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


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Memories of 2019

JANUARY

I picked two photos from each month of 2019 to represent my year in photography. Just like last year, some months I had too many choices and some months it was hard pickings.  So these aren’t necessarily my very best photos but I tried to show a variety of different places.

The photo above is reflections in a puddle at Culver City Park at the end of my street. We had a lot of rain last winter after a seven-year drought.


Red hot poker plants at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Some friends bestowed upon me a gift membership for which I am very grateful… and I am able to take a friend with me which makes it a doubly wonderful gift!

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FEBRUARY

I was clearing junk out of the garage in February as I was planning to move. That didn’t happen but it allowed me to get rid of a lot of stuff. I took a photo of this painting with my point & shoot before I drove it over to Goodwill. I must have painted this in the 1970s! I hope somebody bought it and is enjoying it. I may print it out and hang it on a wall to give it a new life.

A random photo of the boys. Frankie The Monster, who of course bagged the most comfy spot. And Freddie The Giant Cat who is so laid back and always lets Frankie get what he wants.

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MARCH

The Broad is a contemporary art museum in downtown LA. This was a booth by Yayoi Kusama constructed of mirrors. My selfie is on the right. My friend BG was standing at the other side of the booth so you can see her face in some of the other circles.

I’m not usually good at doing things on the spur of the moment but my friend LA decided she wanted to see the wildflowers. So as long as she was driving I said okay. Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore is about 85 miles from Culver City. We went on a Wednesday and made pretty good time. It was a fabulous day. On the way home we came as close as I have ever come to being killed in an accident. In my mind I was already dead. Make the most of every day because you never know when it will be your last. It just wasn’t our time.

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APRIL

Next door to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is La Brea Tar Pits with ongoing excavations. The site goes back to the Pleistocene Age. The extinct animals discovered at La Brea Tar Pits were trapped in the asphalt between 11,000 to 50,000 years ago. Outsiders always accuse Los Angeles of having no history… excuse me, we go back a lot further than most places in the US!

I don’t think this is quite what they had in mind when they named the Palms neighborhood of Los Angeles, adjacent to Culver City. But I always enjoy looking at this utility box on my walk to Sprouts Market on the LA side of Venice Blvd.

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MAY

I made several trips to Echo Park Lake this year. Paddling around on these swan Paddle Wheelers is now one of my favorite things to do in LA. It’s relaxing and good exercise at the same time with splendid views of the downtown skyline. I hope can cajole more friends into going with me in 2020. Wanna come along?

I’ve been wanting to visit the South Coast Botanical Gardens for many years. Finally made it in May. It was really delightful. We only saw a small area as my companion wasn’t able to walk far. But I’ll definitely be back to see the rest of it.

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JUNE

My friend SB and I were waiting at the harbor to take the boat back from Santa Catalina to San Pedro. This couple walked by. I loved the way they looked so I asked if it was okay to take their photo. She had made their matching outfits with fabric she had bought at Downtown Disney in Anaheim. She said she often made them matching outfits. How adorable is that?

I am a member of the Natural History Museum and it’s a short train ride from Culver City so I often pop in there, often on my own if nobody else is available or interested. This lovely guy was on display in the special exhibit on Antarctic Dinosaurs, the 25-foot-long, “cold-crested killer,” Cryolophosaurus. The exhibit featured an ongoing scientific expedition from the NHM and Chicago’s Field Museum as they dig for fossils today. La Brea Tar Pits is also part of the NHM.

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JULY

Rode the Amtrak train to Ventura with a group of friends. We hiked up the trails in the Ventura Botanical Gardens which is still recovering from the December 2017 Thomas Fire. Lovely views from the top. Ate lunch on the pier at Beach House Fish then walked along the pier watching people fishing.

BG and I made an overnight trip to Santa Barbara. Stayed at an historic estate, drove around the area, ate dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant, Due Lune Cucina, across from the beach as the sun was setting. Next day ate lunch on the pier before heading home. Wonderful experience.

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AUGUST

Mount Rushmore has been on my bucket list ever since I saw the movie North by Northwest with Cary Grant and the marvelous James Mason. So now I can say been there, done that! It was a trip to look up and see those monumental faces… it’s impossible to imagine how that can be achieved. As you are chiseling away you would only be able to see a miniscule part of what you are working on. Amazing.

We arrived at Old Faithful in Yellowstone in the evening. The glow of the setting sun was a magnificent backdrop to the geyser. This was my second visit to the park. This time we had the privilege of staying inside the park at the Old Faithful Inn. You just walk out the front door and there is Old Faithful right in front of you. Magnificent.

