A Photographer Follows Paul Revere Williams Into the West

A Photographer Follows Paul Revere Williams Into the West

Paul Revere Williams is his nickname throughout his career, where his designs are scattered in the wealthiest outlying areas of Southern California and have left the influence of silver screen size for decades consistent with the Golden Age of Hollywood. Came by “Architect to the Stars”.. He built homes, especially for Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball, and helped develop elegant local governments, federals, and commerce far away from Washington, DC. In two best-selling books, he defended affordable homes for a new generation of homeowners.

But for the same decades, racism and prejudice remained relentless, and many who were obsessed with Williams’ achievements were unaware that he was black and separated professionals and societies. His life and heritage entrusted to the world have long been hidden. That’s no longer the case, as the Hollywood elite from Hancock Park to Beverly Hills compete for a series of revival-style documented mansions he has adopted. Architectural historians are expanding their research and writing by his granddaughter and archivist Karen E. Hudson, who first spurred his rediscovery in the early 1990s. And his signature design vocabulary followers are strengthening the coffee table with “About Paul R. Williams: The Photographer’s View.” A unique collection of black-and-white images by Los Angeles photographer Janna Ireland, published in 2020.

But even during his lifetime, an important multi-layer of Williams’ work has largely slipped through the rifts of celebrity real estate and construction scope. (Williams died in 1980.) It forms the perception gap that is ultimately given his prolific career. Now, in a new series of photos, Ireland remarried Williams, and from the early 1930s to the 1960s, the handsome architect of Los Angeles’ urban second actor made his footsteps in the rapidly changing western landscape. It helps to record the method left. Nevada and resorts, gambling and tourism are rooted there. The photographs of Ireland commissioned by the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno will be exhibited at the “Jana Ireland on the Architectural Heritage of Paul Revere Williams, Nevada” exhibition until December 2, after which they will be moved to the Nevada State Museum of Art in Las Vegas. ..

“It was such a revelation to see Williams working in a new way in Nevada,” Ireland said. I hope this inspires people to save more of his work. She spoke in a zoom interview from a studio in the yard of a 1913 California artisan’s house, where she lives with her husband and two sons.

Daonne Huff, director of public programs and community engagement at Harlem’s Studio Museum and a participant in the Reno Museum’s symposium, said the exhibition will help 37-year-old Ireland build ties with architects of another era. I said that I was able to do it. work. “In both cases, it’s about the structure as a portrait. About the layers of life that lived there,” Huff said.

To solidify that affinity, she said she is sticking to black-and-white photography and natural light. Architecture, architecture, architectural style. “

But her sense of connection gets deeper. Born in Los Angeles in 1894 and orphaned at the age of four, Williams became a foster parent from his parents’ church friends who fostered the motivation and confidence to endure racism around him and supported his ambition to become an architect. I found. The high school instructor he confessed his desire did not. “‘I’ve heard Nigro become an architect,’ he said,” Williams told Evony in his 1947 profile.

Ireland had a similar experience to a black high school student in Philadelphia when he said he wanted to study photography at New York University. “They told me that NYU wasn’t for someone in my background,” Ireland said. She earned a bachelor’s degree in photography from New York University’s School of Tissue Arts in 2007 and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Arts in 2013.

Ireland learned about Williams in 2016 when he was planning a Williams show from Barbara Bestor, executive director of the Julius Shulman Institute in Los Angeles. “I wanted to start talking about Williams’ work based on photography, not models or blueprints,” Vester said. Artist James Welling, a teacher at the University of California, Los Angeles, said he was interested in portraits of the house. Curated by Vester, “Paul R. Williams Is Only One: Portrait of Janna Ireland” was held at Woodbury University Hollywood Gallery on December 9, 2017.

Williams, who drove a streamlined code motor car manufactured by an automobile company founded by Beverly Hills’ major residential customer, Ellet Roban (“EL”) Code, was summoned to Nevada by Luera Garvey in 1934. Many in the state as a tax paradise, and in Reno for a quick divorce from his second husband. To showcase her excellence in an exclusive new neighborhood, Williams designed a classy mansion in a westernized colonial revival style. Despite the restraints, Irish photographs dignified inside and outside the New Orleans-style ironworks that Williams preferred as a reflection of the magnificent entrance staircase swirls and his racial heritage. It shows that the windows of Marion are prosperous.

