A Cauldron of Laughs

A Cauldron of Laughs

We look spooktacular!

A Cauldron of Laughs

Pumpkins galore…

A Cauldron of Laughs

Scary pumpkin 😈

A Cauldron of Laughs

Cute pumpkin 🙂

A Cauldron of Laughs

Square and happy pumpkins!

A Cauldron of Laughs

A cherry pumpkin 🙂

A Cauldron of Laughs

And pumpkin muffins!

A Cauldron of Laughs

No tricks here, only treats!

A Cauldron of Laughs

Look, a cauldron of laughs!

A Cauldron of Laughs

What do you call wood when it’s scared?
Petrified!

A Cauldron of Laughs

A Cauldron of Laughs

What do mummies like listening to on Halloween?
Wrap music!

A Cauldron of Laughs

A Cauldron of Laughs

Why did the policeman ticket the ghost?
It didn’t have a haunting license.

A Cauldron of Laughs

A Cauldron of Laughs

What are a ghost’s favorite rides at the fair?
The scary-go-round and rollerghoster!

A Cauldron of Laughs

A Cauldron of Laughs

What is a ghost’s favorite dessert?
Booberry pie.

A Cauldron of Laughs

A Cauldron of Laughs

Two monsters went to a Halloween party. Suddenly one said to the other, “A lady just rolled her eyes at me. What should I do?”
“Be a gentleman and roll them back to her.”

A Cauldron of Laughs

A Cauldron of Laughs

Back to the Movies

With Christopher Lloyd
With Christopher Lloyd

After meeting Doc Brown himself, little bears are busy watching Back to the Future again 🙂 The 30th anniversary Blu-ray edition.

Back to the Movies

Great big flat screens with multiple channels are in the future, so we can watch 10 channels at once (yay!), as are voice-controlled home appliances. The future also brings Biff Tannen as President! Back to the Future writer Bob Gale has apparently revealed that the trilogy’s villain Biff Tannen is actually based on Donald Trump. And the US people are so determined to keep Clinton out of the White House that they are willing to pay any cost for it. That includes having a butthead for President. Lucky little bears have had their big adventure before the place turns into Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Paradise. They will visit again when Lisa Simpson is President.

Robert Zemeckis, who directed, and Bob Gale, who co-wrote all three movies, never set out to make informed guesses about the future. Zemeckis thought prediction was a mug’s game, so he just tried to make it funny. Fans might take these things seriously, but the filmmakers didn’t. There’s a lot of speculation on the internet around the speed the DeLorean had to reach to break out of real time: 88mph (141.6kph). Boys who are now scientists have advanced a series of complicated theories. According to Bob Gale, it was just a nice memorable number.

And nobody predicted that little bears will go where no bear has gone before!

The ‘self-lacing’ Nikes were mostly special effects. It goes without saying that the shoes didn’t actually lace themselves or light up on their own. In 1989, lighting wasn’t as miniaturized as it is today. The lights in the original shoes required a battery pack strapped to Fox’s back and wiring running down his legs to power the shoes. As for the power laces, that required two different shots. In one shot, McFly put his feet into the Nikes and set them down. Then a second shot actually had the Nikes mounted onto a slab of fake cement with holes underneath to feed cables through. The cables were pulled by guys off-screen to tighten the laces, which were not actually laces at all. They were actually straps that tighten around McFly’s feet. McFly never called them “self-tying laces”, he just called them “power laces”.

'Self-lacing' Nikes
‘Self-lacing’ Nikes

The self-lacing Nikes were not ready for the Back to the Future 30th anniversary last year, but earlier this month, a limited-edition release of the 2016 Nike Mag offered the self-lacing sneakers through an online lottery in collaboration with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. 100 percent of all the proceeds will go toward research for a Parkinson’s cure, according to a statement released by Nike. 89 pairs of the 2016 Nike Mag limited edition have been released (Back to the Future II where the shoes appeared was released in 1989).

Nike
Limited edition 2016 Nike Mag

If you can’t get your hands on the limited edition version, Nike is also putting self-lacing technology in its new HyperAdapt sneakers, which will be released on November 28. They have similar features to the Nike Mag and will be slightly more widely available, but it’s unlikely they will come cheap. Or, more importantly, in bear size!

The only thing that’s missing now is the hoverboard. A hoverboard that hovers, not just a table top 🙂

Back to the Movies

Neutra Village Silver Lake

Neutra Village is a concentration of architecturally significant houses located just off the Silver Lake Reservoir, at the intersection of Earl Street with Silver Lake Boulevard and Argent Place, that demonstrates the varied, yet cohesive modern style of Neutra in his mature career. The Neutra Village features the largest concentration of Richard Neutra’s architecture in the world.