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SEPTEMBER

Second Home Pavilion was a temporary exhibit which I visited on one of the hottest days of the year at Hancock Park between LACMA and La Brea Tar Pits. I asked the young lady sitting at the entrance how she was doing and she indicated not too well. I enjoyed walking through the colorful maze of tunnels.

BG and I hung out at LACMA visiting several galleries. At Mary Corse: A Survey in Light we had a little fun as we became the artwork.

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OCTOBER

The celebration of El Dia de los Muertos is one of my favorite times to visit Grand Park. This year there were about 40 altars all personally and culturally relevant to Los Angeles honoring those who have passed over. It coincides with halloween and is a traditional Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and helping support their spiritual journey. In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle. Mexicans view it not as a day of sadness but as a day of celebration because their loved ones awake and celebrate with them.

 

Several friends met at the Sunset/Vermont Red Line station and rode the shuttle up to the Griffith Observatory. Half the group attempted the hike to Inspiration Point but it was too hot for me so I sat and chatted with the other half at the cafe and enjoyed the views. The hikers only made it half way before being forced to turn back. So I was glad I didn’t attempt it. I’ve suffered from heat stroke before and have to be careful.

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NOVEMBER

GM, EA and I made reservations for an early lunch at Perch on the 15th floor of the Pershing Square Building. I had eaten there previously and talked so much about it they wanted to experience it too and weren’t disappointed. Perch LA is a French-inspired rooftop bistro with unobstructed views of Downtown Los Angeles for guests to experience the feeling of floating along the skyline. The elevated spaces offer outdoor fireplaces, rooftop fire pits, indoor and outdoor dining experiences, and lounge seating to experience the city skyline views. The food isn’t bad either! This is just one of the many views when you walk around the outside area.

Several members of the Culver City Art Group met at the Getty Center to visit the exhibit Manet and Modern Beauty. You gotta love the staircase with the Manet image leading up to the exhibit. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the artist but I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of his paintings… many I was not previously familiar with.

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DECEMBER

A friend is a member at Descanso Gardens. She very graciously picked me up at Union Station and drove the rest of the way… I took the E (formerly known as the Expo) Line to the Red Line… one of these days, probably not in my lifetime, the E Line is supposed to go all the way to Union Station. The gardens were beautifully decorated for the holidays. Of course I imagine it is really spectacular all lit up at night but it was pretty good during the day too.

Last but certainly not least, I led my 3rd Annual Downtown Holiday Decorations Walk ending with lunch at the Biltmore Hotel (at left). There were 13 participants… all women this year… but not too surprising. This lovely Christmas tree was located at the southeast corner of Pershing Square. Lined up correctly the star appears between the US Bank Building (Library Tower) and the Deloitte Building (the Gas Company Building). I had to pay those pigeons to take flight just at the right moment!

Thanks for bearing with me. Some months there were a few more photos I really wanted to include… but I had to keep to two from each month and not cheat… you wouldn’t have known if they didn’t appear in the correct months but I would have known!

I wish you all a very healthy, happy and adventurous 2020!


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J.M.W. Turner thrice times two

JMW Turner at the Getty CenterJ.M.W. Turner has been my second favorite artist** for as long as I can remember. That is to say, I don’t remember when he achieved that status or when I became fully aware of him as an artist. But it has been a long, long time.

I’ve seen works and exhibitions of his in museums and galleries in England (specifically the National Gallery and the Tate) and the US. But I was especially excited when I heard that the J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free exhibit was coming to the Getty Center. Even before viewing it I knew I would be seeing it twice.

J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free

My first visit was with members of the Culver City Art Group on March 29. As it was a Sunday it was pretty crowded that day. But it was nonetheless amazing to see sixty of Turner’s works… water colors and oils… all in one place. In a word: WOW!

A couple of weeks ago I received the movie Mr. Turner courtesy of Netflix. It seems to be one of those films people either love or hate. I am in the former category. I wrote a review for Netflix and included it at the end of this post for those who might be interested.

Tuesday of last week I made my second visit to the exhibit by myself. I took the Santa Monica bus #12 and the Metro bus #234 which stops directly across from the Getty Center. Entrance to the museum is free but parking is $15 per car. I paid a little over $2.50 round trip on the buses.

