RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Southwestern Law School at the former Bullocks Wilshire

Bullocks Wilshire

Some weeks ago B, G, E and I (as in me) went on the self-guided tour of the Bullocks Wilshire Building. Several months ago G mentioned that once a year, the Southwestern Law School opened its doors to the public. So I was looking forward to a look inside this Los Angeles icon.

Bullocks Wilshire

The text in italics is from the tour literature and copyright 2014 Southwestern Law School.

Designed in 1929 by renowned Los Angeles architects John and Donald Parkinson, the Bullocks Wilshire Building operated as a luxury department store for more than 60 years.

Bullocks Wilshire

Ceiling of the cactus lounge.

In 1994, Southwestern purchased the landmark [building] and set out to convert it into a dynamic academic venue, while retaining its historic character.

Bullocks Wilshire

A decade and $29 million later, the gleaming property features cutting edge scholastic, professional and social resources that represent the heart of the Southwestern community.

Bullocks Wilshire

I remember enjoying an afternoon in the tea room with my mother in the 1960s when we first arrived in Los Angeles. I don’t believe the tea room has changed very much since that time.

Bullocks Wilshire

Replica of one of the gorgeous art deco serving stations.

Bullocks Wilshire

Exterior building detail seen from  the window of the tea room.

Bullocks Wilshire

I love light fixtures and these art deco beauties really caught my eye.

Apparently the light fixtures, serving centers, tables and chairs are exact replicas of the originals.

Bullocks Wilshire

This original mosaic tile floor was in a passageway off the tea room.

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Bullocks Wilshire

John Bullock’s Suite, his private office and apartment.

Bullocks Wilshire

The office leads out on to a rooftop garden.

Bullocks Wilshire

This wonderful tile drinking fountain was discovered behind a plaster wall. Note the child’s step which was replaced during the restoration.

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Bullocks Wilshire

I am a big fan of art deco design so I was in heaven on this tour.

Now, where patrons once shopped for women’s sportswear, students study in the school’s beautiful and expansive Leigh H. Taylor Law Library, which occupies about one-third of the building.

Bullocks Wilshire

In what was once the first floor shoe salon and accessories department, the Julian C. Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center provides the most technologically advanced facility of its kind.

Southwestern has received numerous honors from preservation groups for its sensitive restoration of the structure. Blending elegant architecture with state-of-the-art educational resources, the Bullocks Wilshire Building epitomizes Southwestern’s commitment to excellence.

I am grateful that Southwestern is willing to allow public tours of the campus. The Bullocks Wilshire Building is a Los Angeles jewel and a fabulous example of art deco design so popular in our city in the 1920s. And most important, the building is an outstanding model of successful reuse.

Bullocks Wilshire

Department stores have played a big part in the history of LA. See my post here on the Virginia Robinson Gardens and the home of the heir to the Robinson Department Stores.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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My point & shoot at the Hammer Museum

hammer museum

For the past several weeks I’ve been visiting a physical therapist at the UCLA Rehab Center in Westwood. I woke up one morning to discover my shoulder had quit working. PAINFUL!!!! The therapy seems to be helping me v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. I think it had to do with switching from a track ball to a mouse earlier in the year. Mouses and me have never gotten along. On my last corporate job I suffered with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Anyway, whatever the cause, the result was the same. Carrying my heavy Canon DSLR and assorted lenses around has not been helping I am sure. So I decided for times when I’m not specifically going out to shoot photos, and I just want to throw a camera in my bag, I would buy a point & shoot.

My old Olympus SP-350 that traveled with me all over Europe, just doesn’t cut it anymore. It was never the fastest camera in the universe and now it seems to have slowed down even more. As pain is to my shoulder, slow is to that camera! By the time the shutter actually clicks, the snail has moved on…

I read all the reviews and decided on a Canon PowerShot G16. It has a good hand grip which I need, a view finder that I can’t live without it, and it shoots RAW/hi-res JPG. And it is fast enough to capture those snail races should I feel the need.

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Hammer Museum at Wilshire and Westwood Blvds where I catch the bus.

So on my last trip to physical therapy I packed the G16. The UCLA Hammer Museum is across the street from where I catch the bus so I decided on this particular day to pay a visit.

From the website: The Hammer Museum champions the art and artists who challenge us to see the world in a new light, to experience the unexpected, to ignite our imaginations, and inspire change.

Best of all, it is FREE!

