Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tiki On the Move

This tiki statue, carved of redwood (not looking too red now) is being brought out of suspended animation by the city of Redondo Beach.

Is it part of history? Depends. Linda AUst of the Redondo Beach Historical Society pointed out that the restaurant(s) it once stood guard over didn't last long enough to become historical. The last one, in fact, burned in the Great Redondo Beach Pier Fire of 1988.

Read more of the tiki's history at my Patch article.

Monday, August 29, 2011

An Under the Sea Mosaic to Cool Us Off

This mosaic was intalled only three years ago, at the George W. Carver Park Pool House in 118th Street.

Here's what the LA County Arts page says of it:

"Artists Matthew and Paul Doolin of Topanga Art Tile designed a glass and ceramic tile mosaic mural which depicts a vibrant and whimsical underwater ocean scene. The 33-1/2 by 4-1/2 mural faces the street entrance to the pool house. It features a sand bar of beige tones, a variety of green and blue tiles depicting the water, two large sea turtles, several multi-colored fish, and a pod of dolphins swimming throughout the scene. Several smaller fish are installed around the main entrance door."

The site goes on to say that Matthew graduated from UCLA (rah!) in 1990 and Paul from UC Santa Cruz the same year. Both brothers have an impressive list of people they've studied/worked with. They've done work for Disney's California Adventure, St. Catherine's Church on Avalon, the Inn at Venice Beach (the mermaid mosaic), and the Topanga Canyon Public Library and more (I cherry-picked the closest projects). They've also been featured at the Pacific Design Center.

Topanga Art Tile, btw, also includes the brother's mother, Leslie Doolin. In fact, I believe she started the company, in 1978.

I'm blown away by their website and will definitely feature more of their public work on future Mosaic Mondays.

Some of their loveliest pieces, though, aren't necessarily public. The do a lot of custom art for pools, fireplaces, fountains, etc. All in brillian colors, lots of blues and greens, and all of hand made porcelein and hand painted glazes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Disneyland 1965

This wonderful bit of Boomer nostalgia is from the Shorpy site, which includes photos from all over the US, from the Civil War era up through the 1970s:

This is what Disney dreamed the future would look like. 46 years later, how do we measure up (or down)?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stuff to do in Los Angeles: August 28

For many, it's the last weekend of summer. It promises to be hot, but not unbearable. Put on a hat and bring a bottle of water; you'll make it (I learned that from 2 years in the Valley of the Sun.)

Here are your choices:
  • The UCLA Writers' Faire: No, it's not historical. But it's the best free writing event around (except for the $11 campus parking fee). From 11 to 3, pick a panel or mini-seminar each 40 minutes from a couple of dozen topics, like "Writing the Half Hour Comedy and Spec Pilots," "Personal Essay and Memoir," "Creating Compelling Fictional Characters," or "Writing for the Youth Market."

  • The LA Weekly/ J. Gold Pancake Breakfast (as in Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer-Prize-winning food writer and one of my personal idols). THis runs from 11 to 2 at Vibiana (a historic location--the former cathedral on Main & 2nd) and you must buy tickets in advance--click here. The tickets are only $10 or $25, and I don't know what the difference is. Gold has gathered 20 of his favorite pancake purveyors, including Kobawoo House, 101 Noodle Express, BLD and Salt's Cure. Coffee, POM, and breakfast cocktails available too, according to Tasting Table.

  • Got a forgotten can of Mickey's in back of the frig? Bring it to the Craft for Crap Beer Event at Beer Belly, 532 S. Western. From 3 to 10.  Get ONE (and one only)one-penny craft beer--lager, stout, or IPA --in exchange for any "crap" beer you bring in. This has nothing to do with history either.  Hmmm...532 S. Western Avenue was sold for $42,000 in 1958, by West Coast Merchandising Co. to John B. Clayburgh. There. History.

