Archive for November, 2010

Downtown Neo Gothic, LA’s Medieval Fashion District

Posted in 20th century, architecture, Florence C.Casler, Gothic Revival, William Douglas Lee on November 29, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Amidst the hub-bub of downtown LA , most particularly the Fashion District, a mock gothic fantasy looms overhead. Easy to miss with the purveyors of cheap fabrics, suspicious fashion, and peculiar craft items. Frankly, the architectural marvels maintain my sanity.

One such marvel has just undergone a major overhaul, what had been one of many light industrial Temples to Efficiency will soon be the new home for the Downtown Women’s Center, 442 South San Pedro Street.

Downtown Women’s Center

née W.Douglas Lee building


442 South San Pedro Street

architect- William Douglas Lee

builder-Florence C. Casler

This medieval fantasy is one of many collaborations between the female builder Florence Casler (1869-1954) and the architect Wm. Douglas Lee (1894-1965). It is of course fitting that a pioneering female builder would ultimately (if unintentionally ) house her more unfortunate sisters.

We have the opportunity to check out the transformation first hand December 8th, 2010, a designer showcase that evening making that possible.

showcase link

The following image gives a sense of the extent of rehabilitation that the building has undergone. although I must confess I love the gaudy colors, so robust.

image source

Although I hesitate to promote events, this is most worthy. Plus it is quite a lovely building. I look forward to attending.

As I mentioned Florence C. Casler was a busy gal, in collaboration with her business partner Jesse K. Lloyd, they have bejewelled downtown LA with some true gems.

Florence C. Casler

ca. 1931


d. 1954

Lloyd and Casler Inc. were responsible for the tremendous Textile Center. This building has added much joy to my downtown jog, I always slow down to soak in the details.

Textile Center


315 E. 8th Street



Textile Building


I have had less luck unearthing info concerning the architect William Douglas Lee, although quite prolific I was unable to find a photo of the fellow. Quite busy from the 20’s through 1961, he ultimately teamed up with his son Douglas Everett Lee, the following link provides a list of accomplishments.

The following images, just a small sampling.

Garment Capitol Building

ca. 1926

217 E. 8th Street @ Santee

image source

I particularly love the Bendix Building, all ghostly chill, wide open floors, glorious light. Plus Bendix is just a super name.

Bendix Aviation Co. Building

ca. 1929

Maple and 12th

image source

I do hope you consider joining me in  attending this worthy event.

Until then,

Babylon Baroque



The Bounty of Demeter,a moment of praise

Posted in 17th century, 18th century, 19th cent., Demeter, Frederic Leighton, Hendrick Goltzius, Palissy, Peter Paul Rubens on November 22, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As the frantic rush for the upcoming day of gluttony fasts approaches , I have turned to thoughts of Demeter, goddess of the Harvest.

Ceres mit zwei Nymphen

Peter Paul Rubens

Franz Snyder

ca. 1620-1628


Demeter is best known for the horror of her loss, her  beloved daughter Persephone swept to the underworld in a rage of Pluto’s lust. In her anguish, Demeter tears cause the world to chill, germinating seed wither within their husks, and man huddles hungry and fearful, at the mercy of his gods.

Pluto and Proserpina

ca. 1565-1571

Vincenzo de Rossi



Pluto Abducting Proserpine

Francois Girardon

ca. 1693-1710


The Getty Center, Los Angeles

Of course this situation cannot continue, if the altar remain bare, will the gods continue to exist?

Worship provides the deities identity.

Like a marriage gone awry, Demeter and Pluto arrange visitation rights.  Having tasted of the Fruit of the Dead, the pomegranate, Persephone will remain in Hades one month per kernel eaten.The Earth shall remain darkened by Demeter’s shroud of grief until this time has passed.

Upon release, Persephone back in the arms of devoted Demeter, seed will once again sprout, life will begin anew.

The Return of Persephone


Frederic Leighton

It is indeed time to give thanks.

Statue of Ceres

oil on wood

ca. 1612-1615

Peter Paul Rubens

Hermitage, St.Petersburg


Demeter, or her Roman equivalent have been a popular motif in fine and decorative arts. The allusions to bounty and the table too great a temptation.


17th cent., after 1652

after design by Michel Anguier



From bronze to porcelain her figure has delighted.

