Carter Sparks : Architect, Modernist, Friend

photo courtesy Jennifer Sparks

(There are NEW and EXTENDED gallery hours for the exhibit through closing on Oct. 25th: M&W 10:30-4:00 pm, T&Th 10:00-7:00 pm, Fridays 9:00-4:00 pm & Saturday Oct 21st 10:00-2:00 pm.   Please see map and parking notes at bottom of page.)

Sacramento Modern is pleased to present Carter Sparks : Architect, Modernist, Friend, opening October 4th at the Kondos Gallery located on the Sacramento City College campus. 

Sparks is one of Sacramento’s most recognized and beloved Modernist architects, and is best known for his work with Streng Brothers Homes. Alone, as the architect for the Streng Brothers, Sparks contributed to over 3,000 modern residences in the Sacramento Region. In addition to these plentiful examples, Sparks designed commercial and civic buildings and many custom homes for individual clients, ranging in feature and style from modest low-slung concrete block and plywood structures, to expressionist forms employing hyperbolic roofs and symphonic beam play, to larger cathedrals of redwood and glass.

Architectural rendering of the Fava Residence, 1956 by Carter Sparks

A charismatic individual, and ardent believer that an architect’s design should be based on an extended study of clients’ wants, needs and personality, Sparks forged close and enduring friendships with many of them. This exhibition will feature early drawings, renderings, photographs, models and ephemera surveying Sparks’ output from the early 1950s, until the early 1990s.

Detail from Norskog Residence, 1963/1980. Photograph by Justin Wood

Sparks studied engineering at Oregon State University before his studies were interrupted by WWII, during which he served as an ensign air navigator for the Navy. He resumed his studies after the war, and in 1950 earned a Bachelor of the Arts in Architecture from UC Berkeley. Sparks worked as a draftsman for two architectural firms in San Francisco: first for Mario Corbett, and later with Anshen and Allen (who designed homes for Joseph Eichler). In Sacramento, he was a designer with Gordon Stafford. After earning his state license, Sparks opened his own firm in 1954. He partnered with Donald Thaden for a few years, but primarily worked as a sole practitioner.Sparks was born on February 26, 1923 and passed away October 30, 1996.

Exhibition runs from October 4 -25, 2017 with an opening reception October 11th from 4:30 – 6:30 pm.  

The exhibit is FREE, but parking is not—and is enforced 24/7; be sure to purchase a parking permit at one of the machines in the North Lot ($2 CASH ONLY) or Parking Structure ($2).

There are NEW and EXTENDED gallery hours for the exhibit through closing on Oct. 25th: M&W 10:30-4:00 pm, T&Th 10:00-7:00 pm, Fridays 9:00-4:00 pm & Saturday Oct 21st 10:00-2:00 pm. 

Curated by Sacramento artist Justin Wood of the Carter Sparks Archive ( www.cartersparks.org ) and Sacramento Modern ( www.sacmod.org ).

For inquiries and sponsorship opportunities, please contact sparksarchive (at) gmail.com

Donate to help support the Carter Sparks : Architect, Modernist, Friend exhibition:

Photograph of the Clauss Residence, 1963. Photographer unknown, possibly John Clauss

June 18th, 2016: Next Sacramento Mid-Century Modern Home Tour!

SacMod’s highly praised and most requested event is back! Join SacMod (Sacramento Modern) on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at the Sacramento Mid-Century Modern Home Tour from 9AM to 3PM. Tickets sold online here.  To order tickets by phone, please call Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006. Phone orders are available 24/7.

Details below!

Our 2016 tour will feature a wide variety of mid-20th century living — highlighting the time period’s distinctive architecture, design, and lifestyle. Spend a fun day touring some of Sacramento’s best mid-century homes, gardens, and vehicles in Sacramento’s beautiful South Land Park, Land Park, and Hollywood Park neighborhoods. From minimalist to kitsch, moderns to ranch homes, and everything in between. Our collectible guidebook features in-depth historic information, related points of interest, and local vintage resources.

Space is limited — buy your tickets early to ensure you don’t miss out!
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Charles Phoenix: Sacramentoland

A Live Comedy Slide Show Performance Celebrating the Capitol City like it’s a Big Theme Park!  
Charles Phoenix:  Sacramentoland - October 16, 2015
Charles Phoenix: Sacramentoland – October 16, 2015
Brown Paper Tickets Buy Now
Brown Paper Tickets Buy Now

Prepare for your local pride to SWELLL when Ambassador of Americana, Charles Phoenix, sweeps us away on a madcap adventure as he uncovers the stories and glories of Sacramento’s classic and kitschy landmarks and lore.

With his gracious sense of humor, unbridled enthusiasm, and keen expertise,  Charles lavishes the city’s most colorful “attractions” with the respect they SO deserve; revealing the unique style, backstories, and pop-cultural significance of Pancake Circus, Jim Denny’s, Iceland Skating Rink, Gunther’s Ice Cream, Vic’s Ice Cream, Sam’s Hofbrau, County Club Lanes, Fairytale Town, Tower Theatre, Crest Theatre, and Old Town.  

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Historic Mercury Cleaners Neon Sign Reinstalled!

Video courtesy of Roberta Deering

On June 26, 2015, the historic Mercury Cleaners Neon Sign (circa 1946-47) was returned to 16th Street near O Street in Sacramento. SacMod was happy to be invited to participate in the relighting ceremony! The sign and business were integrated across the street from their original location and into the new Legado de Ravel Apartments complex. 

Hats off to:

CADA for understanding the importance and relevance of the Mercury Cleaners sign and working so hard to return it to 16th Street;

• To Pacific Neon for their skilled renovation;

• To all who helped behind the scenes on this project — many individuals and organizations were involved.

Our City’s historic neon signs are cultural artifacts and landmarks. They are handmade works of art. They provide a sense of place and tell the story of our city’s past.

Unfortunately, we’ve been losing them at an alarming rate. There used to be thousands — and now there are only around 100. They are lost to disrepair, abandonment, and redevelopment.

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Capital Decades 1960s at the Sacramento Library

Capital Decades 1960s
Capital Decades 1960s

On May 12th, 2015 at 6:30 pm. we are joining our friends at the Sacramento Public Library again this year for “Capital Decades: 1960s.” We’ll be teaming with James Scott for “The Best of Times, the Toughest of Times: Sacramento Life, Leisure and Reaction to that Damned War in Southeast Asia.”  Join us and reminisce or learn about our local history!

Join SacMod for two 2014 AIACV Experience Architecture Week events!

Bateson.1981ProgArch.PhotobyRobSuper
The Bateson Building is one of several buildings featured on the Drawing Safari, October 12, 2014. Photo © Rob Super

Sacramento Modern (SacMod)  will be teaming up with the Central Valley Chapter of American Institute of Architects (AIACV) for two great events this October: a Drawing Safari on October 12th and a film screening of “The Vision of Paulo Soleri: Prophet In The Desert” on October 13th!

What exactly is Experience Architecture Week? AIACV President Kris Barkley explains here and here.

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Mid-Century Madness!

We’re excited to check out “Mid-Century Madness”, a show at Blue Line Arts in Roseville. Opening this Thursday, June 5 — with an Artist’s Reception June 21 — it promises to be a fun exhibition featuring Mid-Century inspired artwork, period furniture, lamps and other crazy stuff representative of the era curated by Tony Natsoulas with contributions from members of SacMod (Sacramento Modern)!

For more information, see the flyer or check out Blue Line’s website at http://www.bluelinearts.org/exhibits/exhibits.html

Mid-Century Madness Flyer

Duck, Cover, and Scramble!

Bert Duck and CoverHey kids! Get ready for a blast from the past! Tuesday, May 13, 6 p.m. “Duck, Cover, and Scramble: Sacramento, the 1950s and the Cold War” at the Central Sacramento Public Library Galleria!

Fallout shelters, the specter of Sputnik, and learning to embrace the atom are just a few of the topics to be discussed by Gretchen Steinberg of SacMod (Sacramento Modern) and James Scott of Sacramento Public Library.

More here: http://www.saclibrary.org/home/events/?eventId=109457

Capital Decades - 50's

Some Concrete Thinking (and Biking)

Nice turnout of over 70 people yesterday! We hope those of you who joined SacMod (Sacramento Modern) for our “Concrete Thinking” bike tour in collaboration with Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates had a great time *AND* gained a stronger understanding of and appreciation for the buildings and art that we highlighted. If you missed it, don’t worry! You can still enjoy our expanded walking tour later this year.

concrete thinking instagrams

Photo credits: Photos 1, 3, 4, 6, and 8 – Justin Wood; Photo 2 – Jefferson Lieb; Photo 5 – Patrick Stelmach; Photos 7 and 9 – Zann Gates.