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.




Sewing and Knitting

Time for long sleeve dresses. I had bought this fabric a few months ago, it’s a lovely Voile, which means thinner than quilting cotton, much better for garments.Here it is, a fun colorful dress.With pockets! Pockets are always good! these aren’t in the side seams, they are in the middle of the dress, very interesting construction.I had a weekend of visiting Art shows so why not wear something artistic? Good thing I did, at the Brewery Artwalk I met Teresa who commented that the print looks like one made by Barij. Yes indeed! I had recently bought another one of her prints on rayon – also destined to become a dress. Then I met Teale who also recognized the fabric. Others around the brewery simply commented on how they like the dress, even if they knew nothing about the fabric designer. I love getting those kinds of reactions.I knit a sweater for Eyal, perfect color for the season.It is probably a little big right now, that’s ok, he’ll grow.




Quilt for Eyal II

Laying out the quilt, I like breaking the symmetry.Here is the final top, you’ll notice that I have a section of the background in the gazelle block. I love that secondary design and it only showed up once, so I encroached on the gazelle.

Remember the problems I was having with my ruler work? I took a class with Becky Wilder, a new member in the VMMQG, she is a whiz with rulers. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out the problem. I needed to lower the foot a lot, much more pressure on the quilt was needed. The final item was using the purple Janome 90/14 foot. It worked.

Here is the result, nice clean ruler work, but what would happen when I go home and work on actual patchwork? Eyals’ quilt was the testing ground.See how nice and straight the outline is? I’m showing the back here, because the quilting is invisible on the print fabric I used.It wasn’t all ruler work, on the animals, I tried to highlight their shapes and then echo around them.Using the quilting to emphasize the owls’ eyes.On the dark brown chevrons, you can actually see the ruler work, on the green diamonds you can’t even see the quilting.

Yes, I still had some thread breakage, this quilt was great for practice. I still have a long way to go before I really conquer this technique, but working with busy prints is a good place to start, I’m getting the practice and you can’t see the mistakes. I still had some thread breakage, but that is to be expected, happens even when I’m doing regular free motion quilting.Finished! Well, except for a label that I need to embroider.How cute is the back? I used up a lot of my animal prints, a whole forest back there.I showed the quilt to the Dads and put Eyal on it, he is still small, it will be fun to take pictures of him on it periodically. Right now, I need to make a label, show it off at my guilds,  and then give it to Eyal.




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?


Cacti and succulents

The best Cacti and succulent garden is in Orange County, at a private home.Yes, the owners were influenced by the big one at the Huntington, but small is more manageable.Turns out these guys need hand watering and a lot of cleaning up debris, which isn’t easy to do with all those thorns.I am grateful for their efforts. Sure flowers are fleeting and lovely.This one looks like a ruffled camelia, but it grows on a desert plant.Flowers turn into fruit. There is plenty of animal life around who have figured out how to live among the spines.The succulent world is full of oddities, this one starts new growth with green leaves and then turns thick, fleshy and wrinkled.This type of growth is a ‘sport’ even on this plant, but with regular attention, this is what the growers have managed to encourage and keep.There are the tall ones that reach for the sky.With interesting flowers….… but really, it’s the leaves growing in spirals along the trunk that are interesting. Beware, the leaves do hide very sharp thorns.I think it’s true, nature abhors a straight line.I know there is some kind of mathematical formula going on here. The twists and turns aren’t arbitrary.Not a saguaro cactus, but close.The barrels are always intriguing,  there are rare ones that one can never find at the local nursery.

I haven’t been gardening much, I pay my gardener to keep the place looking decent, but these days I don’t put in any effort. It really is wonderful to spend time in a garden where the owners really do put in the love and time.



This and that in New Mexico

As you know, I love tile and mosaics, both were on display. especially like these stair risers in Santa Fe, look how the tiles create a secondary design, which really the focal point. A close up of the entrance to Old Town, mosaic using tiles, many broken tiles, others shapes that are made for this purpose. Outside a local museum, using just the broken tiles to create floor designs. None of those shapes here, the floor needs to remain flat.Incorporating animals into the architecture, an owl for me!A rabbit for Becky.One cannot be in New Mexico and not have one of these ram skulls as decoration, it’s obligatory, just like the red peppers.Speaking of red, nature is busy providing its own reds…… and orange….… and yellow.