The Goddess Ceres

ca. 1765

William Dueberg and Company

soft paste porcelain


I have a great fondness for the theme Without Bacchus and Ceres , Venus Grows Cold, the artist Hendrick Goltzius was particularly adept at depicting the scene; lewd and  provocative, they still delight.





Perhaps more chaste, yet no less delightful, this calling card depicts our Goddess o’ Plenty.

Decorative Design

ca. 1750

artist unknown

pen and ink, red chalk on paper


Demeter continued to be a popular theme well into the 19th century as this staged image attests.

Actress Fanny Coleman as Ceres

Guy Little Theatrical Photograph



As no Thanksgiving spread is complete without a gravy boat, I thought this little number would suit the theme.

Sauce Boat


Bernard Palissy


lead glazed earthenware


Wishing everyone the bounty of the season,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Babylon Baroque

Baby Marie Osborne; Child Star Dead @ 99!

Posted in 20th century, Baby Marie Osborne, Bette Davis, Silent Film on November 18, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I stumbled upon this sad obituary yesterday, Helen Alice Myers known to legions of fans in the early 20th century as Baby Marie Osborne died on the 11th.

I of course was intrigued, the NYT article above does a much finer job then I am capable of, but Baby Marie Osborne was quite the celebrity, earning $1000.00 a week, she was a glamorous little girl.She was best known for role in  the 1916 film  Little Miss Sunshine, but I have had little luck unearthing any clips.

I frankly have had little luck unearthing very much at all. Loads on that OTHER Marie Osborne( the less said the better).

Helen Alice Myers

known as Baby Marie Osborne

b. November 5th 1911

d. November 11th 2010

age 99


Perhaps as a happy substitute I will enclose that OTHER child star, one who aged with less grace, Baby Jane , with the terrifying Bette Davis.

She scared the crap out of this young homo, I have now adapted to her spookiness.


Thank you Miss Myers, I WILL unearth some clips!

With that, Good Night ,

Babylon Baroque

Chung Ling Soo, the Marvelous Chinese Conjurer

Posted in 19th cent., 20th century, Chinoiserie, Chung Ling Foo, Koekkoek, Madame Pamita, Orientalist, Silent Film on November 17, 2010 by babylonbaroque

At the turn of the 20th century an exotic Chung Ling Soo was enchanting Western audiences with the  mysteries of the East.

Chung Ling Soo, with the lovely “slant eyed maiden” Suee Seen were a smash captivating crowds with smoke and mirrors.

But behind the veil of fame and mystery a different truth could be discovered.

For behind the Orientalist facade lurked William Ellsworth Robinson ( 1861-1918), the Asian beauty by his side?, his wife Dottie.

In May of 1900, William E. Robinson took up the persona of Chung Ling Soo, so sincere was he in maintaining this charade that apparently he never spoke in English again. At least not until his last words, but we’ll get to that…

Quite a ‘stache he had to sacrifice for chinoiserie splendor!

The decision to adopt the stage name Chung Ling Soo was quite deliberate.

At the time there was an actual Chinaman, a renown magician, Ching Ling Foo (1854-1922)


So great was the fame of Ching Ling Foo, the REAL Chinaman ( I know it is terribly confusing), that Thomas Edison felt the need to expose his trickery.

Perhaps part of Robinson/Chung Ling’s plan was to “coat-tail” on Ching’s genuine fame. I don’t know, but a rivalry was set across Europe.

Both seemed to benefit from the competition, Chung Ling Soo engaging in flashier and flashier acts.

One such act was a macabre twist on the Boxer Rebellion.



Johannes Hermanus Barend Koekkoek



The final performance of this bizarre trick would be at London’s Wood Green Empire, March 23rd 1918.

Something went terribly awry, instead of the trick giving the allusion of a gun shot, an actual bullet escape.

This ended Chung Ling Soo’s vow to not betray his true identity; his last words in his mother tongue:

“Oh my God. Something happened. Lower the curtain.”

A true showman to the end!

Much of the myth around Chung Ling Soo is difficult to verify, I was unable to gather info concerning Dottie the “slant eyed maiden” ( I can’t believe they got away with saying that!) for example. But I did stumble upon this silly clip narrated by the wonderful Boris Karloff, it’s great fun.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, my dear friend Madame Pamita, Sideshow Entertainer Extraordinaire suggested i might find Chung Ling Soo of interest.

She was correct.

Thank you Madame Pamita.


Pirate Jenny… I mean Madame Pamita.

