Monday, October 31, 2011

Northridge Home H&L Mosaic

This beautiful bank in Northridge  was built in 1986, and the mosaics are done by Susan Hertel and Denis O'Connor.

Adam Arenson just led an Autry Center-sponsored tour of the Home Savings and branches in the San Fernando Valley. In advance of that tour, the Daily News presented an article on the banks, Arenson, and the tour. 

I hope they don't mind that I borrow this one picture, that shows how the mosaics look over the entrance. They shouldn't since I think the journalist drew on my Westways article from last year for a few anecdotes...share and share alike, right? The photographer here is Dean Musgrove, and more photos--including a close up of Montie Montana's face, can be seen at the Daily News site.

Yup, Montie Montana. A huge TV cowboy in the 60s. I went to kindergarten with Montana's neice, so I know these things.

At right is the central panel, a picture taken by Professor Arenson. I love the choo choo along the top, and the falcon.

Even though the tour has passed, you can hear Arenson talk about "The Life and Work of Millard Sheets" on December 10th--in Pomona, at the American Museum of Ceramic Art. Here's the announcement.

And the LA Conservancy plans a tour of Sheets' work in Claremont and Pomona this spring.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What happened on the day before Halloween in 1938?

"Radio Story of Mars Raid Causes Panic"

Yup, it wasn't Halloween itself, but the day before, when Orson Welles broadcast that famous radio play "War of the Worlds" from the East Coast. As the sub-head read, "New Jersey Homes Abandoned After Fictional Broadcast."

October 30 was a Sunday in 1938, just as in 2011.

Welles announced that a meteor had fallen somewhere near Trenton, NJ, so newspapers, hospitals, and police departments were flooded with calls. This is long before 911, btw. "Flooded with calls" meant that the police dept switchboard got over 2,000 inquiries from the panicked masses. Surely, thousands more just couldn't get through.

A rumor spread in Newark that a "gas bomb attack" was imminent, then that a gas explosion actually occurred--so ambulances and fire trucks were sent to the Clinton Hills area of the city for naught.

Dallas, Tulsa, and other cities reported emergency calls as well, according the Los Angeles Times. In fact, the switchboards at the LAT were swamped. Hundreds of people called, and those in the downtown area just walked or ran into the newspaper office for updates, thinking the invasion was real.

Orson Welles pointed out that the broadcast started with music, that the script began with an announcement that it was now 1939 (the future), and that the show broke for regular commercials. Also, there were four announcements reminding listeners that this was a fictional story.

"It's too bad that so many people got excited but after all we kept reminding them that it wasn't really true," Welles said. "You can't do much more and hope to keep up any impression of suspense when you're putting on a play."

And, of course, a U.S. Congressman immediately announced that he would introduce a bill to curb such abuse of the airwaves.

The play was broadcast by KNX in Los Angeles.

While looking up this story, I can across another headline: "Autoist Dies of Injuries."


We try out and dump so many words over the years. I once talked with a man who was Very Angry. Why? Because someone had let our language change so much that he could no longer enjoy Shakespeare's English. He blamed academics--I guess he felt it was their job to keep our language from evolving.

The REAL headline story for 1938, though, told how "the widow Barnett" was dragged from her home after tear gas had been deployed, ending a two-year battle to evict her. I'm going to save that for another post, and try to find out more about the diary she kept, parts of which are hinted at in the newspaper.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Signal Hill Market Mosaics--Updated

Today's mosaics are on the Fresh & Easy store in Signal Hill on Cherry. The series of three pictures is titled "Full Circle."

I wish I could name the mosaicist, but I can only say I'll post the information if I ever lay hands on it. Calls are into Signal Hill and Fresh & Easy Corporate--but since F& E just recalled some packaged spinach, the PR department has been a bit too busy to answer my calls...

UPDATE: The city of Signal Hill tells me the artist is Stephen Elicker, a local artist who works in glass and tile. In fact, he is a glass blower, but he terms himself a "Visual Artist" and works in several mediums. You can read more about hm at his Facebook page.

Long before the store was built, the mosaics were planned. An April 2009 article in the Signal Tribune says the planned market would have a mosaic-tile art wall. That article also states that Signal Hill Petroleum was the developer of the property, which sits atop a hill crest on Cherry.
Signal Hill's Landscape Consultant, John Chicchetti, brought Elicker in for the project.

I've gone through a lot of announcements and even a video about the store opening, and not one mentions or even shows the mosaic.  How sad. The three pictures face Cherry (east), so they are visible to traffic--but the store entrance faces south, so once inside the parking lot they are invisible.

The store opened on Sept. 8, 2010.

Below is  a picture I borrow from Elicer's FB page, showing the mosaic in progress. You might want to check out more of his photos showing the progress of these and other projcets. Some are in small parks, and some (like the beautiful Drake's Dragon) don't give a location.

