Beautiful Italian Films

One of things I miss the most right now is going to the movies. I’m one of those rare people who would much rather see a movie on the big screen than at home where, for some odd reason, I can never get comfortable enough to sit thorugh an entire movie. I especially miss The Crest Theater in Seattle where all movies are $4 bucks and you get to choose your own candies given they are sold (or used to be sold) by pound. You can pick a “little this and a little that” without spending a lot of money. Plus throw in the best cup of tea for $2 and it was the perfect – great indie film+little candy+tea all for under $10 bucks! Oh those were the days not so very long ago.

So I’m stuck with Netflix, Prime Video and all the other usual suspects. One nice thing about watching online though is being able to go back and watch movies from years past. I am especially fond of the Italian movies lately given I’ve had to cancel my trip Italy 3x in the past 12 months. But that’s another story.

Here are my favorites:

Cinema Paradiso

First and formost, I’ll start with my favorite Italian movie – Cinema Paradiso. Cinema Paradiso is a 1988 film directed by Giuseppe Tornatore and is one of my most favorite and cherished movies of all time. It’s a movie about movies and the impact they can have on people, more specifically on a small post-war Sicilian town and its two projectionists.

Cinema Paradiso is a love letter to cinema, a celebration of the movies and to those who cherish them, whether they are simply watchers or creators. The music in this movie is absolutely phenomenal. Scored by Ennio Morricone this film is pillowed in a painfully nostalgic theme song that can bring tears to the strongest souls, young or old.

No matter what age Toto is I can always relate to him and his feelings, I see my younger self. Whether he’s a little boy (or girl) who is enamoured by the cinema or as a lovelorn teenager who abandons his home to pursue his passion and even as an older man who returns to him home after 30 years, I understand and feel his emotions. Every time I’ve watched the film I’m a bit older than last time and understand things a bit better, like why Alfredo wanted Toto to leave his home and never return.  Once upon a time I never fully understood why Alfredo would want his best friend to leave him, now I know it’s because he wants to see him thrive and turn his passion into a career, something Alfredo was never able to do.

So, if you are a lover of a film foreign or not, Cinema Paradiso should be your next watch. It’s a fantastic tale of the magic movies can bring to its audiences and how it gave a young boy his entire life. It didn’t drastically change my life, but it’s a constant reminder of how important movies are to those who truly love them.

La Dolce Vita

Directed by Federico Fellini in 1960, with the performance of Marcello Mastroianni, who is a reflection of the Dolce Vita in Rome during the economic boom of the sixties. The Dolce Vita tells, with figurative strength the world of filmmaking, of the scandal, of the sad laziness of the richest people and the religious fanaticism. Marcello Rubini (M. Mastroianni) is a roman tabloid journalist who will guide us during the movie divided into seven episodes because he travels through the Rome of the sixties. He is the main character of the movie who changes and redeems himself at the end of the story. Federico Fellini here represented the thoughts, the attitudes, the trends of Italian which still today are famous for tourists (it is unforgettable the scene between Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain).

8 e mezzo

Another achievement for the couple Federico Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni is 8 e mezzo (1963) where Mastroianni is the alter ego of the director. Guido is a 43-year-old director who is tired of everything, of his work, of his life, of his friends. He wants to make a new film and he decided to build a big circus scaffolding. The film is a mixture of the real and the dreamlike, mirror of Guido’s fears, namely his old age, abandonment, and failure. The circus represents the creativity and relationships with Italian cinema workers, which are an essential part of the made in Italy cinema production.

Once Upon a Time in America

The movie came to the cinema in 1984 with the direction of Sergio Leone. The colossal represents the final evolution of the far west current, which came up after a few years of reflection.The story tells, for forty years, from the 1920s to 1960s, the life of a gangster group in New York. A long, complex, “baroque” movie with detailed stage customs and scenographies. Once Upon a Time in America with Robert De Niro’s performance is a treasure of Made in Italy movie production not only for the direction of Sergio Leone but also for the soundtrack written by the Master Ennio Morricone. 

