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Wiltern Tower and Pellissier Building, photo by Adrian Fine for LA Conservancy

Dear DNA friends,

I hope you and yours are doing well, amidst challenging times.

If there is a theme in this newsletter, it is holding onto the best of the past.

In 1916, a musicologist named Sophie Pauline Gibling wrote to her mother: “One of my dreams, Mother, is to have, someday, a little joy of a bungalow, on the edge of the woods and mountains near a crowded city, which shall be open just as some people’s hearts are open, to friends of all types.”

Well, what a radical little bungalow that turned out to be!

In 2022, Pauline, her now husband Rudolph Schindler, and their friends Clyde and Marian Chace completed their famed experiment in communal living, the Schindler House. The Austrian-born Schindler conceived of a flat-roofed, one story building (plus rooftop sleeping baskets!), pinwheel in plan, hugging two gardens. It was made of tilt-up concrete and had an asymmetrical, flexible plan with sliding screen doors framing views of the landscape that were new to Western architecture (though found in Japanese houses.) It quickly filled up with “friends of all types,” and became a regular salon for the avantgarde, including John Cage, Edward Weston, and Galka Scheyer.

The Schindlers' creation continued to play that role, as the birthplace of the LA Forum for Architecture and Design, as the starter offices/residence for the late Frank Israel, a temporary home for many lucky architects and design enthusiasts, and now, the headquarters of MAK Center for Art and Architecture.

But 101 years after it was built, the Schindler House is facing the tests of time and a Schindler @100 Campaign is underway to preserve it. This Saturday, Friends of the Schindler House will host their first annual salon, to help support repairs and long-term conservation. At this ticketed event, co-chaired by Barbara Bestor, Annie Chu, and Trina Turk, you can “discover new Los Angeles-based artists and tour the masterpiece that is 835 North Kings Road.” I'll be there and hope you will be too.

Schindler House, IMG_7647The sublime Schindler House needs some TLC; Photo: Frances Anderton


Wayne Ratkovich: City Saver/City Maker

While on the topic of preserving LA's heritage, let us honor Wayne Ratkovich.
When I first arrived in Los Angeles in 1991 I went to my new place of work at 3790 Wilshire Boulevard – and found myself in a most glorious building: the Art Deco, turquoise terracotta-clad Wiltern Theatre and Pellissier Building, designed by architect Stiles Clements of Morgan, Walls and Clements (shown, in photo top of page by Adrian Fine for the LA Conservancy).

Also working in the building was the very man who saved this 1931 classic from demolition: Wayne Ratkovich, a longtime Los Angeles developer who sadly left us this past month. In collaboration with the architect Brenda Levin, Ratkovich salvaged and revived the Wiltern and many other LA landmarks, including the nearby Chapman Market, the Fine Arts Building and Oviatt Building in downtown Los Angeles, and the former Hughes Aircraft Company including the hangar where the Spruce Goose was built, which he turned into the anchor for Silicon Beach.

In doing so, Ratkovich helped regenerate the neighborhoods around those buildings. He made a case for saving and repurposing heritage at a time when the usual approach was to bring on the wrecking ball; and he saved buildings with distinct Los Angeles character that hopefully inspire designers of new buildings. He also motivated other developers, who would later take advantage of the city’s Adaptive Reuse Ordinance to preserve and change the use of older commercial buildings. When I first met Tom Gilmore, the developer of much of the Historic Bank District in DTLA following the 1999 launch of ARO, we had lunch at Cicada restaurant in the Oviatt, a treasure saved by Ratkovich. He had bought that building in 1977, in then moribund downtown, for a song, writes the LA Times’ Roger Vincent,  because the owners, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, assumed that “the new owner would want to demolish the structure and operate the property more profitably as a parking lot.”

RIP Wayne Ratkovich (May 29, 1941 - September 24, 2023)

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Design Things To Do

Beauty & Mischief: The Design Alchemy of Blackman Cruz
Book Release Party
Thursday, October 12th, 6 PM - 9 PM
Anyone who visits Blackman Cruz on Highland knows this is a furniture store with a difference. Cofounders Adam Blackman and David Cruz have a keen eye for unusual and eclectic vintage and contemporary furniture, lighting, and decorative arts that “run the gamut from operatic to telenovela,” and that they stage with the flair of set designers.

