Monday, December 10, 2012

Evelyn Ackerman, Mosaicist

Evelyn Ackerman wasn't simply a mosaicist--she worked with all sorts of materials: textiles, metals, glass, paint & canvas--and of course, tiles.Unless you go to gallery shows, though, you may not have seen her work.

The mosaic pictured here, Rain, hangs in the Culver City home she shared with her husband of six-plus decades, Jerome Ackerman.

Evelyn Ackerman passed away just a few days ago.

You can see more of her work at the Ackerman Modern website. You can also read a detailed biography of the couple there.

Everyone refers to her as a "mid-century" artist, and I guess that's true. She started making mosaics in 1955, and most pictures of mosaics that I've found date to the 1950s.

The picture at right is from 1952, and she's standing outside the West LA studio on Federal Avenue that she and her husband opened. The name was a combination:  JErome 'N' EVelyn. By 1956, the date of the installation below left, Jenev was called era Industries, and they eventually moved to the Pacific Design Studio until they retired. The Ackermans worked together to produce ceramics and pottery (mostly by Jerry) and tapestries, wooden carvings, and metal objects like door handles.

In order to concentrate on design, the mosaics--both pictures and tables--and other items were made in Mexico. In one interview I read, Jerry said that "Evvy and I always had a great curiosity about materials . . . we wanted to stretch. We enjoyed the exploration." 

I tried desperately to find a picture of local public art. The picture of Evelyn standing before the installation of a mosaic panel is at an apartment building on Kiowa, said to be registered with the Los Angeles Mural Conservancy--but I could not find a photo of it besides this one, from the AckermanModern website. It's called "Fantasy Landscape" and was installed in 1956.

Ackerman is one of 40 women featured in the current Autry National Center exhibit, "California's Designing Women," through January 6.

Here are several Los Angeles Times pieces on Evelyn Ackerman:

  • A charming and personal eulogy by David Keeps

  • The official LAT obituary

  • Pictures of her work here--starting with one of the few public mosaics she did: "Sea, Land, and Sky" in Santa Barbara, and here (featuring work by her husband) and even more here, highlighting their Culver City home.

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