Since 1931, the Palos Verdes Art Center / Beverly G. Alpay Center for Arts Education has been enriching the cultural climate of the community.  Building a platform for arts engagement through exhibitions, arts education, and public programs, PVAC provides audiences with sustainable and transformative experiences.  Showcasing a wide range of artwork, PVAC presents artists at all stages of their careers.  Related educational programming includes guided tours, catalogues, lectures and workshops. 

A Guided Tour of John Elgin Woolf Homes

led by Los Angeles architecture historian, Steven M. Price,

author of  TROUSDALE ESTATES: Mid-Century to Modern in Beverly Hills

forthcoming on Regan Arts/Phaidon, February, 2016.

Contact 310.541.2479 for tickets and information.

June 6, 2015

12:00 – 4:00 pm.

Price: $100/ per guest

Details HERE

John Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

March 20 -  July 19, 2015
Presented in partnership with Art, Architecture & Design Museum at U C Santa Barbara

John Elgin Woolf, Collection of Art, Architecture & Design Museum, UCSB

Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1910, John Elgin Woolf moved to Holllywood in 1936 after studying architecture at Georgia Institute of Technology. He hoped his Southern accent would land him a role in Gone with the Wind, but when he met George Cukor, the film's director, it marked the beginning of a quite different career in the movies. Let into influential circles with Cukor's assistance, the young designer's drawings garnered attention, and soon, clients.

John Elgin Woolf, The Day Dream House (unrealized design) Collection of Art, Architecture & Design Museum, UCSB

Heralded as "architect to the stars," Woolf gave film royalty a new luxury style. According to The New York Times, Woolf "established a new vocabulary for glamorous movie-star living ... synthesized 19th-century French, Greek Revival and Modernist touches into a heady mixture that has since been christened Hollywood Regency, which foreshadowed aspects of postmodernism." He designed houses for many luminaries, including Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Bob Hope, David O. Selznick, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

John Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency, on view at Palos Verdes Art Center March 20 through July 19, presents selections from the Woolf archive housed at the Art, Architecture & Design Museum at University of California, Santa Barbara. Included are Woolf's drawings, photographs, and designs, along with business correspondence from the Los Angeles firm he shared with his partner, the interior designer Robert Woolf, which was active from 1940 until his death in 1980.

Known for a theatricality that echoed the flamboyance of movie sets, Hollywood Regency style eschewed the spare Bauhaus-derived designs built by many architects in Southern California during the postwar period. Though aligned with tradition in the contention with modernism, Hollywood Regency followed neither camp's insistence on purity. Not just a rehash of French and English Regency styles, it delights instead to innovate by combining elements from a plethora of sources to create voluptuous fantasies.

Ira Gershwin house, Collection of Art, Architecture & Design Museum, UCSB

Like East Coast furniture designer James Mont, who freely mixed Beaux Arts elements and Chinoiserie in his mid-century designs, Woolf incorporated French mansard roofs, Doric columns, oval windows and Neoclassical urns in his buildings without falling into pastiche. Key to Woolf's success was his genius with scale and proportion. One of his signatures, the Pullman door, so-called because it juts above the adjoining roofline like an exaggerated entrance to a Pullman coach, is "out of scale." As used by Woolf, the unexpected sight tricks the eye to imagine the large building as something miniature. A jewel box, perhaps. But it is his interiors that offer the greatest delights. The rooms are made to embrace vignettes ready for the camera, appearing greater than their floor sizes due to expanses of glass and mirrors. A favorite ruse was the "floating fireplace," that vents the flue to small columns on either side, as a pane of glass surmounts the mantel in place of the expected chimney—an illusion worthy of Magritte. 

 Menefee house, Collection of Art, Architecture & Design Museum, UCSB

Woolf worked primarily in the Bel Air and Beverly Hills districts of Los Angeles, often renovating older buildings, but also did work as far away as Nassau, such as the residence for Lady Stanley of Adderlay, also known as Mrs. Clark Gable. One of his largest projects was the design of Marrakesh Country Club in Palm Desert, California. Brought in by golf developer Johnny Dawson, Woolf laid out a clubhouse, gates, and 364 homes in fourteen neighborhoods with golf courses on the 155-acre spreadBegun in 1968 and completed a decade later, the desert fantasy stands out as one of the most ambitious turns in the Palm Desert quest for luxury. As a tribute to Woolf and his aesthetic, Palos Verdes Art Center has chosen a Woolf-designed home in Marrakesh Country Club as the Grand Prize in this year's PVAC Mid-Century Desert Dream House Raffle. More information here.

Rendering of Marrakesh Country Club Condominium Type 'A', Collection of Marrakesh Country Club

PVAC’s Gallery Hours
10 am – 4 pm Mondays through Saturdays
1 pm – 4 pm Sundays (except major holidays) 

Exhibition Tours
Available to schools and community groups. Tours can be arranged by contacting Gail Phinney at GPhinney@pvartcenter.org or calling 310.541.2479 X 305.