Local Documentary Beadle Architecture Screens at The Clarendon

Note: this post has been edited. Beadle Architecture will screen next Tuesday, August 30. 

Modernist architect Alfred Newman Beadle was notorious for adhering to an unwavering vision. But when it came to design, compromise wasn't in his vocabulary.

The man behind Phoenix's Executive Towers and Mountain Bell building worked in absolutes. It was never or always. Yes or no. 

Cave Creek-based filmmaker Suzanne Johnson's 1999 documentary Beadle Architecture explores Beadle's creative process and his sometimes volatile relationship with clients and screens for free next Tuesday night, August 30, at The Clarendon.

It was Johnson's first foray into documentary-making, and she says her goal was to highlight the balance between Beadle's vision and his clients' desires.

The documentary includes interviews with clients, including Dan and Elaine Gruber for whom Beadle designed his last house, as well as unused portions of an interview that Beadle did with HGTV.

"I was more interested in exploring his ethics," Johnson says. "Not worrying about what people wanted, but what people need."

Johnson knew Beadle through her husband, architect Michael Johnson, and her father. She made the film shortly after Beadle's death in 1998. "It was a valentine," she says. "I loved the man."

Among Beadle's buildings are the Executive Towers in Phoenix, and the now-demolished Mountain Bell. "In Arizona, he was the most important architect next to Frank Lloyd Wright," Johnson says. 

Clients explain the difficulties and successes that led to their finished homes. Johnson's stance aligns with Beadle's unwavering focus: "Once you give your needs to the architect, then you need to step back and let him deliver," Johnson says.

"I guess I'm always likening it to buying something from Picasso's blue period and saying it would look better over your couch if it had a touch of yellow."

Get an inside look at Beadle's process tonight in the Grand Room at the Clarendon. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Johnson will engage the audience in a Q&A after the movie.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski