Machine Project Takes Over the Gamble House | KCET
Machine Project Takes Over the Gamble House
They call it "The House that Soap Built." In 1908, brothers Charles and Henry Greene (of the famed Greene and Greene architecture firm) erected a fine specimen of an Arts and Crafts style home in Pasadena for David and Mary Gamble of Procter & Gamble Co. The building has delicate yet woodsy features, with an attuned sense of indoor/outdoor interplay, which lends it a bungalow feel with a mansion magnitude. In fact, an architectural term for the home and others like it is an "ultimate bungalow," a phrase that is much disputed.
Which is why it's so surprising that there's a big blatant colorful sign on the front lawn proclaiming those very words. "Within the architectural community, this term is much contested, and even derided," says Machine Project's founder Mark Allen, who has organized "The Machine Project's Field Guide to the Gamble House" -- a house-augmenting project that will extend through the Pasadena Arts Council's AxS Festival through October 5th -- during a tour of the house. "So, we break into the show by teaching the controversy."
L.A.-based artist Jessica Cowley, a scholar and practitioner of traditional sign painting, created the hand-painted, brightly colored sign. (She and her collaborator Bennett Williamson recently did a project with Machine Project about the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign on Sunset Boulevard.) It is one of over 50 artworks, performances, workshops, and interventions scattered throughout the house that will happen for the duration of the two-week festival in Pasadena.
Paintings and sculptures by artists such as Jeff Elrod, Anna Sew Hoy, Laura Owens, Ricky Swallow, Katie Herzog and Cayetano Ferrer reference and juxtapose the house. For instance, Sew Hoy's sculptures rest on beds in the guest room like visitors on vacation in the spa-like mansion, while outside, "The Vortex" by Patrick Ballard is a kinetic sculpture based on the family's crest of a crane and a rose.
Workshops range from an Annunciator Workshop by Raphael Arar and Chris Weisbart, who will teach the concepts of the primitive intercom system the Gamble House utilized, and Lisa Anne Auerbach will lead a soap-making workshop. Performances will include "Group Naps" by Paul Fraser on one of the home's sleeping porches, a solo dance on the staircase representing the embodiment a waterfall by Nick Duran, and Mexico City-based opera singer Carmina Escobar's "Omen Avis Choir," a light-activated animatronic bird sculpture in the attic that the artist will sing along with -- a tribute to the aviary that once existed there.
Upstairs, a video by David Fenster shows playwright and medium Asher Hartman giving a reading of the house, which is supposedly haunted by Gamble's Aunt Julia. And Bob Dornberger's ongoing food project Secret Restaurant will serve Swiss-Japanese fusion food -- a reference to the Gamble House's chalet and pagoda influenced architectural elements -- from a conveyor belt/dumbwaiter set up in the basement.
Allen, who has run Machine Project out of a storefront in Echo Park since 2004, clearly loves the house, and he spent about a year bringing artists there, researching, and working with the Gamble House curator Anne Mallek. His tour was informative about the home's rich history, as well as all the artists who are exhibiting and presenting there during the AxS Festival.
"What [Allen] said on his first time here -- and why we loved [him] from the first meeting -- was he said that he'd worked among works of art before in museums, but he'd never worked within one," says Mallek. "I was like, 'Yes! He gets it.'"
Further Reading on the Machine Project's Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign:
The HafoSafo Chorus and the Sunset Foot Clinic Sign Online
Machine Project leads a singalong underneath the spinning "Happy Foot/Sad Foot" sign on Sunset Blvd.
Though Horace Tapscott died in 1999, his legacy of music and focus on community burn brighter than ever because of the rising popularity of contemporary jazz artists like Kamasi Washington.
While most people are sleeping in their cozy beds, there is a whole segment of society that is awake and keeping the city moving. In the big picture, how does night work affect the economy and society as a whole?
A Q&A will immediately follow the screening with filmmakers and stars Hannah Pearl Utt and Jen Tullock.
A historical gold boom has resulted in thousands of abandoned mines spread across the Mojave desert that have grave environmental repercussions.
- 1 of 197
- next ›
From the typeface of “The Godfather” book cover to the Noguchi table, the influence of Japanese American artists and designers in postwar American art and design is unparalleled. Learn how the World War II incarceration affected their lives and creations.
"Artbound" looks at the dinnerware of Heath Ceramics and a design that has stood the test of time since the company began in the late 1940’s.
Inspired by Oaxacan traditions, Dia de Los Muertos was brought to L.A. in the '70s as a way to enrich and reclaim Chicano identity. It has since grown in proportions and is celebrated around the world.
Gospel music would not be what it is today if not for the impact left by Los Angeles in the late 60’s and early 70’s, a time defined by political movements across the country.
A behind-the-scenes look at the contemporary art world through the eyes of a legendary art dealer and curator, Jeffrey Deitch.
- 1 of 11
- next ›