Although the exhibit was well attended, it was not as crowded as my previous visit on the Sunday. I was able to take my time studying each piece, getting up close enough to inspect the brush strokes and being able to stand far enough back with no bodies blocking my view. The second time around I appreciated the artist’s genius even more bearing in mind what I had learned from the film, the good and the bad.

From the Getty website: In his early twenties Turner’s focus changed to historical landscapes. These large-scale paintings became increasingly divorced from nature and featured the loose, luminous brushwork and abstract conceptions for which he became known.

At twenty-nine Turner opened his own gallery in London while also painting, exhibiting his own work, and teaching at the Royal Academy. A trip to Italy at the age of forty-four drastically altered his style, leading to his late emphasis on the power of color and light to create dramatic, evocative scenes. Turner’s body of work includes around three hundred paintings and over twenty thousand drawings and watercolors, the majority of which were given to the English government upon his death.

The Getty exhibit focuses on his output from the last fifteen years of his life. He died at the age of 76.

I wanted to know more about his work and was happy to find this video clip from a documentary produced by the National Gallery of Art:

After watching this clip I viewed Mr. Turner once more and then finished up my Turner binge with a second viewing of the documentary.

At this point I’m waiting for the biography, Standing in the Sun: A Life of J.M.W. Turner by Anthony Bailey to be released on Kindle. I put in my request on Amazon, so if it happens I suppose I will have to read it twice just for continuity. .

As I am a frequent visitor. I have a gazillion photos of the Getty Center but I recently splurged on a wide angle lens (Canon EF-S 10-18mm) so I wanted to try it out on architecture and landscapes. So here are some of those photos just wandering around and taking miscellaneous views.


**Having said that Turner is my second favorite artist begs the question, who is my first. That honor goes to Vincent van Gogh.

My Netflix review:

I’ve admired JMW Turner as an artist for as long as I can remember but knew little of Turner the man. After viewing the movie twice now I want to read a biography to get a fuller picture of him. I enjoyed the film because it showed different aspects of his life, including dividing his time between two households, his relationships with various women, his peripatetic nature, his involvement in the Royal Academy, his delight with all things scientific, his turns on the lecture circuit, etc. He was a complicated man of many facets, seemingly uncaring yet emotional, cruel yet kind, which was well explored in the film. As he grew older he became more eccentric. The art direction and photography in the film were beautiful, alluding to Turner’s own work. One reviewer complained there was no story (as a basis for a bad review). Most people’s lives are linear, one day at a time, and that is what this film is about: snippets of days in the life of an uncommon human being and exceptional artist.

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 link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Minor White and my day at the Getty Center

getty center los angeles

After my aborted attempt to visit the Getty Center on Wednesday, I took another bus route on Saturday and made the journey successfully. I wanted to see Minor White: Manifestations of the Spirit and as usual I had left it until the last few days of the exhibit. Sometimes I miss out on exhibits completely just because I can’t get my act together. I was determined not to miss this one.

minor white

Minor White by Robert Haiko 1973

Back in the dark ages of photography when I shot only black and white images that I developed in my dark room, Minor White (along with Jerry Uelsmann) was a major influence on my photographic style. I can’t say I came anywhere close to his brilliance but I enjoyed following his example in my own way.

The Getty exhibit seemed to be pretty comprehensive. Some images I recognized, some totally new to me. I also didn’t know he was gay in an unaccepting world at the time. I love this photo of him. Unfortunately, the last day to see this collection was October 19. This is one I would have liked to see again.

getty center los angeles

Going to the Getty on a Saturday is not ideal but by then I didn’t have a choice. When I arrived several tour buses were unloading. The line for the shuttle to the top of the hill was humungous, so as it was a temperate day I decided to walk. This is the rail line winding up the hill with the Getty Museum buildings at the top. It took me less than 15 minutes but I am a fast walker used to walking up hills and I don’t recommend it for everybody.

getty center los angeles

No trains passed me until the ten-minute mark and when I arrived at the top the first train was unloading. There would have been at least one more train load before it was my turn so walking was a good decision.

The trip here by city buses had been pretty convoluted. Because of the extension of the Expo Line train being built, the Santa Monica bus from Culver City was on detour. And then the Metro bus was on detour because of construction on Sepulveda. So by the time I arrived at the Getty I was starving.

getty center los angeles

I made a bee-line for the café. I am embarrassed to admit I ordered a tuna melt and sweet potato fries.

getty center los angeles

I sat outside enjoying the beautiful day in silence until two chatterboxes decided to sit at the table right next to mine, never mind the outside dining area was practically empty. Isn’t that always the way?

