Saturday, January 14, 2017

Home and Garden

Welcome to Art and History Museums Maitland, the Florida brainchild of J. Andre Smith (1880-1959), who fought in WWI, designed the Distinguished Cross for the US Army and stifled his yearning to be an artist in favor of architecture until the 1930s, seeking winter warmth and backed by the generosity of a major donor, he constructed a Mayan Fantasy compound, which became, from 1937-1954 or so, an art colony run by him for his associates. Ralston Crawford and Milton Avery both worked here.  Link 
Smith's leg was amputated from a war injury, but rather than stop him, this situation galvanized a phenomenal amount of concrete bas-reliefs such as St. Francis, above, once polychrome, festooned upon the buildings. Smith designed a special table, which pivoted so he could carve the wet concrete with grapefruit spoons for the maximum amount of texture.
Sunflower motifs throughout the garden...

Wing'd animals
Painted by a friend, the only contribution not by Smith himself.

Even the flooring has been considered in this historical landmark of Mayan Revival architecture, precursor to Art Deco. Mayan Revival developed in the 1920s and 30s with major buildings in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Imperial Hotel

Though claiming intuition as a primary motivation, Smith was syncretic, and held an extensive library of works from different cultures. Born in Hong Kong, he relocated to Germany, then Connecticut, the son of a military officer who passed away young. Smith worked as an architect in Manhattan before moving to Maitland, FL in his forties.
More Chinese influence  - moon windows with pattern
Syncretism - multiple rhythms, motivations, sources

Aztec ...

Christian ...

Across the street, the old home and studios now classrooms, AIR studios and administration. 

The compound is designed with interior courtyard spaces...

After his death, the colony fell into disuse until the city bought it in the 1960s; now it is lovingly restored and maintained by a dedicated staff.
A pool of day lilies assiduously guarded.

Under first full moon of 2017.

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