Life is Beautiful

Life Is Beautiful is a 1997 Italian comedy-drama film directed by and starring Roberto Benigni. The movie won three Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor for Benigni, the first for a male non-English performance in 1999. This movie will be in the heart of everyone for the sensitivity with which Benigni spoke of the tragedy of the Holocaust, the deportation, and the killing of Jewish during the Second World War.

The Great Beauty

The Great Beauty is a 2013 Italian art drama film co-written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino.  On the background of Rome, always beautiful but also indifferent, strut the politicians, the high society, actors and artists, the impoverished aristocrats inside a luxurious and sad labyrinth. From his position, the main character, Jep Gambardella ( starring Tony Servillo), watches all oh them; he is a 65 years-old writer, tired of that type of life and he started to reflect on his past, the present, and the future by taking us around Rome, crossing squares, streets, observing glimpse and wonder of an eternal Rome that seems almost surreal.

Beautiful Dogs

For French photographer Audrey Bellot, animals have always had a place in her heart. She’s loved dogs ever since she can remember, and she’s even turned her passion for pups into her career. She’s an expert in dog photography, and focuses on showcasing the beauty of the beloved pets by photographing them in stunning landscapes.

Bellot works all over the world, capturing all sorts of dogs in natural settings. Her ever-growing portfolio includes a portrait of Ohana, a Golden Retriever who posed in a field of lavender. There’s also a husky who sits in a moss-covered woodland and a Samoyed who barks into a snowy landscape. For Bellot, it’s important that her photos capture the unique personality of each dog and convey the authentic expressions of dogs in extraordinary natural settings.

As well as capturing the character of her fluffy subjects, Bellot hopes her images will evoke a sense of magic, and remind people how amazing dogs can be choosing combinations of places and dogs that perfectly match both the colors and the atmosphere.

Audrey Bellot: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Audrey Bellot.

Beautiful Exploration of Color and Geometry

Branimira Ivanova and Desislava Ivanova, the Bulgarian design duo behind Brani & Desi, have well established their signature aesthetic of using bold colors and geometric shapes on every surface. Their design explorations will make you think differently about interior design and might just have you wanting to escape your comfort zone by getting a little more adventurous with your own space. Their latest concept brings a new color palette and design to an apartment space that’s creatively planned out and executed. Pink Lake Breath balances shades of pink, red, blue, and green, with white letting the shapes and colors breathe while remaining dynamic and dramatic.

Pink Lake Breath takes inspiration by lakes that are pink in color with white sand surrounding them, evoking a sense of bliss. Brani & Desi aim to recreate that feeling in order to inspire the inhabitants to find a deep connection within themselves, as philosophers and zen masters often suggest that humans see the world through their inner self making the world a mirror. With color’s ability to enliven us, as well as create a calm mind, the space is bound to conjure up feelings of happiness and contentment.

Beautiful Row Houses

Architect Michael Hsu designed a modern take on row house living. Clean, modern lines with touches of wood define the newest set of row homes. Hsu’s office focuses on creating livable, neighborhood-oriented urban spaces and has a reputation for their clean, contemporary design.

Once home to Austin’s Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, the redevelopment known as Mueller is a 700-acre mixed-use urban community nearly 15,000 Austin residents call home. With more than 6,200 total residences, the Tilley Row Homes invigorate the street and the quality of the neighborhood with covered porches wrapped in wood unique to each unit. Softened by vegetation, the porches engage passing neighbors while providing privacy and reprieve for the residents within. Each unit’s clean-gabled form is punctuated by prominent west-facing windows with perforated steel surrounds and shutters. In addition to providing visual interest and contrast to the wood, these shutters protect bedrooms from the harsh western sun.

Perforated screens intercept brick walls at exterior intervals and effectively blur the boundary between inside and out. Visible from the front door, a courtyard separates the main house from the garage and apartment above, thus creating a private garden and natural light to penetrate throughout. Each two-story unit provides an open, ground floor living space with large sliding glass doors that allow the lushly planted courtyard to become an extension of the living area.

