Monday, July 24, 2017

Neon Tour of Los Angeles

Neon in Chinatown, L.A.

On Saturday night, Larry and I boarded the double-decker bus with docents from the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) in downtown Los Angeles for a tour of some historic neon lights in the City of Los Angeles. We knew a few people on the tour as well as our tour guides, Eric and Celeste. 
Larry with Celeste Hong and Eric Evavold of MONA at the entrance to Y.C. Hong's Law Office

It wasn't quite sundown at 7:15 when we arrived in Chinatown. The neon outlining the fanciful architecture of this area is quite wonderful at night. We were in Chinatown for a rare viewing of Y.C. Hong's law offices. Celeste is the granddaughter of Mr. Hong and arranged for us to see his pristine 1938 offices in the center of Chinatown. 
Y.C. Hong was the first Chinese-American attorney in Los Angeles. He also played a major role in the development of "new" Chinatown when the original Chinatown was displaced by the construction of Union Station in the late 1930s. You can read about this amazing man HERE. We were not allowed to take photos inside his second floor law office, but it was a perfect example of art deco and moderne office design with a Chinese aesthetic. Thank you, Celeste for arranging this historic visit as part of our tour!
Restored neon at the Hotel Californian

For the remainder of the excursion, our tour guide, Eric told us stories of 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s Los Angeles with regard to its architecture and neon signage. 
Hotel Normandie, home of the resurrected Cassell's Burgers

We traveled through the Westlake section of town, past MacArthur Park to Koreatown/Mid-Wilshire and more. 
Park Wilshire Apartments

Iconic Bullock's Wilshire Department Store
Wiltern Theater

We stopped at the former Windsor Restaurant (now The Park), next door to what was The Ambassador Hotel. The decor of this place is frozen in time. LOVE that red-flocked wallpaper! Some of us had a cocktail and surveyed the interior before boarding the bus back toward downtown.
Interior of The Park Restaurant, formerly The Windsor

Here are a few more of the beautiful signs that we saw, ending up in the theater district, riding down Broadway.

Oh yeah, THAT sign!

Mayan Theater

Nice to see that this store maintains this gorgeous neon marquee

The best part about this neon cruise was sitting in the top of that convertible double-decker bus, viewing Los Angeles from this vantage point.
Here's a cool video of our bus riding through the Second Street tunnel!

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Marciano Art Foundation

Scottish Rite Temple aka Marciano Art Foundation

Today we visited the Marciano Art Foundation in the former Scottish Rite Temple on Wilshire Boulevard in Windsor Park...just east of the Miracle Mile. I've admired this building for decades, being an admirer of its designer, Millard Sheets. We been on extensive Sheets building and art tours over the years, so I was super interested in seeing the inside of this building. There are very few windows in the Temple, alluding to its air of mystery. The Masons are a "secret" society...more mystery!

3rd Floor Gallery

Yes! The art inside is fabulous! There were duplicate pieces and modern artists that we saw yesterday at The Broad Museum. The building is rather large. The main auditorium seated over 2,000 people at one time! Everything, the seats, stage, etc. has been removed to provide space for the art collection. 
There were paintings done on the various stage backdrops. These were mammoth installations!
Painting on existing stage back-drop by Jim Shaw

My new fave, Wonder Woman!

Artist, Jim Shaw, re-imagined the "Wig Museum." Read about it HERE
Jim Shaw's re-imagined wigs

Now THAT'S a Bee-Hive Hair-Do!
Emma Diamond is a Visitor Services Associate at The Marciano! I know her folks.

