Monday, July 28, 2014

Mosaic Monday: An Apartment House in Redondo Beach

Yikes! It's still Monday, barely--so here is a picture.

The mosaic facade is probably from the 1960s--I'm guessing--I suppose I could just say "Mid-Century." You can see the address, 389 Palos Verdes Blvd. It's in south Redondo Beach, just north of Calle Miramar. There's a tiki right in front, and I understand there are more in the courtyard inside.

Just one of those classic buildings you pass but often don't notice.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Adding Word Verification

Like all bloggers, I get a lot of spam.

Lately, a few particular posts--for no reason that I can see--are getting the same spam multiple times each day.

For that reason, I've enabled Word Verification. Now, when someone posts a comment, they'll be asked to type in a random set of letters.

Hope that works.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of the exterior of the Palace Theater on Broadway, shot on a sunny day last spring. I haven't had any excuse to post it before now and I hate to see it go to waste.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Animal Hospital of 1938--Classic Building in Danger

I could really get lost in Twitter. Now that I've figured out how to use groups to filter the  tweets from people I feel duty-bound to follow (mostly because they followed me) from folks I'm really really interested in (like Chris Nichols of LA Mag and Archaeology and Nat Geo and the Onion), I'm finding tons of interesting stuff.

Such as links to Chris Nichols' story about a 1938 Streamline Moderne building that was designed by the same team that built the Pan Pacific Auditorium. This structure, on Santa Monica Blvd., started out as a veterinary hospital and is now threatened with demolition.

The LA Conservancy has highlighted this building for a few weeks now, and the next step in deciding its fate will take place on August 18, at a City Council Meeting. Why is it threatened, when it's such an obviously neat old building? The Melrose Triangle Project will sit right on top of it. And what is being decided on August 18 is the certification of the Melrose Triangle Project.

"Sit right on top of it" is an exaggeration, of course. The original plan did call for its demolition, but once all parties became aware of the historic building, an alternative was proposed that will work around and preserve the old Dog and Cat Hospital.

The City Council could, technically, approve either plan. They could also delay or ask for more studies or whatever.

If you want to learn more about this curvy glass-bricked building, Los Angeles Magazine & Mr. Nichols have put up a story with:

  • Great pictures of the shiny-new building and its rooms in the late 1930s

  • Sad pictures of how it looks today

  • A bio of Dr. Eugene C. Jones, the veterinarian

  • As complete a story of the building as anyone could wish for

A Facebook page has more pictures and updates as well, and promises more photos from the Getty Research Archives. And LAWeekly has more in a story focused on two women who are heading up the drive to save the building.

Two Events: One Serious, One Silly

The city of Torrance is planning a big memorial to celebrate Louis Zamperini's life, on July 31 at Torance High School's Zamperini Stadium. The stadium is off Arlington at 2125 Lincoln, so Mapquest the site (it is not attached to the school).

Much more information is in this Daily Breeze article, which also answers a burning question (well, it's been burning on the "You Know You're From Torrance If..." Facebook page): In the new Unbroken  move, where were the scenes of Louis Zamperini's childhood shot? Turns out, Australia.

Who would've guessed?

The second event I'd like to mention is a big 6-hour school-bus-and-walking-tour of Los Angeles by Charles Phoenix, coming up on August 24. It begins and ends at Union Station and is billed as a Disneyland Tour because Phoenix sees Downtown LA as a giant theme park.

I think he's right, especially when you factor in all the waiting you have to do to get around there . . .

That first link was to the Facebook Event Page, but here is one to that describes the entire tour. Chinatown, Olvera Street, lunch at Phillipe's--sounds like a great afternoon!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mosaics in Seattle, Part 2

If you've ever been to Seattle, you've probably taken the Seattle Underground Tour (Yelp site), more properly known as Bill Spiedel's World Famous Underground Tour. The tour is centered in Pioneer Square and guides you up and down locked staircases, into the nearly-original streets of the city, which are one floor down.

Never been? Well, it's more than fascinating--it's funny. Lots of humor revolving around toilets that turned into geysers at high tide, plus a few set pieces from an old TV show ("Kolchak, the Night Stalker") which filmed an episode in the underground, and an explanation of why the glass in the cement-and-glass slabs has turned purple.

There are no mosaics underground, but this one is from the back hallway leading to the bathrooms of Doc Maynard's, the latest incarnation of the restaurant that surrounds the Underground Tour ticket booth.

Also in the Pioneer Square area, I saw this tabletop mosaic.

'Fraid I don't know anything about it.

Finally, who can go to Seattle without taking a picture of the Space Needle?

