The Freehand hotel

Another old commercial building that was turned into a hipster hotel.Looking at the website, I see there is a pool on the roof, but I didn’t go up there. Of course, I love all these cool details. The tile floor, the tile around the windows, the wonderful archway. The lobby is small, yet mighty.  Where Nomad used exuberant colors, things here are quiet and subdued, yet no less beautiful.The Bar! I have no doubt that all the tile work here is new since this used to be the lobby of an office building. How wonderful that the designer makes the new loos so old. Not just the tile, all that woodwork!From inside looking out at 8th st.This chair! I don’t know how comfortable it is. But the workmanship. There were at least two of these. Once again, I don’t know if the tile on the floor is original or not. I am in love with all the textures here.It feels like a British colonial club in India. Pay attention to the sign across the street, that intrigued me.If I just posted this image, you’d say, San Francisco. I do not know if the upstairs are still a hotel. The Golden Gopher is a modern take on the dive bar. Created in 2004, although the website does say that Teddy Roosevelt bought this building and had a bar here in 1905. Who knows?Right next door to the Golden Gopher is another old building. Hotel Bristol, which is no longer a hotel but low-income housing. What that means in LA, is newly arrived wanna be actors live here. This is what happens in LA, cheap, low-income housing doesn’t go to the low-income non descript workers in this city. It goes to the hipsters. I guess that is just how the market works in this city.  It’s not like we don’t have options, it’s just a question of who gets those living spaces.



Nomad Hotel

I gave a tour downtown. Here’s some advice nobody wants. If you have trouble walking and rely heavily on a cane, please do not come to a walking tour that is over a mile long, includes hills and many stairs.  I had an organized group from Orange CA, three people could hardly walk. I felt very sorry for the other tour-goers, I couldn’t abandon the slow walkers, so the tour was very truncated. At the end, I left them at the Bradbury Bldg, they were to walk another 3 blocks to Cliftons, I noticed that the three stragglers were left behind, no-one cared to walk slowly anymore.

I rewarded myself by checking out some new hotels downtown.The Giannini building was built for the headquarters of the Bank of Italy back in the 1920s. It stood vacant for years. then it was purchased and turned into a luxury hotel. A few months ago, I was watching an episode of NCIS Los Angeles, and a murder occurred in the LA Athletic Club, which is right across the street, since this building was still under construction, they got permission to film in one of the rooms, abandoned and empty. I love it when I figure these things out.The building is an example of Beaux Arts, a beautiful example.I am so grateful that none of the exterior details were destroyed during the years of abandonment.I’m sure all the terra-cotta is from Gladding McBean. I don’t know who made the metal work, but I see it all over downtown.The side entrance is small, it’s easier for cars to stop on Olive St. rather than 7th. So the Valet is here.The lobby, in all it’s glory!  So many details are original. The furnishings are new and gorgeous. I want all those lush textiles!There is a bar and restaurant in the lobby, the place was full. Always look up!I so want this chair! The guys’ hat just adds to the colorfulness of it all.Right next door is the Whiskey Bar, Seven Grand, I bet their business has improved as well. Across the Street in Bottega Louie, 7th st is one of the liveliest streets downtown.

Even the Broad Tower, the tallest building downtown shines over 7th st. To be honest, It shines over everything.

In another post, another hotel.


Missing the quilt show

There is an Art Quilt show in Santa Monica. I’ve been meaning to go, what better time than on a Tuesday when I have to be on the westside with my grandkids. So I looked up the information, wasn’t that easy to find. I drove to the museum, only to discover that it’s not open on Tuesdays. As I said, not easy to find details about this show.

So I took advantage of being so close to the beach and had a better time walking around then I would have at the show.It started with this, full of gratitude that I have the time to spend an hour on the beach.Santa Monica Bay is amazing, mountains with right up to the water on the northern edge as well as on the southwestern edge. Most of the bay has a very large flat sandy beach. Luckily for us, the harbor wasn’t placed here and they didn’t build right up to the water, so this is an enormously wide, white sand beach.The pier was supposed to be the start of a harbor, turns out that the underwater topography isn’t good for that at all. So the harbor is further south, and we enjoy an amazing beach. Today the pier is just for enjoyment, complete with an amusement park. It was a very warm day, but not many people out at the beach. In the summer, even mid-week, this place is very crowded. The bike and pedestrian paths are very wide and well maintained. Not only people come out to walk. So did this pony, I mean Great Dane.Walking back to my car, I took a side street and admired the multi-million dollar homes. They probably started out as beach cottages, not anymore. This one has the surfboard at the ready.You know me, I love the architectural details.People certainly take pride in these homes, they are all beautifully maintained.Being so close to the ocean means a lot of paint. I’m glad they are keeping these gems up.  I really like the reflection of the black detail in the window, allows me to see the design so much better.

