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One hundred years ago Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene developed a new and distinctive architectural and decorative style that blended Arts & Crafts and Asian influences with a California sensibility and obsessive attention to detail. That innovative style is instantly recognizable, even to this day. Through sensitive application of a unique design vocabulary, they created a lasting legacy that continues to thrill the senses and stimulate the intellect of those fortunate enough to view their wonderful houses and furniture.
"David Mathias, author of this richly personal appreciation of the Greenes...comes to Greene and Greene from the perspective of an amateur woodworker with a fine aesthetic sense. Through his writing we are able to appreciate the Greenes? houses and furnishings almost as if we were hearing from one of their builders. Through stunning and perceptive new photography, the illustrated spaces and furnishings illuminate the genius of the Greenes? designs, material selection and craft, which has caused so many to celebrate and be seduced by their work...Being a woodworker, Mathias also pays due homage to John and Peter Hall, the Swedish brothers who worked closely with the Greenes on their finest houses. Mathias correctly grasps how without the Halls, the Greenes would lack a significant measure of the reputation that they enjoy today. Relatively few writers have focused exclusively on Greene and Greene, and so it is a privilege whenever a talented one such as Mr. Mathias comes along. Be forewarned that through this book his seduction may become yours, too."
Edward R. Bosley,
James N. Gamble Director
The Gamble House, Pasadena
School of Architecture, University of Southern California
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The Afterword from Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood & Light:
On September 15, 2009, I drove from Columbus, Ohio to Boston, Massachusetts. On September 16 I made the return trip. Roughly 25 hours of driving in a 36 hour period. The reason? The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston had granted me permission to photograph the serving table from the Freeman Ford house while it was there as part of the Gamble house centennial exhibition. Thirteen months earlier, I had made a similarly whirlwind trip to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. There were other, less grueling trips to Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and St. Louis. There were three trips to California one of which included driving a circuit from Pasadena to Berkeley to Carmel and back.
I have no idea how many hours I spent driving, photographing, researching and writing. It's probably best that way. If I could divide any income to be derived from this venture by the number of hours invested, I would certainly be in violation of minimum wage laws. But no one with any sense undertakes a project such as this for money. Nor do they do it for fame. Neither is a likely outcome. So what causes someone to do this? For me, and I suspect for others, the reason is quite simple: a love for the work of Charles and Henry Greene, a profound respect for their many accomplishments and a desire to share the beauty and inspiration with others. I can't imagine any other professional circumstance for which I would drive 1550 miles in a day and a half. The fact is, despite the long hours and bleary eyes, I loved every minute of it.
There are many ways to label the last two years, the time during which I've worked on this book. They have been a tremendous learning experience. To be sure, they have been a lot of hard work. However, the way I think about these years is that they have been a genuine privilege. It has been a privilege to meet so many wonderful people. Without exception, every homeowner, curator, registrar, librarian and staff member has been gracious and generous. It has been a privilege to work with my editor, David Thiel. His enthusiasm for this book, and his willingness to compromise in pursuit of an uncompromised result, has made this process a pleasure. It has been a privilege to share this experience with those brave enough to undertake to read this, the end result of these years. Foremost, however, is the privilege of witnessing firsthand the incredible houses and furniture designed by Charles and Henry Greene.
Anyone who has read this far must understand that this is not a critical work. It was never my purpose to turn an impartial eye toward Greene & Greene, to evaluate their output objectively. I am a convert, an unabashed zealot. Though not generally given to proselytizing, I embarked on a crusade, albeit one with a modest goal. If a few readers gain an appreciation for the work of the Greenes through this book then the effort will have been entirely rewarding.
This process has given me a greatly increased respect for writers. Writing is work. Writing well is arduous. Beginning is almost impossible. This is not intended as complaint. It is, however, humbling to recognize that all of the agony over how to organize the information, all of the internal debates about word choice, all of the hours spent reading and rewriting are of little consequence. The photographs, and by extension the houses and furniture, are far more important. To say that a photograph is worth a thousand words is to sell the photograph short. No words can sufficiently describe the work depicted by the photos in this book. To put it another way, it is not difficult to imagine this book with photos but no text but it is impossible to imagine it with text but no photos. This has, of course, been a great gift. In the end, no one will remember what's been written here. All they will remember is the beauty and grace created by a small number of men a century ago. And that is exactly as it should be.
David Mathias left a career in computer science for the full-time pursuit of writing and photography. His interests include woodworking, which led him to the Arts & Crafts movement in general and Greene & Greene in particular. He has built a number of pieces of furniture inspired by the Greenes and also by Gustav Stickley. David's magazine articles on Greene & Greene have presented him with the opportunity to visit and study many Greene & Greene homes including the Gamble, Blacker, Robinson, Ford and Thorsen houses. He and his family now reside near Vevey, Switzerland.
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Book Description Better Way Home, 2010. Hardcover. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1440302995
Book Description Better Way Home, 2010. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P111440302995
Book Description Better Way Home, 2010. Hardcover. Condition: New. Brand New!. Seller Inventory # VIB1440302995