The morning of the opening reception of her superb textile design exhibit at Design Within Reach, my ModCom friend Alexandra Becket called with a problem.
No one was available to pick up architectural photographer Julius Shulman, she said. Julius, of course had famously photographed her grandfather Welton Becket‘s architecture. He dearly wanted to attend the party.
I’d met Julius over the years, and had recently attended the Palm Springs Art Museum’s retrospective of his “desert modernism” photography.
Aware that he would soon turn 98 years old, I was happy to oblige and spend some quality time with Julius if only while sitting in Los Angeles traffic. Alexandra later reported that when she told the ever-feisty Julius who would be fetching him (that would be me), he barked, “A car’s a car.” On that tender note, the arrangement was made.
Everyone in design/architectural circles knows that Julius is a real ladies man. His previous flirty behavior with me at a ModCom meeting held at his cool hilltop modern home (designed by Rafael Soriano) gave me pause to consider what life might be like caring for a (then) 90-year-old alterkocker who is also a brilliant artist.
Years later, Julius is (merely) a frailer version of his engaging self. Here he poses with Alexandra at her art show; she at 31, he at 97.
Wending our way up Laurel Canyon after the party, we chatted about life, love, art, and how he hates cropped photos (“Leave the environment in,” he growled, as though his perfectly framed works were by accident). He was fatigued and feeling the effect of two vodkas. He couldn’t have been sweeter though. Buoyed by all the attention he got at the party, he told me repeatedly that the room had been “vibrating.” When I walked him to his door, he kissed me lightly on the cheek, adding, “Call me up so we can finish our conversation.”
Dance critic Debra Levine is founder/editor/publisher of arts●meme.