Monday, April 30, 2012

Expo Line Mosaics at Western

In honor of the newly-opened Expo line Metro in Los Angeles, today's post centers on the mosaics that ornament the Western Avenue station. Under the rippling, open roof, panels line both sides of the station. Oddly--to me, anyhow--the best pictures of the Metro Expo art and the only picture showing this artwork at the Western stop, comes from Forbes. To check out their picture essay of the entire Metro Expo Station art, go here.

Ronald J. Llanos is the artist.

Llanos has been working on these mosaics for four years, and documenting parts of their construction on his blog.

The work is called "Ephemeral Views". Llanos completed 24 mosaic panels, each 3 ft x 8 ft, for this station at Western and Exposition. All are based on sketches he made of ordinary people--as shown on these pictures that I replicate from his blog posting of over a year ago, February 2011.

His artistic statement on the BuildExpo site is this:
“You might call me a ‘visual journalist’ or an ‘urban realist.’ My images are inspired by people, and by places I travel to or frequent. I feel that if I search within myself for that which I find interesting about the places and people of those areas, I might be able to communicate with people across time.”

This ArtCenter blog posting displays the picture of Llanos at work. He is both an alumni and an instructor at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena features nine close-up pictures of parts of the mosaics as well. Mosaika helped create the art by taking Llanos' water color paintings and transfering them to tiles, firing them, then breaking them up. More pictures are on another post. In fact, photos of his original drawings and a visit to Mosaika, with all the other artisans involved, are here.

Metro has a slide show up of the art at the Western Station. I have not been able to get it to run for me but that probably says more about my computer than it does about the Metro site. Sadly, since the celebrations this weekend bypassed the Western stop, these particular mosaics were not shown on news items.

The new Expo line goes from Flower & 7th to Jefferson & LaCienega near Culver City, for now--it'll eventually reach Santa Monica, which means more artwork (and hopefully more mosaics) coming! The fare is $1.50 one way, .55 for seniors.

Of the 176 panels at the 10 Expo Metro stops (I learned that from Forbes), there are many more mosaics. Over the next few weeks I'll blog on works by Jessica Polzin McCoy at the Vermont stop, by Willie Robert Middlebrook at the Crenshaw station, and more.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Louis Zamperini in Hospital

An April 28 event with Louis Zamperini in Torrance was mentioned a few days ago here. That event must be rescheduled.

Mr. Zamperini is in the hospital due to a bout of pneumonia. Hopefully he's already on the mend and will be visiting Torrance another day (they're hoping for June).

But for now, since our local hero is 95 years young, we want him to rest and gather his strength so he feels great when he comes to the South Bay.

And I just love the colors in this picture.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Vermont Green Line Station Mosaic

Today's mosiac should be familiar to anyone who's taken the 105 west from the 110. Just before you pass under Vermont, there's a great big tile tree in the middle of the freeway.

The entire station, designed by Torgen Johnson (on the architecture side) and Kim Yasuda (artist), is dedicated to trees and greenery. In fact, here is their artistic statement about the Vermont Station:

"We attempted to reclaim the green space erased by the concrete freeway system. We also wanted to acknowledge the resilience of the residential community that has been impacted by these freeways. By drawing upon the neighborhood efforts of grass-roots community gardens, this public site takes on local identity and meaning."

This station is said to be in Gardena, and Gardena started out as an agricultural community. Activists fought to retain a huge tree that some people wanted to clear out of the way for the Green Line Station's park-and-ride lot. So from the beginning--the station was built in 1995--the idea was to celebrate trees and shrubs. In fact, the name of the station is "real green." Read more here.

Supposedly, the saved tree is the one pictured in the mosaic.

Sounds nice. It really isn't. I found a recent report that places this area as either West Adams or the Harbor Gateway, administered by the city and county of LA, not Gardena. The report (by the South Bay Cities Council of Governments) cites lack of sidewalks, trash, stray dogs, the smell of urine, and other unsafe conditions that probably keep people away from this station, rather than making it user-friendly. The report says the park and ride is unsafe, so I didn't stop to take pictures. These are the only photos I could find, and I think one dates from when the station was being built.

Others call the picture a tile mural, but the tiles are very small squares--the effect is almost like a bargello quilt. (A bargello quilt uses one size and shape--usually a small rectangle--to create an entire picture, because each rectangle is a slightly different color or pattern.)

Like this at left. This bargello quilt was crafted by Rosanna Williams of Fostoria, Ohio.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

LA's Library Is One of Top 25 Worldwide

Flavorwire/Flavorpill has included Los Angeles' main library in its list of the 25 most beautiful public libraries worldwide. And a picture from that post was just too beautiful not to repost here.

LAObserved mentioned this; elsewise I would not know. Flavorwire is a new site to me. But just browsing through I'm finding great stuff. In the Books section is an essay on fan fiction, with a picture of Geroge R. R. Martin. (I just finished A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five which has the Best Cliffhanger Ending I think I've ever read...although that's actually bad because the next book won't be out for a year or three).