It's not possible. But below right is the picture that really caught my eye: the Space Needle fronted by (as the caption reads):


MEASURES 60'  BY 17' 

Horiuchi lived in Seattle, and created this mural--which is really a mosaic--for the World's Fair.

Horiuchi started out with sheets of torn, brightly colored paper and enlarged them--the intent was to evoke the rich colors of the Northwest. Fabricated in Italy, the finished mosaic is made of 54 colored panels of Venetian glass, with 160 color variations.

The Seattle Mural is now the backdrop of the stage of the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheater. It was restored in 2011, just in time for the 50th anniversary of that fair and Seattle Center.

There are tons of pictures of the Seattle Mural on the Internet, some with performers in front of it, some in the fog, some with enhanced colors--but I like the one below, from Art Beat, the best.

Seattle has so many more mosaics! We passed parks, schools, and businesses ornamented with mosaic art, but they went by so fast I didn't get pictures. Public art is a big part of Seattle's vibe, just like music is. That's one reason why it's so much fun to visit.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mosaics in Seattle

She's back!

Two weeks away in the great Northwest, and what do I have to show for it? Besides a big grin and about five extra pounds, courtesy of tastings and flights? Pictures of mosaics!

In fact, the Fremont area of Seattle, which I'm assured is trendy and bohemian, is awash in mosaics. Well, it rains even in July there, so it's awash in just about everything.

I found Pique Assiette mosaics there, if you can believe that. The proof is in this picture.

No idea what artists were involved or if it was a community effort (I suspect yes) but the ground of this patio or plaza is covered in widely spaced tiles, with the grout being filled with things like bottle caps, screwdrivers, keys--lots of keys--and broken toys. And this pair of scissors.

The little square or plaza where these mosaics reside is most notable for an 8-ton bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin, which was cast in Soviet Czechoslovakia just a year before the communist government fell. Must have been aggravating for the artist, Emil Venkov, because he had worked on it for ten years. He portrayed Lenin against a background of flames and violence, most unusual, but the statue was thrown down.

How did it end up in Seattle? An American teacher in Poland, Lewis Carpenter, came across it in a scrap metal yard. With the help of a few others, he managed to buy the statue and have it shipped to Washington, but he had to mortgage his home to do so. He felt it should be preserved as a work of art.

Mr. Anderson died in a car crash before the statue was installed, and his family is willing to sell--but for upwards of a quarter million dollars.

The pique assiette mosaics are in the low walls and ground behind Lenin.

Have not found any mention of Lenin's red hands, and in fact they don't look red in other pictures of the statue, so I assume their color is due to local vandals or vandalizing activists, rather than the artist Venkov.

Just a couple of blocks away from Lenin and the pique assiette mosaics is this work of art by Jo Braun and Kate Jessup, installed last year. It was pouring rain when I took this photo, but it came out well.

The piece is called "Invasion of the FoundFacians." You can scroll through pictures of the artwork's elements and the planning stages on Jo Braun's website. Close up, you can see that some of the landscape is iridescent.

There was more public art and sculpture in the area, and I missed most of it because, being an Angeleno, I wimp out in rain. But I do have more pictures from both Seattle and Half Moon Bay in California, which I'll share over the next few Mosaic Mondays.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mosaic House in Venice

This one's no secret--it's got its own website and Facebook page, both of which proclaim the address and keep folks updated on public tour dates. The photo at right came from the website, and there are many more there--but I'm particularly fond of wisteria so we'll start with that.

The mosaic house sits on Palms Blvd, between Lincoln and Penmar. It's owned by Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran, both busy and successful artist. Lately, their work has been focused in Los Angeles, and a big part of that work is on exhibit in their home.

As you can see from the picture below left, from the AvoidingRegret blog, there's a great deal of pique-assiette in this home--as there was in the last two Mosaic Monday posts, which focused on works by Jolina Beserra.

But it's not all one style, and the artists, while whimsical, also consider the home a work of art first, and a novelty second. Since 1994, Cheri has created the tiles, and Gonsalo shatters and scatters, according to one post--but I'm sure it's more collaborative and less simplified than that.

Cheri Pann told blogger Sandi of AvoidingRegret that she considers her home different from, say, Simon Rodia's Watts Towers. "For them [Rodia et al] it's an obsession," she said. "In art, there's planning. We strategize everything."

There are many photo essays on the Venice Mosaic House, but my favorite is at AvoidingRegret, and I suggest you scroll through for the big photos and the small details. I think I like it best because the post starts out by admitting that photos cannot do the house justice.

The rest of the photos here come from AtlasObscura, from a blog written by Robert, whose signature seems to be RJHEMEDES. Hope I got that right. There are many more pictures in his article, so please go see it.

