LA’s Early Moderns: Art/Architecture/Photography
By Victoria Daily, Natalie Shivers and Michael Dawson

3 Essays Describe the Avant-Garde Creative Community Between the Wars

Los Angeles, CA – Balcony Press is pleased to release LA's Early Moderns: Art/Architecture/Photography. Presented in three sections by authors Victoria Dailey, Natalie Shivers and Michael Dawson with an introduction by William Deverell the book is about a secret Los Angeles, a Los Angeles filled with optimism about a different kind of “city of the future.” The reader enters a rarified social realm where client, artist, architect, lover, patron, and publisher merged in a creative ferment that occurs spontaneously and magically at rare moments in a city’s life. The 7” x 9” soft-cover book contains 196 pages, 45 color plates, and retails for $34.95 (ISBN 1-890449-16-4). Please visit for more information on this and other titles.

This unprecedented work examines the modern avant-garde of Los Angeles which was populated by the likes of Galka Scheyer, Walter and Louise Arensberg, Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, Will Connell, Lloyd Wright, Peter Krasnow, Knud Merrild, Henrietta Shore, Norman Bel Geddes, Edward Weston, John Cage, Anais Nin, Jake Zeitlin, Merle Armitage, Harriet and Sam Freeman, and several dozen others: this was a circle. It isn’t just that they knew one another, though that is abundantly clear. The modernist pioneers of Los Angeles art and architecture made statements in their work and legacies, but they were every bit as much a community as they were individual satellites of expression. These people gathered in solidarity, they met as friends and lovers, and the shared excitement over their important departures from tradition. In modest but lasting ways, they changed Los Angeles—and modernism—forever. There’s history in that, and there’s inspiration as well.

Victoria Dailey has been researching, writing about and collecting material on the art and history of Southern California for over twenty years. She has written numerous articles and lectures frequently on the subject. She is also an antiquarian bookseller, publisher and curator.

Natalie Shivers, an architect and architectural historian, directs campus planning for UCLA. She previously oversaw architectural projects for Twentieth Century Fox Studios and the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington DC. She is the author of several publications on the care and preservation of historic architecture and has edited various exhibition catalogues and essays such as “The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention” (Abrams, 1997). Ms. Shivers has also curated several exhibitions including 'Building, Art and Text: The Los Angeles Central Library' at the Getty Center and 'The Dome: Symbol of American Democracy' at the National Building Museum.

Michael Dawson is the proprietor of Dawson's Book Shop, a leading source in Southern California for rare and out of print books specializing in the fields of California history, Western Americana and photography. It is the oldest continuously operating book shop, founded by Dawson’s grandfather Ernest Dawson in 1905. Dawson also
runs the Michael Dawson Gallery specializing in photography and he has written articles on early Los Angeles photography.

Select quotes, both historic and current:

“The old problems have been solved and the styles are dead...The architect has finally discovered the medium of his art: S P A C E. A new architectural problem has been born.”
—Rudolph Schindler, 1912

“Los Angeles is a city that has conquered the impossible, done the inconceivable, produced the remarkable and, she has been proud, justly and without restraint. Take photography for instance. Here are Will Connell and a host of other artists who have tied pictorial to commercial and mechanical to art. Are not these names worthy of a city that chooses not to hide its light under a bushel?”
—Sigismund Blumann, Camera Craft, 1931

"Southern California is a place that has brought out the best in a wide array of artists and, in particular, photographers. Now Michael Dawson provides us with fresh insight as to why the sun-drenched landscape inspired photographers to look toward a sleek modernist future instead of a quaint rustic past. Through his insightful selection of key figures and thoughtful discourse on their lives and work, Dawson provides us with a series of important touchstones by which to gauge the evolution of the photographic medium as it blossomed on the far side of America during the early 20th century."
— Beth Gates Warren, historian, former Director Sotheby's New York

"Los Angeles is assumed to be a place whose history is less momentous than momentary. LA's Early Moderns begins the long rehabilitation of our understanding of the unique and important histories of Southern California. The events and characters presented by Victoria Dailey, Michael Dawson and Natalie Shivers intertwine to weave the rich texture upon which sit contemporary identities and the very concept of the "new" in Southern California."
— Tim B. Wride, Associate Curator, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

“Victoria Dailey’s cogent insights about Los Angeles Modernism add an important dimension to the history of American art and culture. Her incisive and eloquent prose makes this book essential reading for both scholarly and general audiences.”
—Elsa Longhauser, Executive Director, Santa Monica Museum of Art

“Dailey, Dawson, and Shivers have crafted a path breaking and beautifully narrated cultural history of Los Angeles not only through its modernist artist, photographers, and architects but also through its rich supporting circle of booksellers, printers, and writers. These creative forces, so superbly documented here, transformed an intellectually conservative town into a sophisticated city known for its vibrancy and innovation.”
—Gary F. Kurutz, Curator, California State Library

Balcony Press ( was established in 1994 to publish art, architecture and design books emphasizing the cultural and historical aspects of design particularly in the Western United States. Publisher Ann Gray, herself an architect, has practiced architecture professionally for nearly 20 years. Her intimate knowledge of the arts allow her to select projects with a sense of what is important. The books have achieved vigorous sales, received critical acclaim from the media and appreciation from readers looking for topics not normally covered by the publishing industry at large. Because of the art and architecture subject matter, special care is given to creating a commercially viable image with a designer "edge" to capture the interest of a discerning audience. Balcony prides itself in forming close collaborations between authors, editors, graphic artists and the printer to create a successful and beautiful end product. Balcony’s goal is to maximize quality whenever possible so that our books become long term selling classics.

Balcony Press titles are carried by independent and chain bookstores such as Rizzoli, Brentano’s, Barnes & Noble and by museum stores and gift shops.

For more information, bookings or to interview This Client please contact Lynn Hasty at Green Galactic at (323) 466-5141 or