Monday, June 25, 2012

Peck Park Mosaic Almost Done!

The mosaic near the pool at Peck Park is almost done!

In fact, it will be complete by Thursday, July 12, when everyone is invited to come to the dedication in the evening: 6 pm to 8 pm.

At this dedication--where there will be games, food, drink, and performances by synchronized swim teams and the San Pedro Ballet, as well as a 50/50 raffle--we are all asked to contribute $5. But that's optional.

Still, who could refuse five bucks to help defray the cost of materials for this beautiful mosaic that artists and volunteers have spent many weekends bringing to life?

Man, I wish all public art came so easily! But it takes dedicated, giving, and talented people. I hope everyone comes out to show our appreciation and support for this work.

These pictures do not begin to capture the panels of sea creatures.

The backgrounds have bits of mirror and specialty tiles hidden in them. Some tiles--like the leaves of the kelp--are specially designed by artist Julie Bender, with unique textures added. No two leaves are alike. A close up is at left.

I blogged about this mosaic in March and in April. You can read more about Julie Bender's work and see pictures of some of the benches she's designed at love the ocean wave bench, if anyone wonders what to get me for Christmas.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Big & Small Birds at Peck Park

Are these merlins, or peregrine falcons? After looking at images on Google, I think maybe female harrier hawks? Here is a close up of the same photo.

Beautiful day at Peck Park in San Pedro, overlooking the Port of Los Angeles.

Of course, once these birds took off--one at a time--the ever-present crows that populate that park swarmed and chased them away.

Here is another picture. My guess is that the birds were 14-15 inches long.

And below right is a picture of a black phoebe--birds that I cannot ever remember seeing until recently, but which now seem to be all over.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Santa Monica Freeway, 50 Years Ago

There are so many 50th anniversaries this year, of Marilyn Monroe's death, the only successful escape from Alcatraz (did they or didn't they survive?), of the Rolling Stones, the Chieftains, and the Beach Boys' existence, the James Bond movie franchise, Walmart's founding--but here's one I came across in Proquest: On June 21, 1962, the section of the Santa Monica Freeway between the Harbor Freeway and Hoover Street opened--eastbound only.

Fer you young'ns, the Harbor Freeway is the 110, while the Santa Monica is the 10.

There was still no eastbound connection from the Harbor Freeway. Officials hoped that both east and west lanes as far as Vermont would open by August.

And in fact, here is a picture from the LAPL's Herald Examiner photo collection of the opening ceremony for that stretch, on August 16, 1962. The dignitaries and speakers are not identified.

The Harbor Freeway, btw, filled in a gap between Torrance Blvd and Pacific Coast Highway in 1962 as well (it already had a portion from PCH to San Pedro.)

Millard Sheets' Rose Parade Mural Installed

It's been two years since I blogged about the 50-foot-wide Rose Parade Mural that once enriched the Home Savings and Loan in Pasadena. That building is long gone and the mural has been moved several times.

As Laura Monteros reports in The Examiner, the mural will be installed at Pasadena City College this summer.

I'll have to think of an excuse to visit. It'll be in the Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium lobby.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fledgling Red Tail Hawk

Is she not beautiful?

No history tie-in here. Just a fledgling hawkette who hasn't quite figured out takeoffs yet.

No one saw her land, but she rooted herself in one spot and spread her wings to look even bigger and scarier whenever anyone got near.

The lovely people from South Bay Wildlife Rehab will reunite her with her parents by putting her in a tree near the nest (we know where that is). The baby stands over a foot tall, but weighs only two pounds--which I'm told is a very healthy weight.

I'm also told that downed hawks is pretty common this time of year. All the babies are getting ready to take that first flight, which can be tricky.

Hawks look big enough when circling overhead or perched in a tree a hundred feet high, but I'm always stunned when I see one close up. They are just so powerful-looking. This fledgling will not get bigger, probably--I did not know that they didn't learn to fly until they were this size.