Albuquerque was established in 1706 alongside the Rio Grande river. A freshwater source is a must when starting a community.We walked along the river path.The army corps of engineers created a more permanent channel for the river and its tributaries. They did the same in Los Angeles but concreted the whole 54 miles, well, except for the Glendale Narrows. I wish they had left the river bed natural, but at the time they were just so gung-ho about the biggest project they ever were involved with.Ducks, Canada Geese and soon Cranes will all enjoy this waterway.As do these turtles, this red-eared slider is native to this area. Although many like him have been given away at school carnivals and then released in other waterways where they become invasive pests. At least this little fellow is where he belongs.

That’s it for this trip, I had an amazing time and am looking forward to more visits in the US, there is so much to see and do.



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.



More balloons

We went back to the field on Thursday morning. Some more of Clayton’s friends came down from Denver, so I had a chance to get more pictures of the prep.First, toasting a successful Fiesta and a good friendship with some good old Colorado beer.Assembling the basket components.Stretching out the balloon. It’s a powerful fan, the balloon fills quickly. There are all kinds of flaps that can be manipulated with ropes, that is how Clayton controls assent or descent.Moments before liftoff.And they are off, now it’s time to look around. Thursday was shape day, I only saw a few of the shape balloons. Becky got some great pictures so I’ll wait to see them. Then the chase started, we all piled into the truck and followed the balloon. Jared was in touch via walkie-talkie, we also kept eye contact. There was Doppelganger – another balloon very similar to Finish Line. The weather was perfect, they were up in the air almost 1.5 hours and they ended up at the very far reaches of one of the outlining suburbs. The Albuquerque region is much larger than I expected.Starting to come down in this field, none of us wanted him to land there, too much brush and who knows rattlesnakes. I missed it but some of the guys saw a jackrabbit the size of a coyote.So although he did touch down briefly and very smoothly, he got enough lift so we could walk him a quarter of a mile down to a nice grassy area. I took a few pictures, then I joined in walking the balloon, Clayton made sure to keep it afloat, so no dragging on the ground. This wasn’t easy, maneuvering down a slope.On the ground, now it was necessary to hold on to the basket so it didn’t lift off again.Jared grabbed the rope and is pulling the balloon to the ground. They got a sponsor this year, a Boot store, I hardly saw the sign, it was small compared to the whole balloon.Deflating.Deflating, rolling up the balloon and stuffing it in the bag takes a lot less time when you have a large crew.We were awarded tank tops, courtesy of Clayton, then we sat back and enjoyed a nice tailgate party out on the field with other balloonists.

Great experience, I need to make sure there are no conflicts, so Joel can have this fun experience as well.

Going up in a balloon at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

It is great to have friends with interesting hobbies. I’ve known Clayton for years, and he has always said, come ballooning. So finally this year we made arrangements to go to Albuquerque. Unfortunately, Joel realized he had a very important engagement here in town, so I went with my friend Becky instead.Clayton is in the green and his wonderful partner Jared, who I just met this week is in the red. I think you can figure out which one is Becky.Up at 4:30 in the morning, going out to the field and preparing the balloon for flight. It was freezing, standing around till almost 7 am, frost on the ground, I’m not built for that kind of cold.You better believe I stood close by when Clayton tested the propane.The balloon itself, named Finish Line, is laid out, ready to fill.First a fan is used to fill as much air in as possible.Jared is holding the line attached to the top, stretching it out so the balloon fills evenly. No way can one do this hobby alone, it takes a number of people.Once it’s pretty full, Clayton turns on the heat.Those flames are hot.Into the basket we go, a quick picture before liftoff.Then, we glide up into the air.Looking back at other balloons who are preparing for their own ascent. The view from the air is incredible. It was a little too windy, so not many balloons made it up. They aborted the lift-off for many balloons.  I didn’t notice how strong the winds were until it became apparent that we were over the city, rather than out into open space.

We landed twice, hard. Clayton is an excellent pilot, he knew we had to get down quickly when it’s windy, it’s hard to get a smooth landing, so down we went into a newly plowed field. Just to have someone run out yelling that we can’t land here. We had landed, bounced and the basket tipped over. So we straightened up, calmed the guy down and back up we went, just another few blocks to an empty lot and once again, hard bouncing landing. People immediately ran to help. Most people in Albuquerque love the balloons. I didn’t get any pictures of the landing, I was busy getting bounced around, but you can see,  trying to land in a city isn’t easy.Two more balloons landing right next to us.The Albuquerque balloon had their chase crew at the ready, about 4 guys grabbed the tether and pulled the balloon down gently. Unlike our basket, can you see it toppled over practically on that log?  Luckily we were dumped out before the log then it got dragged further. No damage to us, basket or the balloon.Wrapping up and getting ready to pack everything up.

This is long enough for one post, more balloons soon.