Now, after 30 years in business they have released a book about their aesthetics: Beauty & Mischief: The Design Alchemy of Blackman Cruz, written with arts and culture journalist Stacie Stukin, with a Foreword by Ryan Murphy, Emmy-winning television and film writer, director, and producer. 

Come bask in their world and check out the book at a public launch party this Thursday, starting at 6 pm, at their showroom at 836 Highland Avenue.


Culver City Art Walk and Roll
Helms Bakery District and Washington Boulevard
October 14, 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
eb, The Jersey Genius has made a splash in past years at Arcana: Books on the Arts, with his fascinating Boonsburg egg and his counter-theories about ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics (that they depict craftsmen and women at work, using specific tools, rather than religious symbols.)

Expect to find an exhibit of his on Helms Walk, as part of this Saturday's Culver City Art Walk and Roll Festival, a bumper mix of gallery shows, live music, and culinary treats, centered on Helms Bakery District and Washington Boulevard. 

Among visual treats at Helms, you can see Circle of Confusion, a solo show of photographs by David Hartwell. Through taking numerous photos of each specimen, and a lot of manual post-production including AI, he brings extraordinary –– as in never seen before by photographic or human eye –– sharpness and vitality to representations of the plants and flowers that inhabit his garden in Pasadena. 

Click here for details.

AW23_David-Hartwell_cucurbita-pepo_900px-1Cucurbito Pepo, by David Hartwell

Crossing Design Borders: A Conversation with Mark Rios
Monday, October 16, 7 PM
USC Bovard Auditorium (ADM), 3551 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles 
Design education and the design professions are siloed – by design! – and for Mark Rios that’s a problem. In his view, “Innovation and new solutions come from bridging information between disciplines, architecture, landscape, ecology, economics, culture, construction, beauty, art, symbolism, even poetry.” That’s the topic of a conversation I will have this coming Monday with Mark, at Crossing Design Borders, hosted by USC School of Architecture and USC Visions and Voices.

Mark, who has degrees in both architecture and landscape architecture, has nurtured his firm RIOS into a hybrid of architecture, landscape, interiors, environmental graphics, and experience and product design. The firm’s projects include Gloria Molina Grand Park, The California Endowment, and Nokia Plaza at L.A. Live. Together we will explore “the transformative potential of embracing diverse ideas and collaborators in fostering innovation.” The event is free and open to all.

Click here for details.

One-Beverly-Hills-View-of-Gardens-from-Third-Floor-Guest-Room-at-the-Beverly-Hilton-DBOX-RIOS-19One Beverly Hills: proposed western gateway to Beverly Hills, by RIOS, in collaboration with Foster + Partners

Dwell Time
Rose Lowinger talks with Carolina Miranda about her new memoir
Wednesday, October 18, 7 PM
LA Library Foundation, Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Library, Los Angeles 
Lowinger is a longtime conservationist of art and buildings. She is also a Cuban-born Jew whose family fled the island after the revolution. And she’s a terrific writer. Her latest book, Dwell Time: A Memoir of Art, Exile, and Repair is a memoir, blending her personal story –– of her family, especially her volatile mother, Jewish culture in Cuba, and exile to Miami –– with that of the materials, objects and buildings in her professional life. She finds in concrete and stone and steel metaphors for disintegrated and salvaged relationships.

The title references the "dwell time" taken, in art conservation, for a chemical to react with a material, and the book is “a rumination on the nature of damage and repair and what lessons about healing we can take from the repair of the material world,” says Lowinger. She will join LA Times culture reporter Carolina Miranda on stage for a discussion about “​​conservation, culture, public art, and that time we went to visit the Bay of Pigs Museum in Miami.”

Tickets are free, but required. Click here to RSVP.

Screenshot 2023-10-10 at 1.20.32 PMThe Miami Marine Stadium, designed by Cuban-American architect Hilario Candela, conserved by RLA.

Procession: Performances and Festival honor the history of the LA River
Saturday, October 21, 2023, 11 AM - 6 PM
Los Angeles State Historic Park, 1245 N Spring St, Los Angeles

The LA River has been channelized in concrete for so long many of us have no sense of its place in California water ecology and the life of the indigenous peoples who once lived in symbiosis with its meandering tributaries and periodic flooding.

Procession hopes to revive that knowledge with an “artistic retracing of the LA River's history through the communion and movement of people as they walk three previous courses of the river,” explain the organizers, artists Debra Scacco and Joel Garcia.

