Aline Barnsdall's Olive Hill Project

Gibbs Smith

SKU: 2003

$19.95 USD

Aline Barnsdall’s Olive Hill Project, with drawings and sketches by Frank Lloyd Wright and photographs by Edmund Teske reinforces an intriguing association of artistic links. It begins with Barnsdall in Chicago, who envisions a theatre on Olive Hill and connects with Frank Lloyd Wright to create the commission. Much later, a young Teske, also from the Midwest, discovers and meets Wright, whose encouragement and work provide lifelong inspiration for him. The three converge, both literally and figuratively, on Olive Hill in Los Angeles, after Barnsdall brings Wright to fulfill the commission and Teske comes west to fulfill his artistic yearning. At that point, Teske connects with Barnsdall because of his admiration for Wright. She becomes his friend and, for a number of years, provides his housing in a building designed by Wright. Teske photographs Wright’s creations and Olive Hill making art of art. The juxtaposition of these two collections tells a fascinating story that reminds one of Aline Barnsdall’s continuing influence through her gift of Olive Hill.

When she gave the City of Los Angeles part of the land she had purchased in 1919, Barnsdall also included a number of preliminary sketches and drawings by her architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is the majority of this material that comprises Sketches and Drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright. Choosing to exhibit material owned exclusively by the City of Los Angeles eliminates presenting a comprehensive survey for the project, since most drawings are in scattered collections and, in the case of Residence A, there are no known drawings by Wright. It is also beneficial to note that the drawings of Residence B in this exhibition are Wright’s plans to remodel it for his use as a studio/domicile while working on Barnsdall’s school, The Little Dipper, and not for the original structure.

The photographs comprising Edmund Teske on Olive Hill came to the City of Los Angeles through the generosity of Aline Barnsdall’s grandsons, David and Michael Devine, who donated them in 1978. They are especially apt for this exhibition as a pictorial impression of the project, its setting and subsequent alterations. His proximity as an inhabitant of Residence B lends them a distinctive air of intimacy. This particular group of images contains only a small range of the photographs he took on Olive Hill, which is but a soupçon of his life’s work.

The exhibition presents the Olive Hill project stressing the role of its originator, Aline Barnsdall. It is also an opportunity to emphasize her vision and for this there is no more fitting venue than the Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Art Park.