Thanks to Fellows Chair Jeanne Anderson, the Fellows were invited to a wonderful lecture and panel discussion on Firooz Zahedi’s new book, City of Angels: Houses and Gardens of Los Angeles on December 6, 2018. In this publication by author Jennifer Ash Rudick and photographer Firooz, homes of renowned architects, interior designers, garden designers and others are featured. The Fellows were very fortunate to have three of the talented individuals – Richard Shapiro, Art Luna and Hope Warschaw — give a slide presentation using Firooz’s extraordinarily beautiful photographs of their gardens.
Founder and past President of the Friends Joan Selwyn introduced Firooz. A multi-talented man, Firooz was born in Iran and moved to England as a young man with his family in 1969. He relocated to the United States and after a brief career as a diplomat, he attended the Corcoran School of Art. He met Andy Warhol which led to the showcasing of his portrait photography in Interview Magazine. Firooz became friends with Elizabeth Taylor, moved to Hollywood, and became her personal photographer. In time, he started to shoot editorial projects for Vanity Fair, Town and Country, and other publications and advertising campaigns for Coca Cola and Bulgari among many other clients. But his true passion, Joan added, is his fine art; his photographs and collages have been shown in many galleries and museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Firooz said, “This is a beautiful space. I am so happy to be able to do this event here. I am so lucky to have such a great group of people, whose homes and gardens I have photographed for City of Angels. Each of them has great taste.” He then introduced Richard Shapiro, a long time devotee of the arts, who served for many years on the Board of MOCA. In addition to his residential design practice, Shapiro designed and cofounded the iconic Grill on the Alley. He introduced the next speaker, Art Luna, “a wonderful gentleman and amazing landscape designer.” Firooz introduced the final speaker, Hope Warschaw, “an amazing lady.” Hope has worked in politics for 25 years, and is a co- managing director of a real estate company in Orange County and Texas. She is also on the Board of the Dia Art Foundation and is a Los Angeles County Arts Commissioner.
Richard Shapiro’s 1920s Mediterranean home and garden have been prominently featured in Architectural Digest, House and Garden, and other publications. Moved by the aura and grandeur of ancient buildings, Shapiro has created a refuge and sequestered haven. At the far end of the pool — which he transformed with algae-green paint and weathered stone — Shapiro built a folly which is a re-creation of a 16th century Roman style temple designed by Andrea Palladio. He replicated the stone Ionic columns with carved redwood, resin capitals and fiberglass bases. They were then aged with a mixture of plaster and lime. A 19th-century copy of a Renaissance fireplace Shapiro discovered in Antwerp graces the living area in the folly. This portico is surrounded by magnificent swirling, boxwood hedges that are inspired by those at the Chateau de Marqueyssac in the Dordogne region of France. Schapiro clips the hedges himself. Fragments of Roman columns and capitals add to the atmosphere of antiquity. Shapiro’s large scale contemporary sculptures also dot the landscape. Vines enveloping the façade of the ochre-stained house and folly create a romantic, timeworn appeal in this enchanting property.
In contrast, Art Luna has created gardens for a mid-century 60s home built by Rex Lotery. “The owners wanted to feel like they were in the country,“ said Luna. A long driveway framed by grasses and trees lead you to a stunning view of the architecture. Striving for a simple, tranquil, and calming effect, he designed the gardens to showcase and complement the home. Art stayed with a green palette that does not require much maintenance. The wonderfully aromatic star jasmine hides a retaining wall, and a lily pond and fruit trees on the terrace enhance the space. The pièce de résistance is an Airstream trailer, functioning as a guest room, which was installed on top of a hill. From the trailer’s Moroccan themed interior, one has a stunning view overlooking the entire garden and house. Art has created a serene haven and enticing retreat, delighting the owners.
Hope‘s house was built in 1938 by famed architect Richard Neutra. She had originally wanted to build a contemporary home, but once she saw the Neutra house, she knew she had to have it. This house “was built beautifully and stood up to the elements of time,” Hope added. She bought the house next door and hired architect Steven Ehrlich to build an addition to complement the Neutra house. The home has a great view of the beach. A sliding stainless steel gate was installed between the pool and the ocean to provide privacy. Lastly, to the oohs and aahs of the audience, Hope showed a vertical garden. This unique and innovative feature was designed by noted landscape designer Mia Lehrer. Built on a stainless steel structure with a drip system behind it, the garden features a pocket for each plant which can be replaced as needed. The plants, all succulents, are arranged in a beautiful pattern, based on a painting by the Ukrainian-born French artist Sonia Delaunay. Hope said, “I can’t tell you how much joy it has brought everybody!”
Firooz signed his gorgeous book in the Pool Pavilion. While it was cold and raining outside, fires were blazing in the fireplace, and red poinsettias decorated the mirrors, creating a warm and cozy ambience. Our very talented Jeanne created stunning centerpieces with exotic plants and orchids such as the Escargot Begonia and Pansy Orchid. A delicate sprig of rosemary on the napkins were embellished with lime green and white curlicues which on closer inspection proved to be yarn!
Joe Monteferante served the guests a delicious repast of chicken and salmon on a bed of wild greens and shaved apples. The creative dessert showcased a luscious pistachio sponge cake with vanilla bean ice cream and candied citrus.
As an unexpected bonus, Superintendent Timothy Lindsay took the group on a tour of Mrs. Robinson’s house, beautifully decorated for Christmas with illuminated trees. The library was set for an elegant tea with a mannequin wearing a glamorous ensemble of pearls, hat, and one of Virginia’s sparkling evening gowns.
A big thank you to our amazing Jeanne who creates such inspiring and unique programs for the Fellows to enjoy!
Post and photos by Linda Meadows
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board member