Ventura is growing and the past is fading. The Show Must Go On
presents images of days gone by and images in the process of becoming the past.
After a long and heated community debate, the Mayfair Theatre, on Ash and Santa Clara, was finally demolished in early August 2004. Just weeks before, artists and photographers were called on location to record, each in their own heart felt way, the last view of her proud and solemn façade.
The Show Must Go On is a community album, bringing its members together in the same way a family creates and documents the ancestors and present generations into a cohesive whole. We tie friends and family together with photo albums and scrape books, and likewise, a community needs its related edifices, each with its own dignity and destiny, recorded together as well.
In recent times we have watched Ventura go through growing pains that naturally come from a parting of the past. We said farewell to a number of old but cherished businesses in the Downtown Cultural District. Rents rose and older businesses fell by the wayside. Some vintage businesses and their owners naturally retired. Modernization, and the new wave of the forward looking young, never seizes to challenge, weaken and remove the old and outdated.
We said goodbye to a long list of community members for various reasons. Among them were Rain's Shoes and Edie's Treasure Room, but the most painful goodbye went to the Mayfair Theatre, who's marquee now rests at the fading Meta Motel on Thompson and Figueroa. Although they are gone, or almost gone from view, they will not be forgotten. We will keep them in this album, in our memory and in our hearts - always remembering that The Show Must Go On.
It wasn't long after I moved to Ventura in 2002
that I noticed the old gutted Mayfair Theatre on the corner of Ash and Santa Clara, just a few blocks from the Downtown Cultural District. On my
many walks into town I would pass by wondering about its history and thinking that one day it would no longer be there to inspire nostalgia.
The demolition came faster than I expected and so I was happy to have taken photographs, along with so many others, of what was left of the once proud movie house so vital to Ventura's collective memory.
The Mayfair Theatre was one of some 400 theatres that were designed by the noted architect S. Charles Lee, who's use of Art Deco design was an innovation in its time.
Lee designed movie houses between 1920 and 1940. Many theatres are still standing today and some are very well preserved and renovated. The Bruin Theatre in Westwood, The Bay Theatre in Pacific Palisades and the Vogue in Oxnard are among them.
As a photographer and painter I am always admiring Ventura's natural and cultural landmarks. Although the Mayfair Theatre brought warmth and interest to the corner of Ash and Santa Clara, it was time to give way to the future and to the Mayfair Lofts, a new and forward-looking architectural structure, respectfully named after its cherished predecessor.
I would like to thank Michael R Meyer
of MRM Web Design
for his enthusiastic support and advice in the graphic layout of the exhibit album and for the development of www.MayfairTheatre.com
Appreciation goes to Danielle Villa
of Scrapbooker's Villa
for her impeccable taste, which transformed the otherwise simple album into a special presentation.
Gratitude goes to Lena Johnson
for her fine artistic eye in the choice of images and materials used throughout the project.
I would also like to mention the framing crew at Aaron Brothers
, directed by
, for their unexpected expertise and personable approach.
Special thanks goes to Jack Clise
of Down Home Furnishings
for his immediate receptivity to my project. Also, I would like to acknowledge Harriet Clise and Anne Helson. All together they have supplied me with a wonderful venue for my exhibition, without which, the show could not go on
The S.C. Lee's 1939 rendering of the Mayfair Theatre is the property of the UCLA Library Special Collections Department. Copyright © 1998 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Photographs by Julius Shulman, Copyright © 2000 Julius Shulman.
Original Pussy Cat logo, Courtesy of Tim David.
Copyright © 2005 by Sarah Kalvin
All Rights Reserved