Saturday, May 13, 2023

Sim Bruce Richards, the Sensuous Environment at the SD History Center

I had no idea until I saw this exhibition about Sim Bruce Richards at the SD History Center that I am living in a home inspired by Richards. I have15 foot vaulted ceiling that are pine clad, with a giant stone fireplace and every wall surface covered in wood paneling. Although when we bought the house, the floors were covered with green shag carpeting, the home is happier now with a wood floor.  Even our garage is in the back, instead of front facing.  These are all hallmarks of a Richards’ home, which pay homage to Frank Lloyd Wright and the Arts Crafts movement, even though there are mid-century modern elements. 

Sim Bruce Richards started life in Tahlequah, Oklahoma in 1908 and does have Cherokee blood. His family moved to Phoenix partly for his health and was a very early art student noticed later by Frank Lloyd Wright for his rug designs. He veered away for the very contemporary minimalist architecture in favor of a family-oriented style. His look is more weathered and raw (like the redwood siding on our home) with all natural materials.

From the 1950’s until his death in 1983, he lived and worked in San Diego. He commissioned James Hubbell to add windows, doors, lightings, metalwork and sculptural designs. Likewise, Ceramist Rhoda Lopez contributed ceramic elements for doorways, shower stalls and fireplaces. Stonemason Bill Davey was responsible for many of the fireplaces. Richards even included fireplaces in public buildings.  

The materials he used are mainly responsible for his reputation as a sensuous architect. But it is his devotion to enhance the lives of all of his clients that is so appealing.

Sim Bruce Richards, the Sensuous Environment, will chronicle the mid-century career, architecture, art and design of Richards, who created a design aesthetic unique to our region. The exhibition is curated by Keith York (Modern San Diego) and the first retrospective of Richards career in 40 years and draws upon the architectural archive of the San Diego History Center and UC Santa Barbara’s Art, Architecture and Design Museum. It is now open at the SD History Center in Balboa Park until May next year.  More info: Leilani Alontaga Caithness 619-232-6203 x1

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