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Historic Old Town Courtyard

Ideal Setting for Keister Book Signing

By Julie Kolb

Old Town's historic Seeley Stables provided the intimate setting for a recent lecture and presentation by author and photographer Doug Keister. Held on the evening of Saturday, September 17, the event celebrated the release of Keister's 26th book, Courtyards: Intimate Outdoor Spaces.

For many SOHO members, Keister's name is well-known for the books he has photographed in collaboration with authors, designers, and experts, as well as the books he produced in his own right as author and photographer. SOHO Executive Director Bruce Coons introduced Keister noting that past books have covered such diverse subjects as bungalows, trailers, and mausoleums, among others. With historic architecture as the broad unifying theme of his past work, his latest book about courtyards continues that theme.

The presentation offered the chance to preview many of the photos included in the new book as well as the unique opportunity to hear Keister elaborate on his inspirations for it, how he selected sites to photograph, and why specific courtyards had been included. He recalled the challenges of finding private courtyards to photograph, pointing out that by their very nature as private havens they are hidden from public view.

Naturally, San Diego featured prominently in both Keister's lecture and the photographs included in the book. Photos of Balboa Park as well as several private houses illustrated our region's own significant contribution to both the diversity of style and popularity of courtyards, providing audience members with the opportunity to view our city's familiar public spaces from a new perspective.

Joining San Diego as one of the regions in the United States that boasts a large stock of lovely courtyards, New Orleans has also been amply represented in the book. As photos of courtyards in New Orleans illuminated the screen, Keister gave voice to the poignancy of seeing these lovely spaces in the aftermath of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. As he identified specific features illustrated in each of these photos he wondered what might have become of each of them.

Following the lecture, attendees took the short walk from the Seeley Stables to the courtyard of the historic 1825 Estudillo House, an image of which is included in Keister's book. The Estudillo House is rarely open to the public at night, but was made available to SOHO because of the special relationship we have with the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. As Keister answered questions and signed copies of his new book, guests mingled under the cover of the courtyard veranda enjoying the catered reception which included a sumptuous medley of hors d'oeuvres and wine. Lit only by lantern light and starlight, the nocturnal beauty of the Estudillo House truly showed the attraction of courtyard living.

Joining SOHO staff in making this special event possible were SOHO members Janet and Kevin Conway who applied their creativity to the lovely set up of the reception and who helped at the conclusion of the event. Appreciation is also expressed to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park's Elizabeth Allancortt and Bob Wohl who opened the venues for the event.

2005 - Volume 36, Issue 4


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