Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fine Arts Building

The Los Angeles Times story on the acquisition of the Fine Arts Building by CNN commentator/attorney Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck is full of history and a beautiful photo.

In brief, the building opened in 1926 at 811 W. 7th street. According to the Times: "The Fine Arts Building was designed by Los Angeles architects Albert R. Walker and Percy A. Eisen, who also created such well-known structures as the Oviatt Building downtown, the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills and the El Cortez Hotel in San Diego."

The article highlights some of the artistic addendum of the building, like the tiles by Pasadena master Ernest A. Bachelder.

This picture and the one above are shamelessly copied from the Public Art in LA website. (Please visit their site--it's far more interesting than mine.) You can see the statue in context, way back in the good old days. Also visible is the sign for the Pig & Whistle restaurant on the ground floor. Over the course of 80 years, it became a McDonald's--but Geragos and Kabateck plan on putting a high-end restaurant there once again.

Most interesting are the sculptors by Claremont artist Burt Johnson ("Architecture," that solid hunk with attitude--above--is his work). That site draws on 1926 reviews of the building for a little more detail, not to mention tons o' pix and the history of the building's name (which was restored to Fine Arts Building only in 1982).

Turns out that sculptor Burt Johnson had a heart attack while working in the building. He came back in a wheelchair to direct his assistants, and died while modeling the sculpture of the girls kneeling in the lobby pool. He was 37 years old.

Fine Arts Building is also described at the Los Angeles Conservancy website, where I stole this last picture. They point out that the building was originally intended to house artists at work, and provided showrooms and galleries.


P Schwarz said...

Corrections: Burt Johnson did NOT have a heart attack in the building but while at home. He worked in a wheelchair in his studio. He was working on a herm statue of a little girl before he died. I am his granddaughter and currently am researching his art for future publications. Glad you enjoy the building and art! Priscilla Schwarz

Vickey Kall said...

Thank you so much for correcting the record--and I'm sorry you lost your grandfather before you could even know him!