This group of houses, built incrementally between 1948 and 1962, are archetypal of mid-century modern style with their rectilinear forms and flat roofs. They demonstrate Neutra’s interest in the indoor/outdoor aspect of architecture, which he could explore to the maximum in the mild southern California climate, using sliding glass walls to open up indoor spaces which lead on to generous roof top decks.

This unique living environment, sheltered within a park-like landscape, was not a planned development. Each residence is unique and was carefully executed one by one with the architect’s first ground rule being to provide by design for the happiness and well-being of each individual owner and their family. Neutra understood that well-being was tied directly to the idea of living in harmony with nature, neighbours and within the family unit itself. The result is a community with a sense of sensual, animated tranquillity, of accomplished sophistication rendered simply by mature hands.

This makes Silver Lake home to some of the most celebrated modernist architecture in the US, including Richard Neutra’s VDL Research House, where he lived for nearly 40 years, and John Lautner’s Silvertop.

The architecture of Silver Lake developed hand-in-hand with the film industry. Like a mighty wave, the creative individuals captivated by the magic of Hollywood were drawn by the thousands to Southern California to ‘make their mark’ seeking employment but also needing a place to call home. The beautiful hillsides of Hollywood, Los Feliz and Silver Lake were often the preferred locations for these early pioneers. As Los Feliz and the Hollywood Hills became too pricey, homebuyers and renters looked eastward towards Silver Lake. At the same time, as new architectural styles were coming into fashion, the architects who were designing them found greater acceptance for their often avante garde designs in the cultural mix of Los Angeles. As a result, the works of Modernist pioneers like Gregory Ain, Eugene Kinn Choy, Raul Garduno, David Hyun, R.M. Schindler, Raphael Soriano, Eric Lloyd Wright, John Lautner, Kemper Nomland and Richard Neutra are literally sprinkled throughout our hillsides.

Yew House
Yew House (1957)

Designed for Mr. and Mrs. Wong Yew in 1957, Neutra designed the house with a mind towards entertaining and the enjoyment of the view of the lake. The Master Bedroom features a roof deck which is served by a dumbwaiter from the kitchen. The kitchen itself features open shelves so that the lake may be seen at all times. This home reflects in a significant way Neutra’s desire to bring elements of the outdoors ‘inside’ so that one has the sense of always being connected to nature.

Kambara House (1960)
Kambara House (1960)

The Kambara House features walls of glass, typical of Neutra’s work which take advantage of the lake views, with the addition of protected balconies that run the length of the structure. That the Kambaras spent their entire lives here treasuring the house, and carefully maintaining it exactly as built, speaks to the success of the architect’s endeavour. The Kambara House went on the market in 2014 for the first time since it was constructed, with an asking price of $2.3 million.

Inadomi House (1960)
Inadomi House (1960)

The Inadomi House appears almost connected to its neighbour to the south, the Kambara House, built at approximately the same time, with which it shares a common pathway to the street before dividing at a small reflecting pool. It is a pure example of the International Modern Style, unadorned, with large expanses of glass walls to take advantage of the views of the lake across the street.

Sokol House
Sokol House

The Sokol house was the first house to be built and is distinctively different from the others. It is also one of the largest of the group, being 221 square meters.

Treweek House (1948)
Treweek House (1948)
Ohara House
Ohara House

A centrepiece of the Neutra Village, the Ohara House is a classic example of the work of Modernist Richard Neutra, set on a hillside which affords stunning lake and mountain views, including views to the Griffith Park Observatory and famous Hollywood sign. The west-facing site fills the house with natural light. Breezes from the lake flow up the hillside and throughout the house, cooling it in the process.

Neutra designed this house for June and Hitoshi Ohara and their two daughters. In August 1995, Patricia and C.J. Bonura became the second owners of this signature home. Maintenance of the house had been deferred since construction. However, while in need of restoration, all original finishes, colours and systems remained in the as-built state. Over the next eight years, Bonura Building proceeded to restore the house to the original specifications. What really distinguishes this house from the other Neutra designs in the Village is the landscaping which really enhances bringing the outside in.

The Ohara House has appeared in numerous books and magazines, and was the Miles’ House from The Holiday with Jack Black. The exterior of the house showed up only once and very briefly in the movie.

Ohara House in The Holiday
Ohara House in The Holiday
Flavin House (1958)
Flavin House (1958)

The Flavins admired the work of the Modernists and tried to buy two other existing Neutra homes first: the Alexander Meltzer House on Murray Drive and later, the Sokol House on East Silver Lake Boulevard. Not succeeding, they hired Neutra to start afresh which turned out to be a good choice. The Flavins were able to get the architect to build a home specifically for their personal needs which included a workshop at the northeast end of the house.