Another exhibit I wanted to see was Spectacular Rubens The Triumph of the Eucharist exhibit. It was interesting to see how his oil sketches for this series were translated into enormous tapestries… all without computer aided design. There were several lions depicted and it was amusing to see how, in my opinion, the animals were given the faces of old men… maybe it was intentional.

GEtty Center Los Angeles

Of course, despite some wonderful artwork, my favorite pasttime at the Getty is to wander around and gawk at the architecture which is quite magnificent.

Getty center Los Angeles

Because of the drought conditions in Southern California, the Getty has decided to shut off the water in the water features which makes them pretty drab now. This one is now filled with gravel.

GEtty Center Los Angeles

This one would make a great bowling alley.

GEtty Center Los Angeles

GEtty Center Los Angeles

But wait! What is this? Lush green lawns abound in every direction! How many millions of gallons of water does it take to keep grass looking this green and perfect? Or am I missing something here?

Getty Center Los Angeles

Hey, I have a suggestion. Rip out all the lawns, fill the areas with sandy soil and plant native Southern California plants. Not only would this set a great example to Angelenos who are still in love with that little green patch in their front yards, it would also look splendid and be huge for PR! Then, with all the water you save you could put back those beautiful fountains (which I assume use recycled water anyway) with a clear conscience. And you don’t even have to thank me for the idea!

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GEtty Center Los Angeles

Now this is what I am talking about. Maybe not native but at least not water hogs. I remember seeing this cactus garden when the Center first opened in December 1997 and thinking how cool it would be to watch the cacti grow over the years. Well, here they are seventeen years later and yes, it is very cool!

Getty Center Los Angeles

One of my favorite LA views: the San Diego (405) Freeway. See it snaking all the way to the horizon. Just when you think you see the end, it picks up again down the hill a little to the right. People drive this E V E R Y day, stop and go, stop and go!

I have bazillions of photos of the Getty from this trip and previous trips. I never get tired of photographing it. But as I don’t want to bore you, here are just a few more from Saturday: Click on an image.

I also took some photos in the garden so if I ever get around to it, I may post those in a Part Two. Or not…
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 link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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The Getty Center, traffic and haze in Los Angeles

getty center view

A few days ago I took a tour group to the Getty Center in Brentwood. The museum sits up on a hill overlooking the 405 freeway and the city of Los Angeles. On a clear day you have a spectacular panorama of the San Gabriel Mountains, downtown LA and the Pacific Ocean. Even on a hazy day like this you still get a decent view.

The buildings in the distance are lined up along Wilshire Blvd in Westwood (a district in the city of LA). It was too hazy to see all the way downtown which is about an 18-mile drive from this point.

Haze, by the way, is a different condition than smog. Because of the strict controls on air pollution we don’t have nearly as much smog as what I remember from decades ago. But there is nothing humans can do about the haze. From my limited understanding of this phenomenom, haze is caused when the colder air being pushed in from the ocean meets the warmer air on land. And because we live in a basin surrounded by mountains, there is nowhere for this air to go. I may not have this whole thing correct, but you get the idea!

Of course, on any tours around the Los Angeles area, the question comes up about traffic. Yes, it is bad. Which is why I personally take public transportation as much as possible so I don’t have to deal with it. And as a step-on guide, I get to sit behind the driver and let him or her worry about it while I talk to the passengers!

At the Getty I had my point and shoot camera with me and a little free time as the tour-goers were enjoying themselves in the various galleries. 

view from Getty Center

This is a closer view of the freeway. This view is looking to the south. You can see the traffic going north on the 405 is stopped at the upper right of the photo so there is very little traffic in the foreground on that side. So you might think the traffic doesn’t look that bad. Normally in the afternoon the congestion on the northbound side would be as bad as or worse than on the southbound side.

Construction has been going on continuously for what seems like the past 100 years in order to widen the freeway, add more lanes and rebuild the overpasses. So sometimes they have to move construction equipment and you can’t get through.

My vote would have been to spend the money making the freeway narrower to discourage people from driving and instead put the money into a mass transit system to move people from west LA out to the valley. But, as usual, they didn’t ask me. Encouraging more cars is ludicrous. Every time more lanes are added to the freeways or more freeways are built, the more people drive on them. Duh!!!

It’s the same backwards thinking as requiring a certain number of parking spaces for new buildings. If there were NO parking spaces people would be forced to leave their cars at home and take the bus. But in this automobile-crazy city that won’t happen until the streets are so clogged nobody can move at all.  

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!