6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
HvlSxHY-show-poster2x3-4ik43uV.png

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

M. L. Parker: Seeing Another Los Angeles

Support Provided By

Maynard L. Parker took wonderful photographs of Los Angeles. After he settled down and married in 1929 (while building his own house and studio in Echo Park), he got a job with a commercial photo studio and later did advertising work for a big downtown jeweler.

Parker found he had a knack for photographing celebrity homes that burnished them with the glamour of Hollywood's Golden Age. Parker appeared unpretentious, but he had ambitions. His likeability helped. By the end of the 1930s, Parker knew all the right people in design and architecture in L.A.

There were no star architectural photographers then. All of them were making a living any way they could and hitching their careers to architects, designers, and magazine editors. Parker mixed print assignments with advertising work for department stores, furniture manufacturers, and suburban developers.

It was the sort of journeyman photography that Julius Shulman did. Shulman shot gas stations and grocery stores and illustrated a magazine feature about the lives of newly married couples. Both Shulman's and Parker's photographs sold their clients' products, whether it was bathroom fixtures or the architecture of Pierre Koenig or Cliff May.

Shulman became famous for his images of mid-century modernity and Parker did not in part because of the controversial editor Parker worked for and because most of the homes he photographed never made it into the approved canon of significant architecture.

Also Parker, unlike Shulman, never became the curator of his own reputation. He died too soon, after a too long decline.

Parker's photographs are almost forgotten now (archived by the Huntington here), but even a casual search among them shows another Los Angeles - a city of welcoming homes that warmly embrace both the new and the everyday.

Parker's legacy is the subject of a book in preparation from the Huntington Library, edited by Jenny Watts, the Huntington's curator of photographs. It will include over 200 of Parker's black-and-white and color photographs along with essays covering his life, his photographic practice, and his relation to the marketing of the "California Style" in the 1950s. I'll be talking about Parker and mid-century L.A. at LACMA on Saturday, October 16.

D. J. Waldie, author, historian, and as the New York Times said in 2007, "a gorgeous distiller of architectural and social history," writes about Los Angeles on KCET's SoCal Focus blog.

The image on this page is from the Maynard L. Parker Collection, part of the Huntington Library. It is used by permission.

Support Provided By
Read More
Two men in long clothing plant a small tree together.

African Leaders Warn COVID-19 Crisis Harming Climate Adaptation Push

The coronavirus-linked economic slowdown is limiting cash to help Africans pay to adapt to climate extremes, from drought to floods.
A group of mules lined up and reined together gallop down a commercial street. Spectators watch on the sides of the road and a mountain landscape fills the background.

Y luego hubo dos: Inyo y Merced atrapados en el nivel más estricto

Al no poder cumplir con los criterios estatales de infección por COVID-19, los condados de Merced e Inyo aún no pueden reabrir la mayoría de las empresas. El estatus de los condados amenaza un gran evento del Día de los Caídos en Bishop, por lo que la ciudad ha pedido al estado que reconsidere los requisitos de su condado rural.
A group of mules lined up and reined together gallop down a commercial street. Spectators watch on the sides of the road and a mountain landscape fills the background.

And Then There Were Two: Inyo and Merced Stuck in Strictest Tier

Unable to meet state COVID-19 infection criteria, Merced and Inyo counties still can’t reopen most businesses. The status threatens a big Memorial Day event in Bishop, so the town has asked the state to reconsider its rural county requirements.