Growing up with T & T

When asked:

“What art school did you attend?

I reply: “The T&T Academy of Design and Fine Art.” The T&T is for Tom and Teresa — My dad and mom.

Wilshire office across the street now stand the light posts at LACAM

Mom's studio at the Wilshire office. My first three years were here.

From the time I was born, I have lived art and design every day! I went with Dad and Mom to the Woodward Design and Illustration studio on Wilshire Boulevard across the street from the LA County Museum of Art. At first, I stayed with Mom in her office in my bassinette, and then in my playpen. We’d go to lunch at the Japanese restaurant on the top floor of the Seibu Department Store (now the Peterson Automotive Museum), and sometimes to the Egg and the Eye restaurant and gallery just a few blocks east on Wilshire. From my childhood through my adolescence, art and design were always a large part of the family conversation—at work, at meals, and at home.

Mom had studied painting with Wayne Thiebaud at California State University in Sacramento. Dad graduated from the four-year course at the Carnegie Mellon Arts College with a BFA degree in Painting and Design. They met in Los Angeles at the Art Center night school where she was studying fashion illustration and he was studying graphic design. They married and had been working at design and illustration for seven years when I came along and joined the team.

Home for my first two years was the famousRichard Neutra apartments in Westwood. Ours was 11011 Strathmore Drive. Mom and Dad had work areas there also (work never stopped!). As I have come to know more about the apartments, design ghosts of previous residents may also have been present: Charles and Ray Eames had lived in one of the apartments and so had John Entenza. Entenza published Arts and Architecture Magazine and had sponsored the famous Case Study Houses in the 1950’s—the Eames house on Chautauqua was one.

When I was about two, Dad and I began our routine of walking from the Wilshire studio to the east end of the museum to visit the Mastodon family drama in the La Brea Tar Pits. When the Page Museum opened in 1974, we went to see who had lived on The Miracle Mile before we got there—dire wolves, saber-tooth tigers, and all of their friends.

When I was four, Mom would take me to the Center For Early Education for my two-hour session of socialization—I guess that is what it is called when one learns to get along with other kids. Saul Bass’s daughter Jennifer was in the class. After school we’d go to the Bass home in Hancock Park to “cool out.” The walls in Jennifer’s room were covered with paper so we could draw and paint everywhere. Mom and Dad had worked with Saul from the time they had started their first studio, and this expanded their friendship in a more personal way.

In the Neutra Apartment

Museums everywhere!

Dad and I always went to museums: the LA County, The J. Paul Getty Museum near our home in the Palisades, The Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Science and Industry in Exposition Park, the deYoung in San Francisco, and The Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. More recently, we have visited the ASU Art Museum and Ceramics Gallery in Tempe, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Heard Museum of American Indian art in Phoenix.

Here we are at LACMA, Spring 2015, admiring the Calder mobile in the reflection pool. We had also just revisited two Henry Mooresculptures. I still recall a Henry Moore that I saw at LACMA when I was about six. It had a tiny smile etched into the head-like front of the abstract form. In the fall of 2015 we stopped in Pasadena to see the Norton Simon Museum. The next day we toured the Disney Concert Hall designed by architect Frank Gehry, and then went to LACMA to see the Gehry retrospective exhibition.

Dad and I calder pool LACAM

At the Museum of Science and Industry, we’d watch the chicks hatch in the incubator and then go see “Mathematica,” the beautiful exhibit designed by Charles Eames. We had a special relationship with the Museum of Science and Industry. Dad had produced three multi-projector slide programs for the museum. I was about six when he was commissioned to design a theatre where the programs would be shown. We named it “The Discovery Theatre” and I helped him design the marquee for the entrance. I watched and marveled as one of his staff created a scale model of the bleacher style auditorium—complete with realistic seating and little statues of people.

I attended the summer science workshop at the Museum of Science and Industry. I took a rocket building class, and a class in experimental chemistry. Dad would pick me up after class, and we’d go across the street to the Natural History Museum to see the dioramas. Then we’d have lunch at Man Fook Lo our favorite Cantonese restaurant.

