1812: December 2018 Photography

December 2018 Photography

The Last of It: This is how the year ended in the local streets – the street art still trying the make sense of the world under those impossible Los Angeles skies. ~ Monday, December 31, 2018

Last Light: White roses in the last light of the year, the last Saturday in December – but the light is bright. This is Los Angeles. ~ Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Coastal Crowd: This is what worried Alfred Hitchcock – a massive gathering of every sort of bird imaginable at that small lagoon in Playa Del Rey just north of the airport. Who knows what they’re thinking? Drive on. Drive to the top of the hill. Relax. The coast is clear. ~ Friday, December 28, 2018

Fading Fast: From the past – the Reagent Showcase Theater on North La Brea, an S. Charles Lee movie palace from the thirties with sidewalks in the manner of Roberto Burle Marx, the famous Brazilian landscape architect who designed all those parks and gardens in Rio – and specifically the swirly sidewalks at the edge of Copacabana Beach that show up in all the movies – like Flying Down to Rio (1933) – the first of the Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers movies. That was probably on the bill here back then. That was filmed at RKO Studios, just down the street from this theater, still surrounded by severe Art Deco buildings also from the thirties, but also fading fast. The past will disappear. ~ Thursday, December 27, 2018

High Hollywood High: The new mural at the public high school down the street – Judy Garland went to high school here. Rudolf Valentino did too – the football team is the Hollywood High School Sheiks. The new mural, an initiative of the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles, is by David Sepulveda – known as Don Rimx – a Puerto Rican artist from Miami – and this new mural is directly across the street from the In-and-Out Burger where Paris Hilton was heading when she was arrested for DUI and driving with a suspended license. She wanted a Double-Double. She went to jail. This is a strange town. ~ Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Christmas Roses: Los Angeles roses at Christmas, with poinsettia of course – there’s no White Christmas out here. ~ Saturday, December 22, 2018

Not Quite Right: Hollywood does what it can – but Santa is Chinese and he’s playing an erhu  – and singing – in Chinese – and the Three Wise Men are not who you think they are. But it is Christmas, or close enough, on Hollywood Boulevard. ~ Friday, December 21, 2018

The Electric Sky: A return to Adams and Electric Drive just south of Venice Boulevard – the winter sky was electric. Los Angeles was wired. ~ Thursday, December 20, 2018

Sky-High: Forget what’s on the ground. Look up. That’s where the excitement is. And the Southern California sky is always best in December. Get lost in it. It’s a good place to be. ~ Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Long Story: Sometimes the street art in Los Angeles, in sequence, seems to tell a long story. But no one really knows what that story is. Perhaps it’s best not to know. ~ Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Camera Obscura: Dark Room – that’s what the words mean. Santa Monica has one on Ocean Boulevard. It’s like being inside a big camera. There’s a small aperture on the roof – like the pinhole in a pinhole camera – and a series of mirrors or prisms that directs the beam of light from that aperture down onto a white flat disc in the center of the dark room. And there’s the outside world. It’s an old trick. Leonardo Da Vinci gave two clear descriptions of the camera obscura in his notebooks. Artists found them useful. They popped up at turn of the century amusement parks. But it’s just a trick. On winter days, Santa Monica seems to be one big dark room. ~ Monday, December 17, 2018

Bright Light: It shouldn’t be this bright at noon on a Saturday in the middle if December, but it is. This is Los Angeles. This is Hollywood. There is no winter. The gardens shine. ~ Saturday, December 15, 2018

The December Boulevard: Christmas in Hollywood – a dark December afternoon on Sunset Boulevard at Billy Wilder Square with its extravagant Spanish Revival buildings from the twenties – and it is a bit unsettling. Norma Desmond is around here somewhere, forever ready for her close-up. ~ Friday, December 14, 2018

Down on Fourth: Every city has its gritty artists’ colony. Los Angeles had one east of Little Tokyo between Alameda Street and that concrete trough they say is the Los Angeles River – old industrial buildings that became hidden studios for experimental art of all sorts. Now it’s the “Arts District” – full of urban hipsters – and the art is on the outside. One of the first of the “outside” art pieces was “Undiscovered America” – a mural planned and completed by Earth Crew 2000 – back in 1992 – all about the indigenous people here before the Europeans – the Inca, Mayan, Aztec, Tongva, Lakota, Chumash, Mohawk and Iroquois people. Columbus had arrived exactly five hundred years earlier. This was an act of defiance and resistance, and the mural, at 843 East 4th Street, has just been restored. But now there are murals everywhere on this street. The place is flashy. There’s no defiance and resistance. The grit is gone. But the place is hip. ~ Thursday, December 13, 2018

Zen Street: Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang dynasty as Chan Buddhism. It was strongly influenced by Taoism and developed as a distinct school of Chinese Buddhism. From China, Chan Buddhism spread south to Vietnam which became Vietnamese Thiền, northeast to Korea and east to Japan, where it became known as Seon Buddhism and Japanese Zen, respectively. When it reached Los Angeles it turned into odd street art. ~ Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Lighting the Art: Once again, the play of light at Broad Contemporary Art Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on Wilshire Boulevard – Renzo Piano provides the basic geometry, in Chinese red. Chris Burden supplies the streetlamps. Rodin supplies Balzac. And next door, Piano’s new museum for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences – with its odd giant sphere – is coming along nicely, and catches the light nicely too. Winter light is good. ~ Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Grand Hope: The name is misleading. Grand Hope Park is neither grand nor hopeful. It’s curious – a full city block in Los Angeles’ Fashion District – a block between Grand Avenue and Hope Street turned into a collection of “outdoor rooms” in 1993 by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, rooms filled with eccentric California art, anchored by his odd mosaic clock tower. Now his park is the center of South Park – snazzy condos and the Staples Center and the Grammy Museum and hip hotels an all the rest – but Grand Hope was here first. ~ Monday, December 10, 2018

Botanical Persistence: Yes, it’s December, and there have been fires, followed by heavy rain, and the air is gritty – this is Los Angeles after all. But the roses won’t die, and cactus survives anything and everything. That’s what they say about Mother Nature. “Nevertheless, she persisted.” ~ Saturday, December 8, 2018

California Living: Some people do live like this – startling new condos on the sand on the exclusive Marina Peninsulas south of Venice Beach – next to the channel where the fancy sailboats head out to sea – off to Catalina or Hawaii. Life is good here – not real – but good. ~ Friday, December 7, 2018

Rise Up!: New women at the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) on Venice Boulevard – the former Venice Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, at 685 Venice Boulevard, many blocks inland from the beach, an active jail from 1929 until the early seventies. Rise up! ~ Friday, December 7, 2018

Old Rain: It’s a Hollywood thing. Old buildings look best in the rain – Bullocks Wilshire, 3050 Wilshire Boulevard, 1929, by the Los Angeles architects John and Donald Parkinson – the ultimate Art Deco luxury department store for more than sixty years, now a private law school. But the exterior has been restored to its original glory, and on a rare rainy day in Los Angeles, it is evocative of another time and another world. ~ Thursday, December 6, 2018

Below and Above: The world is a distressing place at street level – a snake pit. It’s best to look up. There’s solace in the skies. ~ Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Other Realities: Just another Monday morning on Hollywood Boulevard – no one is out and about yet – time for a quiet walk through all sorts of alternative realities. ~ Monday, December 3, 2018

The Season Begins: Poinsettia and roses all along Sunset Boulevard – the holiday season begins in Hollywood. ~ Saturday, December 1, 2018