A showcase exhibition of historical Monterey and rancho-style furniture, California ceramics and tile, Mexican ceramics and pottery, tourist-ware and costuming, and fine art by artists including Phil Paradise, Victor Clyde Forsythe and Hernando Villa, is currently on display through Sunday, October 28th, at the California Heritage Museum, 2612 Main St., Santa Monica.
Museum general admission is $5, $3 for students and seniors, and children under 12 are admitted free.
The exhibit, titled Rancho Monterey, Spanish Revival and Mexican Decorative Arts in California, is curated by Michael Trotter, staff curator at the California Heritage Museum.
In the second quarter of the Twentieth Century, many artists and craftsmen began to rediscover California’s Spanish and Mexican heritage and stylistic roots.
After the “Pan Pacific Exposition” in 1915 in San Diego showed Spanish-style display buildings (which exist today as museums), architects began to design large Spanish Revival homes that contained heavy dark furnishings accented with iron, according to California Heritage Museum. The designs were championed by Hollywood stars such as Bela Lugosi, Will Rogers and Norma Talmadge.
As development spread to the more abundant land available in the valleys, architects soon began designing low-slung ranch houses inspired by the original adobe ranches of Monterey, California’s first capital.
To fill the new homes, furniture makers and decorative artists responded with a range of colorful designs, and a romantic view of the “Old West” that sought to capture the imaginations of Californians seeking opportunity in the Golden State, according to California Heritage Museum.
In addition to “classic” dark-stained Monterey furniture, the California Heritage Museum will display examples of colorful Monterey furniture decorated with Mexican-inspired painted flowers, figures, and light glazes with crackle finishes. Rare Monterey examples decorated with chili peppers and others with rose hips are also in the collection at the museum. Furniture that was manufactured by the Coronado, Imperial and Del Rey companies, which were influenced by Monterey’s designs, will also be represented.
In the 1930s and 1940s, as motor touring became the norm, Californians visited Mexico in increasing numbers, bringing back souvenirs that fit easily into the Spanish Revival and the new rancho-style homes. Pottery and tiles depicted beautiful se“oritas, sleeping gauchos and stubborn burros. Mexican hand embroidery was featured on blouses and felt jackets, and colorful hand-painted skirts were produced for the tourist market.
Los Angeles-based companies also produced decorative items for the home such as whimsical paintings by Mexican artist Juan Intenoche (produced by Mason Manufacturing Company), wooden “scrap and photo books,” tile tables, pottery and murals which copied the Mexican style. The new decorative arts were brighter and more light-hearted, as Californians sought to ride out the Great Depression on a wave of color and optimism, according to California Heritage Museum.
Information, (310) 392-8537.