In 1938, Williams overcame fierce competition and designed Reno’s first Christian church, the Scientist. It failed to be converted into a theater in 1998 and remains empty while the city of Reno decides its fate. In her very gentle photo, Ireland turns Williams’s stubborn pew into a substitute for a long-distance parishioner, and the stripped façade sunburst window observes ignorance of time.

Williams, about 15 miles from the boundaries of the city of Las Vegas, where Basic Magnesium manufactured the metals used for planes, bullets and bombs, before World War II drafted Williams as a Navy architect. I deposited it. Williams was tasked with designing Carver Park, an isolated home for BMI’s 3,000 black workers. “They were mainly hired from Arkansas and Louisiana,” said show curator Carmen Beers, and noticed that they didn’t leave Jim Crow’s attitude behind.

The text on the wall at the entrance to the exhibition comes from an article Williams wrote for The American Magazine. “Today I sketched a preliminary plan for a large country house to be built in one of the most beautiful residential areas in the world,” he partially reads. “Sometimes I dreamed of living there. I could afford such a house.” But by the end of the paragraph, Williams denied the possibility that “… I’m a Negroid.” Did.

He had already taught himself to draw and write upside down so that the white client wouldn’t worry about the tall, perfectly dressed Williams sitting next to him.

Prevented from developing individual styles as a black architect for white clients, Williams continued to refine his reach and in 1941 EL the Cowboy Country real estate in the secluded Fish Lake Valley of Nevada. Delivered to the code. “I was convinced that the Japanese would rob Southern California,” said David Walker, executive director of the Nevada Museum, and Williams’ ranch spreads the ubiquitous Circle L brand he designed. Including war. Traveling there, Ireland photographed an enfilade room of knotted pine trees, a lonely rifle and a glass-walled built-in abandoned in a few rows of books.

Almost isolated was the Lovelock Inn, a motel code commissioned in 1949 for a brother-in-law, a politician in Louisiana. Her painful discomfort was not lost in Ireland when she road tripped to a distant location on the US40. Ireland emphasized the shape of the motel’s twin beds and the flat veranda that stretches to the dry vanishing point.

So where did Williams move between states or want to eat when all facilities except those listed in the Green Book for Black Drivers were off limits? Did you stay? “It’s the biggest mystery of all,” said Cratey White, director of the Oral History Research Center at the University of Nevada’s Las Vegas Library. “The most important thing is how he dealt with racism in his time.”

As Karen Hudson wrote in an email, “He rarely stayed in unwelcome cities for long periods of time … In other cities, clients sent him to friends and family homes. I often noticed that I lived. “Another black visitor, Hudson Renaissance writer Langston Hughes, described Reno in 1935 as” a very prejudiced no public place for Negro to eat. ” There is no town … there is no Negro section itself. ” Found for gambling. “

As the Irish photo shows, Williams’ last Reno project, the 1937 El Reno apartment, was actually a steel prefabricated two-bedroom house. Williams, an avid businessman, consulted the company and his name was prominently featured in the ad. The metal is made like painted wood, with flashy bay windows on the outside and a miniaturized version of the classic Williams ironwork, with space-saving features indoors.

The continued flow of blacks to post-war Las Vegas also created Nevada’s first middle-class housing development for African-Americans at Berkeley Square in Williams in 1954.

In support of Williams’ belief in affordable housing even for the most modest young families, the exterior carries the persistent wreckage of Williams’ architectural input.

Another suggestion that Las Vegas Williams would have experienced in the 1960s was that white movie stars were allowed to rub their elbows with white mobs, and black performers at strip hotels and casinos were allowed to dress there and swim in the pool. It was a fascinating place that wasn’t there.

Williams responded with a creative approach to Googie architecture. The 1961 La Concha Motel is so vibrant that the former lobby extends the winged welcome to the popular Neon Museum. But in Ireland, her favorite Williams building in Nevada is Morris “Moe”, a Jewish casino owner and a fellow Bugsy Siegel who wanted a church for Catholic employees. Said it was the Guardian Angel Shrine (1964) built for Dalitz. It was renamed Guardian Angel Cathedral in 1977 and added a sense of show business. In Irish photography, all the details appear to be facing the sky with promises, optimism, or gestures of hope.

“I wanted to celebrate the different architecture of Williams, Nevada, as someone looks at one of those buildings and says,’I want one of them,'” Ireland said.


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