly Graval, was one of five L.A. graffiti artists featured in MOCA’s 2011 “Art in the Streets” show and has fans all over the world. The braid in his bib-length beard flips in the wind as he works. Across the street,
leaning against a steel-gray wall, as if it were a stoop in Brooklyn, a group of heavily tattooed men smoke cigarettes and watch the action. But it’s the man standing in the shadows of the wall who has their attention. “Hey, it’s the Mayor” says one of them, pointing to a slight, fresh-faced figure in rolled-up jeans and tousled brown hair. “Seriously, the wall Mayor!” Shying away from the attention, Daniel Lahoda walks past the men. “I don’t know what I am,” he says quietly.
“People call me a lot of things.” Looking younger than his 35 years, Lahoda could easily be one of the neighborhood’s art students. He’s actually the owner of the nearby LALA Gallery, which showcases prints and original paintings by street artists. “He’s turned the neighborhood into a museum without walls that draws tourists from all over the world,” says Estela Lopez, executive director of Central City East Assn., an advocacy group for downtown business owners.
District “Murals have always been here, but not of this scope. Daniel created an infrastructure to put the Arts District on the map.” Others, however, point to an LAPD crime alert seeking information about Lahoda. Easily found on the LAPD’s website, the alert cites complaints about “allegations of art ordered and paid for but never delivered” and “taking art on consignment and diverting the art and money obtained for his own use.” “He’s turned the neighborhood into a
museum without walls that draws tourists from all over the world,” says Estela Lopez, executive director of Central City East Assn., an advocacy group for downtown business owners. “Murals have always been here, but not of this scope. Daniel created an infrastructure to put the Arts District on the map.” Others, however, point to an LAPD crime alert seeking information about Lahoda. Easily found on the LAPD’s website, the alert cites complaints about “allegations of art ordered and paid for but never delivered” and “taking art on consignment and diverting the art and
money obtained for his own use.” He’s also known to many as “the guy who gets the walls” for artists. Through his LA Freewalls project, Lahoda brokers deals between businesses and street artists, offering building owners new murals to cover up unwanted graffiti and securing wall canvases for artists. The project has resulted in more than 120 new murals, mostly in downtown L.A.’s Arts District, by some of the world’s leading street artists, among them Shepard Fairey, French artist JR and SEEN. But in the tightly knit street art world, Lahoda is a deeply controversial figure. Just the mention of his name may prompt spontaneous outpourings of praise or abrupt phone disconnects.