Friday, August 31, 2012

Inkwell History in Santa Monica

Following up on the Ocean theme, here are some free historically-themed activities coming up:

From 9 am to noon on Saturday, September 15, you can learn about the Inkwell in Santa Monica. Docents from the Santa Monica Conservancy will be at Bay Street and Oceanfront Walk—the site of the Inkwell, which for years was the only beach open to African Americans. The event is in conjunction with Coastal Cleanup Day so don’t be surprised if the docents hand you a trash bag and put you to work, too.

The next day--Sunday, September 16, the Santa Monica Main Library at 601 Santa Monica Blvd, you can learn even more about the Inkwell at a special screening of White Wash, a film about African American surfing. Archival footage and interviews will talk about the Inkwell in particular. After the film, director Ted Woods, along with historian Alison Rose Jefferson and Rick Blocker of will lead a discussion. Again, free, but seating is first come, first serve at the library's MLK Auditorium.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Temporary Mosaic

Starting August 29, artist Motoi Yamamoto of Japan will make a mosaic of salt at the Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University in Westchester. The process and the resulting mosaic is called Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto.

The artist has created these artworks all over the world, each one unique, each one standing for only a few weeks or months. The picture below is of an installation in Marseilles and comes from the artist's blog.

This picture is from an installation in Seoul.

I think this qualifies as mosaic--I learned about it in Mosaic Art Now. And while salt granules are smaller than tiles or bits of glass, making a picture of them is just such an interesting concept that I hope we can blur the line.

Yamamoto came to this unusual art form as a way of memorializing his younger sister, who died of brain cancer. Salt is a symbol of purification and mourning in Japan, and as the Gallery puts it, the art "radiates an intense beauty and tranquility, but also conveys something ineffable, painful, and endless."

For three days, from 10 am to 4 pm on Wednesday through Friday, you can come watch the artist work. Ditto the next week, on Tuesday 9/4 through Thursday 9/6--all free.

On Saturday, September 8, a reception will be held from 4 to 6 pm, then the artwork will be on display through the first week of December. When the exhibit is finished, the salt is bagged and returned to the sea. The following video shows an installation from earlier this year:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

California Forever on PBS--Our State Parks

California Forever is a 2-part documentary about our state parks that does not involve Ken Burns, as far as I can tell. The series producers (David Vassar and Sally Kaplan) were inspired in this project by the recent battle over the OC Toll Road, which would have paved over a part of San Onofre State Beach.

Budget cuts and temporary closures are one thing, Vassar says, but "the scenic lands and historic sites that state parks protect must never be forgotten."

The first show starts with the discovery of the giant sequoias in 1852, which led to our first state park, Yosemite.

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant? I didn't.

While the first show focuses on history, the second takes up the problems parks face today, like, balancing the recreational uses with protection of sites and species. One example of that will be Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and off-roading at Ocotillo Wells Recreation Area. This second episode will also feature the Los Angeles River and the way its being changed. (The picture at left is from The River Project website.)

KOCE plans to run these shows back to back on September 4th, then one at a time on the 9th and 16th. PBS OC will show them on September 8th.  KLCS will run both on 9/11, then repeat them much later in the month. Meanwhile, here is a minute-and-a-half trailer:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Anti Piracy Mosaics

Recognize Jim Morrison? How about MJ, below?

These mosaic pictures--made of cds--come from Flavorwire, along with the story. They're not on display in Los Angeles, but since they deal with singers who lived in our area, I figured this would be an interesting post.

Mirco Pagano and Moreno De Turco are the artists who created these images, using the artist's own cds as the medium. The one at left is titled "This is the end."

The article by Heba Hasan states that,

"the project is more than just a tribute to the stars. It’s part of Piracy, a campaign against illegal file sharing by the advertising agency TBWA based on the idea that these deceased musicians were cheated out of their success and ultimately brought down by music piracy."

Heavy stuff.  The picture at right is titled "The way you make me feel."
The Piracy site features a video which uses stop-action to manipulate the cds of another image of Michael Jackson screaming and being buried in cds.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Picture of Robert Spence

The picture at left is--clearly--a plane crash. It wasn't staged. It was taken at the opening of the Glendale Airport in 1923, and the pilot walked away to fly again and again. He was Joseph B. "Burt" Hill, and in the picture he's standing under the plane's tale, wearing a cap. Click on the picture to make it larger if you can't see him.

Here's how the crash happened, according Hill's son, Joe:

"As my dad was about to land, a little boy ran onto the runway followed by his father, apparently trying to save him. Dad's engine didn't have enough power then for him to pull back up, so he did the next best thing: He shoved the stick forward to hit the runway hard, and bounced over the two people. With not enough runway left after that maneuver, he went into the fence at the end of the runway. I still have the I. D. plate and altimeter from that plane !!"

Joe Hill sent these pictures and told me that story by email. His Dad, Burt Hill, flew for Robert Spence, the aerial photographer whose thousands and thousands of photographs are now housed at UCLA. The collection spans decades, from just after WWI through the 1960s.

Spence and Hill met in the Army Air Corps, at Ellington Field, Texas, according to Joe. This plane, a Curtiss Jenny, was probably the first plane to fly for "Spence Air Photography."

And yes, it was Bob Spence who took that picture.

