Culture Is Community

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Years ago I worked at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Downtown. I loved working there, because it meant always being around art. That was very cool. But after a while, I started to realize there was a problem with museums. Just by their nature, they put barriers between the art and the audience. For instance, MOCA had a Rauschenberg combine in its collection. When it was first shown back in the 50s, it was an interactive piece and the artist expected people to touch it. But by the time it was acquired by the museum, the combine was worth over a million bucks, and if you tried to touch it, the security guard would freak out. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when artists become icons and their work ends up in institutions.

So it’s really cool when artists make work that’s always accessible to its audience. Art that’s part of the daily life of the community. That’s why LA’s murals are so important. They’re not sitting in a temperature controlled gallery surrounded by security guards. They’re out there on the street, in the midst of the community. And Pacoima is one community that’s extremely lucky in this respect. The streets there are loaded with murals. They come in all sizes, shapes and colors. They can be poetic, patriotic or political. Many feature pop culture icons, but some of them are all about ideas.

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Van Nuys Boulevard at San Fernando Road

Once you get to Pacoima, it’s not even like you have to go looking for the murals. Just head up Van Nuys Blvd. and the art starts jumping out at you. This community has actively supported local artists, and it’s important to emphasize that this is a community effort. While individual artists put their names to the finished work, these murals are a team effort, and often they list the names of the many people involved in making it happen.

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Lady of the Valley by Levi Ponce, near Van Nuys and Arleta

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Born in East Valley by Levi Ponce, at Van Nuys and Bartee

LA has come to be known as a mural mecca, but City Hall hasn’t always treated these artists well. In 2002, to settle a longstanding dispute with billboard companies, an ordinance was passed to make murals illegal. But it got worse. In the years that followed, the City obliterated a number of these works by painting them over. One article I read said that 300 murals were lost, but it’s probably impossible to calculate the real number. The City passed an ordinance to lift the ban in 2013, and since then artists have been making up for lost time. It’s weird, though, because while the City went after illegal murals with a vengeance, it’s never taken any serious action to crack down on illegal billboards. I bet if the artists had been able to shower our elected officials with campaign cash like the billboard companies have, there never would have been a ban in the first place.

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Sacrificing to Protect by STP Foundation, near Van Nuys and Vena

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Pacoima Kahlo* by Levi Ponce, at Van Nuys and Ralston

Many of the murals celebrate pop culture icons, like the two pictured here featuring Ritchie Valens and Elvira.

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La Bamba/Ritchie Valens by Hector Ponce, at Van Nuys and Amboy

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Closer shot of Ritchie Valens

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Elvira en Pacoima by Hector Ponce, near Van Nuys and Haddon

But they also focus on lesser known names, people whose lives and work have a meaning to those in the community.

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Artistas de la Comunidad by Hector Ponce, near Van Nuys and Laurel Canyon

This isn’t a mural, but it caught my eye. The caricature of Cantinflas, a forgotten star from another age, painted on the front of a shuttered fast-food stand, seemed both funny and sad at the same time.

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The theme of freedom comes up over and over again. Sometimes it’s political. Sometimes it’s purely personal.

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Freedom Fighter by Kristy Sandoval, at Van Nuys and Pala

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Decolonized by Kristy Sandoval, at Van Nuys and Bradley

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La Lady Liberty by Levi Ponce, at Van Nuys and Bradley

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Without Boundaries by Levi Ponce, at Van Nuys and Haddon

There’s plenty of awesome art in Pacoima, but you can find murals all over LA. If you want to see more, The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles is a great place to start. If you haven’t been to their web site already, you need to pay them a visit.

The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles


*  This seems to be the second mural featuring Frida Kahlo by Levi Ponce at this same location.  I found an earlier version on the net that had the title Pacoima Kahlo, but I’m not sure if that title applies to the current version.

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Moving Forward in Reseda

The Reseda Theater

The Reseda Theater

A little over a year ago I wrote a post about how people in Reseda were frustrated. For years the business district in the heart of the community has been struggling, and projects that were supposed to revitalize the area somehow never materialized.

Well, there’s been some progress since then. Just recently a deal was struck to reopen the long vacant Reseda Theater as a multiplex, and to create 34 units for senior citizens adjacent to the building. The multiplex will be operated by Laemmle Theatres, which played a part in revitalizing North Hollywood with its complex there.