Thank you, enjoy the week.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque


Henryk Gorecki, Recquiscat in Pace

Posted in 20th century, 21st Century on November 13, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Driving to the gym, I heard on the radio that Henryk Gorecki had died.

I finished my workout, returned to the studio,and spent the afternoon in the company of his haunting music.

He will be missed.

Henryk Gorecki

b. December 6th 1933

d.November 12th 2012

Just a bit of what i have been listening to, the  deeply moving Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.

Thank you Mr. Gorecki

With that,

Good Day,

Babylon Baroque

Cold War Homo Artists, 1945-1968( and a bit beyond)

Posted in 20th century, Andy Warhol, Beauford Delaney, David Hockney, Gay, George Platt Lynes, Jasper Johns, Larry Rivers, Minor White, Paul Cadmus, Robert Rauschenberg on November 11, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Once again dear reader I am influenced by my current topic of study, in this case the chilling effects caused by the Cold War, the House Un-american Activities Committee, and McCarthyism. I chose to explore gay American artists during this period and how they responded to  the societal pressures of conformity and repression, personal, and aesthetic.

I will not bore you with the essay, just provide a scrap book of images.

Beauford Delaney


Washington Square


Washington Square


source for both images

I confess I knew little of Beauford, I found his story most touching, his struggles with racism, homophobia, depression, loneliness very poignant.

Paul Cadmus




I did not include this later work in my project, but I have long enjoyed the image.



source for both images

I really enjoy how this painting reminds me of Boucher, the subject like a strange retelling of the Moses myth. Cadmus seems to have been a happy man; 35 years with the handsome Jon Anderson serving as muse and companion certainly had something to do with that.

Jasper Johns

b. 1930-present

Target with Plaster Casts



I love how until recently, the closeted Johns made use of secrets.The cast body parts only revealed upon lifting the little doors. the great visual irony being the target symbol, screaming for attention yet hiding truths from view.

Robert Rauschenberg




freestanding combine


Retroactive 1



It is a great irony that the two Pop geniuses Johns and Rauschenberg, boyfriends for some time, tried to distance themselves from Warhol, who they found “too swish”.

This attitude not unlike the macho posturing of the Abstract Expressionists.

Andy Warhol





It is too difficult to not notice the visual/verbal humor that the closeted Warhol was exploring. Early Pop paintings by Warhol were first exhibited as a sort of artistic window dressing for  the department store Bonwit Teller in in the spring of ’61. Rauschenberg and Johns had also exhibited their work in this manner. It is little wonder that the virile Abstract Expressionists dismissed the Pop movement.

Larry Rivers


The Greatest Homosexual



Ostensibly not homosexual although his boyfriend the poet Frank O’Hara might find the argument flimsy. It doesn’t matter, this twice married , father of five  libertine, in many ways best expressed gay sensibilities. Be it his wry parody of David’s The Emperor Napoleon in his Study at the Tuileries ,1812 (above), or his sensitive portrayal of O’Hara (below) ;River’s painting satisfy.

Frank O’Hara Nude with Boots



As space was limited I did not include many of the artists I would have liked. I will fasten a few more that I particularly admire.

George Platt Lynes


Nicholas Magallanes and Francisco Moncion in NY Ballet production of Orpheus



I love how this East Orange N.J. boy, with his flamboyantly gay imagery became Kinsey’s “go-to-gay” whenever he needed something decidedly queer.

He certainly found the right fellow.

Minor Martin White


Bob Bright, San Pedro Point Marker



The deeply conflicted White, perhaps bisexual, perhaps gay, spent his life tormented by his desire. This image of the incredibly handsome Bright gives us an inkling of that torment; Bright is almost available, teetering upon the rocky precipice, just out of desire’s reach.

David Hockney


We Two Boys Together Clinging



I end this exploration of American Cold War Homo Artists with a Brit; a Brit who seems to have great affection for our country, at least sunny southern California.

I have always found this painting sweetly touching and uplifting, I thought it a fitting end piece.

With that,

Good Day,

Babylon Baroque

Veterans Day Remembrance

Posted in Jasper Johns, Veteran's Day on November 11, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I enclose the following to honor my recently deceased father-in-law who served in the oft forgotten Korean conflict.

To my youngest brother who seems to be endlessly deployed, an extra hardship as he is a single father.

To the countless soldiers past and present.

Thank you!



Jasper Johns

b. 1930

Lithograph with stamps

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Long May She Wave!

Babylon Baroque

Beefcake Monday, the eternal Eugene Sandow

Posted in 19th cent., Eugene Sandow, Physical Culture on November 7, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As Monday approaches , I thought we all could use a bit of male pulchritude; Sandow comes  to mind.

Our lovely boy for all his macho posturing was a bit of a coward. To avoid military service he left his Prussian home in 1885; soon the world would become his stage.

I particularly admire his desire to emulate the Grecian Ideal,  he was known to measure classical statuary, adapting the proportions to suit  his well endowed frame.

(image by Benjamin Falk, source for all Sandow images.)

I particularly love this image, the reference so clear…

Dying Gaul

Sandow enjoyed incredible popularity, for a culture so intent upon not allowing women to dare show an ankle; Sandow, with his allusions (pretensions) to Grecian beauty was free to pose in little more then a fig leaf, apparently in the company of the fairest sex.

Quite incredible, not a hint of steroid use, just animal protein, grunt work, and God given advantage.

For helpful hints check out his 1897 Strength and How To Obtain It.

As today, a pretty face and prettier abs sells bucketloads of crap, we are all eager for a quick fix; the following advertisement is not unlike late night  Bowflex enticements of not so very long ago.


Perhaps I can blame Sandow for my irrational belief that the hours I spend toiling at Gold’s will result in the magical transformation I so crave. He certainly started something with all that pretty flexing, here is a clip from 1895 ( how crazy is that,  a clip from a man long dead, THAT’S magical!)


Eugene Sandow

b. April 2nd 1867

d. October 14th 1925

Thank you Mr. Sandow for the beauty and the inspiration.

With that, Good Night,

Babylon Baroque

Decadent Movement comes to L.A.

Posted in Aesthetic Movement, Aubrey Beardsley, Decadent Movement, Green Carnation, Gustave Moreau, Huysmans, Nazimova, Orientalist, Oscar Wilde, Silent Film on November 3, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I’m not speaking of some tawdry film set in the San Fernando Valley or a Palm Springs pool party ; I’m thinking of that infinitely more satisfying period in the 1890’s when  the line between beauty and perversity was fully explored, the Decadent Movement.



Thracian Girl Carrying the Head of Orpheus on His Lyre


Gustave Moreau


Musée d’Orsay


I was reminded of this delightful time by my friend Kim Cooper of LAVA Sunday Salon fame. Kim had thoughtfully sent along an email announcement that UCLA was putting together a lecture series devoted to the Decadent Movement and Aestheticism, of course I made reservations pronto.

Once I knew I had secured a seat, I felt free to share the info. I tend to be greedy.

It is a two day lecture, November 19th and 20th at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, if you happen to be in L.A. please join me.

Of A Neophyte And How The Black Art Was Revealed Unto Him By The Fiend Asamuel


Aubrey Beardsley


We can’t really think of the Decadent movement without regarding Huysmans and his wonderfully perverse novels À rebours (Against the Grain, 1884) and my personal favorite Là-Bas (The Damned, 1891). À rebours chronicles the exploits of the wicked aesthete Jean Des Esseintes. It is a marvelous novel, beloved by Wilde and his set, I must revisit this novel.

Jean Des Essientes is said to be based on that dandy of dandies Robert de Montesquieu, a delightful portrait by Giovanni Boldini follows.

Joris-Karl Huysman was himself a bit of a dandy, I really admire this photo-portrait of Huysmans. I find it intriguing how a sacred object such as a crucifix can  appear sinister when in the company of this man. I want my next portrait to be in this pose.

Joris-Karl Huysmans

b. Feb. 5th 1848

d. May 12th 1907

Certain dark themes recur time and again within the Decadent Movement, Oedipus and the ghastly Sphynx, dark angels and swooning lamentations, Moreau’s Orpheus a good example. But no figure held the imagination so firmly as Salome . Wilde, Beardsley, Moreau, and Ricketts, along with many others, all tried to capture her dark allure.



Gustav Moreau



Charles Ricketts


The Toilet of Salome I, from Salome




Although not of the period it is difficult to not toss in the silent screen starlet Alla Nazimova and her iconic 1923 depiction of the wanton Salome.

As I intend to experience the lecture fully, I will re-read that silly little novel that caused such a sensation in ’94, Robert Hitchens, Green Carnation.

I hope to be a s precious as Esmé Amarinth, hope to see you there.

Have a pleasant evening,

Babylon Baroque