I have to do this more often, leave an hour early and enjoy a walk on the beach. I get stuck in my routine and forget to do these kinds of things. I need to make this part of my routine.


Sky Space

This image isn’t mine. I found it online, although I see this building all the time, I haven’t photographed it.

This weekend I had the pleasure of going to the top, seeing all those incredible views. I figure. I better let you see what the building itself looks like. The US Bank building, The Library Tower or today as it is known, OUE.  This picture was taken before OUE bought the building and added the observation deck and slide. They are on the 69th floor, where the two outcroppings end, a few floors before the crown.Two elevator rides up and we are on the 70th floor. Looking down on the slide. My fear of heights prevented me from going down this.  Others in my group did it and enjoyed it. Well, maybe they didn’t enjoy it as much as they claimed……I was happy to have my picture taken with the angel wings. So why did this not scare me? Because it feels stable and solid. Because that thick glass is high and I don’t feel like I will fall. That slide is 100% glass, sitting, even for a moment on the glass would have freaked me out.

Inside the building, on the 54th floor, there is a shaft with mirrors and lights going down to the ground. It is covered with thick glass, I got dizzy peering over the edge. I know my limits. The views!  The day was so clear and bright, we had strong winds the day before. So the views were spectacular.  You know me, I have a whole collection of images of the Hollywood sign from all kinds of angles. How about this one! Or the Broad Tower, with views of Santa Monica bay beyond. This is now the tallest building west of the Mississippi. The US Bank tower is on higher ground. But if they stood side to side, the Broad would be taller, and not only because of the spire. But they don’t have an observation deck.Just looking south at the massive landscape of Los Angeles.Staples Center, the Convention center and the old Hotel Figueroa. Also the cross of the 10 and the 110 freeways.Looking down on buildings I only see from the ground. This is the gas flame of the Gas Company Tower. Built at same time as the US Bank building. Both bought air rights from the library, that money was used to renovate and expand the library. Next to it, well really across the street, is the Biltmore Hotel and in front of that, Pershing Square.On the other side, The Bonaventure Hotel. A law that was rescinded recently said that all buildings over a certain height in Los Angeles, have to have a helicopter pad. The number indicates the weight that can land.  The Broad was built after the law was changed, maybe now we’ll start to see more interesting rooflines on buildings.Look at a map of Los Angeles, the streets in downtown are slightly torqued, they don’t follow the north-south grid.  When the first design of Los Angeles was proposed by Lieutenant Ord, back in 1852, he followed the Spanish tradition of having the north facing streets be more to the Northwest, so that all angles would get more sunlight. I’m not sure that the Bank of America building is perfectly on the correct axis, but it is more so than all of its neighbors which makes it stand out like a sore thumb.  As the city grew, the streets returned to a north-south, east-west axis.City Hall looks so small from above. Beyond it, Union Station with the railroad tracks.The yellow brick building is the Bradbury Building. I have often looked up at the glass atrium. It’s large. Looking down at it, I realize how very large it really is.

For those of you who come on one of our conservancy tours, you will get a coupon to visit the Sky Space. Locals get a discount as well. Otherwise, it’s $25, another $8 for the pleasure of two seconds on the slide.


A Sunday walk in a cemetery

Once a month at least 100 people come out to walk with Charles Fleming. He wrote the Secret Stairs book. Most of these walks are based on the book. Today was different, we walked around Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale.This cemetery was built in 1905, one of the first to embrace the parklike environment. A place to celebrate life. In a dry area like this, fountains are a must.Replicas of world-famous art is a big draw here. If you can’t travel the world, come here and see some very credible replicas.Hmm, who is that peering over the wall?A plaster mold was made out of the original and this one was also carved from Carerra marble. In the oldest part of the park, tall tombstones were used. But Eaton, the man who developed the open concept of cemeteries, decided to use plaques in the ground, so the overall feeling is open and expansive.He even created two heart shaped plots – these were meant for babies and children.  Interesting to look down the hill and see not only the heart but the busy commerce just beyond the fence on San Fernando Rd. A large European castle? No, the mausoleum. Here is Charles (in the white shirt) describing the ornate burial site of Aimee  Semple Mcpherson. She of the Four Square Church fame, the first radio evangelist, and Show-woman for God.I bet Hollywood would love to use some of these shots. It looks like a real castle.It is easy to see which areas hold the newer graves. They tend to have flowers and in this case – flags. There are people visiting and tending to their loved ones. As time passes, even the loved ones end up in a graveyard – so in the older areas one doesn’t see people or flowers.There are strict rules about how one can decorate gravesites for the holidays.As well as this warning. Another man took the same picture, then admitted that his mother used to do just that. Steal flowers from another grave to put on her loved ones. She didn’t want to spend the money….  A Church or Chapel on the top of the hill.Quiet and peaceful, but not open on a Sunday.  There is also a large museum, I have visited it in the past and really should do so again.

