Mark McDonald

The Miami Years

The historic Helen Mar Apartment Hotel at 2421 Lake Pancoast Drive was designed by Robert E. Collins in 1936. Situated on Lake Pancoast in Miami Beach, the Art Deco building housed eighty-six apartments overlooking the lush, Helen-Mar Gardens and boasted “luxurious living” with “complete hotel service”. The following decades brought major changes to the area, and the once splendid building fell into neglect and disrepair. In 1987, following a resurgence of interest in local preservation, the building was purchased by Broadway producer and Miami native, Michael Harvey. Using a combination of his own funds and grants from the city, Harvey began a complete restoration of the building, stripping decades of paint and remedying bad repairs, rousing the Helen Mar back to her brilliant glory.

A vintage postcard of the Helen Mar on display in the entryway of McDonald's Miami apartment.

It is fitting that Mark McDonald—champion of all things vintage and beautiful—would choose the Helen Mar as his Miami home. Outfitted in an array of Mid-century and Art Deco designs, the stylish apartment featured thoughtfully preserved molding and finishes, meticulous tilework and cabinetry, all brought to life by a flood of South-Florida sunlight. Graphic works by Cuban and South American artists adorned the walls and inviting furniture designs by Modern masters like Charles and Ray Eames, Edward Wormley and Alvar Aalto furnished each room. True to his curating roots, McDonald effortlessly incorporated early Art Deco works by the likes of Jules Buoy, Walter Dorwin Teague and Warren McArthur into the brilliant interior, crafting a glamourous and exciting space, reflective of the Magic City itself.

The Founder of Mid-Century Design

Mark McDonald has always been at the epicenter of the world that is mid-century design, to a large extent, it is a world he created. For over forty years, Mark has pioneered whole fields of collecting, providing the scholarship and creating the market for mid-century furniture, studio jewelry, ceramics and Italian glass.

In 1983, Mark opened Fifty/50 with partners Mark Isaacson and Ralph Cutler. This groundbreaking gallery defined collectors’ taste. At the time, modern works were still largely overlooked; Mark and his partners collected and presented the rarest and most interesting pieces, often working with the makers themselves, to create compelling exhibitions accompanied by catalogs documenting the work.

In the 1990s, Mark opened Gansevoort Gallery, where he continued to curate collections and exhibitions of lasting impact. Over the years, he established relationships with artists and their estates becoming the go to authority on the designs of Art Smith, Ilonka Karasz and Leza McVey, among others. His enthusiasm for the material extended beyond the gallery floor to the back room where lucky visitors got to flip through Mark’s impressive design reference library and discuss the importance of works with him.

A connoisseur and wealth of knowledge, Mark became a resource for prominent collections across the globe—private and public alike. He inspired a generation of collectors and dealers introducing designers and their production to an audience that continues to grow. In 2002, Mark closed Gansevoort and established 330 gallery in Hudson, New York. Now, semi-retired, Marks splits his time between New York and Florida. He still collects, curates, supports, and shepherds the scholarship of mid-century design.

Glen Lukens

Glen Lukens paved the way for groundbreaking ceramists like Peter Voulkos by challenging traditional approaches to glazes and forms.

Born in Missouri, Lukens was introduced to ceramics while attending the Oregon State Agricultural School. The school lacked a potter’s wheel, thus Lukens was given a basic introduction to coil built and molding techniques; he was essentially self-taught and would spend the rest of his life experimenting and learning. He moved to Los Angeles in 1924 and became a professor at the University of Southern California where he founded their ceramics program in 1933 and taught metalworking at the architecture school. A true Renaissance man, he also worked with glass and created jewelry.

Lukens was part of a group of early studio potters, including Beatrice Wood and the Natzlers, who sought to elevate ceramics as an art form via writing, innovation, and teaching. He spent years attempting to recreate an Egyptian blue glaze, finally doing so by mining his own copper-rich clay from the Death Valley area. Lukens developed a process of pulverizing agate, amethyst, turquoise, minerals and local stones with added glass powder to produce a low-fired palette that he referred to as “California colors.” He used rough clay surfaces and rudimentary forms at a time when smooth was the standard, finding inspiration in the natural desert elements he encountered when searching the Mojave Desert, Palm Springs, and Death Valley for materials.

Beyond being an educator and artist, Lukens was a contributor to Popular Ceramics for fifteen years. After retiring from USC he moved to Haiti to teach ceramics and establish a pottery industry on the island. He died in Los Angeles in 1967 and left behind an indelible imprint on the trajectory of modern American ceramics.

Auction Results Glen Lukens