Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tour Silent Movie Locations in Downtown

June 29th--Wednesday--the LA Conservancy presents a showing of Harold Lloyd's classic silent: Safety Last. 8 pm att the Orpheum Theatre--well, it's sold out.

So if you have tickets--Congratulations! If not, check with the Conservancy--maybe someone cancelled.

And whether you to go the show or not:

Author John Bengston presents a self-guided walking tour of the downtown locations of  the 1923 movie! Print it out here--with lots of pictures. The first 6 pages are the tour.

Just to whet your appetite, check out Bengston's blog entry on the film. The Blog is called Silent Locations, or Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Film Locations (and more!), which, coincidentally, happen to be the subjects of Bengston's excellent books, full of pictures.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Columns of Santa Fe Springs

These top two mosaic pillars are together titled "Reverance for an Era #1." The artist is Kerry Zarders. Since 2005, they have stood on the northeast corner of Telegraph Road and Bloomfield in Santa Fe Springs. Each one is 14 ft. tall.

The artist has done two other installations for the city, which began funding a public art program in 1989. Both are at the same corner. They're at bottom: "Sejat" is on the left and pays tribute to the Native American heritage of the area. "Nueva Historia" is on the right and expresses the Ranchero days. The bottom pillars were put up in  February 2010.

I have a feeling I'm going to be doing more of her work in this blog, because I'm finding benches in Long Beach and panels along the 710 freeway.

I wish I could tell you more about her artwork, but all I've been able to find are her photosets on Flickr, which show many of her mosaics and the processes used to position them.

For now, it seems, Zarders is quite busy running a helpful website called FreshFundraising.com. Which is fine, but I sure hope she's planning to do more mosaics!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Peter Falk

In 1966, Peter Falk and Bob Newhart were on board the Progress Express, hitting the campaign trail for Governor Pat Brown. The caption says that's Brown waving, but I believe that's US Representative Augustus Hawkins in the picture, not Brown. Rolland Curtis took the picture, which is from our wonderful library's online collection.

Hawkins was the first African -American congressman from California  (from the 21st District) and authored a lot of important legislation. But I did not know that until I looked up this picture.Here's his obituary; he lived to be 100 years old.

But of course, the real reason for the photo today is the passing of actor Peter Falk.

For the record, the first mention of Falk in the times was May 20, 1956, in a review of a five-hour long play in New York: The Iceman Cometh, by O'Neill.. Jason Robards starred; Falk played the "aggressively sensitive night bartender."

Monday, June 20, 2011

WPA Mosaics at the Long Beach Airport

This beautiful mosaic is on the second floor of the Long Beach Airport terminal. It's one of at least four mosaics at the airport, and is titled "Zodiac." (picture is from the Long Beach Airport Unofficial Guide site.)

During the Depression, the Long Beach Airport got some WPA funding to develop their airport (actually, to continue developing the airport, since the place--named Daugherty Field in 1923, after a famous barnstormer who started the world's first School of Aviation there in 1919--had been developing and growing since 1911).

The main terminal was completed in 1941 and the grand opening was scheduled for December 7. Yup, the "day that will live in infamy" December 7. Ceremony was scratched and the new terminal was quickly painted in camouflage. That's from the California's Living New Deal website, which quotes a book by Gerrie Schipske on early aviation in Long Beach.

More history on the airport is at its official site, though there's not much about the artwork.

You can tour the Long Beach Airport, but you have to make reservations a month in advance. Here's the website on that: LGB.org.  I may do that, just to see more mosaics. There is a huge modern one, and a few others by the WPA artist, Grace Clements.

Grace Clements was born in 1905, died 1969. She'd trained in New York, then came to L.A. in the 1930s where she both exhibited and taught. As far as I can tell, the Long Beach Airport was her biggest project. I found a little more about her at the LAMural site--scroll down to the second article, about a formerly lost mural uncovered at a LaVerne high school. It had been stucco'd over, no doubt during an invasion of Vandals. The mural is in petrachrome, which I believe qualifies it as a mosaic too.