Frank Gehry Disney Concert Hall

At the LA County Museum I took a summer woodworking workshop where I built a desk out of walnut. I designed it, made a mechanical drawing and a materials list, and eventually built it. It was beautiful and one step toward my love of wood! And, as usual, Dad and I would also check out whatever was new at the museum.

Dad was always interested in the things being exhibited by the museums, but sometimes more in how they were being presented. He had done an exhibit design for the Paul Tishman collection of African Art at LACMA, and was very sensitive to the art and craft of museum exhibits. Some of his constant critique rubbed off on me—I continue to evaluate the effectiveness of every gallery and museum presentation whether or not I like the works of art.

Tishman Collection at LACMA

544 Paseo Miramar

When I was two we moved from the Strathmore apartments to a house in the Pacific Palisades. It was perched on a hill overlooking the ocean, and we could see from the Santa Monica pier to the Channel Islands. Today we would call it “mid-century modern” with post and beam construction and floor to ceiling glass windows which framed that wonderful view. The floor was white Terrazzo which complemented the dark volcanic rock fireplace wall. Dad had chosen the furniture he loved by designers he admired: The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, the Coconut Chair by George Nelson and Sling Sofa, and a table by Eero Saarinen. You may think of them as mid-century modern masterpieces, but I regarded them as indoor playground equipment. From the viewpoint of a two year old, these were giant toys!

544 Paseo Miramar 1968

I climbed over and crawled under them. As I grew older, I would play army with my plastic soldiers hanging from the Coconut Chair and the Eames Lounge. The Nelson Sofa became a landing pad for my airplanes. It was known as “The Airport.” The Coconut Chair legs were lookouts and had several snipers in the angles. I had my parachute guys hanging from Dad’s kite which hung from the center beam of the living room. Other troops were wedged between the lava rocks on the fireplace. The round white Saarinen table was “The Main Base.”

544 Paseo Miramar 2008

I was six or seven when we made a kite—not just an ordinary kid’s kite, but a tetrahedral based on a design by Alexander Graham Bell. Dad cut the dowels and fastened them. Then we wrapped them with silver Mylar. Would it fly? Like a champ! It took off with almost no effort. It broke a few times when it hit the ground, but we’d take it back home, fix it and fly it again. It was permanently suspended from the ceiling beam above the dining table…a handsome silver sculpture.

544 Paseo Miramar was both secluded and in the midst of an intellectual and artistic community. The Palisades had been a sanctuary for intellectuals and artists fleeing the Nazis. Just half a block down from our house was Villa Aurora, the home Marta Feuchtwanger. The big Spanish colonial house was, and still is, a meeting place and cultural center. I was about eleven and swiping an orange from a tree in the back yard when Mrs Feuchtwanger surprised me in the act and graciously invited me inside. She told me a little bit about the history of the house, and showed me the different rooms with their beautiful views. In traditional Spanish Colonial style, the entry had an elegant curved staircase. For years after she’d wave whenever she saw me on the street.

Paseo Miramar attracted all sorts of creative people —a film director and a composer up the road from our house, and a painter and a sculptor on top of the hill. The sculptor invited us to her opening show at a gallery in Venice.

Flying the Tetrahedral kite on the bluffs in pacific Palisades

Mom and I had a “before the event dinner” at the Rose Café, and then went over to the gallery. The sculptures were unusual, unlike anything I’d seen in all of the museums I’d been in. They were animal skulls decorated with beads! It sounds grotesque, but they were quite interesting. I thought about it for a few days and then went to my closet where I had stashed a pelican skull. (Dad and I camped in Baja and collected driftwood, shells, and bones.) I got lots of colorful beads at a craft store, and went to work gluing them to the pelican. In retrospect I think I really liked the skull without the beads. Someone told me that Henry Moore had an elephant skull in his studio—now that’s the way to do it big!

