Acclaimed architect Victor Lundy, who, in the 1950s, designed some of Sarasota’s most enduringly beautiful buildings, was the star of last week’s third annual Sarasota MOD Weekend—and so were several of his paintings and drawings.
“Architecture was my art form,” Lundy, a spry 93 and now a resident of Houston, told MOD Weekend opening party guests assembled at his Blue Pagoda building on North Tamiami Trail, which was originally commissioned by the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.
But as a prolific painter and illustrator, art was his art form, too. Four large-scale paintings of the Blue Pagoda, as well as recent landscape paintings and sketchbooks from his time as a soldier in Europe in World War II, also starred at MOD Weekend. They’re part of Artist + Architect: Victor Lundy, an exhibit on display at Art Center Sarasota through Dec. 3.
The paintings almost didn’t make it. Billy Robinson, city auditor and clerk for the City of Sarasota from 1989-2009, actually found them tucked away in the basement of City Hall back in 1978. “I don’t know how they ended up in the city’s hands,” he says. But “from the minute I saw them, something drew me to them.” They hung in Robinson’s office for 20 years. “They were calming,” he says. “I’d sit in my office, which didn’t have windows, and look at these paintings. My ‘view’ was of the pagoda building and the pond in the back.”
Lundy donated his archives—some 50,000 drawings, photographs and ephemera, including those of his Sarasota projects—to the Library of Congress, says C. Ford Peatross, the recently retired founding director of the Library of Congress’ Center for Architecture Design & Engineering in Washington, D.C., who attended Sarasota MOD Weekend. Included in those archives are the works he did in Sarasota, but not those magnificent paintings of the Blue Pagoda.
“It’s the whole shebang, and that’s a conservative estimate, because [Lundy] is still making,” Peatross told us. “It’s an unprecedented amount because, unlike most architects, he hardly ever threw anything away and he kept good care of it.”
Peatross praised the “the range and quality of [Lundy’s] creative work, and its innovative nature,” on display at MOD Weekend. “The Herron House is just a revelation,” he says.
But those Blue Pagoda paintings were a delightful surprise. “I had never seen them, because they’re not part of our collection,” he says.