Photography is allowed without a flash, yippee! The reviews state the G16 doesn’t do well in low light, I bought the camera knowing that as I figured I’d be using it mostly outdoors. So I was anxious to see how it would hold up inside the museum.

hammer museum

The first exhibit I saw was The Afghan Carpet Project featuring six carpets designed by L.A.-based contemporary artists then handmade by weavers in Afghanistan. The photo at the top of the post is of the carpet exhibit.

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I particularly liked the Unswept Rug. This is reminiscent of Roman mosaics that represent an unswept floor. I happen to be an admirer of Roman mosaics so this caught my attention.

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Next up I sauntered into Mark Bradford’s Scorched Earth exhibit. From the website: the work …refers to formative moments in his life and ruminations on the body in crisis. As an artist who has long been interested in strategies of mapping and the psychogeography of the city he calls home, Bradford uses his characteristic painting style to excavate the terrain— emotional, political and actual—that he inhabits.

hammer museum

I was hooked from the first second I set eyes on the artwork. The way I approach art either it resonates with me or it doesn’t. There isn’t much in between. As I have said many times, I even like art I don’t like. But when it has an emotional appeal for me there is nothing more satisfying.

hammer museum

I enjoy abstract art and I particularly like collage. These pieces fulfilled both of those elements for me.

hammer museum

There is no intellectual explanation for me. It is wholly visceral. I was completely stunned by this work. I stood there and stood there and stood there gawking and sucking it all in.

hammer museumThis is a close-up detail of one of the pieces. I hope you can see the texture in this. There are layers of materials cut out to show other layers below. I wanted to run my hands over the collage and experience its 3D nature, but fortunately I was able to restrain myself!

hammer museum

I walked around the gallery for quite a while, inspecting, staring, discovering, exploring, admiring… taking it all in.

hammer museum

I finally had to leave the gallery and move on or the security guards would probably have had to escort me out…

hammer museum

I headed for the photography exhibit Perfect Likeness: Photography and Composition. From the website: When we say of a portrait that it is a perfect likeness, we mean not just that it accurately delineates its subject. … We are glutted with images. What single picture might separate itself from this flood? Any such attempt to make such a work will lead inevitably to the question of composition.

hammer museum

That being the case I attempted to look at each image from the point of view of composition. But I have always thought of “good” photography, just like any kind of “good” art, as being innately well composed or it just doesn’t work. I suppose, without thinking about it, I am always conscious of the composition.

hammer museum

I’ve seen a good many photography exhibits at a good many prestigious museums. I have to say, this was one of the best I have ever seen in terms of quality and diversity. I also liked the way the photos were given their own space rather than being lined up side by side on crowded walls.

hammer museum

There were a couple of other exhibits which I am sure were wonderful in their own way. But they didn’t appeal to me personally as strongly as these three exhibits.

I came away inspired and motivated. I’ve had some ideas for a while about a project. I think and I hope viewing these exhibits has given me a shove in the right direction.

All three are on view through various dates in September. Check the website for availability!

When i opened the photos on my computer they were certainly underexposed. But Adobe Lightroom bumped the images up to a respectable level. I’m happy with the camera.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Artwork copyright the various artists. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at California State University Long Beach

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese GardenAccording to the website: “Situated on the campus of CSU Long Beach, our 1.3 acre Hill and Pond Japanese-style garden was built through a generous donation from Mrs. Loraine Miller Collins in honor of her late husband Earl Burns Miller. Following three years of planning, and in collaboration with the University, Mrs. Miller Collins selected University master plan landscape architect and longtime friend Edward R. Lovell, ASLA to create its design. Construction began in the summer of 1980 and it was dedicated in the spring of 1981.

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
Several weeks ago my mother’s assisted living group made the trip to California State University Long Beach to visit the garden. Japanese gardens are popular in the Los Angeles area.

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Koi fish were looking pretty healthy. There were plenty of baby koi which is why I am sure the ducks were hanging around.

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

As with all Japanese gardens the idea is to create a place of peace and contemplation.

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Of course, as usual, we were on a schedule as some of the folks had to get back for the ice cream social or some other activity. It’s a non-stop party at my mom’s assisted living home!!!

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

You can see the size of the babies compared to the big old grownup Koi at the bottom right.

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

This is a Chinese Flame Tree. Spectacular!

