I had heard a few things about Charles Fletcher Lummis but did not know much about him. During a visit to LA I decided to stop by his museum home, El Alisal since it was on the way to the house of some friends. I could have stayed all day. Another visitor and myself were treated to a personal tour by one of the curators, Mr vanZandweghe, for over an hour who was very knowledgable of the details of the home, of Mr Lummis' life and influence on the arts of the early 20th century in LA and of the perspective of the history of the US at the time. Mr Lummis walked across much of the US to California in the 1880s, became a champion of native American rights, popularized Spanish culture in California and was influential in the literary and artistic world of the time. Much of his collection of art and artifacts made up the nearby Southwest Museum, which, sadly, seems now to be closed. El Alisal is a lovely, artistically created mission-architecture house he designed and built much of, himself, and is almost stereotypical "southwestern" until one learns that Mr Lummis pretty much came up with the concept of the "southwest" that we take for granted, the mission style furniture and rustic architecture, and the pastel paintings of desert scenes we all are familiar with were invented by a painter in his artistic and literary circle. Much of the neighborhood in the early part of the 20th century was an artist and writer colony of the "arroyo culture."
The house itself was very beautiful, with hand-carved art, stonework and woodwork and historical artifacts.
I could have stayed much longer and learned more fascinating history but I had to be somewhere else. I left El Alisal with a broad perspective and much new knowledge of the creative and cultural history of Los Angeles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and its effect on current art. Thank you, Mr. Ariel vanZandweghe!
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