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Category Archives: Exploring L.A.

Off the Beaten Path

One of the things I like most about walking around in a big city is how you can find things that you just zoom past in your car.  A few weeks ago, I had spotted a little treasure barely a block away from the building I work in.  I didn’t remember to take the time out to get a really good look at it until yesterday.

On a little side street between Venice and Washington sits this beautiful example of that distinct architecture style known as Storybook.  It was a trend in the 1920s and 1930s but fell out of fashion after that.  Probably the most famous L.A. example is the Spadena House (or The Witch’s House as it’s been nicknamed) in Beverly Hills.  You may have spotted it in the film Clueless.

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Not many of these homes remain but there are a few.  The one I found has even been designated a landmark.

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It really is like stepping into another world when you find something so out of place like this. Architecture has become so bland and functional.  I really miss ornate and beautiful façades.  It’s nice to see that others are doing their part to make sure these gems stick around for a while.

Here is a sampling of pictures I took on my phone.  I only wish I had had a better camera at the time.

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There were a couple of fountain/ponds.  One had goldfish and the other had turtles.

Spotted this little guy sunning himself on a rock.

Spotted this little guy sunning himself on a rock.

There was the main house, a garage with apartment above and another building in back.

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The staircase beckons me

The staircase beckons me

It was a great reminder to sometimes chart a new course.  We start to wear groves into our daily routines and they are really hard to break out of.  Sometimes, it’s worth it.  And it’s not always about getting there as fast as you can.

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Revisiting the Past

There are always lots of fascinating and beautiful things to see in a big city.  I love old homes and buildings.  So much more attention to detail in every aspect from woodwork to parquet flooring and tiles.  The East Coast has the best of these but Los Angeles has something relatively new that was built to echo something far older than even the United States itself.

The Getty Villa in Malibu was built in the 1970s to house J. Paul Getty’s art collection of antiquities from Ancient Greece and Rome.  It was designed to replicate in as many details as possible a villa from Italy.  If you’re interested, here is a video of the museum’s history.

For those that can’t travel to Europe, it’s a wonderful opportunity to be transported back to a time long forgotten and buried deep beneath ash and mud.  There are tours to educate, or you can just wander about on your own imagining how a day in the life of an ancient Roman one-percenter might have been.

It’s also a great place to try out your hand at photography.  Gorgeous vistas immediately catch the eye but then amble about through the garden, and the details of the place catch one’s attention.  I love really looking at things and seeing what others might have walked past without noticing.

I love the symmetry of the layout.

I love the symmetry of the layout.

A lovely palm explosion

A lovely palm explosion

A covered walkway to grab some shade

A covered walkway to grab some shade

An amusing fountain spout

An amusing fountain spout

I get more interested in even finer details.  A woman sitting directly beneath these didn’t even see them until I pointed them out.

Grapes hung from a trellis canopy

Grapes hung from a trellis canopy

Crazy looking lily pads dot a pond

Crazy looking lily pads dot a pond

Water trickles from a fountain creature's open mouth

Water trickles from a fountain creature’s open mouth

This is how I see the world.  I’m far more interested in the minute than in the grandiose.  For me, God is in the details.

A familiar pattern hidden in tile mosaic

A familiar pattern hidden in tile mosaic

Beauty captured in marble

Beauty captured in marble

A naughty little image at the bottom of a wine cup

A naughty little image at the bottom of a wine cup

After a few hours of roaming, I started to feel a bit like this little guy.

All tuckered out

All tuckered out

But there was so much more to see, so I will return and look some more.

Exploring L.A. – The Clark

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In October, I will begin my 15th year as a resident of the city of angels.  I have been meaning for some time to make more of an effort to see parts of Los Angeles that I don’t normally encounter.  I think I’ve actually made it a New Year’s resolution at least once (probably more).

Well, today I finally took the plunge with a scheduled tour of the William Andrew Clark Memorial Library.  I learned of the library from an article of places in Los Angeles to visit.  I just remember seeing a photo of this room and I knew I had to stand in it.

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Seriously, look at that woodwork.  Here’s the ceiling.

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From the library’s website:

The library and its collections were founded by William Andrews Clark, Jr., and named after his father, who had built a mining fortune in Montana. The son, a prominent Los Angeles book collector and philanthropist, had a house at the corner of Adams Blvd. and Cimarron Street, and from 1924 to 1926 he constructed the present library on the same lot. Shortly afterwards he announced his intention to donate the collection, the buildings, and the property to UCLA. When he died in 1934 the deed passed to the University.

The library is situated smack dab in the middle of the West Adams area.  It’s all walled off and very peaceful inside the complex.  There was a stipulation in the will that there would be no building up so most of the collection is stored underground, in addition to places to read the books/use them for research.

Some of the books are housed in one of two rooms in the back, like so.

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I’ve always been a bit of a bibliophile and libraries are sacred to me.  Along with art museums, they are some of my favorite places to visit when I travel.  The most excellent surprise came at the end of the tour.

In a small connecting room known as the French room, there was a sketch on the wall.  I let out an audible gasp when she told me it was a sketch of Marie Antoinette while she was in prison done by the painter Jacques-Louis David.  He is one of my favorite painters of all time.

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This was just another reason for me to keep exploring.  Who knows was treasures I may find?  I encourage you all to do the same.

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Some great pictures of the outside, including an outdoor reading area.

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Am I the only one absolutely geeked out by a card catalog?  Does anyone even remember this is how you used to find books in the library?  🙂

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This is the amazing entrance, beautiful marble and painted ceiling.

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One more for the road.  This is not sculpture.  It is actually painted onto the wall in one of the library rooms.  Amazing optical illusion.

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