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

I probably shouldn’t point this out as perhaps it isn’t that noticeable but I have been attempting to get out of “auto” mode with my DSLR. I was fooling around with the exposure mode and all these photos came out with an incredibly high contrast. Really over-exposed in the sun and really under-exposed in the shade. I did my best to correct it in Photoshop but I need to figure out how to correct for that properly with the camera. It’s a slow slow learning process…

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

As this garden is on the campus there seemed to be plenty of students taking a break from their studies…. what better place than a Japanese garden?

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

This was our docent who led us around the garden.

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

This reminds me of the pebble beach in my hometown of Brighton, England!

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Although this is a small garden there are many different viewpoints which create the illusion of a bigger area.

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

I love wooden bridges.

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

If you click on this link there is a map of all the trees in the garden and an inventory. A profile is kept on each tree indicating its species, health, and maintenance profile.

Earl Burns Miller Japanese GardenLove those reflections!

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Zig zag bridges are often found in Japanese or Zen gardens. Some say it is because evil spirits can only walk in a straight line and therefore cannot cross the bridge. Others say it is to keep you mindful as you walk or you will crash into the railings. Whichever it is, they are aesthetically pleasing.

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

More Koi and their duck friend.

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Can you see the duck with his head submerged in the water?

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Just as we were leaving, this Great Blue Heron showed up. No doubt a little Koi delicacy was on his mind. But a good thing or the pond would be over-run with big fat Koi.

Please click on all the photos for a larger view.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Malibu Bluffs Park and other stuff

malibu bluffs park

Been pretty busy with my tour guide job the past few weeks so I haven’t had much time to post on my blog. I’m also getting ready for an upcoming art show. So combined with the other responsibilities in my life, it’s hard to find the time to go out and take photos, then sit down at the computer to sort them and run them through Photoshop. And then do the research and writing and actually post something! That is a full time job in itself…

The above snapshot was taken on my smartphone yesterday as we admired the view at Malibu Bluffs Park. I was taken by the contrasting colors of the flowers (including the dried brown ones) and the pastels of the hills and mountains in the background.

The buildings belong to the Pepperdine University campus which has magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean.

Now I have my smartphone (Galaxy S4) it’s a lot easier to snap photos inconspicuously when the tour-goers aren’t looking… so I should be thinking about doing this on all my tours.

On this same tour yesterday I was eating lunch on the Santa Monica Pier while my tour-goers had some free time to wander around the area. I was thinking how amazing it was that I was being paid to be there while other people pay thousands of dollars to be in that same spot. I always enjoy listening to all the different accents and languages as people stroll the pier.

I enjoy doing the beach cities tours. And the museums. And downtown Los Angeles. Even Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Hollywood, not so much, but of course, everybody wants to see the Boulevard…

Just for the heck of it, below is a photo from a couple of weeks ago with one of the cruise ships at San Pedro, the Port of Los Angeles. I forget the name of the ship!

When I work as a step-on guide, most of my pick-ups are from the cruise ships.

No, it is not a bendy boat. The photo is a composite of three photos blended together in Photoshop which created that lovely curve (actually, that was my fault, moving the vantage point of the camera).

san-pedro-ship-panorama

Please click on all the photos for a larger view.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 


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A. Quincy Jones: Building for Better Living at the Armand Hammer Museum

armand-hammer-museum

A few days ago I posted about my interlude at the Botanical Gardens at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

As I still had some time before I needed to catch the bus back to Culver City, I opted to walk into Westwood Village to visit the Armand Hammer Museum, which is a part of the university.

Dr. Armand Hammer, the former Chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, founded the museum in 1990 to display his art collection. He died shortly after the opening and the museum was not able to be completed. In 1994, negotiations with UCLA to take over the museum were concluded and the art galleries on campus moved into their new home, alongside Hammer’s private collection of old masters.

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The museum is small compared to other art museums in the  Los Angeles area. It is built around a central courtyard used for outdoor eating and seating.

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I didn’t get an exterior shot of the building on this trip but if you click here there is a good photo on the website. Next time I am in the area I’ll take my own photo and update the post.

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Vincent van Gogh
Hospital at Saint-Remy
1889 Oil on canvas. The Armand Hammer Collection. Gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation.

One of my favorite Van Gogh’s is housed here, the Hospital at Saint-Remy. (Although I should mention, just about all of Van Gogh’s works are my favorites!) So I first popped into the Armand Hammer Collection Gallery to pay my respects.

But my real reason for visiting was to see A. Quincy Jones: Building for Better Living. As an architectural buff, I had wanted to see the exhibit since it opened on May 25. And this was my opportunity.