Two bedrooms and a master suite await upstairs where obscured glazing allows natural light to fill the spaces. Ample windows in the master suite offer views down into the courtyard, while the southernmost unit captures sweeping views of the adjacent pond and golf course. Floor to ceiling windows in the great room and large corner windows in the master bedroom frame the vista of native grasses, birds, and the broad blue Texas sky.

Beautiful Architecture

11 of the world’s most striking new buildings this year
Architecture has always been an integral part of what gives a destination its unique charm and identity. From ultra-modern museums to preserved historical buildings, there is a wealth of rich and diverse experiences centred around the world of architecture and design. Lonely Planet has rounded up a selection of some of the most unique architecture design in teh world.

Jiunvfeng Study on Mount Tai in China
This curved, white pavilion and visitor center perches above Dongximen Village in Shangdong, China, with stunning views of Mount Tai, a sacred place of worship for thousands of years. A coffee shop with tables sits at one end while a bookcase-lined study is at the other. The incredible curved glass wall creates a gigantic viewing platform for guests lucky enough to visit the site. 

Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear, Spain
The renovation and extension of the headquarters of the Helga de Alvear foundation in Cáceres, Spain was planned by Spanish practice Tuñón Arquitectos. The charming building now has a temporary exhibition hall, library and workshop spaces housed in the Casa Grande where visitors can amble about at their leisure and discover the bright and airy areas.  

Boat Rooms on the Fuchun River in China
Visitors to the these charming timber-framed boat lodges in Zhejiang province can sit out on the spacious decks and watch the lights play on the water. The design takes inspiration from local traditions, and the five boat rooms are nestled into a canopy of trees. Large windows in the roofs let light into the hotel rooms and guests can even spot birds flying overhead. 

The Standard in England
This colorful hotel has been built inside the former Camden Town Hall Annexe of King’s Cross, and has 266 rooms, three restaurants, a bar, and even a recording studio. The roof has views across the surrounding area, while some suites have their own terraces complete with outdoor baths. One of the most eye-catching features from the outside is the bright red elevator that makes its way up the side of the brutalist building.

Tanzhaus Zürich in Switzerland
Tanzhaus Zürich has been designed as a new public space that invigorates the area along the river Limmat. Under the label Tanzhaus young, the institution hosts dance performances for young audiences and hosts courses for children and young adults. The building has unique triangular windows and modern spaces inside that are used for a number of different activities that serve the community.

Cycling Through Trees in Belgium
This 700-meter-long cycle path in Bosland takes visitors in a ring road around a gigantic forest, with a path that is also open and accessible to walkers and joggers. The project is an eye-catching and exciting way to promote outdoor activities and immerse visitors in nature.

Buhais Geology Museum in United Arab Emirates
The Buhais Geology Park Interpretive Center has been built on a former seabed in the desert 30-miles south-east of Sharjah, with buildings that resemble fossilized sea urchins. The pods have exhibition spaces, theatres, a café with impressive views of the mountains. As well as taking in the stunning architecture, visitors can see fossils from over 65 million years ago.

Microlibrary Warak Kayu in Indonesia
As well as being beautiful on the outside, this small library and community centre in Semarang, Indonesia has a unique hammock style floor made out of netting and a large communal swing. Microlibrary Warak Kayu is a public reading room that has space for events and workshops. The building was created with fun in mind, and visitors can relax on the netted floor with a book.

Mountain House in Mist in China
Designed as a revival project for the rural village of Jinhua, Mountain House in Mist is built on stilts and has open spaces for reading, study as well as areas for villagers to relax and drink tea. The creators hope that the building will attract more travelers and tourists as well as young people in the area. The frosted sides of the building let light in during the day and illuminate the surrounding area at dusk.

Saint Hotel in Greece
A cluster of former homes and barns in the village of Odi, Santorini have been transformed into this sleek, minimalist hotel. Rooms in the Saint Hotel open up to private terraces and pools, while the property slopes down to a cliff edge. The crisp white walls look clean against the blue sky, and guests can even get some stunning views of the ocean.

Museum and Cultural Forum South Westphalia in Germany
Designed by Bez + Kock Architekten, this museum and cultural center has a new bridge structure with a passage that leads to an impressive full-height panoramic window that grants views of the surrounding city. A footpath and walkway runs on the hill below the bridge to a terrace on the museum’s roof. 