The Long Beach Historical Society just opened an exhibit featuring photographs (on fabric) of New Deal artwork found in the city, and Clements' Zodiac mosaic is among the displays (along with "Fish" and "Seagulls," also at the airport). The real things can be seen at the airport as well. The exhibit will run through the end of the year and can be seen Tuesday-Saturday afternoons, according to this press release.

Friday, June 17, 2011

San Pedro Sportswalk

Ever wonder about those triangular bronze plaques embedded in the sidewalk along 6th Street in San Pedro, between Centre St and the harbor? They display names like Tracy Austin, Louis Zamperini, and Jim Thorpe, so I assumed that local--meaning South Bay--sports heroes were being honored. I was close. Most honorees are from the South Bay area, but some have a college or pro connection to Los Angeles instead.

In 1978, Councilman John Gibson came up with the "San Pedro Sportswalk to the Waterfront" to pay tribute to local athletes, or athletes wth a connection to Los Angeles. There's a list of all the Inductees here.

The San Pedro Magazine says the old Trani's Majestic Cafe was a big hangout for sports stars.  Since that restaurant opened in 1925, I'm not gonna argue. The current and fourth J. Trani's is on 9th Street, but my guess is that the first restaurant was on 6th, near where the Sportswalk is now.

The funding/sponsorship for the Sportswalk fizzled after twenty years, but bounced back in 2004. Tony Rodich, who had been on the Sportswalk Committee (of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce) back in the 1990s had a brainstorm: Start it up again with a posthumous award to Pat Tillman.

Tillman was such a hero, no real local connection was needed. Tillman's family supported the idea, and it turned into an annual award given to an athlete who showed exemplary courage--professional or not. Pat Tillman, Sr. comes every year for the ceremony. Louis Zamperini has been awarded, as has Joe Anzack, a football player from South High in Torrance who who was killed in Iraq. Here's a list of other awardees.

As for the regular Sportswalk heroes, I am surprised at some of the L.A. connections. Sparky Anderson? Turns out he went to high school in L.A. Sugar Ray Robinson retired here and started his foundation for youth in Los Angeles. Marty McSorley played hockey for the Kings, but didja know he lives in Hermosa Beach?

For footballer John Brodie and boxer Andy Heilman, though, I draw a blank. Anyone?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Eagle Rock Mosaic

This beautiful picture is from the artist's website: Betty Rosen Ziff.com. If you go there, you can see pictures of soon-to-be mayor Antonio Villaraigosa helping to set the glass tiles on this mosaic. It was August 6, 2005: Villaraigosa's last day as an L.A. City Councilman.

The artwork is in Eagle Rock Park, and is titled "Q's Dream". No, not Q as in the Star Trek character, although there are probably some convoluted ways to make that fit... No, this Q is Quetzalcoatl, below. And he's ten feet long.

Almost-Mayor Villaraigosa painted a tile in August, as did around 600 local kids. Those tiles were used on the "Dream with Me" Wall in the park, and the mural/mosaic of Quetzalcoatl is a part of that. The Eagle Rock Center for the Arts commissioned the wall.

After the tiles were painted, Betty Rosen Ziff put the mosaic together in her studio, on mesh. She used glass tiles for the part of Quetzalcoatl that had already shed his skin (from the head down) since they catch and reflect the light. Ceramic tiles were used for the rest of the body.

It's a little difficult to tell in the top picture where the glass ends and ceramic begins--but it's pretty much half-way along the body.

Quetzalcoatl was install on November 1st that year--Dia de los Muertas, appropriately. The Aztec deity is the god of wind, of corn, and more; he gave his people chocolate and the calendar; he is the feathered serpent god.

He had me at chocolate.

