Intelligencer – The Plus Factor

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L.A. hipsters eager for Charles Hollis Jones’ designs and longtime valley residents who remember such architectural pioneers as John Lautner find contentment at Art + Industry in downtown Palm Springs — appropriately housed in the 1952 Oasis Building designed by E. Stewart Williams.

Spending time in the modern art and design gallery is like visiting a friend’s house — a very hip friend with an ultracool house. A down-filled couch and sleek coffee table covered with books on architecture invite lingering. Lucite tables and chairs by Hollis Jones scattered throughout the space invite exploration. Photographs of the Elrod House and subtle lighting set off the cool stone walls.

Director Robert Lumerman has maintained the space’s original exterior and interior, including the midcentury door handles on the store’s glass front. The modernism that appealed to Lumerman plays an integral role in the Art + Industry concept of fusing and exploring the crossover between de-sign, furniture, and architecture as art.

“I want it to be a social environment for people who like design,” Lumerman explains. A transplanted New Yorker, he brought in a big-city edge with an eye “to open up an avenue for conversation.”

“The blur between art and design is one that is worthy of investigation and dissemination,” reads the gallery’s mission statement. “Our research and educationally motivated format will expose new and undiscovered talent, as well as established icons …. Art + Industry will draw from, and enhance, the juxtaposition of world-class modernist architecture and the incredible nature that creates the utopian Mecca that Palm Springs has become.”

Lumerman plans to usher in the shows with rotating storefront installations and an “object bar.”

The bar can include almost any-thing with artistic merit — be it a key chain, a T-shirt, or uniquely packaged cosmetics.

The gallery’s most recent show (Oct. 27-Nov. 26) examined the role of landscape and how it has evolved
as subject matter in modern times.

The exhibition included works by MB Boissonault, Alexander Couwenberg, Timothy Ernst, Roland Reiss, and Erika Wastrom.

The gallery continues its study of art plus design with Foreign Policy (Dec. 1-Jan. 7, 2007). Featured artist Johanna Grawunder earned a degree in architecture, and that training is reflected in the postmodern design of her furniture and her use of light in its construction. From Jan. 12 to Feb. 15, 2007, Art + Industry presents Barbara Robertson Intuitive Elements and works by Tim Doyle.

— Joan Page McKenna

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