Modern Long Beach Through the Lens of Julius Shulman

Last night we welcomed community members, artists, architects and families into our space to enjoy the amazing work of photographer Julius Shulman through an exhibition in our lobby: Modern Long Beach Through the Lens of Julius Shulman. Curators Cara Mulio and Jennifer Volland took us through the work of Julius Shulman and introduced us to the lives and work of Frank Brothers, Ron and Ed Frank. Frank Brothers, a furniture company in Long Beach during World War II, understood that furniture was meant to be used, it was supposed to be fun and playful. Brothers, Ron and Ed, displayed their furniture in divergent ways, similar to how a modernized store like Ikea does today, drawing artists, enthusiasts and architects to experience “the show.” They hung chairs from the ceilings, placed large beanbag chairs throughout the space and introduced some of the most cutting-edge styles of its time, including acrylic furniture and plastic air-filled pillows.

Curators Cara and Jennifer were interested in the way the Frank Brothers promoted their furniture and the distinct modern architecture of Long Beach. This curiosity spurred them to research and write multiple books and curate an exhibition at Cal State Long Beach, Frank Bros: The Store that Modernized Modern, which is running until April 9th.

Cara and Jennifer spent many years exploring modern Long Beach, entrenching themselves into the lives of Ed and Nancy Frank, finding pieces that were unique in a time when interior design was funky, ingenious and inimitable. Our satellite show explored the work of Frank Brothers and exhibited Julius Shulman photographs highlighting residential exteriors and interiors and commercial retail spaces from architecture practitioners such as Edward A. Killingworth, John Lautner, and Gibbs & Gibbs.

Julius Shulman photography archive, 1936-1997.

Julius Shulman Photography Archive, 1936-1997.

The show took place against the backdrop of the construction boom currently taking place in downtown Long Beach, at our offices located at the former City Place and Nordstrom Rack facility. With the city’s renewed appreciation of its architectural legacy, the show spurred discussion about architecture and its influence on how we design for the future.

Documenting Modern Long Beach Through the Lens of Julius Shulman reinforced the city’s strong modern architectural heritage and its importance to our built landscape.

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