Back to the library list. All are gorgeous. Of particular interest as I scroll through is the Stuttgart City Library, stark white, where I suspect a strict dress code is in place to maintain the ambiance. My personal hell would be to find myself a janitor is such a facility. Then there's the egg chairs at Amsterdam (chair designs at Vennesla, Norway--the first library on the list--are also interesting) and the outside appearance of Belarus' National Library. Enlarge it a bit and you have the perfect venue for the next Quidditch World Cup.

Most but not all of the libraries on the list are ultra modern. The Old Market Library in Bangkok looks like the coolest kickback study hall ever, but not like a library.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Progress at Peck Park Mosaic and Other Photos

The mosaic at San Pedro's Peck Park Swimming Pool is coming along. I blogged about it over a month ago, when I got to meet designer/artists Julie Bender and one of her volunteer helpers.

Given that they can only work on the weekends, and that two weekends since then have been rained out, I'm amazed at how much has been done. It's gonna be gorgeous.

Peck Park, btw, has the noisiest collection of crows and ravens in the South Bay.

I'm used to crows, but I've got to assume that half the denizons at Peck are not crows but ravens, since they are big and especially, raucously loud. This was the best I could do, picture-wise.

Does anyone know, technically, how to distinguish between the two, besides size?

Took a couple more pictures in San Pedro which I may as well post here because they're just so weird.

Who remembers Euell Gibbons?

Gibbons was the author of Stalking The Wild Asparagus. That's a real book, Gibbons' first. He wrote about finding and using natural foods from fields and vacant lots.

Well . . . I think the wild asparagus has morphed into the Asparagus That Ate San Pedro. Seriously. I vow to stop worrying about earthquakes and tsunamis; I'm pretty sure it's the plants that will do us in.

Or maybe these mutant veggies will save us all in the coming famine...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mosaic Icon in North Hollywood

Today's mosaic rests inside St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood: "Our Lady of Perpetual Help." It's smallish, and off to the left of the main altar--but it's beautiful, huh?

The mosaic replicates a famous 15th century icon that was first displayed publicly in Rome in 1499.  The icon might be much older--a paper attached to it back then said it was stolen by a merchant from Crete, then hung in the Roman home of another merchant for generations before being given to the Roman Catholic Church for display. It's Byzantine in origin, but some legends link it back to St. Luke of the Bible--read more about them on Wikipedia.
The original icon is below.

The North Hollywood church has existed since the 1920s as a community, but the present church was completed in 1959. J. Earl Trudeau was the architect.

This is not the only mosaicized version of the icon. While looking for pictures I found one in Detroit (at a Church named Our Lady of Perpetual Help), in St. Augustine, FL, a huge one in Mt. Macrina, which is near Oak Hill and Uniontown...(Here's a pet peeve: why is it that so many websites (even local newspapers) neglect to give their state, zip, or anything that would help someone locate them? Just a thought: your internet visitors may not be local.) To continue--there's a mosaic of Our Lady of Perpetual Help framed by mosaic angels in Farmington, MI (they even credit the artist! Huzzah!)  and an enormous outdoor mosaic at a Ukrainian church in Wheeling WV.  And many more.

But the North Hollywood one, I have to say, pops.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Flying Fortress and Louis Zamperini

On April 20-22, a B17 Flying Fortress called the Aluminum Overcast will visit the Torrance Airport--Zamperini Field.  You can actually go up in it--fly in it--for a little over $400. You have to make a reservation first though.

The plane will be at the Van Nuys Airport the following weekend, April 27-29.

Ground tours are also available for a much lower fee--like, $10. And veterans are free. Those tours take place between 2 and 5pm, and again, you should make a reservation. Call 800-359-6217 or go to the EEA website. (That's the cockpit at left)

That's not the only attraction at Zamperini Field next weekend. The biggest is that Louis Zamperini himself will be there.

If you've read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, you know that Zamperini was born and raised in Torrance and is a local hero for very good reasons. He's in his 90s now but still comes to visit, and on the 21st he'll be talking to people from 1 to 3 pm. (I don't think it's a planned, sit-down-and-listen talk.)

Torrance is hosting Mr. Zamperini the following weekend for a more formal event, April 28 at 7 pm. That appearance is at the Toyota Automobile Museum (huh? I didn't know we had one of those !) at the Toyota USA headquarters on Van Ness. Details here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wanted: Guest Bloggers!

Apologies to all!

I am about to publish my first novel, and am moving and redoing my websites. The learning slope from Sitebuilder (which at least let me play around with the little bit of html I remember from ten years ago) to Wordpress is a lot steeper then I anticipated. Argh!

You know you've gone over to the dark side when your emails from tech support begin "There's no need for profanity..."