This deal is just a first step. Members of the community have been struggling for years to revitalize the neighborhood, and many hope that this project signals a turnaround. The Reseda Neighborhood Council and Councilmember Bob Blumenfield have worked hard to engage the community and rustle up the money to make this happen. For more details, see this article from the Daily News.

Reseda Theater to become Laemmle Multiplex

But redevelopment is only part of the equation. Bringing new life to a community requires a lot more than investment. It’s really about people. Creating community means creating a sense that the people who live in the area are connected, that they share something more than a zip code. This piece from the LA Weekly caught my attention.

Reseda Rising Artwalk Proves the Valley Is Cool

The artwalk was put together by 11:11 ACC and the Department of Cultural Affairs. I’d never heard of 11:11 ACC before, so I took a look at their web site and found out that they’re an artists’ collective operating in the San Fernando Valley. Sounds like an interesting group. If you want to check them out, here’s the link.

11:11 ACC

Seems like things are finally happening in Reseda. Hopefully this is just the beginning.

Seen on the Street

Unknown Artist, Sunset west of Highland

Unknown Artist, Sunset west of Highland

Nothing against museums, but there’s something really cool about artists who put their work right out on the street. A, it’s free. B, it makes walking around the city so much more interesting. And C, the best street art engages you in a way that’s more immediate than the experience you get in a museum. You’re strolling down to the liquor store to get a six pack and bang, you run up against something somebody stuck on the side of a building. Or a chalk drawing on the sidewalk. Or a billboard towering overhead.

It’s interesting how people’s attitudes to street art have changed. Back in the 70s guys who went around blasting walls with spray paint were vandals. Ten years later a lot of those same guys were showing their stuff at the Whitney Biennial. You can still find artists who sneak around with an aerosol can in the dead of night, but you can also find artists doing large scale public projects with backing from a foundation.

Here’s a sampling of some stuff I’ve found roaming around LA….

People are constantly pasting stuff up all over Hollywood. A lot of it’s junk, but this caught my eye one morning as I walked past the Pacific Theatre.

Unknown Artist, Wilcox north of Hollywood

Unknown Artist, Wilcox north of Hollywood

These images of bottles have been showing up in various places over the past year or so. Honestly, I can’t figure out what it’s about, but I think they’re kind of cool.

Unknown Artist, Beverly near Detroit

Unknown Artist, Beverly near Detroit

Unknown Artist, Cahuenga near Franklin

Unknown Artist, Cahuenga near Franklin

Unknown Artist, Cahuenga near Franklin

Unknown Artist, Cahuenga near Franklin

Is anything more tempting to guerilla artists than an abandoned structure? This building at the corner of Argyle and Yucca was demolished a while ago, but I got a few photos before it disappeared.

Unknown Artists, Yucca and Argyle

Unknown Artists, Yucca and Argyle

This is a shot of the same building from the freeway.

Unknown Artists, Yucca and Argyle

Unknown Artists, Yucca and Argyle

Some artists keep it simple and rough.

Unknown Artist, Wilcox north of Sunset

Unknown Artist, Wilcox north of Sunset

Others spend a lot of time and effort to make it as polished as possible.

D*Face, Santa Monica near Flemish Lane

D*Face, Santa Monica near Flemish Lane

The image above is by D*Face, a classic example of someone who started out doing his own thing on the street, and over time became an established professional. To see more of his work, check out his site.

D*Face

Sometimes it’s a political statement.

Unknown Artist, Wilcox near Hollywood

Unknown Artist, Wilcox near Hollywood

Unknown Artist, Wilcox near Franklin

Unknown Artist, Wilcox near Franklin

Other times it’s just a statement.

Unknown Artist, Selma and Ivar

Unknown Artist, Selma and Ivar

Unknown Artist, Sunset near Gardner

Unknown Artist, Sunset near Gardner

I was out in Boyle Heights a while ago and I saw these banners decorating a fence that surrounded a construction site.

A row of banners at a construction site, First and Boyle

A row of banners at a construction site, First and Boyle

Lesther Cabrales, First and Boyle

Lesther Cabrales, First and Boyle

Izzy Jaquez and Diego Escamilla, First and Boyle

Izzy Jaquez and Diego Escamilla, First and Boyle

I was told that the project was put together by Self Help Graphics, a non-profit that’s been serving local communities for over forty years. Here’s the link.

Self Help Graphics & Art

Found this at a construction site in Downtown. Somehow it really seems to capture the vibe in LA right now.