Beautiful Bedroom Inspiration

I really need to revamp my bedroom in the coming weeks and need to start curating current inspirations. The overall goal is to create a relaxing haven, a place to escape from the business of life, and to feel calm and restful. In order to achieve this, I hope to de-clutter and keep the room as pared back as possible, with a focus on natural materials. Linen in soft neutral colors are a favorite. Love these materials at Menu Space. Simple with beautiful textures.
bedroom 1A new paint color is a great starting point. Maybe a neutral tone? I love these soft colors by dulux.
bedroom 2bedroom 3bedroom 4
A style that I am becoming more and more drawn to is minimalist task lighting. All of the examples here demonstrate a beautiful architectural purity, and are a signature feature of Belgian architecture. They go hand in hand with textural walls, and a quiet, serene aesthetic.
bedroom 5bedroom 6bedroom 7bedroom 8bedroom 9bedroom 10bedroom 11
Photo sources designchaser

Beautiful FLOS Lighting

I’ve never met a FLOS light I didn’t like and this one I’m swooning over. FLOS has taken a dramatic lighting collection originally designed by Michael Anastassiades for New York’s Four Seasons restaurant and will make it available to everyone in October. Called Coordinates, it features a series of interlocking linear LED luminaries that  take their  formal  inspiration  from  the  mathematical  precision of the Cartesian grid, illuminated and expanded to three brilliant dimensions.

Coordinates comes in a broad array of set configurations, including four suspended chandeliers of different sizes and three ceiling-mounted luminaries, available in two lengths to suit both standard and high ceilings. The collection also features a repeatable module that can be suspended or ceiling-mounted, ideally suited to impressive, large-scale installations as often featured in contract projects.

“Coordinates is a lighting system consisting of  horizontal  and  vertical  strip  lights  that  form illuminated grid-like structures of various complexities,” says Anastassiades. “This design evolved  from a commission for the feature lighting  of  the  main dining area,  which  relocated  and  reopened  in 2018 with the interiors designed by Sao Paolo-based architect Isay Weinfeld.”

The range is completed by a vertical floor lamp model featuring a simple round base and two lighting bars, which can be set at the preferred beam angle during assembly.

Coordinates is made from extruded aluminium with a sophisticated anodized champagne finish, and an opal-white platinic silicone diffuser. Exact, elegant, and easily adaptable, this collection offers a flexible yet formally rigorous solution for a diverse range of indoor environments, providing maximum impact with a minimal touch.

Beautiful Mid-Century Eichler Homes

Born in 1900 in New York City to German Jewish immigrants, Eichler founded the eponymous Eichler Homes, which built more than 11,000 residences concentrated in Northern and Southern California. He worked with leading architects of the day—Anshen & Allen, Oakland & Associates, Jones & Emmons, A. Quincy Jones, and Raphael Soriano—to design the distinctive dwellings that are now simply known as Eichlers and still coveted today.

Developer Joseph Eichler consulted with members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Federal Housing Administration, Housing and Home Finance Agency, and Housing and Urban Development about how to craft and promote anti-discrimination laws. This 1962 home designed by A. Quincy Jones & Frederick Emmons is in the Fairhaven tract in Orange, California. 

Joseph Eichler not only defined the middle-class home of the mid-century period, but also worked to dismantle racist housing policies.

Joseph Eichler’s name is synonymous with the stylish, mid-century homes that his development company brought to the suburbs of California. His role in fighting for fair housing policies and integrated neighborhoods, however, is lesser known. 

This four-bedroom, 1960 home was designed by Anshen & Allen in Orange, California’s Fairmeadows tract. The original brochure advertised “a separate parlor and dining room that gives complete privacy to the adult area of the home” and “a huge pantry that provides abundant storage space for the conveniently planned kitchen.” It also highlighted the enormous atrium and rear patio for indoor/outdoor living. 