A. Quincy Jones was the quintessential southern California architect, working from 1937 until his death in 1979. A professor of architecture at the University of Southern California, his innovative ideas are still reflected in the designs of buildings being constructed today. With the temperate climate of Los Angeles as a guideline, he wanted to bring about an integration of the outdoors with the indoors.

No photography was allowed of the exhibition but the photo at the top of this post gives you a pretty good idea of his style of residential architecture. And if you click here you will see half a dozen photos of his work as it is displayed in the exhibit.

armand-hammer-museum

Looking up from second floor walkway of museum into the city.

Jones is credited with over 5,000 projects over a wide variety of building types, most of which are still in use today. He put as much effort and creativity into designing homes for middle class working families as he did for his rich and glamorous clients. His works run the gamut from community developments, large-scale single family homes, work spaces, churches, schools, and libraries.

The exhibit was well laid out with renderings, floor plans, photographs, perspective and axonometric drawings along with large, almost life-size murals of his installations. I always enjoy looking at construction and design drawings as one of my (many) careers was in that field for several years.

If you have an interest in contemporary architecture and happen to be in the Los Angeles area I encourage you to make the trip to the Armand Hammer. The exhibit runs through September 8, 2013. The museum is conveniently located on the corner of Wilshire and Westwood Boulevards in Westwood Village, served by several buses.

Some more random shots of the museum:

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armand-hammer-museum

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Looking into Westwood at Wilshire Blvd.

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Seating area with view of rooftops in the Village…

armand-hammer-museum

…or into the courtyard.

Please click on all the photos for a larger view.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Pre-July 4th fireworks at Santa Monica College

santa-monica-college-fireworksL is one of my oldest LA friends. We were architectural draftsmen/women/people, whatever the politically correct terminology is these days, way way back before computers. She is one of those friends I see maybe twice a year in a good year. But when we do get together it’s like, didn’t we just see each other last week? Anyway, she lives in Santa Monica and invited me, along with a couple of other friends, to the Santa Monica College fireworks display.

The Santa Monica College display always takes place the Saturday night before July 4th. This was my 3rd outing to this display.

The Santa Monica fireworks were a staple of my life every July 4th when I lived at the beach and the fireworks were shot off from a barge at the end of the pier. But over the years the crowds became more rowdy. Drugs and alcohol took their toll. Gangs too. It became not safe.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

The City of Santa Monica moved the show to some ungodly hour in the morning like 5:30 or 6:00 (I don’t remember exactly) figuring the gang bangers, the druggies and the boozers wouldn’t show up at that time of day. But nobody else wanted to either.

So the latest incarnation is at the college where security guards can keep a tight lid on things. So tight that the lady in front of me in the line going in had brought an opened bottle of Italian dressing for her salad. The top was removed and passed along the line for everybody to sniff it! I couldn’t help myself. I commented loudly enough that the line of security personnel could hear me. “You know, sometimes it’s just salad dressing!” They even closely inspected my UNopened bottle of Fiji water…  Whatever!

We arrived about 7:30pm for the 9:00pm show. It was a balmy night. We spread our tarps (okay, shower curtains) and blankets out on the astro turf. The sound of the country rock band blared raucously out of the speakers. We shouted to hear each other.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

Above is my self-portrait of my “shadow-self.” I think this should be in a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art!

I had thought to bring my dSLR to try my hand at taking photos of the fireworks. I read all the instructions and suggestions. But, along with the fact that I hadn’t even figured out how to mount my camera on my new tripod, I decided I really didn’t want to carry all that equipment. So I whipped out my phone instead. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be taking photos on my phone!

But a few weeks ago, after my old cell phone dropped yet another business call, I realized the time had come to sign up for a grownup cell phone. A smartphone. Of course, now it has already become a part of my life. This was the first outing for my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone as a camera. Just about all my friends rave about their iPhones so I had to be different. Really, I’m just not a big fan of Apple products. Each to their own.

I turned on the camera and flipped through all the menus. There are more options than on my Canon T3i dSLR. Okay, I’m exaggerating… just a little. I settled on the night setting. One of the reasons I didn’t want to bring the Canon was so that I could relax and enjoy the fireworks without worrying about getting perfect photos. I was happy with the idea that I would merely take a few snapshots for memories.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

People had brought light sticks, so when the lights went down this is what it looked like around me.