EyeSpy LA has a list of other events, but these are the ones I'd go to.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Studio City Home Savings--now Chase

The bank is on Ventura BLvd at Laurel Canyon. Millard Sheets by this time (1970) had designed and installed the artwork for dozens of Home Savings and Loans in the Southland. For this bank, he put up four scenes of California History, all iconic, generic, romantic, and really, very functional as an outline of what we all learned in 4th grade.
First, in the Mission Era, we have the good Franciscan friar teaching the native family about the cross.

Second, the Rancho period: Vaqueros chase, lasso, and brand cattle.

Third, the Gold Rush: Men pan for gold along streams.

Finally, the Movies! The industry that ended up defining Southern California to the rest of the world.

Adam Arenson, who took this picture for his blog on the artwork of Home Savings and Loan, points out that the camera is pointing left, possibly at the other images. He raises the question: "Are the images about history, or about movies?"

Studio City got its name after Max Sennett moved his studio--Keystone Pictures--here in 1928, right? So while the Gold Rush may not have touched the area too much, the other images fit perfectly well.

Here is a link to a Flickr picture of the mosaic at night, rather artsy, by C. P. McGann.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pantages Home, Lafayette Park

This is the Lafayette Park mansion that theater owner Alexander Pantages built for himself in the early part of the 20th century. It sits on the corner of Buckingham Road and Washington Blvd. Not sure when it was built--my channel to Proquest is down right now. Boo!

And below is the biggest ficus tree ever--I think it's a ficus. Just beyond it is Washington. Was it there since Pantages' day? Maybe he planted it himself? Quien sabe?

Pantages was living here in 1920 according to census records; by 1930 the owner of record was Edward Cline--which makes sense, because by 1930, Pantages had been ruined--some say by the machinations of Joseph Kennedy.

Kennedy's motivation?

Well, if he was the man who destroyed Pantages' health and reputation, as well as forcing him to liquidate his homes and theaters to defend himself against rape charges, Kennedy benefitted because he bought many of Pantages' theaters for pennies on the dollar.

Here's 7 things you may not have known about Alexander Pantages:

  • His given name was Pericles. He starated calling himself Alexander after hearing about A the Great.

  • He's buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale, according to Find-a-Grave.

  • He went to the Klondike in search of gold in the late 1890s and ended up becoming a theatrical producer while working in Dawson, first producing shows in restaurants and then in a real theater.

  • Pantages moved to Seattle in 1902 and began building vaudeville theaters up and down the Pacific coast. At one time, he owned 30 outright and controlled another 42 theaters. For over 20 years, he WAS vaudeville--at least out west.

  • By the time OUR Pantages Theater was finished in 1930, the man and his fortune had been drained and destroyed by sensational rape charges. Pantages was found guilty in 1929, got a retrial, and was found innocent in 1931.

  • The stock market collapse finished him off. Our Pantaages Theater was originally planned as a twelve-story building, but construction had barely started when Wall Street Laid an Egg (as Variety put it.)

  • Some Pantages Theaters were sold off in late 1929; ours was sold to Fox West Coast Theaters in 1932.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mayme Dear Library in Gardena

The Mayme Dear Library in Gardena was named after a librarian.

I love the name. Some cousins of mine had a silver-haired grandmother called Grandma Dear. The grandkids gave her that name because she called everyone "dear."

I am certain, therefore, that this lovely librarian called all the children "dear" when she handed them their books.

On to the mosaic!

It's mounted over the entrance and shows the development of books and printing. on seven slabs of black stone. A hand print precedes the the Egyptian writers--the handprint representing cave paintings. Underneath it all, a quote from Pliny the Elder: Were it not for books human culture would pass into oblivion as quickly as man himself.

Nice quote, but I must respectfully disagree. But since Pliny died in the eruption that buried Pompeii, we can't have a debate.

The artist is Livio Napolitani, and the artwork was created for the new library building, dedicated on December 5, 1964. The mosaic was cleaned and repaired in 2008. Another set of Napolitano's mosaics was profiled here last year.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Berlin Wall Reaction, Fifty Years Ago

The Berlin Wall went up--or began to go up--fifty years ago, August 13, 1961. The kick off was the closure of the East Berlin border, halting a stream of refugees who wished to escape to the West.

