From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Feb 2003
posted October 24, 2003 08:53 AM
From the Olympian:
Art-deco expert to speak
- What: Art Deco Society Northwest and the State Capital Museum present "A People's Style: American Art Deco," a lecture, slide show and book signing with art-deco expert Carla Breeze.
- When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
- Where: State Capital Museum Coach House, 211 W. 21st Ave., Olympia
- Donation: $2.50
- Information: Call 360-357-9408 or visit www.artdeconw.org.
Carla Breeze believes art-deco architecture in the United States is remarkable for many reasons.
One of the most important is its place in culture as one of the first modern incarnations of a populist architectural style.
Art-deco style -- exemplified in everything from skyscrapers to shoes -- evolved and flourished in the United States in the 1920s and '30s with a momentum all its own.
"It was the first popular and populist design movement in the United States," said Breeze, who will speak on "A People's Style: American Art Deco" at the State Capital Museum on Wednesday. "You had the arts and crafts period at the turn of the century, but it wasn't this movement that sort of swept the whole nation like art deco did."
Americans at the time called the style "modernistic" because it was such a departure from previous styles and because it was a pronounced segue into the machine or modern age.
Art deco was a movement with fire in its belly, with a desire and optimism toward the future. Breeze captures the period in more than 400 striking photographs -- including sharp detail shots -- in her new book.
"It suddenly symbolized the movement into the 20th century," Breeze said. "It was about advertising. If you were going to sell a modern product, you wanted to look modern. You wanted your buildings to carry that message."
During her Northwest visit, New York City and Santa Fe, N.M.-based Breeze will discuss her 2003 book, "American Art Deco: Architecture and Regionalism," which includes chapters on interpretations of art deco across the country.
Though Breeze is brief in her Northwest coverage in the book, she will focus her Olympia talk on regional structures from Seattle to South Sound.
Her book features photos of the Chinese-influenced 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle and the minimalist St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, also in Seattle, as well as the ornamental Temple Beth Israel in Portland.
"Each area in the United States has a distinct style," Breeze said. "In the Northwest, the Asian design was really influential."
Since graduating from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor's in art history, Breeze has been working as an architectural photographer and author.
Her books include "Pueblo Deco," "L.A. Deco," "New York Deco" and "New Modern," a survey of young contemporary architects.
Her photography is in various museum collections, including the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.
She recently lectured at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London on Harlem photographer James Van Der Zee.
Joyce Colton, president and founder of the Olympia-based Art Deco Society Northwest, will take Breeze on a tour of South Sound's many art deco buildings, from the National Guard Armory to the Acme Fuel building on State Avenue.
"I'm really impressed with Carla," Colton said. "I think she's a remarkable lady. She is so knowledgeable about everything."
Breeze contacted Colton to offer her lecture services and to help support the deco club.
"I've been in touch with all the art deco societies in the United States," Breeze said, adding that such clubs are paramount to preservation. "I don't think -- without the art-deco societies -- there would be as many buildings as intact as they are."
Many art deco buildings are salvaged for their elegantly designed fixtures, Breeze said.
"You can tear them apart and sell all the hardware and make much more money," Breeze said. "There were a lot of great designers working on these little elements. It's a hugely collectible area, but once you remove them from the building, the building's lost part of its architectural integrity.
"While great strides have been made, we actually need to take more concerted actions in the future to preserve buildings."
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