Pelican skull

Our friend Dave Field lived on Castellammare, the next hill west. Dave and Dad collaborated on graphic and media projects, and shared the office in Santa Monica. They worked at the office and at both of their homes. Dave was like an uncle to me—playing roughhouse at home and the office.

The home office and studio was the large pleasant room over the garage. Dad liked to wake up early and work there before going to the studio. He would type the billing and draft client proposals. I was also an early riser.

I’d join Dad in the office, climb up on his lap and play with the typewriter which he remembers I called the “typer.” By the way… the desk was an Eames Roll Top!

When I was four or five, Dad gave me several sets of Tinker Toys. I loved assembling various structures. He said my constructions were very intricate and beautiful. He displayed them on top of the bookcase.

I also liked making art. Dad praised my originality. He framed some of the pictures and hung them next to his desk in the studio in Santa Monica.

I was only five when we went to Japan and Expo 70. I vividly remember the Apollo astronaut figures suspended from the ceiling of the US pavilion to celebrate the American space program. I also remember the elaborate wax food displays in the store windows, and walking in the rain on cobbled city streets. Expo 70 had sculpture that one could interact with. Now, at the age of 50, when I see the slides of the photographs we took, the Expo pavilion designs fit right in today’s design culture without missing a beat. I think the experience of Expo was significant addition to my creative awareness.

I like a lot of Japanese crafts—kites, ceramics, paper mache and fabrics.

Noe masks are fascinating because of the exaggerated theatrical expressions.

Carden Malibu

Our home was convenient to Carden Malibu, a private elementary school in Los Flores Canyon. Mrs. Armstrong, the principal, had a huge influence on me. She was a keen observer of nature. The school was surrounded by a rustic natural landscape with a creek and several huge trees, rattlesnakes, raccoons, and occasionally a bobcat! Mrs. Armstrong had six dogs that would run through the classrooms. Everyone would pet them, and then she would call for quiet, and get to the lesson at hand. She would adopt any injured animal. She lived at the beach, and had several seals which she was nursing back to health. She was one that you would not want to mess with—she paddled me once for skipping class! On the other hand, she was someone that you could go to anytime you had a question about anything, and she would freely answer it.

Our music and art teacher was Mr. Kamir. He taught us watercolor painting.

I liked going on field trips to paint landscapes. I enjoyed his conversations about art with Mom. He took me under his wing when it came to art. But music? Well, I always had to sing a solo at the Christmas parties! It was in front of a crowd of parents which included Steve McQueen, Cory Wells of Three Dog Night, Andy Williams, Diane Cannon, Cary Grant, Martin Sheen, and many other celebrities whose kids attended Carden.

The Santa Monica Studio

The studio in Santa Monica, at 1415 Second Street, was the back half of the building. It had once been an automotive repair garage. It was one huge room of 4,000 square feet, two stories tall, with a balcony on the east end. We entered from the alley—not very elegant! But once inside, the impact of the space was breathtaking!

Nostalgia of discovery—the tools that made the art!

Dad’s office and conference area was on the balcony. Mom’s was three steps down to her own balcony. Dave, John, Stan, and others as needed, were on the main floor. Since they each did different kinds of work, they had different supplies and tools. I was about five when we moved in, and I had the run of the place. Everyone was busy, but they always took time to say hi and show me what they were doing.

Moms work area

Santa Monica office dad's work area

Dad’s office and conference area was on the balcony. Mom’s was three steps down to her own balcony. Dave, John, Stan, and others as needed, were on the main floor. Since they each did different kinds of work, they had different supplies and tools. I was about five when we moved in, and I had the run of the place. Everyone was busy, but they always took time to say hi and show me what they were doing.

I have vivid memories of going through Mom and Dad’s art supplies. Mom’s included graphite, pastels, colored pencils, and markers. Her paints were oil, acrylic, and watercolor, black and white paint for touch up on her illustrations, and alcohol inks. Her assortment of tapes included masking tape, white tape, clear tape, and double back tape. Glues were rubber cement, white paste and airplane glue. She had assortment of papers including watercolor paper, very fine quality paper, cardboard with a white back, different colored papers, metallic and foil paper. She had huge sheets of colored paper, self sticky paper, and dry mount press adhesive tissue.

