Saturday, July 18, 2009

O.C. Fair, SAAAB, Julius Schulman, etc.

This year's Orange County Fair features a great exhibit about the history of the Orange County Fair, the Fairgrounds, and the Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB) that preceded it at the same location. Better still, it's housed in one of the old SAAAB buildings, near the back of the Pacific Amphitheater. The image above is a sketch for the "Gremlins" mural that was once at SAAAB.
The images above and below show other parts of the exhibit.
Earlier this year, I was very disappointed to see the bulldozing the old Administration building. But this time the Fair folks did something really nice.
Martin Brower will discuss his book about the development of Irvine, entitled The Irvine Ranch: A Time For People, at the Katie Wheeler Branch Library, 13109 Old Myford Rd., Irvine, on Wed., at 7pm.
The Fountain Valley Historical Society (which I don't get to write about often enough), will hold an ice cream social on Aug. 1, 2-4pm, at Heritage Park, adjacent to the Fountain Valley Branch Library. Sam Talbert's old real estate office will be open for visitors, and a variety of local memorabilia will be on display.
On a sad note, pioneering architectural photographer Julius Schulman has passed away at the age of 98. He took the once dry-as-toast function of photographing buildings for architects and turned it into an inspiring art form. Personally, I also appreciated his sense of humor.
I remember talking with him once about the Richard Neutra/Ramberg & Lowrey-designed Orange County Courthouse (1969), which he photographed extensively. The building's large water feature once notoriously leaked into the basement file rooms during a big storm -- A glitch the County blamed on Neutra and which Neutra blamed on the County's poor maintenance. When I suggested that I might want to write a book about the Courthouse someday, Schulman didn't miss a beat: "I've got your opening line for you: 'It was a dark and stormy night.'"I also remember an evening lecture and slide show that was largely attended by pretentious snobs. (Their vibe was unmistakable.) I suppose they expected Schulman's talk to be as high-brow as the magazines and galleries his photos appeared in. But along with iconic images and memories of great architects, he also also gave down-to-earth advice to photographers and included many snapshot-like photos of dogs playing in parks and bikini-clad women on the beach. The stuffed shirts in the audience - many of whom brought dates they wanted to impress with their artsyness - turned various shades of red, white and green. It was wonderful.
An exhibit of Schulman's work in Fullerton ends tomorrow (Sunday) at the Fullerton Museum Center.


Barry said...

Here is a good article which has a good part on the old Gremlins Murals
I have been in contact here in Saint Cloud, MN with a veteran who was at the SAAAB school as he prepared for his job in the USAAF. He kept a collection of his letters home during his training and then in his time in the South West Pacific theater during WWII. It is called “Dear Folks”…a short little tome of around 600 pages! I am trying to convince him to publish it as it reads like a great novel but is entirely a record of his three years of service.
A really good book on the base and its history is “The SAAAB Story” by Eldrick Miller in 1981, and published and still available from the Costa Mesa Historical Society. At the moment there are two used ones for sale at one as low as $8.00.
At one time when I was still wet behind the ears we had a Teenage Dance Club in one of the old SAAAB theater buildings on the Fairgrounds. We called it the “Hideaway Club” and that building was just torn down about a year ago. An aerial view of it is on my Flickr page in my small set called ‘High School Places’ .

walterworld said...

Sorry to hear about Julius Shulman's passing...What a career he had!

I really enjoyed seeing the Forever Fullerton exhibit at the Museum Center when I was in the area this past June; thanks for the heads up on that one :)

Appreciate your always fine posts. I have had very little discretionary blog time of late, but I never fail to check yours when I'm free to 'delve'.

Take care and please keep up the good work.

Renee Fontes said...

Thank you for your nice comment about the SAAAB exhibit at the OC Fair this past summer. The Air Base to Fair Base Exhibit was researched, and designed by Rachelle Weir, Exhibit Supervisor for the fair.
Rachelle poured countless hours into the gathering and presentation of this subject caring about every detail. I was lucky to get to help a little with the exhibit.
This year a new exhibit is planned, covering the 120 year history of the fair and it's importance to our community. I am gathering information and artifacts for this display. Glad to find your blog!

Doug Bennett said...

For anyone who is interested the SAAAB murals have been on permanent display in the Orange Coast College Art Center since 2007. The OCC Foundation paid to have the murals restored and placed on strtchers that help maintain them. The work was done by a resotrer associated with the Getty. If anyone would like more information please contact me at Orange Coast College.

Doug Bennett
College Advancement
(714) 432-5126