Eichler was not unfamiliar with housing discrimination; at the time, there were developers of suburban communities who refused to sell homes to the Jewish middle class. He believed, however, that if a buyer was qualified, there was no good reason not to sell them a home. “I really do think Joe may have been motivated by discrimination against Jews back in New York,” says Dave Weinstein, features editor at CA-Modern Magazine and the Eichler Network—and overall Eichler expert. “It was common not just in housing, but in society in general.” 

Eichler’s son Ned, who worked alongside his father at Eichler Homes, was recorded as saying that the company began selling to Asian Americans as early as 1950 or ’51. The exact date is unclear as the Eichlers never kept statistics on the “racial characteristics of their clients.” However, in the early 1950s, selling to a Black family was a more controversial issue and could be potentially risky for a developer. 

In 1958, Eichler resigned from the National Association of Home Builders when they refused to support a nondiscrimination policy. This 1964 home in the Fairhills tract in Orange, California, was designed by Jones & Emmons with Claude Oakland. 

According to Ocean Howell, associate professor of history at the University of Oregon who wrote the paper The Merchant Crusaders: Eichler Homes and Fair Housing, 1949-1974Eichler’s personal turning point was when he sold a home to Franklin “Frank” Williams. Williams was the lead counsel of the West Coast chapter of the NAACP, a personal acquaintance of Eichler—and also his first Black buyer. “Before that experience, Eichler held egalitarian ideals but was afraid of integrating a tract,” says Howell. “After this moment he began to put those ideals into practice. He began to risk his own position in the pursuit of those ideals.”    

Eichler had been concerned about the effect this would have on his business, including financing from the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs. Selling a home to Williams invigorated the Eichlers and propelled them into greater activism in many different arenas. In addition to organizing California’s convention on housing issues and helping to write the state’s fair housing law, the Eichlers consulted with the federal Housing and Home Finance Agency and HUD, volunteering to be used as case studies in promotional materials. They also testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. 

Collectively, all of these activities demonstrate that they were doing whatever they possibly could to fight discrimination in housing, and to demonstrate by example that integration would not bring the private housing market crashing down.

A house in Greenmeadow, an Eichler development in Palo Alto. In 1954, Eichler Homes sold a home in the Greenmeadows tract to a Black family, and a neighbor complained. The company bought the neighbor’s home back and promptly resold it. 

Darren Bradley is an architectural photographer and the man behind the popular Instagram account @modarchitecture. He has researched the developer and photographed numerous Eichler homes over the years and recently posted about the following event: In 1955, when the developer sold a home to a Black family in San Rafael’s Terra Linda development, some of the neighbors protested. Eichler responded angrily to their reaction and “went door-to-door personally to confront them and even offered to buy back their homes.” However, no one took Eichler up on his offer, and after the new family moved in, no one sold their homes. “Initially, it wasn’t really a concerted effort or a conscious thing; he just didn’t believe that there should be any sort of restrictions,” says Bradley. “He just became more militant about it as time went on.”

Eichler Homes’ policy to sell to any qualified buyer was an “open secret” in the industry. This Claude Oakland–designed, 1962 model in Orange advertised that “The parents enjoy complete privacy in the master bedroom suite and direct access to the rear patio.” 

Later, Eichler Homes codified its policy to sell to any qualified homebuyer regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. By 1964, the company had sold 30 to 40 houses to Black buyers, according to accounts from Eichler’s son Ned. This was an “open secret” in the industry; salespeople didn’t advertise the fact, but they didn’t hide it, either. 

“I think they were happy to be activists in the policy arena, but they wanted to draw a sharp line between those activities and their development business,” says Howell. It was a delicate balance they were trying to strike. They believed passionately in promoting civil rights, but saw that the best way to do that was to speak in different registers for different audiences. They could speak about justice to the Commission on Civil Rights, but in [the] very conservative business environment [of upper-middle-class, single-family housing], the best way to promote an egalitarian outcome was to quietly demonstrate that integrated housing worked just fine as a business.

An updated kitchen in a Silicon Valley home renovated by Klopf Architecture. The wood paneling and beamed tongue-and-groove ceilings are classic Eichler design elements. 
An indoor/outdoor view of an updated Eichler in Silicon Valley that was renovated by Klopf Architecture.