Robert Spence's stepson told me that he never flew and didn't know how, so I wonder what his role was in the Army Air Corps.

When I wrote an article about Spence Air Photography for Air & Space magazine, I didn't know about Burt Hill's role--and I never would have, if Joe Hill hadn't contacted me. Finding out anything about the person(s) behind Spence Air Photography, a name that shows up on old pictures in textbooks and Chamber of Commerce brochures, was quite a feat. These two adventurers obviously weren't in it for the fame!

As for the second photo, as far as I know that's the only one floating around of Robert Spence, taken around 1938. His wife Daisy is the third from the left. The little boy is Joe Hill himself, and I thank him for letting me share these photos.

Joe says that his father was the pilot for Spence Air Photography in the 1920s, so there's still some mystery left--what other pilots flew with Bob and his camera?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Last Minute Railroad Talk: BNSF

Tonight at the Lomita Railroad Museum, (2137 West 250th Street Lomita, CA 90717, phone(310) 326-6255) there will be a talk by LaDonna DiCamillo of the BNSF Railway Company.

Here's what the email says:

"Hear how BNSF (formerly Burlington Northern & Santa Fe) Railway, the second largest freight railroad network in North America, serves as a major indicator in the U.S. economy, how BNSF is proposing to change how the San Pedro Bay ports connect to the rest of the country, and how railways are going green today and into the future."

The presentation starts at 7 pm, but there will be a reception earlier, at 6:30 pm.

Monday, August 13, 2012

North Long Beach Mosaic

Today's mosaic is in Long Beach, a recent addition to the city's public art. It's located in North Long Beach at Paramount and Artesia Blvd, in front of Paramount Petroleum. The dedication was in December, 2010.

The mosaic--Byzantine glass smalti--sits on a stainless steel sculpture, and is by artist Terry Braunstein, a Long Beach resident. Unfortunately, her website--filled with exquisite examples of her art, sculpture, and photography, has not been updated in several years. so this piece is not mentioned there.

That's Braunstein in the photo, and the photo came from an alumni web page--but I suspect it was originally found in the Long Beach Press Telegram--though it's been archived now.

Here's a statement about the artwork printed at Mosaika's blog--Mosaika being the company that fabricated the piece(s). The picture at left is from that blog as well.

This sculpture depicts workers constructing the future of the world. The work symbolizes the contributions of the largely working class, who live in this area of North Long Beach, and who take great pride in what they produce. These three workers, two men and a woman, are similar to those who work in the petroleum refinery adjacent to this small park. Two people are shown as Diego Rivera figures from the 1930s, when Long Beach began to develop as a city, and one person as a contemporary man.

The project cost $430,000 according to articles in the Signal Tribune and, and Paramount Petroleum kicked in about a third of that. The Long Beach Redevelopment Agency was responsible for bringing this and other works of public art to the area, but I'm guessing that like most RDAs, that group is no more.

The idea of Long Beach's ethnically diverse population and position as an international port city is also part of the theme.

The LBRDA had big plans for North Long Beach--more art, getting chain restaurants and stores into the area, etc. Perhaps other benefactors can take up the baton?

That Signal Tribune article also says that Paramount Petroleum employees had input in the design of the artwork, which did not include hard hats and harnesses originally. They took photos of how workers would look performing the actual task, and the artist incorporated that into her design.

Terry Braunstein has been featured here before, for her open-book style mosaic in Cerritos, titled "Illumination."

She's also responsible for the enameled disks on pillars along the Blue Line station at Anaheim Street, and for the 15-foot tall sphere honoring the Navy on Queensway. But since those aren't mosaics they won't show up on future Mosaic Monday posts.

But they are lovely nonetheless.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Remembering The Tongva in Santa Fe Springs

Lynn Goodpasture created ten mosaics titled "Remembering the Tongva", now installed at the site of a Tongva village, Chokiishngna. Chokiishngna is Santa Fe Springs, today, and the site has a gated housing development on it.

I posted a map of known Tongva villages in Los Angeles County a while back. Chokiishngna was not on it.

The picture at left is from Lynn Goodpasture's website.

Where did I find the second picture, of the Coastal Live Oak with Woodpeckers? Mosaica, the same foundry in Montreal that has created all of the lovely mosaics on Los Angeles' Expo Line Metro Rail. They are busy up there!  These were fabricated in 2009. And the background was not complete when this picture was taken.

Here's what the artist says about this public art work:

These 10 individual mosaics explore indigenous flora & fauna that were integrated into the Tongva way of life and are still found today in the Los Angeles region. The mosaics are situated at the 5 pedestrian entryways of the Villages at Heritage Springs, Santa Fe Springs. Eleven bronze & opalescent glass lanterns, which coordinate with the mosaics, are located at 3 main driveway entrances. The pedestrian and vehicular gates were designed to complement the mosaics and lanterns. 

To see how these mosaics look mounted, you'll have to go to this page on the artist's website.  The pictures are done in pairs--two pictures of butterflies, two of the woodpeckers, the herons, the marsh wrens in the tules, etc.

At each entrance of the Village complex at Heritage Springs, two almost-matching mosaics sit on either side of iron gate designed to look more like reeds or plant stems, rather than a gate  Five entrances in all. Very lovely.