Unknown Artist, Fifth west of Broadway

Unknown Artist, Fifth west of Broadway

I think I saw this at a construction site on Hill. Honestly, I can’t remember exactly where it was.

Unknown Artist, Unknown Location

Unknown Artist, Unknown Location

Obviously phone kiosks aren’t getting a lot of use these days. Local artists have come up with lots of different ways to transform them.

Unknown Artist, Hill near Fourth

Unknown Artist, Hill near Fourth

I’d seen these giant faces peering down from walls around town, but I didn’t realize they were part of a project by this guy who calls himself JR. Follow the link below to find out more. There’s a video you can watch that gives the lowdown.

Wrinkles of the City at DesignBoom

JR, Fifth near Main

JR, Fifth near Main

JR, Alameda and Traction, rear of building

JR, Alameda and Traction, rear of building

The image above can be found in back of Angel City Brewery on Alameda. And the mural you see below is right next to it.

Dabs & Myla and How & Nosm, Alameda and Third, rear of building

Dabs & Myla and How & Nosm, Alameda and Third, rear of building

Finally this billboard by Robert Montgomery on Broadway near the UA Theatre. Not much to say about this one. I’ll let the work speak for itself.

Robert Montgomery, Broadway near Ninth

Robert Montgomery, Broadway near Ninth

The Broad

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Last week I finally made it down to The Broad. I lucked out because some friends had an extra ticket and invited me along. I really recommend making a reservation. The lines for visitors who don’t have one are still super long.

The front of the building on Grand Ave.

The front of the building on Grand Ave.

Riding up the escalator to the galleries.

Riding up the escalator to the galleries.

I got there a little early and spent some time just checking out the building’s exterior. It’s gorgeous. The two design firms that worked on the project, Diller Scofidio + Rensler and Gensler, worked from a concept they call “vault and veil”. The vault is where the museum stores its collection, and instead of trying to hide it, which is the standard approach, they allowed the structure of the vault to play a major role in shaping the space. The veil is the building’s outer layer, a porous sheath that lets natural light filter into the galleries.

Jeff Koons, Tulips

Jeff Koons, Tulips

A room full of Warhol.

A room full of Warhol.

Mark Bradford, Corner of Desire and Piety

Mark Bradford, Corner of Desire and Piety

Mark Tansey, Forward Retreat

Mark Tansey, Forward Retreat

Chris Burden, Bateau de Guerre

Chris Burden, Bateau de Guerre

Looking at the works in Broad’s collection, it’s clear that the guy’s got a keen eye and an open mind. Unlike the super rich predators who’ve crowded into the art market looking for status symbols and investment opportunities, Broad is passionately interested in the ways that artists express themselves and interact with the world around them. Wandering through the galleries, I was struck by the depth and diversity of the works on view, but I was even more impressed by how engaging this innaugural show is. It can be tough just getting the general public to take a look at contemporary art. Believe it or not, some people don’t get excited about looking at massive hunks of sheet metal or walking into galleries filled with rotting vegetables. But the wide variety of pieces in this first show offer a range of experiences, and there’s something for everybody. If you’re an art scenester looking for challenging conceptual stuff, Mark Bradford takes over a wall to talk about post-Katrina economic realities in New Orleans. And if you’re a teen-age pop culture freak, you’ll probably want to whip out your phone and snap a few shots of Takashi Murakami’s giant psychedelic mushrooms. With works on display by Kara Walker, Joseph Beuys, Susan Rothenberg, Chris Burden, Ed Ruscha, Yayoi Kusama, Mark Tansey, Cady Noland and dozens of others, you’re sure to find something that will grab your attention.

Thomas Struth, Audience II (Galleria dell'Accademia) Florenz

Thomas Struth, Audience II (Galleria dell’Accademia) Florenz

Art you can read, from John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha.

Art you can read, from John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha.

Charles Ray, Fall '91

Charles Ray, Fall ’91

I’m really grateful to Eli Broad for pulling this whole thing together. Aside from the thrill of seeing so much amazing art gathered together in one place, I was excited to see crowds of visitors milling through the galleries. And these people weren’t just passively strolling from one room to the next. They were posing with the art, laughing at the art, and talking about the art. This really is a museum for the people.

If you haven’t gone yet, what are you waiting for?

The Broad

Park located at the side of the building.

