My introduction to Modernist Architecture came about in a serendipitous way. Shortly after getting married in 2002, I moved with my new bride, Donna Jean Titus to . Resigning from a 23-year career in corporate sales, with the Ingersoll Rand Company, we moved to a somewhat marginal neighborhood in . (It took some convincing to assure Donna Jean that it would be safe!) Hoping to make a difference, I decided to run for a regional seat on the just-forming Silver Lake Neighborhood Council in 2003. Taking the task seriously, Donna and I knocked on almost every door (some 2 or 3 times) in Region 1 (Silver Lake has 7 regions; Region 1 is roughly the area east of Silver Lake Blvd., north of Sunset Blvd., south of Duane Street and west of Waterloo). I relished the campaign; along the way, I met many outstanding neighbors who would become life-long friends, including Tom Blanchard (who would later serve as first Chairperson of the Silver Lake Beautification Committee). After receiving the most votes in Region 1 (Marion Aguilar came in second and served a one-year term) and taking my seat on the governing board, I determined to “do something” during my term of office, and offered to start a “Beautification Committee”, which turned out to be a phenomenal success.
The committee held its first-ever meeting at the Coffee Table on . I was truly amazed at the number of distinguished Silver Lakers that showed up (as I recall, the number of participants was about 85!) From my memory, here’s a short list of some of the notables: Architects Tom Blanchard, Joe Federowich, Barton Choy, and Dion Neutra; Urban Designers Jenna Didier & Oliver Hess (Materials & Applications), Landscape Architects Glen Dake and Mark Beall, and Entrepreneur Dana Hollister (Paramour Estate) to mention a few. The committee undertook many successful projects, some of which have had a lasting impact, including the “Art Can Project” (concrete trash cans along the commercial corridors of Silver Lake, each decorated with mosaic panels designed by local artists; a model which has been copied by other communities including Eagle Rock), the Sunset Triangle Park Project, Tree Planting Project and the Annual Silver Lake Beautification Day,
Dion Neutra became a pivotal figure in my “architecture education”. Attending a “Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design” event at the Eagle Rock Playground in 2003, I had the great pleasure of meeting the late eminent architectural photographer Julius Shulman. His life story made a powerful impression on me. Later, I would seek him out and found him to be very accessible; we became great friends, as I had the pleasure of being with him on many occasions. And that’s how I became an architecture buff!