In our last installment, we found ourselves roaming the hallways of Justice in Inglewood. On the way out of the building, in which cell phone cameras are not allowed, I managed to snap this surreptitious shot of the main lobby just inside the front door. This is where you come for minor traffic citations, and this morning, as it was early, there were few people. You can see the metal detectors and x-ray conveyor on the left side. I was initially disappointed when I had a chance to review the photo on my phone once I had left the building, but after seeing it full size on the computer screen, it began to grow on me. What do you think?
I was roaming the halls of the Inglewood courthouse after filing a small claims action against a local restaurant and discovered this tableau. That is another story altogether, but once trapped in the bleak, marble-lined hallways, there are many opportunities to wait while the wheels of justice grind away. And grind they do. Here on the 6th floor, you can rest your weary self on the hard, unyielding bench, dispose of your sandwich wrapper, mail a letter and then make your way to the office to file whatever legal action brought you thence.
The Disney Hall in Downtown LA is an architectural marvel. Designed by Frank Gehry, the building has become an icon of public architecture. The exterior, with its sweeps of gleaming metal, has its inspiration in Gehry’s love of sailing. The interior is no less dramatic, and the auditorium is an intimate space where the audience surrounds the orchestra. We were there to see a rehearsal compliments of my mother, who is a patron of several arts. Part of her support of the L.A. Philharmonic includes an invitation to attend selected rehearsals of the orchestra. She was unable to attend this one, so we went in her stead.
If you come late for a concert, you have to wait in one of these lounges scattered throughout the hall and wait for a suitable break in the performance before you can be seated. The TV is actually a closed circuit monitor so you can watch the show while you wait. This guy wasn’t waiting for that, he just needed a place to sit to check his laptop.
Sherman’s is our local framing shop. We have been getting art framed there for more than 20 years. As Jake progressed through his art education, we had a number of his early works framed there, through his photographic career, right up to the last picture he created a few months before his death.
I took this photo while we waited for our guy, Andy to help us with that last piece of Jake’s, a beautiful pastel he made while he was in Palm Springs. It is a large work, and we floated it inside a magnificent black Italian wood frame, like in a shadow box. As usual, Sherman’s did a spectacular job matching the texture of the matte inside and perfectly displaying this wonderful picture.
Our most recent trip was to get a portrait of Jake framed. Taken by my Mom’s friend Penny years ago, it is a fabulous picture of Jake with his camera at my Dad’s studio. Look at it closely; it perfectly captures who Jake was, his authentic self. We found a gorgeous hand-made Italian frame and they did a masterful job with the matting and framing. It hangs in our hallway next to Jake’s last pastel.
In February I began volunteering at Venice Arts, a local media arts program for youth. I needed to get out of the house, out of my head, and my mom suggested I check it out. They offer a variety of programs – photography, filmmaking, graphic art, animation – to primarily low income middle and high schoolers. I became a volunteer mentor in an intermediate photography class. The theme of the class was “youth culture”, and the students worked in groups illuminating the various aspects of that culture through photography. Ultimate they produced a series of photo cards with text that commented on the 6 areas chosen at the beginning of the class: Music, Consumerism, Drugs, Sports, Fashion, and Culture, as well as individual photographs for a fold-up paper box to hold the cards. Ironic isn’t it? Youth culture in a box.
The work was fabulous, these kids have such a fresh unencumbered viewpoint that even after a lifetime in photography I learned as much as they did. Maybe more. Additionally, being able to give a little back of my own photographic knowledge allowed me to be a bit closer to Jake. He was an accomplished photographer and began his photographic journey in earnest at just about the same age as my students. It was bittersweet to be sure, and since my emotions were still so raw and ragged, I had to walk away from the group once in a while to compose myself.
One of our field trips took us to the Ocean Front Walk in Venice. If there ever was a hotbed of youth culture, this is it. A stretch of souvenir shops, pizza stands and tattoo parlors along with an array of street vendors, musicians, performers, beggars, homeless, tourists, residents hanging out on balconies, sidewalk cafes; it really must be experienced to appreciate. No trip to Venice is complete without a visit.
I couldn’t resist this photo. The bright red couch served as waiting area for two establishments – tattoo parlor and marijuana dispensary. You could get inked and baked all at once.
In March we went to Phoenix to visit my cousin T. She was having some health challenges so we went to help her and lend some moral support. We usually stay with a friend of my mothers who lives there, a short drive from cousin’s home, so we had a little respite from the hectic day to day. T and her children and mom are some of the closest family I have and we make the 6 hour drive a couple of times a year. They come to LA roughly the same frequency to visit other family, so we get to see them every few months. Our visits are always a marathon of shopping, cooking and eating whether in Phoenix or Los Angeles.
On this trip, our friend, a wonderful sculptor in her own right, had passes to the Desert Botanical Garden to see the Chihuly exhibit. Dale Chihuly is an American glass sculptor and dozens of his intricate organic looking sculptures were installed amongst the desert plants. They looked like exotic plants themselves and the contrast of the brightly colored works amidst the muted greens and browns of the desert plants was striking. The wildflowers were blooming, (with the aid of judicious irrigation), the birds were chirping, and the whole effect was magical. Luckily for us, there weren’t crowds of people, so we didn’t have to wait in the lines of the photo above, nor did we have to fight the masses once inside.
We spent a restful afternoon escaping for a moment the harsh reality of our new lives without Jake, thinking the entire time how much he would have loved it.
The Hammer Museum in Westwood Village is a lovely intimate place. The bulk of its permanent exhibitions comes from the collection of Dr. Armand Hammer, the former Chairman of Occidental Petroleum. Between Dr. Hammer and J.Paul Getty, the oilmen have some of the best museum spaces in the city. In addition to the permanent collection, it features rotating exhibits by a diverse spectrum of artists, numerous public programs, workshops, symposia, film series, lectures, and admission is free. Always.
On Thursday at 12:30 the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has a regular 30-minute Mindful Awareness meditation. T used to go frequently, and I came along on this day because Michael Perricone, master of the Tibetan Savasana Bowls (also called singing bowls) played during the half-hour session. The hypnotic music enhanced the meditative state and although I am not a regular practitioner, I emerged from the session relaxed and present. The bowls are a centuries old instrument used for meditation practices throughout the world. They come in different sizes and tunings. During the early days after Jake’s passing, a casual acquaintance sent me a link about how different frequencies of sound affect different areas of the mind and body, and certain tones are held to be beneficial in eliminating stress, fear, and grief. We did a little research and bought two bowls from Bodhisattva – one for her and one for me.
After the meditation, we wandered through the galleries admiring Dr. Hammer’s taste in art, spending a lovely afternoon with Daumier, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Goya, Stuart and Sargent, among many others. It is a wonderful, accessible museum with an ever-changing mix of art and artists.