The Torrance Main Library on Torrance Blvd. has a display of some stuffed local wildlife, including an adult red-tailed hawk. Happened across it a couple of weeks ago when attending a free talk on likker in early America by food historian Richard Foss--a very entertaining hour. He even brought a rum cake for the audience!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mosaic Monday II: Manhattan Beach

Today's second post is on the oceanic or beachy mosaic at 13th and Morningside in Manhattan Beach. I'm told this little place--concreted, with benches and plants--is called the 13th Street Square Park, or 13th Street Square Performance Space. Or even 13th Street Behind Metlox Plaza. Hard to get information on a place with so many names!

It's actually the northwestern plot of that shopping plaza that was built on the old Metlox Pottery site, which operated in Manhattan Beach from 1927 to 1989.

 Wikipedia has a writeup on Metlox, here.  The Our South Bay ezine had an article with pictures about Metlox in their 2011 summer issue.

Turns out the name was a blend of "metallic" and "oxide": two components of glazing pigments.

And...holy cow! Metlox made all my Mom's ivy-patterned serving dishes! I did not know that. (This dish and hundreds of other examples of Metlox wares are for sale at TheFind)

Originally, Metlox was part of Proutyline Products. For a long time, it was the biggest manufacturing concern in the city. But Metlox filed for bankruptcy and closed, leaving a 3 acre lot contaminated by the lead used in making their pottery. In the 90s, it was cleaned up. Only recently--within the past 8 or 10 years--has a trendy shopping center with grassy areas and fountains opened on the spot.

Who designed this mosaic? If I learn the answer, I will add to this post!

Mosaic Monday I: Mirror Man

I'll post twice today,since I was absent last week.

First is Mirror Man at Griffith Park Observatory. Yes, it's from 2010. But still amazing, and very much a mosaic.

Who knew the media could become performance art?(Actually, I think a History Channel program on the Byzantine Empire explored that a few years ago, animating and morphing the famous mosaics of Theodora and Justinian with actors. But I digress.)

These pictures were taken by Ryan Roush, aka SiLver sKY, and more--many more, some quite wonderful--can be seen at his Flicker page. I hope he doesn't mind that I used one to illustrate this post. Please go see the rest of them!

Or you can go to this article on Mosaic Art Now, which reproduces the best pictures. The pictures were also blogged about on LATaco and other sites a couple of years ago.

Mirror Man is actually artist Gustav Troger.  He traveled all over as Mirror Man, and his website shows photos of him on Grand Ave in LA, at City Hall (a second website), as well as at the Great Salt Lake.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tour University Park in West Adams Area June 9th

‘PATHWAYS TO YESTERYEAR: STROLLING THE STREET OF DREAMS’ is the title of the June 9th walking tour of the University Park neighborhood of West Adams. That's just over a week away, on a Saturday.

What will you see?

A portal to the past. Mansions like the one at right, which is the Dockweiler-Stearns residence. This is the last true mansion in University Park, completed over 110 years ago. Only two families have owned the place since and they haven't changed much.

There's even a DS monogram on the chimney that you can see in this Flicker photo.

Flicker says there was a murder-suicide at the mansion in 1924--hopefully, that story will be part of the tour.

A centerpiece of the self-guided walking route is Chester Place, our city's oldest gated community. Today it's Mount St. Mary's College, but in 1899 it opened as an enclave for the city's elite.

Another highlight is the Queen Anne cottage at right: the John B. Kane residence of the 1890s, designed by architect Fred Dorn. It still has stables in back!

Here's how the West Adams Heritage Organization describes the tour:

A century ago, Adams Boulevard was Los Angeles’s Street of Dreams – the main artery of a “Bon Ton District” that included Chester Place, St. James Park and the Belgravia Tract, home to some of the City’s finest residences. 

There will be a sign-in tent at St. James Park, your starting point.

The tour runs from 10 am to 4 pm, but the last $30 ticket will be sold at 1pm. If you order in advance (before June 6th) tickets are $25.

Additional information: 323-732-4223 or or