On August 14th, the Los Angeles Times headline--over the masthead--read "Iron Curtain Halts 80,000 WOrkers." Under the masthead:

Reds Hurl Tear Gas
At West Berlin Mob

The paper reported that our government--in the person of Dean Rusk, Secretary of State--protested the border closure because it violated agreements made in 1949 between the US, Britain, France, and the USSR about the free right of travel within Berlin. Rusk waited to see "how violent the East German popular reaction would be."

What else was going on?

In Long Beach, a ten-foot porpoise wandered into shallow water off Cherry Avenue, but got away from the beachgoers who tried to seize it.

The temperature got up to 83, and in the evening humidity was 90%. Yuck!

Redondo Beach's new $30 million King Harbor Marina project was moving right along. Basin 3, which I believe is today's International Boardwalk, had replaced Pacific Avenue and fishing boats were berthed there. Parking meters for yachts were being installed.

Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers threw a 100th birthday party at Pickfair for Clementine Van Quaethem. Who was she? An immigrant from Flanders, Belgium, who arrived in America in 1948--when she was in her late 80's. She spoke only two words that could be understood in English: Mary Pickford.

Mrs. Van Quaethem's widowed daughter lived at Pickfair because her husband had been the head gardner. Her mother moved in, never learned English (geesh, she was only 87!) and that's all I know--could not find any further mention of the lady anywhere.

The picture of Pickfair, showing the pool on the lower left, is from the LAPL collection and was taken in 1926. It's not attributed to any particular photographer--wonder if it was Robert Spence?

Monday, August 8, 2011

St. Peter's by the Sea Mosaic

This lovely mosaic decorates a presbyterian church in Palos Verdes, St. Peter's by the Sea.  The church is part of the Presbytery of the Pacific, which apparently covers Hawaii and Los Angeles County.

I count the windows and their stained glass as part of the mosaic--click on the picture for a larger view and I'm sure you'll agree. The design is continued on the doors, pictured at the bottom of this post.

The website has none of the church's history, so I went into Proquest. The Los Angeles Times reported a bit of controversy in 1996 involving the church's pastor, Rev. James D. Brown. He'd just served a term as a top management official in the church and expected to be re-elected, but apparently he was scapegoated in the controversy over appointing gay pastors. Not that he was gay, or that he even held a contrary opinion on the issue. If I'm reading the Times story right, people were just mad and voted him out.

Since I know very little about the politics of the Presbyterian church, I can't add much. The first mention of this lovely church in the Times is 1979.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Redondo Beach Mosaics

This charming jellyfish and sneaky little crab were created by Everything Mosaic--a newish artistic venture in Redondo Beach. Everything Mosaic just installed these two critters as part of a series of ten mosaics of sea life, along the newly-expanded Esplanade in Redondo Beach.

Everything Mosaic is made up of two very talented artists (Debbie Collette and Patti Linnet--sounds like the beginning of a bawdy limerick, doesn't it?) who happen to work together at Tulita Elementary School.

Katherine Blossom Lowrie wrote about them for Patch in Redondo Beach. Here is what Lowrie says about how Everything Mosaic started:

Five years ago, Collette and teaching aide Patti Linnet decided to create a mosaic out of extra mugs presented to teachers by the Tulita PTA. The mosaic, which graces the Teacher's Patio, ended up incorporating mementos contributed by teachers from the school's pre-renovation days—everything from keys to a fork to a screwdriver.

Lowrie's picture of a portion of the Teacher's Patio at Tulita School is at right.

About a year and a half ago, I blogged about their first venture: the Ocean Steps mosaics, leading from the Village Condos to the International Boardwalk at the base of Redondo Beach's pier.

Everything Mosaic has just installed another piece of art for the city, on five bollards on the Esplanade at Avenue C. Each bollard has two mosaics on it, one facing the street and one facing the ocean.

A bollard, btw, is a short post....I could almost call this piece a bollard by that definition! A bollard is a short post, architecturally speaking, made of stone or metal or wood.