Akai House (1962)
Akai House (1962)
Dion Neutra Treetops
Dion Neutra Treetops Townhouse (1980)
Reunion House
Reunion House (1949)

Reunion House is the personal home of architect Dion & Lynn Smart Neutra. The house is the most private of all the homes in the Neutra Village; instead of exposed to the lake, it is hidden in a forest of trees and ponds, creating a most tranquil setting. It was designed by Richard Neutra in 1949 and remodeled by Dion Neutra in 1966.

VDL Research House II
VDL Research House II

The original Neutra VDL Studio and Residence, a living laboratory for architect Richard Neutra’s theories on residential design, was built for $8,000 (including the site!) in 1932. It was designed by Richard Neutra as a study in creating the perfect living space within a confined site. Neutra used natural lighting, great views to the landscape and mirrors as pivotal elements in creating a house that felt much larger than its actual size. The architect said: “I wanted to demonstrate that human beings, brought together in close proximity, can be accommodated in very satisfying circumstances, taking in that precious amenity called privacy.” He did this with clever design and use of modern materials.

After a disastrous fire in March 1963, the VDL house was rebuilt by Dion Neutra in consultation with his father, Richard Neutra, who was often out of town during those years. It was completed in 1966, and the elder Neutras enjoyed living in the newly constituted house until Neutra’s death in 1970. His widow continued in residence for yet another 20 years until her death in 1990. In the years since, Dion has continued to struggle to actualize the vision his family had when it determined to give this house in perpetuity to a university.

Today, this glass-walled paragon of modern design overlooking the Silver Lake Reservoir is owned by California Polytechnic University, Pomona, and is an active part of LA’s design community and home to occasional art installations.

In addition to being designated Cultural Monument #640 by the City of Los Angeles, the VDL House was listed by the World Monuments Watch as one of the 100 Most Endangered World Monuments in 2000. It was one of only five sites in the US. The youngest of all the projects listed, the VDL joined such prestigious projects as the Valley of the Kings; Macchu Pichu; Beauvais Cathedral; and the oldest of the group, the Giraffe Rock Art Site in Niger, of 6th century BCE.

Richard Neutra was born in Vienna, Austria, into a wealthy Jewish family. He attended the Sophiengymnasium in Vienna until 1910, then he studied under Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner at the Vienna University of Technology from 1910 to 1918. In 1912 he undertook a study trip to Italy and the Balkans with Ernst Ludwig Freud (son of Sigmund Freud).

Neutra studied at the University of Zurich and worked briefly for landscape architect Gustav Ammann. In 1921 he worked as City Architect in the Planning Department of Luckenwalde, an industrial town in Germany. He also worked briefly for architect Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin.

In 1922, Neutra married Dione Niedermann, the daughter of an architect, and they moved to the US in 1923. At the funeral of Louis Sullivan, Neutra met Frank Lloyd Wright, who hired him in 1924 to work at Taliesin in Wisconsin while Wright was in Japan. Work ran out in 1925 and Neutra left Taliesin to work in California with Rudolf Schindler.

Among many projects, Schindler and Neutra collaborated on an entry for the League of Nations Competition of 1927; in the same year they formed a design firm with planner Carol Aronovici called the Architectural Group for Industry and Commerce (AGIC). Neutra and Schindler and their wives were very close; they shared space in Schindler’s house on Kings Road in Los Angeles from February 1925 until the Neutras left to tour Europe in May 1930.

The breakup of Neutra and Schindler is often accorded to Neutra “stealing” client Phillip Lovell for the Lovell Health House. According to Neutra’s son Raymond, it was not that simple. Schindler was busy with projects like the Buck House on Catalina Island and the unbuilt Transparent House for Aline Barnsdall. Phillip Lovell was grumpy about an earlier 1924 Schindler cabin that collapsed in the snow during its first winter. Schindler was also having an affair with Harriet Freeman, Lovell’s sister-in-law (who Lovell intensely disliked) and Lovell didn’t want the architect of his new Health house under her influence. Schindler was just as happy not to put up with Lovell, and the project shifted to Neutra. The Lovell House was the turning point in Neutra’s career, putting him on the architectural radar.

The hostility began in late 1930 when Schindler heard from friends that Neutra was not crediting him about the League of Nations project. It got worse when Schindler was rejected from the Philip Johnson’s MOMA International Style exhibition in New York which Neutra brought to LA for the 1932 Olympics.

Neutra and Schindler ended their partnership and co-residency and rarely interacted after that. When Neutra had a heart attack in 1953, he found himself in the same hospital room as Schindler. They made peace before Schindler died there of cancer. The hostility was on Schindler’s side and Neutra was happy to have the reconciliation.

Novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand based part of her character Howard Roark on Neutra in The Fountainhead. She was the second owner of Neutra’s Von Sternberg House.