Park located at the side of the building.

Pop Culture Past

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Pop culture wasn’t meant to last. As the twentieth century kicked into high gear, products made for mass consumption were pumped out as fast as possible, generally with the idea that whatever the masses were dying to have one day would be tossed away the very next day. Permanence was considered passé. Forget about making things that would last forever. The idea was to make stuff that would last long enough to make a profit, and then jump on whatever trend came next. Studios threw out prints of old movies to free up storage space. Comic publishers tossed original art when their filing cabinets got too full. And developers bulldozed old buildings when they were past their prime.

But of course, people started falling in love with this stuff. In some cases it was just a sentimental attachment we felt for things we grew up with. In other cases we’d realize that this object we’d taken for granted was actually the product of careful, thoughtful design. And occasionally we’d come across something really beautiful. Some of this stuff was just too cool to throw away.

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You can find a staggering display of artifacts from our pop culture past at Valley Relics Museum. Curator Tommy Gelinas has been scouring the San Fernando Valley for twenty years looking for items that have something to say about the area’s history. The museum was set up as a non-profit in 2012, and in 2013 they opened their doors to the public.

Valley Relics is located in a business park in Chatsworth. It’s a small space, but it’s jam packed with objects ranging from the mundane to the bizarre. It’s kind of like if the Valley had an attic where people would put stuff they couldn’t use any more but couldn’t bear to part with. There are custom cars, video games, movie posters and plenty of neon.

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But even though a lot of what they have on display belongs to the world of pop culture, Valley Relics has a broader mission. Here’s what they say on their web site.

Our endeavor is to collect, preserve, interpret, and present the history of The San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas in order to share with residents and visitors alike the stories of those who shaped the region and its role in the nation’s development.

So they’re not just trying to build a funhouse for nostalgia freaks. They’re really trying to tell the story of the Valley, and it’s high time somebody did. The massive plain that spreads toward the north from the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains generally gets short shrift when people talk about LA history, but you can’t really talk about the film or aerospace industries without talking about the Valley.

Of course cars played a huge part in the growth of the Valley. There were a couple of custom cars on display that caught my attention. One is the gaudy convertible driven by the owner of Nudie’s, the tailor that created one-of-a-kind outfits for country western luminaries.

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The other is a humble VW decorated with a dizzying collage of images by artist Kent Bash. According to the text panel, the inside is supposed to be pretty cool, too, but it was hard to get a good look.

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Music is a big part of the Valley’s history. It warmed my heart too see the sign from the Palomino glowing softly at the back of the building.

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The club itself has been gone for years, but in its heyday it hosted many of the greatest stars of country music. Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson and many others played there. I only went a few times, but I will always remember catching the Collins Kids at the Palomino. It was one of the best shows I’ve seen in my life.

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Valley Relics is a young museum, and they have a lot of work to do. Right now it seems like the idea is to just display as much stuff as possible. The collection could be better organized, and it would help if there were more text to give visitors some background. Their biggest problem is lack of space. The day I was there I spoke to a guy who said they had tons of objects stored in a warehouse, and that they’re looking for a larger building. I hope they find some place a little closer to the center of the Valley. I’m sure plenty of people would dig the collection, but the location makes it kind of a long trip for most Angelenos.

Still, it’s definitely worth the trouble. Right now their hours are limited, only 10 am to 3 pm on Saturdays, but admission is free. If you do make the trip out there, and if you’re as impressed as I was, I’d urge you to put some money in the box for donations. Gelinas and company have gathered some amazing artifacts, and they’re telling a story that even people who live in this city don’t know much about. Right now they’re trying to take it to the next level. Let’s hope they can pull it off.

Here’s the link to the web site. You should check this place out.

Valley Relics

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Mariachi Plaza

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Mariachi Plaza isn’t just a place. It’s a part of LA’s history. A piece of the city’s culture. Musicians have been gathering there since the 1930s, making music, looking for work, hanging out with friends, killing time. The plaza is also a gathering place for the community in Boyle Heights, vendors setting up booths to sell their wares, crowds gathering for a celebration.

Mariachi music is the result of hundreds of years of cultural give and take between the indigenous people of Mexico and the colonists from Spain. It started to take the shape we recognize today in the nineteenth century in the state of Jalisco. Mariachi ensembles come in many different sizes. There are the full orchestras with a string section, a couple of trumpets, a variety of guitars and a harp, but the musicians often play in smaller groups, too. It depends on the occasion and how much money’s being offered.

