Editor's Letter - February 2010

Celebrate Modernism!

Steven Biller

Our desert has so much going for it — Native American heritage, celebrities on red carpets, fine art and culture, and a landscape that invites adventurers to see the land from jaw-dropping perspectives. So the prevailing interest in the area’s midcentury modern architecture — which has captured the attention of local and visiting enthusiasts, experts, photographers, and journalists — hardly surprises us.

I recall the first architecture/interior design feature I wrote when I joined Palm Springs Life in 2002. I visited the former Las Palmas home of Peter Lawford and Patricia Kennedy — where John F. Kennedy reputedly had his infamous 1962 liaison with Marilyn Monroe. The George and Robert Alexander-designed house boasts many of the father-son team’s signature midcentury features — most notably the butterfly roof with glass following in triangular fashion. The inside was loaded with black leather and chrome Le Corbusier cube chairs, Phillipe Starck’s chairs, Herman Miller reproductions of Charles Eames’ charcoal-colored stainless steel chairs, a custom-molded Lucite table by Arthur Elrod, and a pair of white Mies Van der Rohe pavilion chairs.

The visual narrative captured the essence of life in Palm Springs back in the Rat Pack heyday. And, to my surprise, the feature — with photography by Scott Van Dyke — drew an appreciable response and helped me understand the culture of modernism in the Palm Springs area. And it continues to gain momentum.

This month’s edition — our fourth annual Modernism Issue — continues to celebrate the architecture that has spawned Modernism Week, the Modernism Show at Palm Springs Convention Center, lectures and films at Palm Springs Art Museum and Camelot Theatres, and tours of iconic residential and commercial properties. For a Modernisn Week schedule, see the Desert Guide in this issue.

In “For the Love of the Land” (page 38), Morris Newman, a frequent architecture writer for the Los Angeles Times, revisits the work of John Lautner, the subject of an exhibition opening this month at Palm Springs Art Museum. And in “Out of the Shadow” (page 44), Newman introduces photographer Leland Lee, who at 91 years old will get his first solo exhibition at Michael H. Lord Gallery this month.

Dig the vibe and enjoy the treasures!


My neighbor came over with her copy of the January issue of Palm Springs Life, and to say that I was surprised to see our small Ducati club mentioned on the cover — with Bob Mackie and Diahann Carroll — is an understatement. Then to open your premier publication and see us on the second contents page really got my attention. And then the four pages of story and pictures just flat blew me away! The club’s vice president and I are just out of our minds with the possibilities that this article could do for our club.

We cannot thank Janice Kleinschmidt and Ethan Kaminsky enough for their hard work in putting together this fabulous article. This is truly a dream come true for our new group of Ducati enthusiasts. As soon as I can get some of extra copies, there will be one on its way to Ducati’s U.S. office and then another on its way to the main factory in Bologna, Italy.

This is a huge push for our small club to grow and teach riders how to be safe while riding sport bikes here in the Coachella Valley. There is enough bad press for motorcycles, and their riders, but Janice and Ethan did a masterful job or portraying us in a very positive way to the valley’s residents. Our sincere thanks for a wonderful issue — one that’s sure to be saved for the whole year with the “Best New Restaurants” article in your Dine Out section. I know I will be using it. Bravo!

Cathedral City


In the Social Datebook section of the November 2009 issue, we incorrectly credited the photograph of the Alzheimer’s Research Center fundraiser. The image was photographed by Maxine Pecard.

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