Between 1927 and 1969, Neutra designed more than 300 houses in California and elsewhere. In 1949, Time Magazine featured Neutra on its cover and ranked him second only to Frank Lloyd Wright in American architecture. After that, Neutra had all the work he could ever want.

Neutra coined the term biorealism, which means “the inherent and inseparable relationship between man and nature”. Neutra hired several young architects who went on to independent success, including Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris and Raphael Soriano.

In 1965, Neutra formally partnered with architect and son Dion Neutra as Richard and Dion Neutra and Associates. In 1966, he moved back to Vienna, Austria. He died in Germany in 1970 while in the middle of an argument with a client, according to grandson Justin, who later made a short film about Neutra. In 1977 Neutra was awarded the AIA Gold Medal.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Plaza Historic District, also known as El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Monument, is located at the oldest section of Los Angeles, known for many years as “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles”. The district, centered on the old plaza, was the city’s center under Spanish (1781–1821), Mexican (1821–1847) and United States (after 1847) rule through most of the 19th Century.

Panoramic view of the Los Angeles Plaza in 1876. The Pico House is the prominent 3-story white building at the center of the photo. The Los Angeles River can be seen in the background.
Panoramic view of the Los Angeles Plaza in 1876. The Pico House is the prominent 3-story white building at the center of the photo. The Los Angeles River can be seen in the background.

The Pico House is a historic building in Los Angeles, California, dating from its days as a small town in Southern California. Located on 430 North Main Street, it sits across the old Los Angeles Plaza from Olvera Street and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.

Pío Pico, a successful businessman who was the last Mexican Governor of Alta California, ordered construction of a luxury hotel in the growing town. The architect was Ezra F. Kysor and it was constructed between 1869 and 1870. The resulting Italianate three story, 33-room hotel, dubbed Pico House (or Casa de Pico) was the most extravagant and lavish hotel in Southern California, and its opening was cause for much celebration. It had a total of nearly 80 rooms, large windows, a small interior court, and a grand staircase. In the days of the hotel’s primacy the courtyard featured a fountain and an aviary of exotic birds. Today Pico House belongs to the El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Monument. The ground floor is occasionally used for exhibits and other events.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Pico House (1869-70)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Pico House (1869-70)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Pico House (1869-70) and Merced Theatre (1870)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Pico House (1869-70) and Merced Theatre (1870)

The Merced Theatre was built in 1870 and is one of the oldest structures erected in Los Angeles for the presentation of dramatic performances. It served as the centre of theatrical activity in the city from 1871 to 1876.

The theatre was built by William Abbot, the son of Swiss immigrants who settled in Los Angeles in 1854. In 1858, he married the woman for whom he would name the theatre, Maria Merced Garcia, the daughter of José Antonio Garcia and María Guadalupe Uribe, who were long-time residents of the Los Angeles pueblo. The theatre was designed by Ezra F. Kysor, the architect of the Pico House.

On the other side of Merced Theatre is Masonic Hall, used by the Masons for their meetings until 1868 when they moved to larger quarters further south.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Pico House (1869-70); Merced Theatre (1870) and Masonic Hall (1858)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Pico House (1869-70); Merced Theatre (1870) and Masonic Hall (1858)

Freemasonry became popular in the United States in the 1850s and a lodge was started in Los Angeles in 1854. In 1858 Lodge 42 asked William Hayes Perry, a mason, and his partner James Brady to build a lodge room on the second floor of a building they were constructing at 426 North Main street for their carpentry and furniture-making business. Lodge 42 loaned Perry and Brady the money for the construction. The Masonic Hall was finished by November, after which the Masons paid a rent of $20 a month. The building was a two story unpainted brick structure with a symbolic “masonic eye” below the parapet.

Across Main Street from Pico House are the Brunswig Building and the two story Plaza House.

The Vickrey-Brunswig Building is a Victorian-era brick commercial building was among the earliest five-story buildings in Los Angeles. Commissioned by Los Angeles businessman William Vickrey as an investment property, the building housed ground floor retail with lodging on the upper floors when it opened in 1888. Prominent architect R. B. Young designed the building in a transitional Italianate style, varying the treatment of each story of the façade for greater visual interest. The windows of the upper floor feature Romanesque arches, while those of the third floor are embellished with turned posts that serve as the mullions between the grouped sashes.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Brunswig (1888)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Brunswig (1888)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Plaza House
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Plaza House

The County of Los Angeles purchased the Vickrey-Brunswig Building and the adjacent Plaza House in 1948 and renovated them for use by the Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission, County Superior Courts, Police Crime Laboratories and the County Sherriff’s offices through the mid-1970s. After three decades of vacancy and deterioration, the County rehabilitated both buildings to house LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a Mexican and Mexican-American cultural centre which opened in 2011.