Elicker helped to establish the The ArtExchange Visual Art Center in Long Beach. He is also responsible for the Rose Park mosaic, which is on my list of mosaics to blog about--a list that is growing daily.

Funny--when I started Mosaic Mondays a couple of years ago, I wondered how many months' worth of mosaics I could find. Now....I think I could continue for twenty years. There are that many examples of public art mosaics in the county. And the city of Long Beach is adding more constantly...yay!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cemetery Guide for Los Angeles

Now that Amazon has welcomed me back as a potential market source (thank you Jerry Brown) I've put my "book of the month . . . sorta" feature back up on the right. And what better book for the week before Halloween than a guide to Los Angeles' dead people?

The official title is LA's Graveside Companion: Where the V.I.P.s R.I.P.
Cute, huh?

Got to see author Steve Goldstein talk about the book, and his original title was "Beneath Los Angeles." In fact, that's now his website.

Goldstein has appeared on California's Gold with Huell Howser, on a Pet Cemetery segment. He's got a video out, produced by his brother: Gravehunting with Steve. In it, he tours Hollywood Forever, Holy Cross, and Hillside Memorial Park cemeteries.

Goldstein is giving a free tour of Westwood Memorial Park, where Marilyn Monroe is encrypted, on October 29th.  I don't see that at his website. (beware the music there, btw). Read more about that and sign up at

According to Goldstein, Marilyn was the first really big celebrity to be interred at the 100-year-old Westwood, but now there are many more. Burt Lancaster, Peggy Lee, Truman Capote, Mel Torme, Donna Reed, Roy Orbison, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Don Knotts, Bob Crane, Natalie Wood...and more, according to the Seeing-Stars site.

In fact, the Wikipedia entry on Westwood has an alphabetical listing of  all the dozens of stars buried there. The picture of Marilyn's plaque came from WikiCommons.

Closer to home, I found that the local cemetery with the great mosaics of San Pedro, which I blogged about last Monday, is host to Charles Bokowski's remains.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

View Historic Murals Oct

The historic murals in the Golden State Mutual Building on Adams and Western will be viewable this Saturday, October 22, from noon to 3 pm--thanks to the West Adams Heritage Association. And it will only cost $15. The tour includes St. Elmo's too.

The murals were painted by Charles Alston and Hale Woodruff, and depict "The Negro in California History." One mural shows "Exploration and Colonization" and the other "Settlement and Development." The building itself (now a historical monument) was designed by Paul Williams.

I blogged about these murals years ago, but I think a lot of the information is unchanged.

Here's the scoop on the tour: Advance tickets are $15.00 from, (323) 732-4223, for the afternoon tour, or contact CAAM, (213) 744-7536 or -7432 for a morning bus tour which includes the murals and St. Elmo Village. A book from the WAHA is included.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mosaics at Green Hills Memorial Park

Back in March, I reported that the first church in San Pedro, St. Peter's, would be moved to Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes. Last week, I actually saw St Peter's steeple, in a couple of crated pieces, being moved down Western Avenue. So I thought I'd drive around the cemetery and get a preview of the church's new home.

And I found mosaics!

I've been at that cemetery before and asked if there were any mosaics there. The nice man at the gate house said no, but maybe he thought I meant a big religious mosaic like at other cemeteries.

The mosaic featured today lines the floor of a black marble World War II memorial in the park. One side states "In honor of the men of San Pedro who gave their lives in World War II." Under that is a list for each year: 1941 through 1943 on one side, 1944 and 1945 on the other.

Lots of names. Lots of heroes.

Here is a picture so you can see how the mosaics frame the monument.

I have no idea who designed these mosaics. Judging by the pristine state of the carved marble and the very modern-looking cranes in that top picture of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, my guess is the World War II monument is very recent.

I do have a call in to Green Hills to see if I can get more information. And if I do, I'll update this post. There are a few other mosaics in the park that use the same type of stone and style of fittings (I don't see any grout, for example), so I can post about them at another time.

In fact, the Daily Breeze mentioned recently that Green Hills has plans to install a mosaic floor around St. Peter's when the church finally gets moved--an event which should happen within the next two months. So hopefully, I'll be able to pass on information about that, too.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Kronish House Saved!

Happy Endings are so very in right now.

About 3 weeks ago I blogged about the 1955 Kronish House in Beverly Hills--a Richard Neutra-designed residence that Dion Neutra was trying desperately to save.

The house, sold ten months ago in a foreclosure auction, was to razed. A date of October 11 was said to be demolition day.  But apparently a new owner has closed escrow on the property.  The LA Conservancy is announcing that the house will be restored, not destroyed.

