New film spotlights little-known Mid-Century Modernist artist Jack Rogers Hopkins

New film spotlights little-known Mid-Century Modernist artist Jack Rogers Hopkins

In 2018, the Alpine residence of the influential but now mostly forgotten 20th century Modernist sculptor Jack Rogers Hopkins was destroyed in a wildfire, taking with it most of the late artist’s handmade furniture, sculpture, paintings, tools, jewelry and other individual items.

Even though the reduction was devastating to his widow, young children, grandchildren and Modernist artwork historians, the destruction of his artwork may not have angered Hopkins, who passed absent in 2006 at age 86. As a radical artist and an influential art professor at San Diego State College, he inspired artists and his pupils to wipe out their have get the job done since he felt that the artwork process was the most significant aspect of the artwork, saying: “any artist who cannot demolish his personal work shouldn’t be an artist.”

To show the place, Hopkins ruined his possess learn do the job, the significant sculptural environmental piece of undulating wood named “The Womb Room,” which he concluded in the early 1970s.

That tale, and the very little know lifetime and function of Hopkins is the matter of “Jack Rogers Hopkins: California Design Maverick,” a shorter documentary by Katie Nartonis that will premiere Tuesday as portion of Palm Springs Modernism Week. The 20-minute film, produced in association with the Sam Maloof Basis, was produced as a companion piece to a 2020 ebook of the same identify. The screening will be followed by a Q&A featuring Nartonis and her fellow editors and writers of the e book.

Nartonis, a curator, writer, filmmaker and 20th century style and design specialist, claimed she hopes to screen the film later this year in San Diego County, wherever Hopkins expended 50 percent of his lifestyle.

The movie poster for the film "Jack Rogers Hopkins: California Design Maverick.

The film poster for the movie “Jack Rogers Hopkins: California Design and style Maverick.

(Courtesy of Katie Nartonis)

Back again in 2007, Nartonis was working in the 20th Century Ornamental Art Division at Bonhams Good Artwork Auctioneers & Valuers when one particular of Hopkins’ uncommon “Edition” chairs was offered in a Bonhams auction and, she reported, “he arrived on to my radar.”

Nartonis shortly found out that Hopkins was a main figure in the California Studio style motion in the 1960s and ‘70s and because of his spectacular system of work, he is considered 1 of the past significant untold tales of the West Coastline write-up-WWII design period.

“In the greater tale of critical American 20th Century makers, he is regarded as a single the West Coast’s most primary and influential makers,” she reported.

“The submit-war studio motion was a time period in which American home furnishings was getting to be extra idiosyncratic, sculptural and free of charge-sort. Hopkins technique to design was both radical and metaphysical,” Nartonis reported. “Hopkins is important to the countrywide tale of the handmade item, which blossomed during the mid-century and incorporated other West Coast makers these kinds of as Sam Maloof, Artwork Carpenter and JB Blunk. Hopkins was celebrated throughout his time by the style local community and showcased in important exhibits in San Diego and up and down California.”

Intrigued to find out extra of Hopkins’’ tale firsthand, Nartonis started out visiting Hopkins’ widow, Esther, and his little ones and grandchildren a lot of yrs ago. In 2020, with co-editor Jeffrey Head, she printed the book “Jack Rogers Hopkins: California Design Maverick, Master mid-century designer-craftsman.” The ebook capabilities essays by pointed out style specialists Jo Lauria, Dave Hampton, and James Rawitsch. All 5 of these reserve contributors will communicate at the Q&A following the film screening on Tuesday.

The book cover for "Jack Rogers Hopkins: California Design Maverick: Master mid-century designer-craftsman."

The e book protect for “Jack Rogers Hopkins: California Style Maverick: Master mid-century designer-craftsman.”

(Courtesy of Katie Nartonis)

According to a biography in the “California Structure Maverick” book, Hopkins grew up in Bakersfield and as a youthful boy discovered to make toys for his buddies in his father’s wooden shop, the Sierra Household furniture Mfg. Co. But in its place of pursuing woodworking as a occupation, Hopkins enlisted in the Navy and became a photographer’s mate 1st course. 6 months after the assault on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, he was assigned to the Pearl Harbor station for two years, where he photographed war exercise and reconnaissance missions in the Pacific Theatre.

In the course of a visit to the Stage Door Canteen in Washington, D.C., he satisfied his long run wife, Esther, at a dance. She was immediately taken by his creative point of view. After the war Hopkins returned to California with Esther and attended the California Faculty of Arts and Crafts, where by he researched portray and drawing on the G.I. Monthly bill and a California point out scholarship.

Right after graduating in 1950, Hopkins then attained his MFA diploma from the Claremont Faculties in 1958. In 1960, he commenced instructing at San Diego Condition University College in the Artwork office, the place he was an influential teacher right until his retirement in 1991.

In an job interview for the reserve, Esther Hopkins — who passed away in January 2022 — explained her husband’s creative progression.

“His initial artistic sort was painting, doing the job on a flat floor. He became exhausted of doing work inside the restrictions of two-dimensional work and preferred to get into 3 dimensional parts, but he did not get started performing in wood until eventually a great deal later on, all-around 1965, when he was currently earning jewelry and ceramics. The imaginative method for him was a continuum, progressing ahead but not linear given that he continued to get the job done in other mediums concurrently,” Esther Hopkins said.

In an essay for the e-book penned by the Hopkins’ young children, David Hopkins and Ann Begley-Hopkins, they wrote that their father’s deep dive into generating artwork in his house studio in the early 1960s was most likely borne from a tragedy. In December 1963, their young brother Mark was killed by a drunk driver, and generating artwork aided their father cope with his grief.

“What experienced been a passion pushed purely by love for the artwork variety turned mental, emotional and, most likely, spiritual treatment, as well, aiding him recover from that tragic reduction. In a perception, his artwork lifted him up from the ashes,” they wrote.

Through the decades that Nartonis and some others satisfied with the spouse and children to obtain details for the book and a prepared exhibition, they collected a number of of his own merchandise. As a end result, some of Hopkins’ sketchbooks, images, slides, a team of jewelry and a handful of resources and templates escaped the hearth in 2018.

The reserve and the film will be part of a spring 2024 exhibition that includes a compact collection of exceptional and critical functions by Hopkins at the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Basis for Arts and Craft’s Jacobs Education and learning Centre Gallery in Rancho Cucamonga.

Tuesday’s occasions are section of Palm Springs Modernism 7 days, an 11-working day pageant of much more than 350 events that rejoice the city’s long record as a hotbed of Mid-Century Modern style and design. Activities includes historic house, bus and going for walks tours, events, reserve signings, lectures, movie screenings and additional. Functions continue by Feb. 26.

‘Jack Rogers Hopkins: Mid-Century Structure Maverick’

When: 3 p.m. Tuesday (adopted by Q&A session)

Exactly where: Annenberg Thaetre, Palm Springs Artwork Museum, 101 N. Museum Drive, Palm Springs

Tickets: $15