Dad had an assortment of art supplies and tools. Blue and red pencils for marking paste-ups for the printer, rubber cement, four different tape dispensers, paperclips, erasers, clamps, pencils and pens for drafting, razor blades and Xacto knives, lots of t-squares, plastic guides for drawing circles, squares, triangles, and architectural details. He also used lots of cardboard and white tape to make mockups and models. The woodworking tools hammers, saws, and sanders, were in a separate room in the studio.

He had light tables for editing 35mm slides for his multi-image slide projects, and stacks of 35mm Kodak projectors, tape recorders and sound editing equipment.

Dave, who wrote radio commercials and called himself “Radioman,” had his own collection of tools: a reel-to-real tape recorder with a jig to edit his recording by cutting and splicing the tape. He had his scripts, outlines, pencils and markers, and of course I can't forget the typewriter that was always clicking away.

John was a storyboard artist, calligrapher, and abstract artist. His equipment included a pad of storyboard forms, various soft pencils and graphite sticks for rendering the pictures, a huge assortment of pen points for his calligraphy, and rapidograph pens for drawing the abstract shapes which he would then color with alcohol inks.

And everyone had some sort of briefcase, portfolio, leather folder, envelope, or file box to carry their work to its destination.

The ultimate memories in the art supply nostalgia were our frequent trips to the Flax art store in Westwood. The main floor was connected to the balcony with a grand curved stairway. Harvey Flax was always welcoming, and I got to see where all of our art stuff came from. We’d load up—it was like Christmas!


So much of the design process is collaborative with several people contributing their unique talents to the creation and development of a final product. I watched and listened as dad and writer Dave Field worked on script ideas for their Jet Propulsion Laboratory media programs about the unmanned exploration of space. Mom collaborated with agency art directors to get her visuals and their copy to work perfectly. And always, Mom and Dad worked together to perfect an image or idea.

I was so impressed with this productive collaboration that over the years I’ve found it useful to collaborate in my own work—home design and construction, interior architecture and design, and exterior patio and garden design. Some of my other activities such as furniture design, ceramics, sculpture, photography, and art are more personal, but I still need to be aware of the work being done by other artists. The arts require knowledge-able self criticism.

Discovering the Southwest

When I was about thirteen I took the bus from Los Angeles to Aspen to meet Dad after the Design Conference. We then took a ten-day tour of the Southwest. We started with the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, then The Cave of the Winds, and on to Pueblo, Taos, Santa Fe, and the Carlsbad Caverns. We then went north to Canyon de Chelly, the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, and the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Finally, we headed home on scenic highway 40 through the beautiful desert. I have fond memories of the trip, but I think it also set the stage for when I later came to Arizona.—an appreciation for the desert landscape, and the history of the culture, or rather cultures. I remember our trip whenever I visit the Heard Museum in Phoenix. It is packed with great American Indian Arts and crafts—pottery, baskets, Kachinas, fabrics and jewelry. The memory of visiting the Indian ruins, also sparked my interest in the adobe style, which then set in motion an interest in Rastra, the green building block construction material that I have used for many of the houses I have built.


When I was five years old we went to Expo 70 in Osaka Japan. We stopped in Tokyo for sight seeing and to buy two Nikons. Home again and at a Christmas party for kids, Dad handed me one of the Nikons. After the briefest instructions he said: “Now go take pictures.” I did. It was fun and I’ve never stopped. I take pictures every day documenting my projects, just for fun with friends, and most importantly as art.

Dad’s photography was an integral part of his design process. He had a dark room at the studio. Maurice, one of his freelance photographers, showed me how to load black and white film into the developing tank, how to process it, and then how to print the pictures.