I had thought to bring my DSLR to try my hand at taking photos of the fireworks. I read all the instructions and suggestions. But, along with the fact that I hadn't even figured out how to mount my camera on my new tripod, I decided I really didn't want to carry all that equipment. So I whipped out my phone instead. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be taking photos on my phone!

Ah, the moment we had been waiting for. The band packed up and the real show began.

I had thought to bring my DSLR to try my hand at taking photos of the fireworks. I read all the instructions and suggestions. But, along with the fact that I hadn't even figured out how to mount my camera on my new tripod, I decided I really didn't want to carry all that equipment. So I whipped out my phone instead. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be taking photos on my phone!

Now, I am by no means claiming these are the most fabulous shots you have ever seen of fireworks. But I let my imagination off the leash and let it run wild.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

I am always fascinated by telescope photos of the birth of nebulae. The way these photos came out reminded me of those stellar nurseries of clouds of dust and gas.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

I can look backwards in time and see stars being born billions of light years away.

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Planets and suns and galaxies spinning out of the gaseous mass and into the universe.

santa-monica-college-fireworksHurling through the cosmos.

santa-monica-college-fireworksBillions and billions and billions of stars.

santa-monica-college-fireworksThe new planets being formed by volcanoes and earthquakes.

santa-monica-college-fireworks

Ribbons of energy spewing forth into the emptiness to form new life.

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After shooting the first few minutes of the show I was dizzy. I turned off the camera, sat back, and enjoyed the fireworks for themselves.

At the finale I wanted to grab some shots but after fumbling around in the dark for a few seconds I realized that was not going to happen and I was about to miss the ending. So I let it go. I can still see it in my head if not on my camera phone… and that is fine with me.

Please click on all the photos for a larger view.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!

 


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USC and Dogs

usc george tirebiter

USC and Dogs? On my blog? First of all I am a UCLA grad. And I am a cat person.

Today I took the Expo Line train to the University of Southern California to see the The California Art Club: 102nd Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition at the USC Fisher Museum of Art.

The train stops right outside the museum, how convenient is that? So knowing that, I am going to keep a close eye on their calendar for future exhibitions. The museum is also free so it can’t get much better.

No photography was allowed in the museum so you will have to take my word for it that it was worth the time and effort to go.

Copied from the website: The California Art Club presents its hallmark exhibition at the USC Fisher Museum of Art for the very first time. This much-anticipated display of contemporary-traditional fine art spotlights nearly 200 never-before-seen works of art of genres ranging from quintessential California landscapes and seascapes to figures and still life.

I am not really crazy about traditional art as in painted landscapes, but I really did enjoy the variety of artistic styles. There was even a collage which was unexpected.

All I can do is tell you that if you live in the Los Angeles area and you like art, don’t hesitate to hop on the train or bus and see this exhibit. It runs through June 23, 2013.

USC george tirebiter

So what about the dogs? Well, really it is one dog. When I entered the USC campus I was greeted by the statue of George Tirebiter. If you can’t read the enscription it says:

George Tirebiter was a shaggy mutt who – for a few glorious years in the ’40s and ’50s – became a beloved Trojan mascot.

No one is quite sure when George wandered onto campus, but his feisty personality made him a student favorite as he chased cars and bit tires along University Avenue, not far from where you stand.

He was taken to football games in a limousine where he led the Trojan marching band onto the field, often wearing sweaters and odd little hats. He once drew the cheers of thousands when he bit the mask of UCLA mascot, Joe Bruin, on the nose.

Rumor has it there is a transcript on file showing George with a GPA of 3.2 in such courses as Chasing Cats 101 and Biting Tires 270.

Of all the great USC mascots, none had the bite of George Tirebiter.

Cute little guy, isn’t he? For a dog!

USC george tirebiter

usc george tirebiter

usc george tirebiter

Please click on all the photos for a larger view.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!


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A Figueroa Corridor/University Park Walk-around

After a morning meeting at the Los Angeles Convention Center, I decided to walk down Figueroa Avenue, south of downtown, to visit some buildings I had only talked about driving by on the tour bus. I wanted to see them up close and personal. It was a boiling hot day and at each block I wanted nothing more than to turn around and go back to the bus stop to catch the bus that would take me home to the cooling breezes of Culver City. But ever the intrepid adventurer, I forged ahead.

los-angeles-figueroa-corridor-stimson-mansion

Stimson Mansion on Figueroa

The first building on my list was the 1891 Stimson House, home to the lumber and banking millionaire, Thomas Douglas Stimson. From the beginning it has been a city landmark and the costliest home ever built at the time, to the tune of $150,000.  Stimson hired the 27-year-old  architect H. Carroll Brown to design his home in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, reminiscent of a castle or fortress with rough-hewn stone, arched windows and a turret.

