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February 11, 2014 / Linda Hartong


When Carmel was just a small community of artists and Bohemians, formal performance venues were few,so artists created informal salons in their homes where they explored and shared new ideas, creations, and perspectives of life on the western American edge of the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s. 

The Carl Cherry Center for the Arts carries on this old Carmel tradition. This artistic hideaway provides an environment for contemporary theater, art exhibits, concerts, solo dramatic performances, and poetry readings.

Cherry Center for the Arts

I am off to find the Center. I know it is at 4th and Guadalupe but even when I arrive I am in doubt that this is the place.


I feel I have traveled back in time to Old Carmel.


I park in front and get out of my car, only to find I have just missed a lecture on Joseph Campbell. My Psychology professors would be so disappointed in me.


The front door is closed and locked so I make my way around the building.




Once the building looked like this. A Victorian with a lot of gingerbread trim.

IMG_7802photo from the Historical Archives

Very similar to the Abbie Jane Hunter house across the street.


It was known as the Augusta Robertson cottage when it was built in 1890, the original house was acquired by Carl Cherry’s mother in the 1920s. Today, rooms that were once living and lounging areas serve as exhibit space for local and national painters, sculptors, and photographers. 

Very little of the original house remains. Carl Cherry 

IMG_7792photo from Historical Archives

bought it from his mother, Mrs C.E. Thatcher, in the 1930’s. When he moved into the house with his lover Lena Burton,


photo from Historical Archives

wife of Dr. Albert Burton, former Dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lena was 24 years older than Carl and even in Bohemian Carmel the two raised eyebrows.

The two removed the second story and added a large work room and studio. It is said that “she climbed a ladder, drew a chalk mark around the upper story and told a carpenter to cut it off there.” John Woolfended -Herald Special Writer.


Carl invented the blind rivet which revolutionized the aircraft industry. He died in 1949 at the age of 46.

Lena changed her name to Jeanne d’Orge and established the Cherry Center in Carl’s honor.

I see a path leading west of the Center and explore. This is the Houston Memorial Sculpture Garden.


Once a tire, this has become an exotic plant. 


I circle the garden and enjoy the “Balance Series”.









The door is still locked so I come back another day to find it open.


The docent watering the garden tells me an show by Jim Casteel and Peter Partch is just being installed and allows me to sneak a few photos.








What a beautiful space.

The Center also has an intimate 50 seat theater.

For performers, the Cherry’s small theater space enhances storytelling and helps draw in the audience. Actors and directors also connect with the audience after performances, mingling in the Cherry Center gallery where discussion is welcomed and encouraged.

The Cherry also produces concerts, recitals, and multi-media performances, as well as a regular series of stimulating lectures, workshops, classes, and panel discussions, entertaining and informing theater audiences throughout the year.

Jeanne d’Orge was a fascinating and complicated artist. For further reading I suggest “Better Than Beauty- the Life and Work of Jeanne d’Orge by Jane Wilgress.



Leave a Comment
  1. / Feb 11 2014 2:52 am

    Great write-up, Linda! The docent watering is my good friend and neighbor, Frankie Laney.  She’s on the Cherry  board and also an artist member at the Carmel Art Assoc.   best, Mary  

  2. web hosting virginia beach / Mar 13 2014 2:01 pm

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