I remember going to Stat House where much of our photographic work was processed. While my parents discussed the current project in the office with

Buddy, the owner, I chose to stay in the production room with the tech guys, where they were assembling the prints for the orders just finished on big flat tables. I saw different films and paper, glossy and satin and flat, different sizes (some huge prints), and some with special darkroom techniques like solarisation. I went into the darkroom where film and prints were processed. Usually the room would have been painted black, but Dad suggested that Buddy have it painted the orange color of the safe light—that allowed more visibility without creating any processing problems. It was interesting to watch the guys speed through their tasks, and it made me itch to do my own photo processing.


I watched Dad and various freelance photographers discuss what to shoot on location, and what was needed to illustrate the script for “Welcome To Outer Space” a fifteen projector audio-visual show for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This kind of planning was disciplined creativity!

I watched Mom paint this statue.(above) It was a gift to photographer SidAvery. Mom and Dad’s friendship with Sid began when Dad was the art director for his Westinghouse client. They were to shoot promotional photos of Merv Griffin whose early talk show was to be produced by Westinghouse Broadcasting.

Dad said: “I just watched as Sid did his masterful interaction with Merv. Sid and his hand-held Hasselblad seemed to be completely oblivious to everything else. He was so intensely into it that he caught even the slightest sparkle in Merv’s expression. I think that’s what made Sid such a successful photographer. I learned a lot from that session—you can’t just pose the subject…you have to interact and be completely intuitive to catch “The Moment.”

Will Warren was another intuitive photographer. Like Sid, Will had complete mastery of his equipment and functioned intuitively to capture the image. He had been a combat photographer in Viet Nam. Dad used him for projects where his candid images would create the excitement the project required.

Dad introduced these men to me and explained their talents as best he could to a youngster. I got some of it then, and came to realize later in life the value of intuitive involvement in any creative work.

The Watts Towers

We’d often go to Watts to see the Simon Rodia Towers. I liked playing in the patio area and all the neat little niches with the colored tiles, while Dad photographed everything in sight. I was always amazed by how the towers were constructed. Dad said that Rodia must have traveled from Italy to Barcelona. There he would have seen Gaudi’s church the La Sagrada Familia. The church steeple forms are similar to the towers as are the tiled surfaces.

It is pretty clear that Rodia had no training in architecture or engineering or anything else. He worked intuitively without plans, sketches or advisors.

Today I admire the spontaneity of it, and whether they are sculpture or architecture doesn’t matter—they are art and Rodia is an artist. Buckminster Fuller (noted for his geodesic domes) commented in an interview for a documentary film: “To see the beauty of nature and understand the principles. That’s what Sam, Simon Rodia did…Sam will rank not just in our century, but rank with the sculptors of all history.”

My Photography and Ceramics

When I was high school age Dad moved to an apartment in Beverly Hills so I could attend Beverly High. I had just started at Beverly when Dad said his friend Lou had found a Mexican government warehouse which was promoting Mexican arts and crafts. The next Saturday we went to Tijuana, and found the huge building full of every possible handicraft. We bought our collection of ceramic folk art sculptures which are from the state of Oaxaca. The pieces are signed, and some of the ceramic artists are well known. What it meant to me at the age of 16, was that like Mom’s illustrations, clay art could tell an interesting story. That would stick in my art brain!

At Beverly, I enjoyed the photography class—I became a creative artist with the camera! The images I captured were art! And, I could combine several transparencies for even more interesting art. I experimented with infrared film and with color printing. That technology collapsed when the digital camera killed Kodak film. I still miss it! But technology has added digital to the art pallet, and I’ve used computer modification and special printing techniques to enhance my photographic images.

The debate over whether photography is art is pointless. The image is what we look at, and what we judge for its quality as art. As with all art, there is good and not so good, inventive and imitative. Judge the image and not the medium—judge the originality and the creativity of the artist!