As it was already past my lunchtime and my tummy was rumbling, I headed over to Popeye’s, the only eating establishment in my field of vision. I ordered the three-wing meal with red beans and rice and a biscuit. Oh my, compared to this Kentucky Fried Chicken is health food! But I gobbled it up. While sitting in the restaurant I noticed the MTA local 37 at the bus stop. It had the heading West LA Transit Center so I realized I did not have to walk all the way back to Venice Blvd. to catch the 733, I could take this bus and transfer to the Culver City Line 1.

los-angeles-figueroa-corridor-st. vincent de paul cathorlic church
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church

Next I visited St. Vincent de Paul’s Catholic Church, designed by architect Albert C. Martin, Sr. and dedicated in 1925, it is the second oldest Catholic church in the city. It is also famous for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1999 film End of Days. The exterior is in the Spanish Churrigueresque Baroque style and inside you can imagine you are indeed deep in the heart of Spain with a magnificent gold leaf altar and beautiful stained glass windows. 

los-angeles-figueroa-corridor-st-vincent-de-paul
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic church

I arrived just in time for the noon service. Although I am not religious, I always feel a profound sense of peace and comfort in any house of worship.

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Southern California Automobile Club

From there I moved on to the Automobile Club of Southern California building erected in 1921 in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style. The architects were Hunt and Burns, and Roland E. Coate. Walking through the Figueroa entrance I was greeted by a century-old Moreton Bay fig tree. I was then surprised by the size of the complex. The immense courtyard is actually a parking lot (with another one behind it). An old-fashioned (I am guessing from the 1920s) AAA truck stands in a covered parking spot. An array of flags hang from the building in the rear but I have not been able to find any information on them.

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Amat House in University Park neighborhood

Knowing I could catch the number 37 bus on Adams, I decided to walk further. I was delighted to find some Victorian houses including the Amat House. Then I walked through a gate into what I thought was a park to find myself on the campus of Mount St. Mary’s College Doheny Campus. This is the advantage of taking the bus and walking through neighborhoods versus driving everywhere. Mount St. Mary’s is a liberal arts Catholic college, primarily for women. The campus is comprised of two city blocks of Queen Anne-style Victorian mansions including the Doheny Mansion built in 1899 by the architects Theodore Eisen and Sumner Hunt.

los-angeles-university-park-mount-st-marys-college

Doheny Mansion, Mount St Mary's College

At this point I was hot and tired so I found the next bus stop. I climbed on board the bus happy that I had yet another adventure to add to my list.

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(All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins) 


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West Los Angeles College walk through the new entrance on Jefferson Blvd

west-los-angeles-college

New entrance to West Los Angeles College on Jefferson Blvd.

Driving along Jefferson Boulevard for the past couple of years between Overland Avenue and Duquesne Avenue on my way home I have been eagerly watching the progress of the new entrance to West Los Angeles College at, appropriately enough, College Boulevard. By the time it opened last year I had sprained my ankle and was not able to walk long distances. I’ve waited long enough for that ankle to heal, and as it doesn’t seem like it is ever going to, I decided to break out my cane and toddle on over there.

Before I moved into my current abode I lived at Lakeside Village which was a mere hop and a skip around the corner from the college. The campus is built on a hill and I often enjoyed an early morning sprint around the perimeter road. From where I live now the Overland entrance is more than a half hour walk with another half hour around the college, so I never made the effort. The new “back” entrance is a mere ten-minute trot up the street. It’s all about perception as by coming at the main part of the campus from this entrance I am actually walking the same distance. It just seems more pleasant walking inside the campus rather than on the street.

Ballona Creek bikepath gates with mural

Ballona Creek bikepath gates with mural

All the streets in Culver City are turned around. What you might think is north is actually more west and conversely, what appears to be south is easterly. If you were going to walk this route you would probably park somewhere along Jefferson Boulevard. For the sake of argument I am beginning this walk at the top of Duquesne Avenue. So you might as well walk north (west) a few yards to Ballona Creek. On the north (west) side you will see a beautifully designed iron-wrought gate beyond which is a painted and tiled mural entitled Rivers of the World. To the south (east) is a stainless steel sculpture, Crossed Currents, in the shape of a vase. In this blog I’m not going into detail over any artwork, merely listing what you can see. As you walk back towards Jefferson you will pass the City of Culver City Transportation and Purchasing building.