An hour and a half, three and a half miles of walking up and down the hills.  A lovely way to spend a Sunday morning. Then instead of tacos, we had some juicy burgers for lunch. A little break from our ‘after-walk’ tradition.


Chapman court and plaza

On the tour of KTown, it was fun seeing old historic buildings.  1929 wasn’t all about Art Deco, another style that was still being built was Spanish Revival, with a touch of Churrigueresque. Yes, that is a tongue-twisting word that means a facade encrusted with design details.These two buildings are going through some renovation. Both are named for their developers – The Chapman Brothers, same ones that donated enough money to a small Christian college in Orange – so it was named after them.The plaza was a first of it’s kind, all the stores face inward to a large parking lot. Good old LA, drive your car in, shop for groceries and then drive out again. The first Korean BBQ that attracted the general population of LA was here. Today the whole complex is restaurants and bars – and is very successful.Across the street is Chapman Court, retail on the ground floor, apartments on the second. In some cases, the apartments were connected to a large studio – for a business or an artist studio. The tower was it’s own apartment, with tenants who only left a few years ago.A local resident of Ktown walking by. The facade is made to look like stone, along with that heavy decoration – Churrigueresque.The main arcade opened onto stores and went back to an open courtyard. The plasterwork is original, not sure about the paint, but it certainly fits in with the feel of the building.Wonderful castiron design. The new style of Art Deco (or Moderne as it was called then) was all the rage. A new style doesn’t take over right away, many designers are still work in the old familiar styles.Look at this metal work, so different from what we saw at the Wiltern.An original storefront cut up into smaller rooms for Bank of America. Once again, even though they created drywall partitions, look at the care taken to cut around the column and the crown molding.For almost 30 years the building was owned by one man, he lived in one of the apartments, where he paneled the whole place in wood. Although the library is full of law books it’s not clear he was a lawyer. Maybe he just chose law books, because they look good.Another element that probably predated the paneling – an interior Juliet balcony.The view from the tower apartment. This is iconic Los Angeles, palm trees as far as the eye can see.




The Wiltern

Twice a year the LA Conservancy has a full day special tour. This time it was over three days and it was in Ktown, otherwise known as Korea Town.

Our first stop was at the Wiltern Theater. I have been there years ago, this is a gem worth visiting. Our day started with a panel, with Wayne Ratkovitz, The Developer who set out in the 1970’s to save many of our Architectural gems.  This is one of his big saves.  We also heard from a professor and City Councilmember David Ryu about how this area became Ktown. The LA riots, 25 years ago had a lot to do with bringing the community together. Up until then, the Korean community was another invisible hard-working group of immigrants. They suffered terrible losses during the riots, and I’m sure vowed – never again. It also made the community aware that they need to become American, part of our local fabric and they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Probably to the point that some older Koreans wish their kids were less American and more Korean.Here is a great example of the success of both Ktown and the Wiltern, these aren’t homeless people, these are kids who camped out overnight to be first in line for a concert. These days most of the events at the Wiltern are aimed at a very young crowd. To my mind this is wonderful, it means that when these kids get older and discover that conservation is a good thing, their fond memories of the Wiltern will make them advocates for maintaining this beautiful building.  This building is an example of the height of Art Deco in Los Angeles. Initially, the theater was a movie theater, with retail on both sides and offices in the tower. It never did well as a movie theater, there was competition from a much larger theater down the street. As a live performance location, it has fared much better. The interior is amazing, so much plaster Art Deco elements all over. On the pillars, along the ceiling. Even on the ceiling.Inside the theater is this wonderful sunburst. Most of these elements were in such bad shape when Wayne bought the building that they needed a lot of repair work. The sunburst used to have 9 rays, now it has 7.Take a close look, each ray is a representation of an Art Deco skyscraper. This is how people imagined Wilshire Blvd would look like, except the depression happened and building stalled.All of the light fixtures were gone, Wayne went searching and paid a lot of money to find this original and put it back in its rightful place.Not easy to photograph a light in a dark room. Love the details on the frosted glass. Inside the theater are more lamps, some were bought back from antique shops, but that became very expensive so many are reproductions.More examples of the wall decorations.Tile was very important in the 1920’s-30’s. The whole exterior is different shades of Turquoise glazed terracotta.  Inside we have a number of these drinking fountains.The railings!  That wonderful industrial aspect that Art Deco has!