The ceramic class at Beverly changed my life—I could imagine something and it came out my finger tips! I made a lion’s head in the ceramics class. I then made a series of several dozen animal head sculptures at our apartment. The animals were made of clay applied over a paper armature which burned out when the piece was kiln fired. To fire them we rented the kiln at The Clay House ceramics studio in Santa Monica. We liked the Clay House studio and the instructors. Dad and I took classes to learn how to throw pots.

In later years I’d drive to Van Nuys where Dad and I would meet at Del Rupp’s ceramic studio. It was fully equipped with potter’s wheels, a kiln, and glazing facilities. Several skilled professional potters also used Rupp’s studio. They were very talented and commercially successful. I admired their work, and learned a lot from observing their methods. I splurged and bought a pot.

My first public project, shooting dad for the first edition of T.E.D. Not bad for being in my teens!

I was about twenty and was visiting Dad at the Aspen Design Conference. We drove over to Snowmass to visit the husky sled-dog kennel. On the way we stopped at the Anderson Ranch where art and ceramic instruction was scheduled for later that summer. Dad noticed that Ken Ferguson, a former classmate of his at Carnegie, and now head of the ceramics department at the Kansas City Art Institute, was teaching a two week ceramics class. I enrolled, and later that summer I drove from LA to Snowmass in my Ghia. What a trip that was!

There were twelve of us of varying abilities in Ken’s class. He started by demonstrating how to throw a pot. We then applied his techniques to our work, which he would critique. For some unknown reason he was especially critical of my throwing. Thirty years later I met a woman at a raku workshop in Phoenix. She remembered me from Ferguson’s class, remembered the Ghia too, and said: “He was so hard on you—and you were so good!” That made me feel better! I understood more when I read of Ferguson’s own long struggle to achieve perfection of his own throwing techniques. Maybe he saw that I was talented and serious and needed a kick in my potter’s butt to get going.

While I was studying with Ken, I noticed Victor Babu's glazing techniques He was a master! Victor also taught at the Kansas City Art Institute. Ken and Victor were good friends, and they encouraged their students go into each other's classrooms. Every evening we had a barbecue with people from the various classes—furniture building, photography, and ceramics. Many students brought their work into the courtyard to be critiqued by the other classes. Ken Ferguson and the Anderson Ranch was a wonderful, wonderful, experience!

In a way, I grew up with Natzler ceramics. Dad designed the catalog for the Gertrude and Otto Natzler ceramics exhibition at LACMA (1966). They gave him a bowl in appreciation. We displayed it with the catalog in our living room. Years past and Dad had the bowl appraised. Amazed at the appreciated value he put it into a box and out of sight for safe-keeping. The variety and originality of the Natzler glazes has always fascinated me.

On a teenage excursion to Ojai I discovered the tiny studio of Bea Wood surrounded by her beautiful garden. I liked her work and bought two small pieces.

Over the years I've always had a kiln and potter’s wheel. In Arizona I built a shop in my backyard to house my ceramic studio, wood shop (carving, furniture fabrication, and would turning), a silkscreen section, a dark room for my photography, and an area to work on my art projects.

My Career Plan

When high school was over I considered several career options. Architecture was a possibility. I was interested the variety of home styles on Paseo Miramar—our post and beam modern and the Spanish colonial next door. I was present at several meetings where Dad and a film industry friend discussed and sketched ideas for a Hollywood Museum. The idea of creating these large functional structures was exciting. We had been to our graphic designer friend Roger Kennedy’s beautiful contemporary house in Laurel Canyon. It was built on a down slope away from the street, and was cleverly designed to take advantage of that unusually precarious perch. Roger had designed it and his architect friend Bernard Zimmerman consulted to make sure it would pass permitting.

Bernard and architect Ray Kappe had established the Department of Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona. Dad knew Bernard and asked him to consult with us regarding my plans for the future. We met him at the Hamburger Hamlet (one of Bernard’s designs) on Hollywood Boulevard. He advised us on the value of the six to eight years involved in an architectural degree—as opposed to just taking the few technical classes necessary to bring me up to speed, and then apprentice with a designer-builder to get going.