A view of First Street, bordering the plaza.

A view of First Street, bordering the plaza.

On the plaza there’s a large bandstand that was donated by the people of Jalisco, as well as a small amphitheatre which was built in the process of constructing the MTA Gold Line station. There are also a few modest buildings that have stood on the plaza for years, their walls decorated with colorful murals. Aside from the changes that came with the construction of the Gold Line stop, the plaza has looked pretty much the same for decades.

The bandstand.

The bandstand.

The amphitheatre.

The amphitheatre.

But the future of Mariachi Plaza is being hotly debated now, and it’s hard to say who will win in the struggle to shape its future. At the beginning of 2015 there was a huge uproar when the MTA unveiled its plan to develop the site. In the agency’s view, they were doing the community a big favor by bringing in an eight story project that included medical offices, a gym, restaurants and shops. Unfortunately, the MTA forgot to ask the community how they felt about it. Local residents were furious. The people of Boyle Heights were understandably angry about the fact that City and County officials had not brought them into the planning process. The MTA backed down, saying that they were going to start from scratch, and promising to involve residents this time. Some in the community are concerned, though, that all the agency intends to do is hold a few public meetings to steer people towards a plan they’ve already decided on. If that’s what happens, it wouldn’t be surprising. That’s standard operating procedure in LA.

The people of Boyle Heights are used to being ignored. Historically, few people at City Hall have shown much interest in this largely Latino community. It’s only in recent years, with the arrival of the Gold Line and the onset of gentrification that developers have started paying attention to the area. No one would argue that the community needs investment, and some locals feel that Boyle Heights would benefit from “gentefication”, in other words, a push for revitalization that maintained the neighborhood’s Latino character. But the past several years have shown that the City really doesn’t care much about preserving the character of existing communities. Residents of Hollywood, the Crenshaw District, Koreatown, Sherman Oaks and other neighborhoods have been hammered by the unholy alliance between City Hall and real estate speculators.

I went down to Mariachi Plaza a few weeks ago to take some pictures. It was a cloudy day, and not much was happening. This didn’t bother me because I always get a little nervous about shooting photos when people are walking by. I’m not crazy about having my own picture taken, and I don’t want to intrude on other people’s privacy. But then I realized, Hey, you’re at Mariachi Plaza. You’ve gotta get at least one shot of the musicians. And there’s another layer of anxiety here, because I knew some of the guys hanging out on the plaza were probably undocumented. It’s understandable that some immigrants get a little nervous when a stranger with a camera walks up and starts snapping photos. I finally did ask a group six guys if I could take a picture. Three of them walked away, but the other three were cool with it.

Musicians hanging out on the plaza.

Musicians hanging out on the plaza.

On the west side of the plaza you can see the Mariachi Hotel, also called the Boyle Hotel, originally the Cummings Hotel.

The Mariachi Hotel.

The Mariachi Hotel.

It has stood at the corner of Boyle and First since the end of the nineteenth century. Today it’s home to a number of the musicians who populate the plaza. You can see by the sign at the top of the hotel that some residents are concerned about outsiders taking over their community.  It says, “Alto a la Gentrificación.  Un Boyle Heights, Por Boyle Heights, Para Boyle Heights.”  (“Stop Gentrification.  One Boyle Heights, by Boyle Heights, for Boyle Heights.”)

Libros Schmibros

Libros Schmibros

Libros Schmibros is right on the plaza. It’s a lending library dedicated to making books available to everybody. The statement on their web site says that, “Libros Schmibros champions the pleasures of literature and its power to change lives,” which sounds pretty cool to me. Here’s the link if you want to learn more.

Libros Schmibros

Just around the corner I found an artist working on a mural.

Artist working on a mural just off the plaza.

Artist working on a mural just off the plaza.

Another view of the mural.

Another view of the mural.

Sorry, but the alley was really narrow, and I couldn’t get far enough away to take a picture of the whole thing. I guess if you want to see how beautiful it really is, you’ll just have to go down there yourself.

I went back another day and things were much more lively. A band was on stage in the amphitheatre, people were dancing on the plaza, and the place was crowded with booths offering all sorts of stuff.

People having a good time on the plaza.

People having a good time on the plaza.

The plaza crowded with booths.

The plaza crowded with booths.