The two-story Plaza House is one of Los Angeles’ few remaining commercial buildings from the 1880s. It was commissioned by Frenchman Philippe Garnier, whose name appears at the base of the decorative false gable parapet rising above the roofline. Garnier, who was a successful businessman, entrepreneur and early real estate developer in the El Pueblo area, retained the architecture firm Kysor & Morgan to design the combination hotel and commercial building. The firm’s founding partner, Ezra F. Kysor, had earlier designed the Pico House and Merced Theatre across the street.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument is near the site of the early Los Angeles pueblo or town where 44 settlers (11 families) of Native American, African and European heritage journeyed more than 1600 kilometres across the desert from present-day northern Mexico and established a farming community in September 1781. Since that time, Los Angeles has been under the flags of Spain, Mexico and the United States and has grown into one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas.

Today El Pueblo de Los Angeles is a living museum that continues to fulfil its unique role as the historic and symbolic heart of the city, reflecting the Native American, African American, Spanish, Anglo, Mexican, Chinese, Italian and French cultures that contributed to its early history. Of the monument’s 27 historic buildings, 11 are open to the public as businesses or have been restored as museums.

Los Angeles started out as a small farming town in an area inhabited by friendly Native American Indians. Under the orders of King Carlos III of Spain, a “pueblo” was founded in 1781 to grow food for the soldiers guarding this far-off territory of Spain.

As the town grew and prospered, retired soldiers were given large portions of land on which to graze their cattle. In 1821 Mexico declared her independence from Spain and successive governors of Alta California gave additional land grants to other settlers including new arrivals from Europe and the east coast of America who liked the climate and the life here. They joined the Californios in becoming ranchers, merchants and winemakers.

In 1846 the Mexican American War began and the United States troops took Los Angeles the following year. At first the town retained its customs and traditions but gradually, as the population grew, the professional heart of the city moved southwards. The plaza area then saw many changes. The old landowners who had owned houses around the plaza moved away, new buildings were constructed, and the area gradually changed to light industrial and business use. These changes brought in new settlers and the east side of the Plaza became the heart of the city’s first Chinatown. French and Italian settlers also arrived in large numbers. All this activity could not prevent the gradual decline of the former pueblo area which, soon after the turn of the century, turned into a slum.

In 1926 wealthy socialite Christine Sterling began a public program to restore the home and surrounding area, opening Olvera Street as a Mexican marketplace and historic centre.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Olvera Street
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Olvera Street
El Pueblo de Los Angeles - The Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – The Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Interior of Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Interior of Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Interior of Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Interior of Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Interior of Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Interior of Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)

The Avila Adobe, 10 Olvera Street, is the oldest standing residence in the city, built by wealthy cattle rancher Francisco José Avila, whose extensive 4,439-acre land grant covered much of Beverly Hills and the Miracle Mile district. Built of tar from the La Brea Tar Pits, clay from the LA River and wood from the riverbank, this adobe structure is located near the zandra madre, the original water source for El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles. A mix of Mission, Spanish and ranchero aesthetics are evident in the white stucco exterior and walls and large outdoor living space.

There is a large courtyard at the back of the home which encompasses a multi-purpose space of play area, workspace and kitchen, complete with outdoor oven for cooking.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Garden of Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Courtyard of Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Garden of Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Courtyard of Avila Adobe (built ca 1818, oldest house in LA)

Francisco José Avila, a native of Sinaloa, was alcalde, or mayor of Los Angeles in 1810. Following his death in 1832, his second wife, Encarnación Avila continued to live in the house with her two daughters. The Los Angeles Census of 1844 lists Encarnación Avila, age 40, as a widow living in the house with one daughter. For a brief time, from January 10-19, 1847, the adobe was commandeered as a military headquarters by the invading North American army under Robert Stockton.

After Encarnación Avila died in 1855, the home passed to her two daughters, Luisa and Francisca and their husbands, Manuel Garfias and Theodore Rimpau. Francisca and Theodore Rimpau and their nine children continued to live in the adobe from 1855 to 1868 until they moved to Anaheim, California where Theodore served as the first mayor. From 1868 to the early 1920s, the adobe was rented and used as a restaurant, rooming house for transients, or was frequently vacant. The condition of the building deteriorated and was finally condemned in 1926 by the City Health Department, which caught the attention of Christine Sterling, who began a public campaign to save the adobe.