I went to work for a contractor. I knew nothing—not even the names of the nails! But I took classes in construction, estimating, materials, and architectural styles. I started construction knowing nothing, and by the sixth year, I was running a crew of 150 doing everything from tract homes to hotels, and building custom homes in Beverly Hills and at Lake Tahoe.

I was well prepared to be a designer-builder, and when I moved to Scottsdale I worked on home construction with several architects and on some remodels. What I liked best was working with people who had their property and a dream and who needed my design talent and construction skills to make it happen. It took awhile to accomplish what Bernard had suggested, but I was profitably self employed at something I loved doing.

I worked with all materials. I had an early interest in southwest adobe and rammed-earth, but they were both labor intensive. I found a product called Rastra that made it possible to build an Adobe type of house with thermal mass and cost efficiency and less labor. Using this green building product, I've built Santa Fe style adobe, Spanish territorial, mid-century and contemporary houses.

I built big houses. They were 4,000 to 9,000 square feet, open plan, various styles, on a variety of terrain, and in towns all around Arizona. I did this with a small crew that stayed with me for the sixteen years of this period of my home building activity.

Rastra is a cement and Styrofoam combination. I was asked by their sales executive to give seminars on the product. I learned that I could speak, without fear, to a group! And best of all, several in the audience hired me to build their houses out of Rastra.

I was about three when we got Batu, our beautiful Siberian husky puppy. Batu and I shared the two little seats in the back of the Porsche. At first I was larger and stronger so I got my favorite seat. Then he matured and was the dominant force in the Porsche. Finally I was bigger than he…but by that time we were such great pals that it didn’t matter. I still love big dogs, and it is OK for them to jump on the bed or on my lap when I am sitting on the couch. It just reminds me of that wonderful Batu.


Abstraction versus realism. Dad’s favorite artists were the Abstract Expressionists of the 1940’s and 50’s—Jackson Pollock, Willem

de Kooning, and Arshile Gorky. Mom was a trained academician who could draw anything in any style. Dad detested Pop Art, Rock and Roll, and Hippies—except when Mom drew caricatures of them. She was so good at drawing anything in whatever style was needed, that he proposed that animation design was another area to explore for their design and illustration skills. They had worked with Bill Melendez on animated TV spots for Group W Westinghouse Broadcasting. So they had had a brief taste of the business. Bill was the animator-producer of the Charlie Brown and Snoopy stories on television.

While having lunch at the Tail Of The Cock, Mom, Dad and writer Dave Field created the idea for a Christmas card book called “The Legendary Christmas.” The little book was printed and sent to clients and friends including Melendez. He responded with the suggestion that he present it to NBC as a possible Christmas show. It came in second and it was never produced… but it fanned the fire!

Before computers, all done by hand

Dad continued to explore animation. He was invited to be on the board of ASIFA Hollywood the animation society where he met people in the industry. June Foray was the president. She was the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and many others. To raise money for ASIFA, June had a sale of animation cells at her home. Dad took me. June greeted me with her Rocky voice. We bought three Pink Panther cells which I proudly displayed in my room…I still have them.

Dad designed the ASIFA Hollywood logo and the golden Zoetrope which is presented at the annual Annie Awards for outstanding achievement in animation. All these years later the Zoetrope is still there but the design has been slightly modified.

Bob Kurtz was winner of an Annie Zoetrope and the creator of some great animated characters. Bob asked Dad to design his company’s stationary. Dad took me to the Kurtz and Friends studio in a wonderful old house just off Hollywood Boulevard.

As a young child, I watched animated films with Dad at the LA County Museum auditorium. The first ones were Steamboat Willie and a rough edit of a scene from Fantasia, followed by Goofy, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck

When I watched animated films or TV shows, I could imagine how they were created, hand drawn on cells, and I could see June and her fellow voice actors recording the dialog in a sound studio.