But while pulling up pictures to decorate the new website, I came across a mosaic. This is in a church of St. Onnenne in Brittany, the northwesternmost province of France.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

National Walking Day

The American Heart Association has dubbed the first Wednesday in April National Walking Day. And I'm just cynical enough to wonder how the first Thursday in April compares to other days in terms of reported heart attacks.

It makes a nice excuse to use this cute picture from the site, though. Lots o' stuff on trails and walking there.

But wasn't there an 80's song--"Walkin' in LA, Nobody Walks in LA" ? Yes, and it was by Misssing Persons, a band that originated in Los Angeles. It sounded an awful lot like their other 80s hit, "Words" or possibly the two songs are just mixed up in my head. But is there a blog post in here somewhere?

Searching for the phrase "Missing Persons" in the LAT is not the best approach (gee, did you know that in 1924, the LA County Sherifff handled 500 missing persons cases and found about 450 of the missing?) but I did find this. Robert Hilburn, the Time's pop music critic for 35 years, went to a Missing Persons concert at the Long Beach Arena on New Year's Eve in 1983. He called them a "dumb band."

For those who remember the 80s fondly, here's what he said:

"It's not that Missing Persons is horrible. We're not talking Sammy Hagar or Judas Priest here. But the quintet, which is the hottest pop attraction to come out of Los Angeles sine the Go-Go's, is trying so hard to get to the top that it sacrifices some occasionally interesting pop instincts for a trendy, lightweight mentality."

Occasionally interesting? Wow, talk about damning with faint praise.

"The band buried all hints of warmth and charm beneath lead singer Dale Bozzio's tacky Cher (pre-Altman)-meets-Wendy O. Williams Stance."  Hilburn did seem to like the lyrics of the songs, oddly enough. He just disliked the people who performed them, I guess.

The best part of the 1983 review is the b&w picture of Dale Bozzio. Hilburn says her hair was pink, but she seems to be wearing the same bra as in this pr photo at left.

No one under 40 is gonna get Hilburn's allusions.Today, she would be called GaGa-esque, rather than Cher (pre-Altman).  And I'm far from the first to make that comparison.

Bozzio's still touring, and Robert Hilburn is on the radio and online. He wrote a book about his years as a critic: Corn Flakes with John Lennon: And Other Tales from a Rock 'n' Roll Life (Hardcover)I haven't read it, but it sounds wildly interesting and it got great reviews.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Irwindale's Mosaic

Who knew Irwindale had a mosaic? I sure didn't.

Two weeks ago, I mentioned that artist Joyce Kozloff created the movie fantasy artwork at the Metro station at 7th and Flower--in fact, I promised a future post. But I decided not to blog about that piece, mainly because I can't define it as a mosaic. The Movie Fanatasy art is made of a couple of long rows of specially-designed, painted, and glazed large tiles. Yes, each tile makes up a part of one long mural, but I don't think it's a mosaic.

It's still lovely and well worth seeing--just go to Joyce Kozloff's website, click on Public Projects, and select the 1993 Los Angeles Metro Station.

But today I'll feature Kozloff's beautiful work "Underwater Landscape," designed for yet another Home Savings and Loan. In Irwindale--well, some listing call it Baldwin Park.

When this piece was installed in 1989, Irwindale had become the corporate headquarters of Home Savings & Loan, and remained so until Washington Mutual bought the company in 1999. The address is 4910 Rivergrade Road, and the building is available right now. 40,000 rentable square feet, just off the 605. None of the listings speak of the beautiful art in the atrium or of a 17 by 25 foot waterwall, so I hope it's well cared-for.

UPDATE: The fountain has a few leaks and so is not operational. It can be repaired, though.

These pictures came from Ms. Kozloff's site and are credited to Tom Vinetz. To the right is a close up of one of the mosaics. Two panels frame a blue mosaic wall over which water falls. The mosaic was fabricated by Travisanutto Mosaics of Spilimbergo, Italy.

The two side panels, each 6 ft wide, are of transparent and iridescent glass. The fish at right are inspired by a Greek vase at the Getty, but Japanese and Chinese influences are also clear.

And then there's the floor: Kozloff says the four circles reflect pottery designs from four cultures: Aegean (the dolphins and octopus), Greek, Japanese, and Chinese.

Here is the entire piece in all its glory:

Well, if I had won that lottery drawing last week (which would have been astounding, as I didn't purchase a ticket), and I needed to rent space for all my media interviews, I'd go here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

May 5 Events

Three things are really happening on May 5 this year. Which is the April Fools Joke?

  1. Shaquille O'Neal is getting his PhD
  2. I will be another year older
  3. An exhibit titled Millard Sheets: The Art of Home Savings and Loan opens at the Project Room Gallery of the Grand Central Art Museum of Cal State Fullerton. (A panel discussion on May 6 will feature Dr. Adam Arenson, whose blog has been mentioned here more than once)
  4. Stephen Colbert will leave comedy to set up a meditation and retreat center in the Smokey Mountains
Well, duh. Of course, it's the last item. Absolutely not the first, that's a truism.