Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mosaic L.A.

Sunday the L.A. Conservancy and the J. Paul Getty Museum held their self-guided tour, Mosaic L.A. It was FABULOUS! All of our various mosaic events in the past month led up to this day. The brochure for the tour is outstanding. Of course, Mr. Larry took exquisite photos and Amy Inouye of Future Studio designed a beautiful brochure. It's definitely worthwhile to order this brochure from the Conservancy so you can conduct your own tour of these magnificent mosaics in our beautiful City.

Millard Sheets, Home Savings & Loan, Hollywood

Sunset and Vine

Close-up of Bette Davis
We started our tour at the former site of the Home Savings and Loan (now Washington Mutual) on Sunset and Vine in Hollywood. This mosaic depicts legendary movie stars and is a nod to the site's history as the location of the filming of Hollywood's first full-length motion picture, "The Squaw Man." When you are inside the bank, looking toward the parking lot, a magnificent stained glass window is visible too.
Stained Glass Inside Hollywood HS&L

Joseph Young, Parker Center, Downtown L.A.

Our next stop was Parker Center (designed by renowned L.A. architect, Welton Becket). The LAPD is building a new headquarters and will soon be vacating this building. Hopefully, they will take this magnificent mural with them. It's a mid-century modern depiction of the L.A. skyline. It is somewhat obstructed by security gates, but this was my favorite piece of the entire tour. I'm just crazy for L.A. landmarks and that graphic/modern style of Joseph Young.
Mosaic Abstraction of Chinese Theater, Red Car, etc.

We met up with Mary Jo and David at this stop and spent a majority of the tour with them. Check out Mary Jo's site for more photos! David is a costumer who works in tile on the side. He was most informative about what we were viewing.

Simon Rodia, Watts Towers, L.A.
We hit the Harbor Fwy. from Parker Center and traveled south to Watts. Simon Rodia's Watts Towers is just east of the Metro Line, off Century Blvd. When you approach the Towers and the park surrounding it, it just looks like a gray steel conglomeration of spires. When you walk closer, you can see all of the mosaic decoration that Rodia used, including broken tableware, figurines, glazed tiles, bottles of 7-Up and Milk of Magnesia, mirrors, seashells, rocks, telehpne insulators, etc. It's an inspiring piece. The shape has a boat-like quality to it. This masterpiece is respected in the neighborhood. They hold tours on the weekend. It's definitely worthwhile to visit.
There is this boat-like quality to the interior
Larry, Mary Jo, Ellen & David @ The Towers

We were starving after seeing the Towers, so we hopped back on the Harbor Fwy. north and went to lunch near our next stop, St. John's Episcopal Church.
Mercado Paloma
We had lunch at Mercado Paloma on Grand Ave. near Jefferson. It's actually a delightful food court and small shopping plaza. We all ordered lunch from the Chichen Itza stand....quite yummy, as you can see.

Romanesque Bell Tower @ St. John's
Interior Archway & Tile Work

The exterior of St. John's was never finished. It is made of simple cast concrete. Architecturally, it is in the Romanesque-style. When you walk inside, you can see the mosaic. There is one area near the front of the church that is primarily gold, glittering tiles. The ceiling is really gorgeous too. I want to return to this site to examine it further. My photos are really inferior compared to the grandness and intricacies of the tile work here.

We left David and Mary Jo at this point...they continued on to Hollywood. Larry and I went to our last stop (which will probably be our last stop in life), Forest Lawn.

Birth of Liberty, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills

The Birth of Liberty Mosaic

This is the largest historical mosaic in the country. It's 162 feet long. It portrays scenes of important moments in American history. There are many other startling mosaics at the Park. I was most impressed with the impressionist quality of the water under George Washington's boat...so many gorgeous colors to show the icy waves!
Detail of the icy Potomac

This was the end of our tour. HOWEVER, Larry and I were so intrigued with the Millard Sheets mosaic in Hollywood, that on the way back we went to my home-town, Beverly Hills to view two more Millard Sheets Mosaic Murals. One is at the corner of Rexford and Wilshire and the other one is two blocks east at Wilshire and Oakhurst. I even stopped by the former H.S. & L. here in Santa Monica today just to view that gorgeous mosaic. I must say, Millard Sheets was a genious.
Millard Sheets Mosaic - Rexford & Wilshire, Beverly Hills

Detail, Millard Sheets, Oakhurst & Wilshire, Beverly Hills

Millard Sheets Mosaic - 26th & Wilshire, Santa MonicaSanta Monica Mosaic - Detail
I'm on a quest now to view and photograph as many Millard Sheets Mosaic Murals as I can find around the Southland!
There is so much beautiful public art in Los Angeles. Please go see it!!!!

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At 3:03 PM PDT, Blogger Laurie Ann said...

I love the mosaics. They make me happy when I drive by. You know, in 12 years I've never been to the Watts Towers. Shame on me.

At 4:50 PM PDT, Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Those are so freakin' beautiful. I think I never really appreciated mosaics until you started featuring them, and when you showed the Watts Towers close up, I had the same reaction as LauAnn - I really should go see them in person, because they really are gorgeous.

Just as a side note, I thought I read it here, but it could have been in LA Magazine, that they decided to move the mosaic to the new LAPD HQ because of the public outcry at (potentially) losing such an amazing piece of art. I hope I'm remembering that correctly... I'm gettin a little dotty in my old age.

At 5:21 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Thanks for the info about the LAPD, Joseph Young Mosaic, Monkeygurrrrl! After this weekend and so many people traipsing thru Parker Center, I'm sure that raised an awareness about the mosaic.

I did hear that another Joseph Young mosaic for the LAPD/Hollenbeck Division in Boyle Hts. depicting the Boyle Hts. neighborhood will not be used in their new headquarters. Rumor has it that the Chief at Hollenbeck called Joseph Young (age 91) and asked him to pick up his mosaic! I only hope that it will be saved somewhere the public can enjoy it!

At 9:35 PM PDT, Blogger mj said...

Your photos are fabulous! I am right there with you for a quest to find Millard Sheets work. Those banks were so impressive -- inside as well as out.

At 7:22 PM PDT, Blogger Madge said...

Thanks for the tour, Ellen! You give good mosaic.

At 9:54 AM PDT, Blogger mehitabel said...

There's a wonderful mosaic on the front of the WaMu (formerly HS&L) here in Temple City, depicting the Camellia Parade. I'll have to take some pics and see if you can help me identify the artist. I spent a lot of time working on a mosaic mural when I was in college--wonder if it's still there??


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