Monday, June 12, 2006

Art in L.A.

Primitive Doll Collection @ Mor York Gallery
On Saturday, Larry and I drove to historic Highland Park (just south of Pasadena) to view the artwork in many galleries participating in the Second Saturday Gallery Night in Northeast Los Angeles, or as we affectionately refer to the area, NELA.
I was a resident of Highland Park in the late 1970's for a short time. During those years, the area was run down and not considered historic...just crummy. In the past 20 years, many of the older residences and businesses have been restored, new businesses have moved in and people are once again taking pride in this neighborhood. There is a section of Highland Park that is zoned as a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ), containing many beautiful turn-of-the-century and early 20th century homes. Considering Highland Park is close to downtown and other business communities, it is really becoming a desired location for the L.A. workforce.
Our first stop was Future Studio on Figueroa near Avenue 55. There were prints displayed by local artists, in addition to a wooden sculpture by Stuart Rapeport called "Big Fish." The owner of this gallery, Amy Inouye also sells many items related to Chicken Boy. Hopefully, CB will be installed on the roof of Future Studio soon.
Our next stop was the Avenue 50 Studio, part of the Arroyo Arts Collective. The Gallery was busy and parking was scarce, but we saw some interesting paintings.
We had been advised to definitely visit the Mor York Gallery on York Boulevard. Wow! Proprietor and artist, Clare Graham is an artistic innovator. He collects all sorts of things and places them or combines them in artistic settings and/or recycled art sculptures. You have to see his studio and showroom to believe it. The building was a former grocery store, roller rink and stock-car racing location. The high ceilings are very dramatic. Even the website is good. There were bottlecap sculptures, collections of primitive dolls, paint by numbers kits re-arranged into screens (Pinkie and Blue Boy are my faves), multiple scrabble boards used as room dividers, painstakingly created walls using scrabble tiles, hanging lightfixture sculptures, etc. The place is a smorgasbord of incredibility. Clare has been collecting these wire hats made on some obscure island in the South Pacific. You will see me modeling one of the hats. We couldn't quite figure how how it was made. Tiny wire crochet? Maybe?
Our last stop was the Huron Substation in Cypress, just south of Highland Park. This was a former Red Car maintenance station. Before the automobile was king in L.A., there was a system of electric Red Car lines in this City. My parents used to talk about traversing the entire City on the Red Car. It was supposed to be a very efficient way to get around town. Too bad it's gone, we could really use this system today. I vaguely remember the last of the Red Cars going down the center of Venice Boulevard in the early 1960's.
The Huron Substation was a buzz of activity. There were many sculptures in the courtyard area, including the work of Dakota Witzenberg. It was a party.
I wish more Westsiders would just get on the freeway and explore the galleries of the Highland Park area. The Second Gallery Night happens every month!!!!



At 8:53 AM PDT, Blogger DarcyArtsy said...

That's another reason why we love you, so many groovy places you blog that I am dying to chek out. If only I could get there by Red Car!! I guess one day my yellow car will have to make the trip or better yet, ride share with others interested in adventures in LA. Thanks

At 11:18 AM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Yes, that's the sad thing about getting around in L.A., you really do need a car! I only wish we had the Red Car system that my folks used to rhapsodise about. My Mom talks about going from Beverly Hills to downtown L.A. in about 15 minutes on the Red Car. I do know that the powers that be are trying to reinstate an above-ground rail system on the old Exposition Blvd. line, going from downtown out to the Ivy Station in Culver City. That would help! Sigh.

At 4:06 PM PDT, Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

I like the last picture. He's so handsome! And you could totally make one of those wire hats!!!

At 8:27 AM PDT, Blogger 66 Productions said...

Unfortunately, the car IS king in Los Angeles. If it were not for the Automobile Club's activities in the early 20th century, things could be vastly different.

Car culture grew up in Southern California, and the desire to travel led to the creation of the United States Highway System, which in turn led to the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System, which is currently celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

All of these things led to highways like Route 66 being created, taking travelers right through the middle of towns like Highland Park. The expansion of the roads then led to the creation of freeways, bypassing the towns. The Arroyo Seco Parkway is considered the first freeway west of the Mississippi River, and is the first portion of Route 66 to become freeway, making Highland Park one of the first towns along 66 bypassed by a freeway.

It was this car culture, combined with the sheer size of the growing metropolis of Los Angeles, that led to the demise of the Red Cars. Hopefully, with gas prices headed where they are, and an increase in mass transportation options in LA County, we will once again see light rail becoming a key player again soon.

In the meantime, despite my love of historic roads, I'll take the Gold Line from my home in Pasadena as often as I can, just because I hate all the LA traffic.

At 10:04 AM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Thanks for all the great historical info, Scott. Your blog is great!

L.A. Ell

At 6:36 AM PDT, Blogger Allison said...

Ellen, you go to the most interesting places in LA! I love reading about them and seeing the photos. You remind me that there is, in fact, a vibrant cultural scene in LA. (By that I don't mean theater or acting - I'm referring to art and history,) I forget that one just needs to search for it a little harder than in the other cities in which I've lived: NY, Philly, even Dallas (!) Thanks for the inspiration.

At 3:05 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get on your bikes and ride!
Every month there is a bike ride called the Spoken Art Ride

It meets at the corner of Figueroa & York (at the flag pole). North East Los Angeles has two dozen galleries & art houses in a two-mile radius & they'll travel to a selected group of them so that they can spend quality time at each stop. This ride is an entire evening worth of bikes, art & fun.

The ride will wind its way around the Eagle Rock, Highland Park & Sycamore Grove areas, stopping at selected galleries open that night as part of NELAart's ongoing 2nd Saturday Gallery Night. The galleries will generally be open from 7 - 10p & run a wide spectrum of different genres & styles. If you get lost, or want to meet up with the ride, call (310) 902-5439 for directions.

Rock Rose Gallery, 4108 N Figueroa, will be the last gallery on the ride. After that you can head over to the Bike Oven, 130 W Avenue 42, for the after-party. Both are close to Gold Line train stations (SouthWest Museum & Heritage Square) & several all-night bus lines that run on Figueroa.

Gallery itinerary & maps will be provided at the flagpole & can also be picked up along the route.


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