Here's how this week's arts and culture column begins:
Sunnylands, former estate of billionaire couple Walter and Leonore Annenberg, comprises 200 acres in Rancho Mirage.
From Walter’s New York Times obituary: “The lavish way of life enjoyed by Mr. Annenberg and his wife, Leonore, was most visible at Sunnylands — completed in 1966 at a cost of $5 million — where the couple spent the winter months.
“An airy, Astrodome-size extravaganza of glass and Mexican lava stone, pink marble floors and clustered plantings, the 32,000-square-foot house — surrounded by well-guarded fencing — sits on acres of rolling terrain. A well-primped, mock-English country landscape in the desert, with trees, hills, ponds, waterfalls, it has a nine-hole golf course and even an artificial swamp for the birds that Mr. Annenberg liked to watch.”
The Visitor Center, designed by LA architect Fred Fisher, is all glass, steel and sleek, low-slung furniture, with stupendous mountain views. Don’t miss the very cool bathrooms. There’s a café and a gift shop. There’s a continually changing exhibit or two.
The first time I went this consisted of gifts the Annenbergs had received from various heads of state: a bully-mouthed bass from George Bush, a golf-themed lamp.
Last June (the estate is closed during the hot summer months), it was “Carved Narrative,” showcasing the work of José and Tomás Chávez, artist brothers from Guanajuato, Mexico, who produced a half-scale version of their world-famous fountain, “Las Paraguas,” for the entry court of Sunnylands.
The front garden and grounds, designed by The Office of James Burnett with horticultural consultant Mary Irish, are water-conserving, lovely, and free. I thoroughly enjoyed strolling about in the 96-degree sun and taking photos so bright and Disneyesque that they look like they’d been photoshopped.
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.
|THERE ARE ALL SHOTS I TOOK |
ON THE GROUNDS OF THE VISITOR CENTER