Yay! If you follow the LA Conservancy link in the previous paragraph and scroll down, you'll find more photos, the address on Sunset, and a description of the house.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Santa Clarita Valley Movie History

Recognize this road?

You have seen it before.

The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society is trying to raise funds to put a historical marker here. Why?

This is where, in 1935, Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard walked into the sunset at the end of Modern Times. 

So now there's a Facebook page, and if you want to donate you can click on FundRazr on the left.

You can also help by going on tours over the next two Saturdays.

The October 15 tour takes you to Walt Disney's film ranch, the Golden Oak, in Placerita Canyon. A private tour from the inside!

The next Saturday, hear a lecture and caravan to film sites in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Both tours begin at 1 pm at the Saugus Train Station at Heritage Junction. The cost is $60--don't know if that's for one or both tours. But you can find out by emailing, or by calling  626.483.1205.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Aquarium of the Pacific Mosaic

This fountain sits outside of the entrance of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.  Outside--as in, you don't have to pay an entrance fee to enjoy it (though the Aquarium is well worth the fee).

The fountain and mosaic were created with Proposition 40 funds to illustrate California's waterways and watersheds, from the mountains to the sea (didn't a newscaster used to say that every night?). The funds also paid for two watershed exhibits and a classroom at the Aquarium.

As for the mosaic, I found these pictures at TND Studio's website. They are apparently the designers, the fabricators, the installers--the ultimate crafters.

TND Studio seems to be Theodora Kurkchiev and Dimitri Lazaroff...and they're right here in San Pedro! Or at least, they were. Not sure where their studio is now.

According to a 2001 article in the Los Angeles Times, the artists emigrated to the US from Bulgaria in 1983, with around $300 to their names.

The Times article was about a mosaicy mural at Disney's California Adventure that the couple made. At the time it was the Largest Ceramic Mural in the World, and was made of 14,500 pieces. The reporter found out that Disney had cut the estimated time to complete the mural in half and asked, "Was there a lot of pressure from Disney?"

Here's what Lazaroff answered: "You know those military parades you would see in Eastern Europe during the Cold War with all the rocket launchers and the tanks going down the street? If you were a tank driver in the Bulgarian army and your tank broke down in the parade, you would be put in prison for four or five years. That was pressure. Making ceramic tiles--that is not pressure."

If you want a real mosaic treat, go here to follow the photos of the Yesterland mural at Disney's California Adventure. It was taken down a few years ago, but if you visited California Adventure 5-10 years ago, it should look familiar.

Prowling around TND's site, I found pictures of their mosaics in Korea, Japan, Vegas, ....even for Citywalk in Universal City (I'll have to blog on that one sometime).  But very little about the artists themselves, not even a studio address.

Some are very fine portraits--like this mountain lion who is part of the Aquarium of the Pacific mosaic, but also can be purchased as a separate work of art through galleries. Others are abstract. A lot used special painted tiles, like the tiles of wildlife at this Long Beach fountain. I guess it's best called a mixed-media mosaic.

The work is called "The Wave" and "Rios de la Vida" at the The Wave.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Paseo Cezar Chavez

This mosaic fountain was created by artist Elsa Flores in 1995.  It stands at Paseo Cezar Chavez in Los Angeles, at the MTA building, and is one of several pieces of public art there--including two more fountains. However, it's most clearly a mosaic work, while the other fountains are mainly made up of specially designed and painted tiles.

The bench pictured below (two views) is also at Paseo Cezar Chavez, and was designed by Elsa Flores, Roberto Gil de Montes, and Peter Shire. The pictures are from PublicArtinLA, a wonderful website--although in this instance, they had very little information on the art.

I found more at the Metro Artwork page.  A team was appointed to create a corner park, and they designed three fountains, the benches, and planter walls for the Paseo.

Here's what that site--and a few other places--says about the artists:

Elsa Flores is a native of Las Vegas and studied at the Art Center College in Pasadena. She had a show in Pasadena late last year: Illuminada, at the Fremont Gallery--a 30-year retrospective of her work. Flores and her late husband, Carlos Almarez, created the mural "California Dreamscape" at 3rd and Spring Street, on the Ronald Reagan State Building. (Here's a picture--scroll down to the bottom of page)

Roberto Gil de Montes s from Guadalajara, Mexico, and came to L.A. as a teen. He earned both a BFA and MFA from the Otis Art Institute and was for a while a professor at UCLA--not sure if he's still there.

I don't see a website but here's a link to his paintings at the Jan Baum Gallery. He also has a painting in the Ciudad Juarez Consulate.

Peter Shire was born in Echo Park and went to the Chouinard Art Institute. He was a member of teh Memphis Group in the 1980s. While Flores and Gil de Montes are painters, Shire is mainly a sculptor, although he does portraits on ceramic tile as well. The Frank Lloyd Gallery has his bio.