Culver City Park (and Bill Botts Field) is at the south (east) side of Jefferson and Duquesne. But that is another blog. Let’s walk west on the south (east) side of Jefferson past the grassy, tree-shaded picnic area. On the right hand side of the street are the studios of NPR (National Public Radio) West where many years ago I had the privilege of listening to a talk by Alex Chadwick, the host of the much-missed Day to Day.

Skate boarding park on Jefferson Boulevard

Skate boarding park on Jefferson Boulevard, Culver City

On the south (east) side is the skateboard park built with taxpayer money to, presumably and unsuccessfully, keep skateboarders from destroying every other built object in town. Next is Storage Solutions designed to look like a mansion with a nice fountain in the well-landscaped front yard. (This is not a commercial but I did rent a storage unit there for a few months.)

And, finally, yes, we have arrived at the new Jefferson entrance to West Los Angeles College with an equally new planting of palm trees. Now, I love to see palm trees in Los Angeles and one day intend to write a blog on just that subject. But I know how expensive they are and that in some areas when they die out they are being replaced with other kinds of cheaper trees such as oaks. Just saying.

On Sundays there is a gate closing the road to traffic but intrepid walkers have no trouble passing through. Parts of Culver City, especially in the hilly areas, are still working oil fields. To the east you will see “pterodactyl” oil derricks. That is what they look like to me and probably pumping the same slimy stuff that was forming when those creatures roamed the earth.

College Boulevard: New entrance road into West LA College

College Boulevard: New entrance road into West LA College, Culver City

I wasn’t timing it but I am guessing it is a good fifteen minute walk along College Boulevard to the east side of the main campus. I am not a horticulturist or even a gardener, so I don’t know the name of the plants bordering both sides of the sidewalk. To my uneducated eye they look like some kind of wild narcissus with long spiky leaves and tiny pale yellow flowers. A wall taller than me follows the sidewalk all along on the right hand side so there is no view of what may be lurking on the other side. Further down as the road curves around the wall opens up to a chain link fence and all that is visible behind it is dirt, grass and a small pond of muddy water.

All the way along on the left hand side is the hillside decorated with utility poles and more pterodactyls among the trees, bushes and grass. I didn’t see another soul on this part of the walk and I was wishing I didn’t waste so much of my life watching American and British TV murder mysteries.

At this point the main campus comes into view. Some aircraft used for aviation classes are parked. Turning left at the bottom of the road and proceeding up the hill on Sophomore Drive other people and dogs join in the walk. This is a popular spot for joggers, pooches walking their humans and cyclists who like the uphill struggle with a fast descent. In my cycling days this was a good workout.

There is a considerable amount of construction going on at the college. Several new buildings are on the schedule along with the refurbishing of existing structures. You can peek at some of this through the chain link fence. There is a LOT of chain link fence on this campus which makes it look more like a prison camp than a college.

West Los Angeles College walk

West Los Angeles College walk

At the top of the hill the road turns right. Here there are some arched utility poles that look like a huge art installation. Walking down the hill there used to be a beautiful view of the city and ocean but now, after complaints from residents about the construction noise and dust, there is baffling all the way down blocking the view. The construction is supposed to be completed by 2013 so I will just have to grit my teeth and wait like everybody else. However, it is still a nice walk looking at the campus on the right hand side.

West Los Angeles College walk at Overland

West Los Angeles College walk at Overland

At the bottom of the hill the choice is to turn left and exit the campus on to Overland Avenue or turn right and walk along Freshman Drive. On the left hand side of Freshman normally there is a view of the backside of the condo complexes Lakeside Villas, Lakeside Village, Tara Hills and Raintree built in the 1970s on land that was once the MGM lot. But currently there is more of the ugly baffling. On the right is the baseball field, some parking areas and the football field. Another right turn onto Sophomore leads back to College Boulevard and the walk back to Jefferson and home (for me, anyway!).

A very rough estimate of this round trip walk is approximately three miles. A map of the West Los Angeles College campus can be found at http://www.wlac.edu/wlac2phone/employees/ShowEmployeesmap.aspx and an area map at http://www.wlac.edu/mapdirectory/maps_directions.html

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(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)