First is the kitchen, and I must honestly state that I can't tell what is real above the sink and what is mortared onto the shelf and wall. The bananas are real right? And most of the coffee cups and bowls. . . maybe.

Second is the bath. Third is the front porch. Such mundane words for such wondrous sites.

More pictures of the kitchen from other angles are on the other websites  mentioned, including this page from Cheri Pann's website.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Boardner's--on Cherokee, near Hollywood Blvd--has been in business since 1942. The picture at right is recent though. Boardner's was used in the movie Gangster Squad (starring Ryan Gosling) and that's why Cherokee was lined with vintage cars and men in fedoras.

The tilted neon sign is exactly the same, but the painted brick and posters, as well as the red awning, were added for the movie. 

Below is a picture of the sign at night--taken in 2012, same as Gangster Squad: the year that Boardner's turned 70. Not sure who to credit these pictures to--they are posted on several sites.

Before it was Boardner's though, it was a speakeasy upstairs, and a beauty shop called Morressy's Hair Salon downstairs. And before that, when it was founded in 1927, it was called My Blue Heaven, after the song. The owner was none other than the songwriter, Gene Austin.

Steve Boardner came along in 1942, when he lost his lease at the Cross Roads of the World (at Sunset and Las Palmas) and was looking for a new place for his bar and restaurant. Steve established the Boardner's we know today--upstairs and down. Out with the beauty salon, in with the bar.

Here's a short list of the movies Boardner's has been in:

  • Ed Wood
  • LA Confidential
  • Hollywood Homicide,
  • Wag the Dog
  • Leaving Las Vegas

TV shows include NCIS-LA, Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23, Numbers, Angel, and Cold Case. That is not a complete list at all.

Boardner's biggest claim to fame may be that it's believed to be the last place where Black Dahlia victim Elizabeth Short was seen alive. Other stories are mentioned at Boardner's website.

That picture of W.C.Fields was over the booth I sat at. It's real. He signed it back in the 1940s. 

Through the main bar is a patio with stage, and the floor out there is authentically old but not conducive to spiky heels. Here's a shot of it from above through a window, and another of some of the detail. Only a true history geek would take pictures like these (thanks, Flo!)

Back in the early days, this patio was for customers who parked behind--the building was the first in LA to have a drive-in business. 

The entire building that encloses Boardner's is called the Cherokee building, and was designed by Norman Alpaugh--including the patio.

The upstairs room, which used to be the speakeasy, has been goth-ed up with an antique bar that once was at the Biltmore Hotel, and murals that replicate stained glass from the Pere la Chaise Cemetery of France. So what's not original, in other words, evokes a sense of "divine decadence." Although you do need to give your eyes time to get used to the darkness.

I'd just like to add that they serve great macaroni and cheese. And other stuff, too--fabulous nachos--but good mac & cheese is a big weakness of mine.

If you ask really nicely they'll probably give you a copy of their 5-page history, which includes a list of the celebrity regulars that have stopped by over the years. Some of the names have their regular drinks listed--W. C. Fields, it turns out, drank Coke there. Ed Wood liked scotch and water; Mickey Mantle came in for bourbon & ginger ale. Phil Harris ordered coffee and anisette.

Monday, June 9, 2014

South Pasadena Library Mosaic

Another week, another library, another children's room, another pique-assiette mosaic by Jolino Beserra. Could that possibly get old? Take a look at the picture on the left, and you tell me.

This mosaic pillar was installed in 2011 in the Children's Room of the South Pasadena Library, and I believe the Friends of the Library covered the expenses.

And that's all I know--I will leave you with this lovely photo of the pillar, up on a Flickr photostream by one Walterrr.

Tiki Bars in Los Angeles and Beyond

Monday again? Yikes, where does the time go?

Don't answer. I know. I have 3 facebook pages to update daily, a twitter feed, and my lovely site--check it out--just for a start. BUT . . .

While I gather pictures for a new Mosaic Monday post, here is some recommended Los Angeles History reading material on Tiki Bars! Who doesn't love Tiki Bars?

  • This Bucket List Bar post features the five oldest such treasures in the country--and included on the list are TWO from Los Angeles County.

  • While we're on the topic, here is a much more comprehensive article from LA Weekly, one year ago (OK, 13 months) listing the five top Tiki Bars in Los Angeles. I could get into that kind of research.

  • The hits just keep on comin'. Thrillist published "The 17 Best Tiki Bars in America" last January. Only one (Tiki Ti) is from LA.

  • The Chow blog narrowed the LA tiki-themed bars down to three in this post: Tiki Ti, Tonga Hut, and Damon's Steak House (and I'm using their picture).

Maybe this will inspire you to do your own research, because the solstice is right around the corner and where better to celebrate?

You're welcome.