The legacy of the 20th-century American landscape architect James Rose (1913 – 1991) is thrust into the spotlight, thanks to a new exhibition of contemporary art and design installed in his preserved, idiosyncratic midcentury home and garden in the suburbs of Ridgewood, New Jersey (9 September – 2 October 2022). Handbuilt by Rose, known for his use of readymade materials and pioneering approach of fusing the indoors and outdoors, the home, which now functions as the non-profit James Rose Center for Landscape Architectural Research and Design, is an inspiring and tactile example of the architect’s philosophy, in design, spirituality and beyond.
Titled ‘At the Rose House’, the exhibition is organised by New York-based design firm Green River Project and art and design platform Object & Thing – known for its collaborative, site-specific shows within 20th-century artists’ and architects’ homes – and celebrates Rose’s design accomplishments by highlighting the extent of his influence, both then and now.
By bringing in objects, art and furniture by both Rose’s contemporaries, such as Charles and Ray Eames, Nancy Holt and Anne Truitt, and today’s rising talents, such as new furniture by Green River Project, chairs from the artist Hugh Hayden, ceramics by Johnny Ortiz-Concha, as well as garments by the fashion label Bode that are inspired by Rose’s personal style and eccentricity, the exhibition emphasises the ingenuity and value of the handmade by capturing how fleeting and rare these unique aspects can be.
For Green River Project, bringing this exhibition to life had an especially poignant significance. ‘The ease in which Rose expanded the home using ready-made materials was an early reference for our practice,’ says Aaron Aujla, who co-founded the company with Ben Bloomstein. ‘In particular, there is a kitchen with mahogany shelves and pegboard that we must have spent over one hundred hours dissecting and referring back to over the last five years. Ben and I also started Green River Project as a gallery, in the barn of his family’s farm in upstate New York, so organising this exhibition with [Object & Thing’s] Abby [Bangser] was a great exercise that brought us back to one of our original goals.’
To honour the milestone, Green River Project has created new work with Rose’s spirit in mind. Imagined as if he were making work today, the studio also unveiled pieces made with longtime collaborators and members of their team, such as a cast metal side chair by Bloomstein Industrial, a wooden chair in Rose's mother;s room Luck Carpentry and rice paper lamps from Preziosi Lighting that can be seen in the dining room, as well as elsewhere.
To accompany several of the artworks that are being displayed, such as paintings by Louis Eisner and Matt Kenny, Green River Project also created new frames that nod to Rose's existing interventions in the house. The firm also created a rosewood pedestal to accompany an edition of Charles and Ray Eames’ Plywood Sculpture, 1941, which is being released by Eames Office for the first time.
At one time the home of Rose, his sister and his mother, the James Rose Center eventually became a place where research, design and rebellion against the norm is celebrated. Its unique, two-storey structure, which features an open-air upper floor, as well as self-made pools, ponds and fountains that can be seen through the house's windows, would be rare to find today.
‘Rose was an impossible maverick, called by one author “the James Dean of Landscape Architecture”, but I think he would be very happy with the vision Green River Project LLC and Object & Thing have brought to his house,’ says Dean Cardasis, director of the James Rose Center. ‘We look forward to welcoming new audiences throughout the exhibition.’
The James Rose Center is open for public visits Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 4pm during the exhibition. There is a $10 admission fee that benefits The James Rose Center and is charged upon entry.
‘At the Rose House’ runs from 9 September to 2 October 2022
James Rose Center
506 E Ridgewood Avenue
Ridgewood, New Jersey
T: 1 201 466 6017
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Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
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