So why is it that for the most part, Eichler’s legacy of integration isn’t better known? Eichler homes are lauded for their indoor/outdoor atrium, expansive glazing, warm wood paneling, tongue-and-groove ceilings—an aesthetic that he popularized and brought to mid-century, suburban, middle-class housing. “Most books on Eichler don’t even really talk about it, which I always thought was shocking,” says Bradley. They always focus on the build and the designs, and they sort of touch on the history, but they don’t talk about what a pioneer he was.

The atrium of a twin gable, 1962 Eichler in Sunnyvale, California, designed by A. Quincy Jones and recently updated by architect Ryan Leidner.

Weinstein points out, however, that accounts of Eichler’s progressive policies don’t slip past many diehard Eichler fans: “Among people who live in Eichlers, Joe’s commitment to non-discrimination and his liberal views are very well known. You’d be surprised how often people told me they bought the homes because of that.” 

Related Reading:

The Merchant Crusaders: Eichler Homes and Fair Housing, 1949–1974 by Ocean Howell

When Joe Eichler Spoke Out About Race by Dave Weinstein

Building An Eichler Bookshelf: Race & Housing by Dave Weinstein

21 Resources on Redlining’s Role in Cementing the American Wealth Gap

Beautiful Prefab Home

If the phrase prefab home doesn’t conjure up images of health and serenity, there’s a reason for that. In Europe, manufactured housing can be a luxury product, but in the US, the concept has taken a long time to shake the stigma of association with low-cost homogeneity. However, the tides may be turning as a new generation of designers explores the possibilities of prefab. This time around, the appeal isn’t just price point—it’s also wellness.

High-end prefab home builder Dvele just got a little more high-tech—and eco-conscious. The San Diego-based company, which is known for its luxury prefab designs, announced this week that it would start exclusively building fully self-powered homes going forward.

Since its founding in 2017, Dvele has branded itself as a sustainable option in the prefab space, but its new initiative takes it a step further with homes that run entirely on solar power and stored energy. Dvele’s models are similar to other eco-minded prefab homes in that a major focus is to limit the amount of wasted energy produced in the first place.

To do that, Dvele developed a new building envelope with a thermal barrier that ensures any heating or cooling produced in the house stays in the house. The company claims its homes utilize 84 percent less energy per square foot to operate than a traditionally built home, which means running totally on solar power is actually achievable. All new Dvele homes will come with solar panels plus a backup battery system to hold any extra energy generated.

Off-grid capability is a way for Dvele to distinguish itself in the increasingly crowded prefab industry—and to get ahead of local regulations. California, no stranger to mass power outages, passed a state building code in 2018 that requires all new homes from 2020 onward to have rooftop solar, the first rule of its kind in the country.

Curbed

Beautiful Childhood Home Preservation

Nina Simone’s Childhood Home Preserved

Singer, pianist, songwriter, and civil rights activist Nina Simone, who died in 2003, made a lasting impact on the U.S., and now four artists are working to make sure her legacy lives on by saving her childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina.
NinaSimone_house_25The home, a three-room, 660-square-foot clapboard pier and beam house, is where Simone—born Eunice Waymon—taught herself to play piano by ear at the age of three. It had been vacant for 20 years, until going on the market in December 2016. That is when artist Adam Pendleton received an email from Laura Hoptman, a curator of contemporary art at The Museum of Modern Art, letting him know that Simone’s childhood home was for sale. When Hoptman mentioned that she had also emailed artist Rashid Johnson, Pendleton had an epiphany. “I had an aha moment and said, ‘Wait a minute, we could purchase this house together. It could be a collective act, a collective gesture.’” With Johnson on board, they recruited artists Ellen Gallagher and Julie Mehretu. “We both agreed that it would be a more meaningful gesture if other artists were involved,” he says. Together the artists purchased the home for $95,000 in March 2017.
2