The Plaza Methodist Church is located on the site of the Tapia/Olvera adobe, which served as an early service building for the United Methodist Church mission in Los Angeles. The Methodist Church was also the founding agent in Southern California for Goodwill Industries. The adobe was torn down in 1917 and, nine years later, architects Train and Williams completed this Churrigeresque-style church. The building was altered in the 1960s.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles - Plaza Methodist Church (1925-26)
El Pueblo de Los Angeles – Plaza Methodist Church (1925-26)

In 1953 a strong effort to preserve the area resulted in the creation of a State historic park. The State of California and the County and City of Los Angeles joined together to purchase the buildings and sites around the plaza. In 1989, the Park was turned over to the City of Los Angeles. Now the El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Monument, as it is called, is run by the City of Los Angeles.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Plaza
El Pueblo de Los Angeles
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Plaza

Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles has worked hard over the past 30 years to diversify its arts scene and develop a cultural world outside the film industry to as high a level as energy and money allow. As might be expected, the city’s cultural strong points are in performance and the visual arts. Downtown Los Angeles offers the most sophisticated in performance. The long established Performing Arts Centre now comprises 11 venues, including the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion which houses the LA Opera, the Mark Taper Forum and the Ahmanson Theatre, presenting theatre acted and produced by some of the best actors the area can provide. And that’s a lot of actors.

LA Opera
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home of LA Opera

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the first and largest theatre of The Music Centre, was built in 1964 and designed by Welton Becket using a “Total Design” aesthetic. Everything from the building’s structure and engineering to its interior design — lighting fixtures, carpeting, typography, restaurant china and flatware — were designed by the firm for a unified and integrated look.

The interior of the theatre is an elegant five-story space draped in honey-toned onyx and features 78 crystal light fixtures including three stunning chandeliers each made with 24,000 individual pieces of hand-polished crystal from Munich.

Friday Night at the Opera

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion http://chrisleephotographic.zenfolio.com
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
http://chrisleephotographic.zenfolio.com

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion has been the site of unparalleled performances by stunning music luminaries and virtuosos. It was the home of the LA Philharmonic for decades and the site for more than 20 Academy Awards presentations between 1969 and 1999. It is now the home of the LA Opera, sharing its stage with Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Centre.

LA Opera has been under the artistic direction of Plácido Domingo since 2003 and, with impeccable taste, he and Music Director James Conlon have presented adventurous opera programming, lifting the company to international stature. Their program has them mounting new operas, such as the lovely Il Postino, composed by Mexican-born Daniel Catán, retrieving lost works, like those presented in the ongoing “Recovered Voices” series which presents operas by composers lost in the Holocaust, and developing educational and community programs. Domingo has done much to promote Spanish-speaking singers and music professionals, a logical choice for this city, where a whopping 47% of the population is Hispanic or Latino.

Little Puffles and Honey saw La Bohème at the LA Opera.

Waiting for La Bohème to start
Waiting for La Bohème to start

The Music Centre Plaza is a great outdoor venue. The Plaza has served as a location for many Music Centre arts events such as National Dance Day, LA Arts Month, festivals, live simulcasts and weekend activities for dance. It is also the site for many private and civic celebrations, special events and galas.

Music Centre Plaza
Music Centre Plaza

At the centre of The Plaza is one of the most iconic fountains in Los Angeles. With 280 jets systematically shooting water up into the air on a 14-minute cycle, The Music Centre Fountain invites visitors to watch its playful dance. At the centre of the fountain is “Peace on Earth” by Jacques Lipchitz. The sculpture portrays a dove descending to earth with the spirit of peace, symbolized by the Madonna standing inside a tear shaped canopy, supported by a base of reclining lambs.

Music Centre Plaza
Music Centre Plaza
Music Centre Plaza Fountain
Music Centre Plaza Fountain

The Dance Door, a bronze sculpture, was created in 1978 by Robert Graham. It consists of an ornamented life-size bronze door, hinged on a bronze frame and locked in an open position. Abstracted figures of dancers are cast in low relief on the door panels.

Music Centre Plaza
Music Centre Plaza – Dance Door

Across Grand Avenue from the Music Centre is Grand Park, officially opened to the public in July 2012. Dotted with fountains, picnic lawns, bright pink benches and plenty of nooks from which to sit and people-watch, Grand Park is a bright urban oasis. The park plays host to performances, gatherings and other community events.

Grand Park and LA City Hall in the distance
Grand Park and LA City Hall in the distance

The grand, white concrete tower that is Los Angeles City Hall has been a city icon since 1928, and today it’s the easiest way to take in an elevated view of Downtown and beyond. If you’re ever passing through the Civic Centre during public hours — weekdays 9am-5pm — you can visit the 27th floor observation deck.

Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, Grand Park with LA Opera in the background
Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, Grand Park with LA Opera in the background

The Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain looks great at night!

Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain
Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain – fully restored with choreographed water features

Grand Park has a large central plaza surrounded by gardens from each of the world’s six Floristic Kingdoms, including Australia.

Grand Park
Grand Park
Grand Park
Grand Park

Sitting next door to LA Opera, and part of the Performing Arts Centre, is the stainless steel–surfaced Walt Disney Concert Hall and the REDCAT Theatre, designed by architect Frank Gehry in ultra-modern reflective glory. Both inside and out, this is a terrific venue. The concert hall features a 2,265-capacity auditorium with an open platform stage.