The multi-pronged event encompasses “walking performances” guided by local cultural bearers Tina Calderon, Nobuko Miyamoto, and Lazaro Arvizu Jr., along with a free, family-friendly festival at the Los Angeles Historic State Park.

Performers include Le Ballet Dembaya, the Mottainai Band, Quetzal, Kamau & Asiyah Ayubbi, East LA Taiko, Cesar Castro, Xochi Flores, Sean Muira, and Great Leap’s FandangObon, melding Japanese, Mexican, African and Sufi Muslim music and dance traditions. Also in the mix: The Chapter House, which provides empowerment and space to “explore the complexities of the 21st Century Indigenous experience,” and Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio, whose current environmental artwork, Bending the River, “utilizes the city’s first private water right to deliver 106 acre-feet of water annually from the Los Angeles River to more than 50 acres of land in downtown LA.”

And there is more! For those who like to overlay new media on ancient ecology, Scacco and digital artist Nancy Baker Cahill, have co-created Defining Line –– “geo-locked, site-relevant artworks in augmented reality along the river.

Click here for information and to sign up for the walking performances.

LA RiverThe river is it is today. Photo courtesy Procession.LA

Crafty Fundraisers
FORT: LA Fundraiser at the Mosaic Mansion
Craft Contemporary: Benefit Honoring Suzanne Isken                                         October 21
If you are a fan of maximalism (per Simon Doonan in my last newsletter) you will leap at the chance to visit the marvelous Mosaic Mansion, a 4,500-square-foot Mediterranean home transformed into a tiled extravaganza by the late actor/wrestler George Ehling over the course of 50 years. Friends of Residential Treasures: Los Angeles will hold their annual fundraiser there on October 21, from 4 - 7 PM.

Expect a lovely party and lots of silent auction treats, but mostly the chance to gawk at the place in which, writes Raw Vision, "any surface might contain scraps of hand-glazed iridized blue tile, angular bits of outdated kitchen floor tile, authentic Mexican Talavera, and a batch of leftover bathroom tiles deposited at the curb by a well-meaning neighbor."

Click here for tickets, and use promo code KCRWDNA for a $25 discount.

Then, head on over to Craft Contemporary, the fine Los Angeles repository of art and craft, for their annual benefit, honoring their very own Executive Director, Suzanne Isken. Apparently, giving will be a tonic. The museum says their benefactors are "The Happiest People on the Planet." They too have some fab finds in their silent auction.

Click here for tickets.

Mosaic Mansion2 copyStaircase in Mosaic Mansion. Image courtesy FORT: LA

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What I'm Digging


Welcome to the Shetland Isles, murder capital of the world! Through word of mouth hubby and I learned about this detective series, set on the remote archipelago north of Scotland, and got completely hooked by Detective Jimmy Perez and his trusty team, speaking in soft brogues as they figure out “whodunnit.” Given the relentless killings (in real life there were three murders on Shetland in an entire decade), and the seething resentments that cause them, it may sound strange to say this series is gentle and soothing, but it is, thanks to the soulfulness of Perez and the bleak beauty of the islands, where time seems to stand still.

visitscotland_26713458371-1Shetland ponies on the Foula, part of the Isles. Image: VisitScotland

Cold Comfort

In Shetland there is a scene in which the locals go wild swimming in seawater that's an average 50°F! Since cold plunges are in vogue right now (but I tend to wimp out and swim in our local heated pool), I was intrigued to read to this NPR story about their physiological impact. Turns out the shivering can be good for you!

Saving Graces

I started this newsletter on a house that needs saving and will end on one. Last month the imminent demolition of Marilyn Monroe's 1929 Spanish, hacienda-style home in Brentwood was stopped (at least, for now) at the 11th hour thanks to a campaign that drew letters and calls from around the world. Among those keeping up the drumbeat: interior designer Ron Woodson (below, always debonair) and longtime business partner Jaime Rummersfield who founded Saving Iconic Architecture. SIA is described by Woodson as a "boutique" preservation group that has a particular focus on vintage Hollywood houses under threat. Follow their IG account to stay posted about the Monroe house and others in their sights. Incidentally, I ran into Woodson at a gala to celebrate the great Paul R. Williams, master of classic Hollywood architecture.

Ron Woodson, IMG_3545Ron Woodson, in the Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom. Photo: Frances Anderton

That's it for this week's newsletter. Thank you so much for reading.

Yours as always,


PS. Subscribe to the newsletter here, get back issues here, and reach out to me on

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