Before computers, all done by hand

DR and The Things in our House

The Design Research store in Geradelli Square was a “must stop” when we went to San Francisco several times a year. It was full of beautiful and functional objects from everywhere. I recently bought a copy of “DR” a book by Jane Thompson about the store. I was reminded of so many things we had in our house—the modern design of my early life.

DR was Ben Thompson’s creation, although we were unaware of that until much later. In the 1980’s Dad and Thompson became friends at the Design Conference in Aspen Colorado. Ben, a Harvard trained architect, had accomplished so much—the reviving of Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace; the South Street Seaport just south of the Brooklyn Bridge which changed the Fulton Fish Market into a complex of restaurants and shops with a harbor museum; the Bayside Marketplace in Maimi. These projects changed the “tear-down” approach to city redevelopment to one of renovating the old buildings to give them new vitality and life while retaining the color and warmth they add to the city. Although I never met him, Thompson is one of my favorite architects.

Other architects that I admire would include Bernard Zimmerman who moved me in the right direction at just the right time. Roger Kennedy whose Laurel Canyon house I still walk through and enjoy in my mind. Craig Ellwood whose elegant Art Center building on the hill I drive by when I’m in Pasadena. Charles Eames whose house on Chatauqua was part of my growing up in the Pacific Palisades. David Hovey in Scottsdale is admirable in so many ways, including the quality of his architecture and art, and his approach to the business of design, construction, and marketing.

As I got older it was interesting to see Mom come up with an idea, illustrate and sell it. I’d go out with my buddies and we’d see Mom's artwork and Dad's work everywhere. What's amazing is that all the body of work was done by hand, prior to the computer.

Mom's work

Teresa Woodward

Dad's Work

Tom Woodward

Mom invited Wayne Thiebaud to judge illustrations submitted for an exhibition of the Illustrator’s Guild. We became friends. Of all of the “Pop Artists” he is the only one I really like. His art consists of very “painterly” representations of commonplace objects like ice cream cones, pies, and pastries.


I love wood! I confess, it’s a love affair! It began at the Paul Revere Junior High woodshop where I made a black walnut nutcracker, and has continued throughout my homebuilding years with all the trim and decorative accessories in the kitchens and patios. Recently, I picked up a load of black walnut slabs from a mill in Sedona. The boards are beautiful and they smell great. After they dry out I have plans for a beautiful table with natural tree edges.

One of Dad’s friends was an art consultant. Among the remarkable art in her home was a figure by Alison Sarr. Sarr’s story telling sculptures dramatized the black experience in America. I was very impressed, and have been inspired by her ability to find more ways to express the subject and the beautiful ways she uses wood.

Hawaii is one of my favorite places—the ocean, the wind, the volcanic rocks, the black sand beach, the culture, and Tiki crafts—the meticulously carved wood and bone figurines, pendants, and Tiki God sculptures.


One of Dad’s Westinghouse projects was a kinetic sculpture. It was hung in the Group W corporate office at 90 Park Avenue in New York. He kept a prototype made of the same materials but about two-thirds the length. It was accepted in the California Design show in the 1980’s. After that, it was our companion at home in the living room. I grew up with that kinetic…and recently found some finished, but unused parts, in my storage closet.

I showed them to D`ad, and he showed me sketches he has been making over the last fifteen years. He has never lost his interest in moving sculpture, and lately, we’ve been talking a lot about the art of Alexander Calder, George Rickey, and Harry Bertoria. Alexander Calder’s beautiful and playful hanging mobiles are unequaled by his later imitators. George Rickey’s kinetic sculpture, with its precise engineering and elegant balance, responds to the slightest breeze.

There is more activity in kinetics now: a huge installation at the Singapore airport called “Rain,” Calder exhibits every-where organized by Calder’s grandson, and a new organization KAO (Kinetic Art Organization) which has an annual competition and exhibit.

I’ve offered to share my workshop with Dad and he is running down the supplies needed to get going! I think it’s also in my DNA—it’s sculpture with the fun mechanics to boot!

The future is exciting to contemplate—bring it on!