On the stage at Walt Disney Concert Hall :smile:
On the stage at Walt Disney Concert Hall 🙂

An Evening with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Chief acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota combined the best aspects of orchestral halls in Tokyo, Berlin, Amsterdam and Boston in a bid to provide aural warmth and clarity; the result of his endeavours is a virtually perfect acoustic that has been lauded by everyone from audience members to critics to musicians. The hall has a concert organ, also lavishly designed by Gehry in consultation with organ and tonal designer Manuel Rosales. The Concert Hall is now home to the LA Phil, currently led by Gustavo Dudamel. Composer John Adams is the Creative Chair of the Symphony, and Esa-Pekka Salonen is Conductor Laureate. More crème de la crème.

Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall

Little Puffles and Honey attended a performance of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

The concert hall has very colourful chairs!

An Evening with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

The Blue Ribbon Garden is the Walt Disney Concert Hall’s rooftop garden.

Walt Disney Concert Hall - Blue Ribbon Garden
Walt Disney Concert Hall – Blue Ribbon Garden

Nearly an acre in size, the garden is enclosed by the dramatic, sweeping exterior of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and filled with lush landscaping that blooms throughout the year. The garden features a Frank Gehry designed fountain that pays tribute to the late Lillian Disney and her love for Delft porcelain and roses. The fountain is a large rose covered in thousands of broken pieces from Royal Delft porcelain vases and tiles creating a one-of-a-kind mosaic.

Walt Disney Concert Hall - Blue Ribbon Garden
Walt Disney Concert Hall – Blue Ribbon Garden
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall

Next door to Walt Disney Concert Hall is LA’s newest contemporary art museum, the Broad, the public home for Eli and Edythe Broad’s collection of 2,000 post-war works. The free museum, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, has added yet another cultural anchor to Grand Avenue.

The Broad
The Broad

The building features an innovative “veil-and-vault” concept. It has a porous white exterior with a honeycomb pattern, which is considered the “veil”. Inside this diaphanous case is an opaque mass that hovers midway in the structure; its rounded underside shapes the lobby area, and its flat top surface is the floor of the third-level galleries. This “vault” holds portions of the collection that are not on display.

Little Puffles and Honey thought the museum was a party place! 🙂

Jeff Koons, Party Hat @ The Broad
Jeff Koons, Party Hat @ The Broad

Visual arts are spread far and wide throughout the many museums of Los Angeles. From LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) on the Miracle Mile to the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), in its three locations across the city, including Downtown.

MOCA - Chas Stainless Steel, Mark Thompsons Airplane Parts, About 1000 Pounds of Stainless Steel Wire, Gagosians Beverly Hills Space
MOCA – Chas Stainless Steel, Mark Thompsons Airplane Parts, About 1000 Pounds of Stainless Steel Wire, Gagosians Beverly Hills Space

The mammoth structure with an equally mammoth name, Nancy Rubin’s Chas Stainless Steel, Mark Thompsons Airplane Parts, About 1000 Pounds of Stainless Steel Wire, Gagosians Beverly Hills Space at MOCA, was installed as an outdoor feature at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2001. The sculpture, made of all the parts mentioned in its name including stainless steel wire, airplane parts and more, is one of Rubin’s largest sculptures made of repurposed, recycled, and found objects, spanning over 16.5 meters.

MOCA
MOCA
Grand Avenue - Grand Tower and Wells Fargo Tower
Grand Avenue – Grand Tower and Wells Fargo Centre, One California Plaza and Two California Plaza

Within walking distance of the Performing Arts Centre is the Bradbury Building, the oldest commercial building (1893) remaining in the central city and one of Los Angeles’ unique treasures.

Bradbury Building
Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building’s nondescript, brick exterior belies any sense of significance — a Sprint store and the lingering smell of Subway don’t exactly scream “architectural gem”. Walk through the archway entrance on Broadway, though, and you’re greeted with a stunning, light-flooded alley of wood, iron and brick. Movie buffs will recognize the zigzagging staircases from climax of Blade Runner.

Bradbury Building
Bradbury Building
Bradbury Building
Bradbury Building

The magical light-filled Victorian court rises 15 meters with open cage elevators, marble stairs, and ornate iron railings. The identity of the building’s final architect is a subject of debate. Lewis Bradbury, a mining and real estate millionaire, commissioned Sumner Hunt to create a spectacular office building. Hunt turned in completed designs but was replaced soon after by George H. Wyman, who supervised construction.