After checking out more of the first floor, we zoomed up to the mezzanine to see the actual collections left there by the Masons. The Relic Room was fascinating. There were wigs, costumes, notebooks and records of the Free Masons in Los Angeles, as well as photographs. 
The Relic Room of the Free Masons

I spied one particular photo of the Masons of 1960. I thought I might recognize a name or two and I did! Over on the left side is the comedian and band-leader, Mickey Katz! (No relation to my Katz family), HOWEVER, I knew Mickey's wife, Grace. She was the aunt of my former boss at 20th Century Fox, Lee Zuckerman. I used to talk to Grace on the phone all the time. I even visited her once at her apartment in Westwood. Mickey Katz was the father of actor, Joel Grey. It's a small world!
Actor, Comedian, Band-Leader, Mickey Katz was a Member!
We proceeded to the third floor of the Museum to view the rest of the collection. WOW! This is quite an interesting place to visit. 
Painting by Takashi Murakami

Once again, we were most interested in the actual building and asked about a mosaic that designer, Millard Sheets had created. We found the mosaic of woodland creatures BEHIND a huge wall. I was sad that we could not get a great view of this work of art. Really, come on, Marciano Brothers, I know you have a big collection, but this permanent piece deserves some love!
Mosaic by Millard Sheets, 1961

After seeing a beautiful mural in the bookstore, also by Millard Sheets, we were ready to leave. 
Bookstore Mural by Millard Sheets

I definitely recommend viewing this museum!
Free Mason Mosaic by Millard Sheets on the east exterior of the building

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

The B*E*S*T Day!

The Broad Museum

Today, for my actual birthday, Larry and I had big plans! We drove downtown to The Broad Museum this morning. The Broad has been there for over a year, but we still hadn't visited. We've seen much of Broad's art collection over the years at various museums, but we really wanted to see the actual building. 
The Broad building is a nice compliment to Disney Hall across the street. I love the honey-bee exterior.

There was a very interesting installation by Yayoi Kusama called, "Infinity Mirrored Room--The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away."
It was rather disorienting being inside. Luckily, we were only allowed to be inside for 45 seconds!
Larry and Ellen in the Infinity Mirrored Room
We rode up the longest escalator ever to the second floor to see the artwork that screams, BROAD COLLECTION!
The Infinite Elevator
The Basquiat
The obligatory big table shot
Our favorite Ed Ruscha painting
I really like The Broad. The collection is magnificent and the museum is manageable. After about 2 hours, we weren't tired out. Perfect.
Time for lunch!
Thursday is chicken pie day at Taix, so that's where we had a delicious, serene lunch! Everything was divine.
Caesar Salad
Chicken Pie, Country French Style
After resting a bit at home, we hopped on the Expo Metro Line to downtown Santa Monica. We topped off the day by seeing "Wonder Woman."  WOW! She really is wonderful!

Wonder Woman!
We picked up a couple of delicious tacos after the movie and hopped on the Metro toward home.
Yes! It was a perfect L.A. day! Thanks, Larry AND thanks to everyone who wished me a happy day on Facebook and Instagram! I so appreciate your good wishes.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The New Proud Bird

The Old Proud Bird, 1967, Hacienda Style Architecture

Today as part of my Stay-Cation activities, my good friend, Rhoda and I visited the new Proud Bird right near the L.A. Airport. The Proud Bird was built as a restaurant with LOTS of aerospace memorabilia, including real airplanes on the grounds. We used to go there for drinks and to watch the planes taking off and landing at the airport. It was a Spanish Hacienda style building, circa 1967. 
Rhoda at the new Proud Bird, hangar style, high-tech architecture

It was always fun sitting on the elegant tiled patio overlooking a grassy area with vintage small planes while having a drink. The constant roar of the landing planes at nearby LAX was part of the atmosphere.
The former patio and grassy area with vintage airplanes
The former, elegant dining area

Today, the Spanish Hacienda style building has been changed to resemble a rather large hangar and silo. Instead of a serene restaurant and bar, there is a noisy food court and clattering bar area. The food choices are good. We had delicious barbecued brisket from Bludsoe's. The comfy, wood paneled bar is gone and so is the vintage vibe.
The new food court area
Delicious Brisket and Cole Slaw from Bludsoe's BBQ

Entrance to the new Proud Bird

The aerospace memorabilia is still there, now displayed in upgraded areas. The old planes are still there, but they don't water the lawn, so the little ol' planes are sitting in the dust. They don't feel as approachable.
New display area

Airplane Memorabilia

Proud Bird History Display

On the whole, I'd go back to the Proud Bird for a quick lunch, but I wouldn't plan my retirement party or wedding there. The glamour is gone.

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