I love what Ms. Ziff wrote about her artwork: she pictures Quetzalcoatl "shedding his skin, tossing his feathers, in an effort to grow and realize his dreams--and our dreams for Los Angeles."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Venice City Hall--Beyond Baroque

One of the wonderful things about Venice is how much of it remains after 100 years. The canals, f'rinstance--at least the canals south of Venice Blvd, which we still take pictures of. I read that the ones north of that street were filled in. Or the arches along Windward Avenue. They look much the same now as they did when they were first built. Or in between those extremes, when Orson Welles filmed Touch of Evil.

Westland.net has a detailed history site about Venice--start here to read about how it was built and opened by Abbot Kinney.

I did not realize that Venice's original City Hall still stood on Venice Blvd. It was once called Ocean Park City Hall, and when the picture above was taken in 1910, it had just changed its name.

Since 1978, Beyond Baroque has occupied the building. Beyond Baroque has actually existed for 43 years, and is a "leading independent Literary/Arts center" and a public space (with free parking) dedicated to literary and cultural production.
So here's a photo of how the building looks today. Pretty good, huh?

Among the many offerings of Beyond Baroque is a series of "Gorgeous Stories" presented by students of Terrie Silverman's Creative Rites Workshops. I went to one this weekend & laughed and cried copiously. Another is coming up on June 19th at 7:30pm.

A supporting membership in Beyond Baroque--which entitles one to attend all their programs free--is only $35 a year. To sweeten the offer, you get a free CD of Viggo Mortensen reading his poetry in English and Spanish, just for joining.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Meander Pattern in Torrance

A couple of weeks ago I linked to a site describing meander patterns in mosaics. That site was the blog of Lillian Sizemore, a visiting artist at the Getty, and here's the link again.

Meander patterns repeat, turning this way and that. The "Maeander" River in Phrygia (now Turkey) mentioned in the Iliad turned this way and that, doubling back on itself and ... well, meandering all over the place.

Two weeks ago, I had to settle for the picture of a mosaic that had once visited the Getty but was now gone, to present a meander pattern. Silly me! How was I to know that two--not one, but two--lovely examples of meander mosaics were just down the road from where I grew up.

The relatively new welcoming walkway of Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance has obligingly indulged in meandering. They've placed the meander pattern mosaics along the walkway leading to the main entrance of the 51-year-old hospital, which seems to get remodeled or expanded once a decade.

The Beatitudes are also engraved along this walkway. One of the mosaics sits over the well-known prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, and I wonder if a statue is being readied for the center of it. The other circles a statue of Mary Potter, the "Foundress" of the group of nuns who called themselves the Little Company of Mary (Mary the mother of Jesus, not Mary Potter).

Foundress is one of those words that make me giggle inappropriately.

Anyway, the hospital was built after a fundraising campaign gathered half a million dollars to get the construction going. The total cost was $3.5 million, back in 1960.

Here's a Daily Breeze page of the hospital's history.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This date in LA County: June 1

Here are a few things that happened on this date in Los Angeles history:

  • On June 1st, 1923, UCLA awarded its first sheepskins to 23 graduates of the University of California, Southern Branch. Don't bother trying to place the building at right--this all happened at the Vermont campus, quickly outgrown. The UC Southern Branch had been founded here in 1919, but chose a larger location in Westwood in 1925. (Read more about that in a previous post.)

  • The movie Star Trek III, The Search for Spock opened in 1984 on this date.

  • Marilyn Monroe was born in 1926, right here in Los Angeles, as Norma Jeane Mortenson.

  • Millionaire businessman and art collector Norton Simon (ne Norton Glickman) died on this date in 1993.

  • In 1943, a British/Dutch plane is shot down over the Bay of Biscay by German Junkers. OK, that's Europe, but the Los Angeles/Hollywood connection is that British actor Lesley Howard, who played Ashley Wilkes in Gone With The Wind, was one of the 17 people killed on that plane.