Thank you, Wayne Ratkovitz for saving this gem and thank you to everyone who has kept this place alive and very very viable.





Sunland Tujunga Open Studios

It was a busy weekend, The Brewery artwalk on Saturday, then up to the far northeastern reaches of the city of Los Angeles on Sunday. For those not in southern CA, Tujunga is pronounced Ta-Hung ah. Yup, Spanish J.

These two communities are beyond the Verdugo Hills in the Crescenta Valley. An Area that would make for a nice suburb, but in the 1930’s decided to become a part of the city of Los Angeles. It has a rural rustic feel, partially because it is far removed from the rest of the city.  McGroarty Arts Center was the home of John McGroarty, journalist, statesman. Notice how local rock was used in the construction, La Crescenta Valley is very rocky, so the rocks were put to good use. Olive tree orchards were planted here because these trees can thrive in rocky Mediterranean soil.His library is used as a little museum, there is a caregiver living in part of the house, most of it is used for classes and performances.The view from the house. Beyond these hills lie Glendale, Burbank, and the San Fernando Valley, and yet, this area is very secluded.

The art was OK, I think I missed some of the best artists, this event had 40  artists in 17 locations. This is the second year this event was held, I hope it continues to grow and thrive. In this post, I’m going to concentrate on architecture rather than art.Down where I was standing is a studio made out of a shipping container, I looked up at the house and knew this is special. Sure enough, the artist/owner confirmed, this is an original Pierre Koenig Mid-Century modern. They bought the house from the original owner. She had seen an interesting house in Glendale, back in the 50’s and knocked on the door. She had $5000 dollars to build a house. Turns out the house was owned by Architect Pierre Koenig himself, so he built the home for her.Steel, a lot of glass, look what $5000 dollars could build 60 years ago!The original owner is still alive in her 90s. The new owners had a lot of deferred maintenance to do, which they did beautifully. I think I saw this house being advertised 3 years ago. I also saw comments from people who love the style but would ‘never’ move out to the boonies for this gem. The price was no longer $5000, it was probably $350,000, that is still a steal for an original Pierre Koenig home. The present owners are very well aware of their good fortune.

As I was driving to another studio, I had to slam on the brakes find a parking spot and get out to photograph another house.A Storybook house!!!  These fairytale houses were built in the 1920’s-30’s in Los Angeles. There are a number of famous ones in Beverly Hill, the Hollywood Hills, and even Culver City. When researching this one, I found one mention on someone else’s blog, no mention of this one in the ‘big’ articles I found online.The details!! I could have taken so many more pictures. One of these days I may go back just to look for hidden gems. Look at the craftsmanship! The combination of brick and stone, the interesting bricks on the walkway as well as how they are patterned. I just listened to a podcast where Clare Graham was talking about craft versus art. This time he was extolling craft over art! A man after my own heart! I would love to see more of this home, maybe from the inside.

My last stop includes some art, well if a sculpture garden based on world religions is art.This is the wonderful thing about being off the beaten path, you can get away with being eccentric. Unfortunately for me, the owner wasn’t there, so I just wandered, looked and took pictures. Wendy Aft creates all of these from found objects. Clearly, she is influenced by Eastern Philosophies. The Taj Mahal.Thai Nagas, made like they would be in Thailand, out of glass tesserae.Some native American influence.A gay Jesus? Surrounded by Chinese inspired dragon and art.

There was more, I’m limiting the pictures, this post is quite long as it is. I hope not to wait until next October to go back and explore. The artists themselves were really nice, this was supposed to be about art studios, but I got sidetracked.




Brewery Artwalk

I really love LA, there is so much going on here and I only take advantage of a smidgen of it. Last year I missed this event, I’m very happy to have gone this year. Most of the artists do not want people taking pictures of their art, so I got my impressions of the Brewery complex. This sign is seen best from the freeway, I took this picture from the bridge that connects two buildings, so the angle isn’t great. visited here a year and a half ago and wrote up a post, I saw different things this time. I love the Art Deco facade of some of these buildings.Look at the view this artist has! The whole complex was full of people enjoying a lovely Southern CA fall day. Funny story, as I was leaving a gentleman asked me what is going on here, I told him it’s a free art show. He asked where the beer was. I had to laugh and explain that the complex was originally a powerplant, then the Pabst Beer company used it as a brewery and 30 years ago it became an artist colony. But, Barbara’s Brewery would be more than happy to sell him some beer if that was all he wanted.I should have taken the time to go up those stairs, each building is unique. Well, all this means is that I need to go back in spring for the spring artwalk.Quite a few of the artists have their homes/studios in lower industrial buildings, which gives them small patios as well. The interior courtyard of the Art Deco building, I love what they have done here, literally planted trees inside.Those who have access to the outdoors use it well. How could you not with the lovely weather we have here.Cats are popular here.

