Winter Issue: From the Roots to Today

The winter '18 issue of CA-Modern magazine features a survey of important Southern California modernists, a visit to an intact Eichler tract, and more.

Winter is a good time to think about the past while focusing on the future. That’s just what we do in the new winter ‘18 issue of CA-Modern magazine, with a story that looks at the roots of what later became known as mid-century modern, and with others that show just how appealing the style remains today to homeowners, artists, and collectors.

In ‘8 Great Modern Masters,’ we delve briefly but with verve into the careers of the men who created modern architecture in Southern California, going back to the 1920s. (Our first part of this exploration, which focused on the Northern Californian pioneers, ran in the winter 2017 issue.)

The two sections of the state, surprisingly it may seem, have very different histories when it comes to modern architecture and modern homes. The San Francisco Bay Area had almost no modern-styled homes until the mid 1930s – while they started popping up in Los Angeles, and even in the tiny desert town of Palm Springs, in the 1920s.

Wonder why? Here’s a hint. Europe had something to do with it – but so did that most American of architects, Frank Lloyd Wright. It also helped that Los Angeles provided some quirky and enthusiastic clients for the new.

Learn more by reading about these masters. Among the architects covered are Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, Cliff May, Craig Ellwood, Albert Frey, and more.

A house by Craig Ellwood under construction in Southern California already shows its strict International Style bones. Photo by Julius Shulman, copyright J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)


Southern California may have been ahead of Northern California for a few years. But by the 1950s Northern California had every bit as burgeoning of an architectural scene. And when it came to tract homes, Northern Califoria was certainly in the lead thanks to the work of Joe Eichler.

In ‘Pride Runs Deep’ we visit a remarkably well preserved Eichler neighborhood and learn just how important it can be for the historic fabric of a neighborhood be retained as we head into the future.

One of the homes in the 35-home tract recently attained official historic status – a rare honor for an individual Eichler home, or an individual tract home of any sort.

In the ‘Eichler Homes of Saratoga,’ as the neighborhood is simply called, out of 35 homes, only two no longer count as 'Eichlers,' and one of those is becoming “more Eichler,” says John Klopf, the architect doing the rebuild.

Nicole Chang, husband Pak Chau, and son Ethan enjoy life in their Eichler home in the Eichler Homes of Saratoga. Photo by Sabrina Huang

Otherwise, despite a couple of other houses that have modernized the Eichler aesthetic a tad much on their facades, and one that has taken on an Arts and Crafts air, the Eichlers of Saratoga appear intact – at least from the street.

“People appreciate the Eichlers,” says Paul Lovoi, who’s lived in his home since 1977.

In an area, Silicon Valley, where many Eichlers have been trashed over the years, or torn down to be replaced with larger, out-of-character home as property values soar, how did Saratoga manage to survive so well?

Read all about it in the winter issue.

The appeal of modern design can be seen in the objects we bring into our homes as well as in the homes themselves. In ‘Aura of the Era,’ vintage televisions emerge as focal points in many appealing retro living rooms and bedrooms.

Today, vintage sets are becoming cool again – as cool as they were when they were new.

The Teleavia Panoramic TV was cool back in the day, and remains cool today.

An entire industry – albeit a small industry – has emerged to restore or otherwise redo the bulky cathode ray sets that once glowed with ‘Donna Reed,’ ‘The Flintstones,’ and ‘Your Show of Shows,’ pulling in signals from rooftop antennae or rabbits ears.

It might not surprise you that the most popular TV sets today are those that were most modern in design back then. But it might surprise you how few TVs back in the 1950s and 1960s truly partook of the modernistic aesthetic.

Still, as you will see, the ones that did were knockouts.

Never one to wallow in the past, CA-Modern is always on the lookout for artists of today whose work resonates with the mid-century modern aesthetic. Our latest find is Ken Matsumoto, well known among artists and fans in San Jose, but less known in the wider world in part because he creates art more than he promotes himself.

His art, much of it shaped from heavy natural stone, attains a lightness that is remarkable, as you will read in ‘Light as a Stone in Flight.’

Matsumoto has created a style that is readily identifiable. As one of his collectors, Lon Allan, says, “You see some artists and you can see who they learned from. His work, it’s Ken Matsumoto. It’s not like it’s by someone else.”

And, speaking of the future, Matsumoto is contemplating entirely new forms of art as his career continues.

The new winter ’18 issue of CA-Modern is truly a trip from the past into the future. Order your copy of the print issue today

San Jose sculptor Ken Matsumoto works in a personal style that is all about today but shares the simplicity and honesty with materials found in mid-century modern design. Photo by Sabrina Huang

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