Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prestigious "Ranch" Turned Art Museum

While most associate ranches with the "wild west," cowboys, rodeos and horses, Sunnylands Rancho Mirage California is not your typical ranch. Ambassador Walter and Leonore Annenberg had their 200-acre estate built during the 1960s near Palm Springs.

The Annenbergs lived in this desert oasis, which includes a 25,000 square-foot mid-century modern house and private golf course, each year for several months during the winter after its completion. The "ranch" has since entertained seven US presidents, British royalty, international political figures and cultural and entertainment icons.

The Annenbergs were extremely philanthropic, and in their memory, Sunnylands will undergo a transformation, becoming an art museum (and VIP conference center) in late 2011. The exquisite home contains the Annenberg's extensive collection of impressive art, including paintings by Van Gogh and Gauguin, two Rodins, a Giacometti, Chinese bronzes and stained glass. The art will be displayed among the home's original interior (which features period furniture).

The new Annenberg Center promises to offer visitors an understanding of the mid-century modern architecture and art collections at Sunnylands, the many important political and cultural figures who visited the ranch throughout the years and new sustainable approaches to living in the desert.

Associate professor of American art at the University of Pennsylvania, who has previously written about the house, recently stated:

"Once you are within the gates, the landscaping acts to occlude the outside world so that all you can see are the mountains and the sky. It is like the Annenbergs owned all of Palm Springs."

Maybe these picturesque views do evoke true visions of a quintessential (all-be-it, extremely luxurious) wild-west style ranch.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Charlene's Armory Show Favorites

While reports are saying Armory Show exhibitors "played it safe" this year, I was extremely impressed at the thousands of artworks I laid my eyes on this past weekend. As art collectors, exhibitors, common folk-art enthusiasts (like myself) and others attended the massive art fair (NYC's largest - encompassing Piers 92 and 94) right off the Hudson River, I fantasized about what I would purchase, if given a blank (or perhaps 6-figure) check.

I was so overwhelmed as I walked around, I must've looked like a deer in headlights to at least a few gallerists, and I wasn't even looking to purchase anything! How does one determine which - of the thousands of works on sale - to buy? While art collecting tends to be a personal endeavor, marked by experience, money, and individual taste, I can't imagine any buyer leaving the Armory Show and not finding what he / she was looking for.

Here are some amateur photos of my personal favorites - artworks, that if given the opportunity, I would have purchased to add to my own modest art collection.

Mel Bochner's wordy masterpieces (Two Palms, NY)

Jeongmee Yoon's "Ethan and His Blue Things" (2006) - the large glossy light-jet print is so much more detailed, interesting and unique in person (my photo doesn't do it justice)

Yoon's "Kara-Deyeoun and her Pink Things" is equally amazing... I would hang them side-by-side (Both works were on display at Jenkins Johnson Gallery's Booth

HC Berg's "Visual Vortex" at Galerie Forsblom (Helsinki) drew me in like a crystal ball. I's 3D iridescence, abstract shapes and glowing ora were enchanting.

I loved the pop-art-esque feel of Marjorie Strider's "Girl With Radish" at Mark Borghi Fine Arts