I had the pleasure of meeting Teresa Coates. Small world story, I listened to Abby Glasenburgs Podcast: While She Naps, this episode is an interview with Arvin Pairavi, owner of Shannon Fabrics. He mentions Teresa as education coordinater, we spoke for close to an hour. Having worked in that industry and her being a quilter – we had a lot to talk about. I’m sure our paths will cross again.  She will be at Quiltmarket next week and I am looking forward to seeing what she posts on Instagram.The interior hallways are fun as well, these are artists, after all, they are going to decorate their environments. Love the bright colors and the sign is cute.More hallway decoration.Here is an artist who encouraged photography. Patrick Guerre Arts, he is painting 10,000 of these hearts to raise awareness and to raise funds for his wife’s’ autoimmune disease. This project is called hearts for Gina. I love that he is using his art in a happy way to help his wife. Then I had the pleasure of meeting Andre Miripolsky. Mural by Miripolsky Elevator, Allied Crafts building Lobby Allied Crafts buildingI first saw his work 3 years ago in a lobby in DTLA. I reminded him of this building, took him a moment. He has been very busy painting much larger installations. What is really exciting is that he will be creating and LA Historama for the convention center. This will be fabricated by Judson Studios. I am so excited about this and I hope this comes to fruition. Here’s an article about his work and the plans for this mural.

This all happened on Saturday, Sunday will be a whole new post. Have I mentioned that I love LA?



Albuquerque and a little bit of Santa Fe

Ballooning happens very early in the morning, so even with a nap, there is plenty of time to explore and we did.Old town Albuquerque is very nice. Most people think that the US started in New England and moved west, new communities being built in a straight timeline. Not so, much of the south, from Florida to California was being developed by the Spanish, or in Louisana’s case – the French.

What today is New Mexico was at the far reaches of New Spain – Mexico. Albuquerque and Santa Fe date back to 1706. This church, on the plaza in Albuquerque in from then. Interior of Church.

Along with the Spaniards came the Jews, escaping from Spain and from the long arm of the Inquisition. The Inquisition followed them to the new world, so my moved up north, to the hinterlands of the empire. They didn’t suffer much persecution up north, but old habits die hard, so the Anusim (Hebrew word for force or rape) or Converso (Spanish for forced conversion) continued to live a secret life. Outwardly they were Catholic, in their homes they kept Jewish traditions alive.  In the last century, many of the descendants are embracing Judaism fully. I had the pleasure of meeting Doro from Las Cruces, he is a proud member of the community and has visited Israel, where he really awoke to his full return to Judaism. Not every meeting involves a photo, so it was just a very nice conversation that we had.Back to Old town, on weekends and during Balloon Fiesta, the central plaza is full of activities, traditional music and dances are de-rigor.Since Day of the dead is approaching, these flags were all over the place. Traditionally they would be cut from crepe paper, these will last a little longer, being die-cut from think sheet-plastic.New Mexico really embraced the adobe look to many homes and buildings.Certainly, gives a recognizable cohesion to the state.In Old town, all kinds of decorations abound.The American style finds it’s place alongside the pueblo style. With the rich blue skies, blue is a popular color.The Cathedral is in Santa Fe, which was established one hundred years before Albuquerque. Yes, New Mexico’s history goes way back.It was a short visit to Santa Fe, the art scene and galleries are what it is known for. I loved the shadow cast by one sculpture under the other. We just walked around the central plaza, didn’t really have time for much else. We even ended up going back down for dinner. I did find a lovely little place near our hotel with fresh tasty food, they also serve alcohol, but this trip, I did without. Fresh Bistro, this is one of those places that would be on my favorites list if it was close to home. Lovely people, wonderful food. In New Mexico, they put green chili pepper on everything! Once the peppers turn red and sweeter – they make them into these strands and wreaths. Of course one can remove peppers to cook with, but they are really mostly for decoration.I can’t go anywhere without visiting fabric stores! We visited four of them,  but only got a picture outside this one. Each was wonderful and unique in its’ own way.