DATE: September 19, 2017

TIME: 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

LOCATION: The Studio


Book cover of Ruth Shellhorn by Kelly Comras

Film Screening, Lecture, Reception with Book Signing. Author Kelly Comras will present a fascinating glimpse into the life and career of landscape architect Ruth Shellhorn, who helped define the distinctive mid-century regional aesthetic of Southern California.

$15 admission includes wine reception and book signing. Purchase Tickets Now!

Best known for her work on the Bullock’s department stores and Fashion Square shopping centers, projects that redefined the commercial genre as a relaxing and entertaining activity, and for her work with Walt Disney on the original design of Disneyland, Shellhorn also designed a landscape master plan for the University of California at Riverside and other campuses, as well as a number of private gardens and estates for movie stars and the business and financial leaders of the Los Angeles region. She created landscape designs that refined the indoor-outdoor living concept, and she developed a palette of plant materials that perfectly expressed the exuberance and optimism of the post-war era, which became known as “the Southern California look.”

Bullock’s Pasadena, Lake Avenue, 1967. Photographer unknown. ©Courtesy of Kelly Comras.


Kelly Comras met Shellhorn when she was in her 90’s and had the remarkable opportunity to explore her professional archives and discuss her life and career one on one.  These conversations and extensive research led to the publication of Ruth Shellhorn, which was published by the University of Georgia Press and Library of American Landscape History in 2016, and the production of a 15-minute documentary.

This lecture and film presentation is co-sponsored by the California Garden & Landscape History Society.

More about Shellhorn and Comras:

Shellhorn’s superb educational training from Oregon State College and Cornell University distinguished her from most practitioners of the time and prepared her to practice at the top of her profession, in spite of early obstacles because of her gender. Her work bridged the Beaux-Arts and the modern and she experimented with many elements of modernist landscape design, but she never identified with any particular camp. She placed a high value on how people would use the spaces she designed. Her professional peers considered much of her work to be elegant and timeless. Shellhorn collaborated with some of the finest architects of the era, including Welton Becket, A. Quincy Jones, and Wallace Neff. With architect Welton Becket, in particular, Shellhorn put post-war Los Angeles on the map.


Kelly Comras, 2015. ©Photograph by Hudson Lofchie.

Kelly Comras is a licensed landscape architect and member of the State Bar of California. Comras’ landscape architectural practice focuses on community-based open space design, and research and publication in the field of cultural landscape. She is a Fellow-elect of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a founding member of the Stewardship Council for The Cultural Landscape Foundation. Comras has served as President and Chair of the Editorial Board for Eden, the quarterly journal of the California Garden & Landscape History Society. She lectures at such institutions as Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Library of American Landscape History, UCLA, Society of Architectural Historians, California Preservation Foundation, and others. Her recently published book, Ruth Shellhorn, was released in 2016.

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$15 admission includes wine reception and book signing. Purchase Tickets Now!


Images permission: Permission to use the following images is for promotion of the above-described lecture only. All other uses require written authorization from Kelly Comras at