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| Nestled in the hills of Echo
Park lies a rather stately turn of the century, three story, 14 room house
surrounded by expansive gardens. This Colonial Revival gem was once was
the farmhouse for the vineyard that covered the hill on which the house
rests. It then became the residence of a local judge, and -- being passed
through a few more owners -- it is now in the possession of the community
involved, Durk Dehner. With much devotion and care this craftman era structure
has been brought back to its previous glory. The house has a warm and
inviting ambience -- which the residents testify is the houseís
vibes -- and not theirs.
Since its inception 20 years ago, the Tom of Finland Foundation has been housed in this historic residence. Every wall in the spacious rooms are used to showcase a revolving exhibition of works from Foundationís Permanent Collection. Itís a feel-good tour to slowly stroll through the rooms. Visitors sees pieces that cover almost every medium of artwork, with every possible interpretation from abstract to realism. They leave having experienced how erotic art can so generously lend itself to warming an environment. The Foundation has, as its purpose, educating the public on the merits of erotic art and integrating it into oneís lifestyle without the issues of embarrassment.
Several rooms on the main floor of the Foundation house are devoted to the works of its namesake, Tom of Finland. It is here that one sees the wide variety of periods, styles and content that have made this artist stand out and be recognized as the brilliant artist he is. Museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art -- to name just two -- are collecting his work, for they now feel comfortable enough to purchase, and show the works. The L.A.C.M.A. in 1998, under the curating of Bruce,,,,,, exhibited the sketch they own between a Hockney and a Matisse.
The Foundation house is also a treasure trove of thousands of visual images from artists past to present -- the Foundation has been building this archive for 20 years Ė so scholars and art lovers can pull up a chair and dive into a vast library that represents both artists known and unknown. From sexually explicit quilts to the regalness of a Robert Mapplethorpe photogrpah -- the Foundation has a sampling of everything.
No visit to the Foundation would be complete without a visit to the attic where Tomís studio has been preserved. For ten years the artist called Los Angeles his home. Tom had lost his life partner of 20 years, Veli, to cancer so his coming to America was a kind of rebirth for him. He did, however, return to Finland every summer to experience the magic that takes over people when there are days of 24 hours of sunlight. In Tomís studio is his drawing table, his uniforms from the war, along with boots and leather garb that he both wore and dressed his models in. On shelves are Tomís personal reference books he built to assist in his drawing process, and binders of his models and experiences that he captured with his camera.
Itís not unusual to see visitors having a glass of lemonade sitting on one of the terraces, porches or patios on the property. With the coolness of tropical plants and the hilltop breezes itís a welcome retreat to quite the mind. Well, it canít always be quiet, and so in keeping with how the Foundation uses the property with Life Drawing Workshops, Salons, seminars, receptions and meetings -- the Foundation is doing a one day event tied in with the East Side Crawl this year. On Saturday, September 24, from noon to 6:00 PM, the Foundation will put their facility into full operation. There will be drawing sessions going on throughout the afternoon and volunteers will be archiving and working on restoration projects. Artists will be invited to come and set up spaces throughout the gardens to show and offer works for sale and others will be doing demonstrations on technique. Refreshments, mellow sounds and beauty everywhere -- all the ingredients for a pleasurable afternoon.
The next open house after the Art Crawl will be Friday, October 7, from 8:00 - 1:00 PM. This is the reception for the artists who are part of the Foundations Erotic Art Fair Weekend (which runs through October 9).
If you havenít yet experienced the TOM OF FINLAND HOUSE, then we encourage you to grab onto one of these dates to visit. The Foundation also does guided tours, by appointment, for individuals and groups. The Foundation has been on the web since the early 90s with a sizeable amount of materia and you can sign up for the Foundations e-news by visiting www.TomOfFinlandFoundation.org.