I don’t think many of the residents of Boyle Heights would argue against the need for development. What they want is to have a voice in the planning. So many of the projects proposed in this city are the result of deals made between politicians and developers behind closed doors. That’s got to stop. The only way to plan for a community is to invite the community’s participation. This can be a long, slow, difficult process, but in the end it’s more efficient than the City’s current approach. If the MTA had talked to the people of Boyle Heights first, they could have avoided the huge embarrassment of having their project shut down. If the MTA had spent some time listening to residents, by now they might be well on the way to building something that they community could really support.

If you want to dig deeper into the history of Mariachi Plaza, check out the web site.

Mariachi Plaza

And this essay with photos is worth taking a look at.

The History of the Cummings Block

Banner by artist Dalia Ruiz.

Banner by artist Dalia Ruiz.

Waking Up in the Park

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I’ve been going past North Hollywood Park since I was a kid, but I’ve hardly ever set foot in it. Lately, though, every time I’ve gone by I’ve felt like I needed to check it out. So I finally decided to take the time.

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God knows what possessed me to go over there at seven in the morning. I’m barely awake at that hour. But it was cool because I had the park mostly to myself. The sun was just coming up and the only other people around were the dog walkers and the joggers. Not that the park was quiet. It’s bounded on all sides by major roadways, occupying the triangle made by Chandler, Tujunga and the Hollywood Freeway.

NH 14 Pk Church

You can see the traffic backed up on Tujunga. And you can also see St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church in the background. I looked on the net for a history of the church, but didn’t find much. Their web site said the congregation has been active in the area since the twenties, but didn’t offer too many details. I was curious about the campus, because it’s an interesting mix of old and new styles.

Also across the street from the park is Masonic Lodge #542.

NH 15 Pk Mason

Freemasonry has pretty much disappeared these days, but it played a large part in European and American history for hundreds of years. Ben Franklin, W. A. Mozart, Simón Bolívar, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie were all Masons. The history of Freemasonry is long and complex, and because it was a secret society there’s much that will never be known. Some people see it as an important fraternal organization that helped shaped democracy, others see it as a band of power mad imperialists who wanted to rule the world. If you’re into conspiracy theories, you can’t go wrong with the Masons. There are all sorts of crazy stories out there. But to get back to Lodge #542, in its heyday its members included many Hollywood luminaries like Clark Gable, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Audie Murphy. The Los Angeles Conservancy has a nice write-up about the building’s design.

Masonic Lodge #542 at The Los Angeles Conservancy

Inside the park itself is the North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Library. This beautiful little Mission style building was originally constructed in 1929, and it was designed by architects Lewis Eugene Weston and Lewis Eugene Weston, Jr..

The front of the Amelia Earhart Library.

The front of the Amelia Earhart Library.

A side view of the library's entrance.

A side view of the library’s entrance.

The back of the library.

The back of the library.

In the decades since it was built, the library has undergone a number of transformations. Like so many buildings, it’s been adapted over and over again as the community around it changed. To learn more, follow the link below.

Amelia Earhart Regional Branch History at LAPL

If you’re wondering why this branch library is named after Amelia Earhart, it’s because she was living in nearby Toluca Lake at the time she took off on her final flight. There’s also a statue of Earhart in the park at the corner of Tujunga and Magnolia.

NH 30 Pk Amelia

Honestly, until yesterday the only thing I knew about this early aviator was that she died trying to fly around the world. After doing a little reading, I found out that she racked up a number of impressive accomplishments in her short life. You might want to do a little reading about her yourself.

Amelia Earhart Bio

Even though there wasn’t a lot happening at seven a.m., the park is often crowded when I go by in the afternoon. Activities are offered for people of all ages, and there are plenty of folks who go there just to hang out. In spite of the cars rushing along the park’s perimeter, once you get away from the traffic it’s easy to forget about the city buzzing around you. The paths wend their way through large expanses of grass. There are fabulous old trees rising up above you.

NH 33 Pk Flowers

For years I’ve been rushing past this beautiful park, convinced I didn’t have the time to stop and linger. We get so caught up in being busy that we tell ourselves we can’t take a break. We’re plugged into so many different things that we’re bombarded with stimulus all day long, and we convince ourselves it has to be that way. It doesn’t. We need to step away from the traffic, phones, TV, etc., and let ourselves walk on the grass, feel the breeze, lose ourselves in the blue of the sky.

We need to take the time for a walk in the park.

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