According to Wyman’s daughters, he was asked to take over because Bradbury felt that Wyman could understand his own vision for the building better than Hunt, although there is no evidence that Wyman changed the design. Wyman later designed other buildings in the Los Angeles area, but the Bradbury Building (if indeed it was designed by Wyman) was to be his only work of lasting significance, whereas Sumner Hunt went on to design many other notable buildings, including the Southwest Museum.

Bradbury Building
Bradbury Building
Bradbury Building
Bradbury Building

You’ll have to do all of your gawking from the ground floor (and half a flight of stairs) as the rest of the building is private office space.

Across the street from the Bradbury Building is the Million Dollar Theatre.

Million Dollar Theatre
Million Dollar Theatre

The Million Dollar Theatre was named for its then exorbitant price tag. In 1917 showman Sid Grauman commissioned architect Albert C. Martin Sr. to design a theatre for the ground floor of what would become the Edison building, a theatre worthy of a city that was the film capital of the world.

When the Million Dollar Theatre opened on 1 February, 1918, it was hailed as one of the first great motion picture “palaces”, a model for its future sister theatres, the Egyptian and fabled Chinese. Silent stars Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Charlie Chaplin walked under its ornate Churrigueresque terra-cotta arch to attend the opening night premiere, the Mack Sennett comedy, “The Silent Man”. Its success was instant and durable.

Million Dollar Theatre
Million Dollar Theatre

The building is designed in the Chicago style skyscraper and the exterior of the building exemplifies the elaborate Churrigueresque style, named after the 18th century Spanish church architect and sculptor Jose de Churriguera, whose designs favored this type of architectural embellishment.

Joseph Mora, son of the famous Spanish sculptor Domingo Mora, designed the theatre’s façade, which includes bison heads, longhorn steer skulls, allegorical figures representing the arts, and even girls perched on ledges strumming stringed instruments as their legs dangle above the street. The large, scalloped arch over the entrance once framed a stained-glass window, now plastered over.

Million Dollar Theatre
Million Dollar Theatre

Noted theatre architect William Lee Woollett designed the theatre itself. Many of the interior appointments were designed around the 1841 English fairy tale titled King of the Golden River by John Ruskin. The organ grilles, in particular, showcase images lifted from the book, including the evil brothers, the Golden Tankard, the South West Wind, and even the dog cited in the tale.

Million Dollar Theatre Auditorium
Million Dollar Theatre Auditorium

Hanging from the coffered dome ceiling is a chandelier that once hung in the lobby of the Woollett-designed Metropolitan Theatre (now demolished) on Sixth and Hill Streets.

Million Dollar Theatre
Million Dollar Theatre Chandelier

The massive, 30 meters wide balcony in the auditorium was a feat of engineering. It was supported by the world’s first reinforced concrete girder, developed because of a shortage of structural steel during World War I. Permits were withheld pending a stress test of this new engineering technique. With 680 tonnes of sandbags piled across the span, the girder passed the test.

Million Dollar Theatre Auditorium
Million Dollar Theatre Auditorium

In the 1940s, the theatre hosted jazz and big band stars such as Billie Holiday, Artie Shaw, and Lionel Hampton. In the 1950s, the Million Dollar became the first theatre on Broadway to feature Spanish-language variety shows (variedades), including headline acts from Mexico City and Latin America. The theatre served as a leading Latino entertainment venue for decades, featuring variedades and Mexican film premieres.

The lobby has been dramatically altered; the ceiling was lowered, and its walls were covered. Yet much of the lobby’s orignal ceiling and murals (also depicting the King of the Golden River fairy tale) remain intact behind the drop ceiling and walls.

Million Dollar Theatre Lobby
Million Dollar Theatre Lobby

After serving as a church, the Million Dollar was closed to the public. It reopened for performances and special events in 2008, after a year-long refurbishment, and now serves as an event and filming location.

Next door to the Million Dollar Theatre is the Grand Central Market, an European-style food hall that has been operating on the ground floor of the iconic Homer Laughlin Building since 1917, making it Los Angeles’ oldest food market. Even if you’re not there for the food, it’s worth a trip; people from all corners of LA mix and mingle among rows of spices, produce and vintage neon signage.

Homer Laughlin Building
Homer Laughlin Building

The Homer Laughlin Building was the Los Angeles’s first fireproofed, steel-reinforced structure. The original six-story building was designed in 1896 by architect John B. Parkinson. In the 1920s the building served as an office for the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Homer Laughlin Building also used reinforced concrete and the sandbag stress test (56 tonnes) was used to satisfy building inspectors that the floors were of adequate strength.

Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market
Grand  Central Market - Wexler's
Grand Central Market – Wexler’s
Grand  Central Market - Wexler's
Grand Central Market – Wexler’s
Grand  Central Market - G&B Coffee
Grand Central Market – G&B Coffee
Grand  Central Market - G&B Coffee
Grand Central Market – G&B Coffee