An Activist and Musician from the Very Beginning

Nina Simone’s distinctive voice, sultry blend of classical, blues, and gospel music, and penchant for activism have ensured that the artist’s decades-long legacy still endures today. In her childhood home, she developed a love for her piano and experienced racial discrimination that would shape her world view and social activism later in life. Her mother was a devout Methodist preacher, and her father was entrepreneurial (he had worked as an entertainer early in his own life). Though the Great Depression undoubtedly affected the family’s beginnings, they still provided Simone with opportunities to strengthen her passion—and talent—for music.
NinaSimone_Plaza_03_As a young girl, Simone accompanied her mother’s sermons and the church choir on the piano during services. After hearing Simone, then age 6, accompany the community choir at the Tryon Theater, two women convinced her mother she needed formal piano lessons. One of the women, Mrs. Muriel Mazzanovich, was a local piano teacher. She taught Simone at her house in Tryon for the next four years and organized the Eunice Waymon Fund to raise money for Simone to continue her training after she left for high school.
NinaSimone_interiors_4To thank those who supported the fund, Simone performed her debut recital at the Tryon Library in 1943 at age 11. However, living in a Jim Crow-segregated South, Simone’s parents were forced to give up their seats for white audience members when they arrived at the library. Even then a fierce defender of what she believed to be right, Simone refused to play until her parents were returned to their rightful place in the front row.
NinaSimone_house_5Simone’s piano education continued with the aid of the Eunice Waymon Fund, while she attended an all-girls boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina. Following graduation, she moved to New York City in 1950 to attend a summer program at Julliard with plans to apply for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia; however, she didn’t receive the scholarship or admittance to Curtis—allegedly due to her race. Simone instead worked odd jobs before returning to music as an accompanist and private teacher. Eventually, she began playing piano and singing at a bar in Atlantic City. There, Simone changed her name, and her career as the High Priestess of Soul took shape.
NinaSimone_interiors_6Much later in her career, Simone returned to Tryon after she had just spent several years living in France and touring Europe. By this point, the artist had built a career, as well as a reputation for expressing her views on civil rights and the racial injustice experienced by African Americans through original songs and covers such as Mississippi Goddam, I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free, and Four Women.

Simone maintained personal friendships with noted Civil Rights leaders and activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The turbulence of the 1960s, and tragic events such as the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, motivated her to express her ideas and emotions through explosive live performances and recordings.
NinaSimone_house_7Throughout her career, Simone exhibited musical genius that couldn’t be denied or ignored. She spoke and sang about topics like standards of beauty for black women, oppression, and righteous anger motivated by hundreds of years of slavery and systemic racism. She traveled the world and performed for over four decades, often following momentous historic events like the Selma to Montgomery March and Dr. King’s assassination. She was, in short, a motivating figure for audiences around the world.
NinaSimone_interiors8

A New Future for Nina Simone’s Past

Years later, when Simone’s childhood home had long been empty, it was in danger of demolition. Prior rehabilitation efforts were unsuccessful, and the house went up for sale again in 2017. The artists didn’t have an interest just in Simone’s art—they felt that buying, preserving, and restoring the home was itself a political act, particularly in the wake of prominent movements such as Black Lives Matter and the perpetuation of the racial divide in the United States.
NinaSimone_house_9Like Simone, each artist finds ways to connect their work to African American identity and history. Pendleton uses language to re-contextualize history through re-appropriated images. Johnson’s work combines “racial and cultural identity, African American history, and mysticism,” according to his biography on Artsy. Gallagher reinterprets advertisements for products targeted towards African Americans. Mehretu creates renderings of urban grids to reexamine cultural definitions of place. The artists plan to apply their collective artistic vision to reinterpret Simone’s home into something that reflects her dynamic, complex legacy, but they cannot do it alone.
NinaSimone_house_11With leadership and guidance from the four artists, the National Trust—along with the Nina Simone Project, World Monuments Fund, and North Carolina African American Heritage Commission—is working to preserve Simone’s Tryon home. The National Trust will develop a rehabilitation plan that aligns with the home’s potential future use; identify future ownership and stewardship models for the site; and create additional protections to ensure that this symbol of Simone’s early life and legacy will endure for generations to come.
20200509_134615
NinaSimone_1969PublicityPhoto_crStroudProductions
Learn more about Simone’s life and music here

Want to contribute to the preservation of her childhood home? Click here.