L.A. at Home

Design, Architecture, Gardens,
Southern California Living

Category: Art

The Scout: What's new on Pico Boulevard

Brainworks Home Here in the land of shopping malls and stacked garages, it's easy to get excited about an L.A. district where you can park on the street. And walk.

But that’s just one of many reasons why a day spent in Picfair Village is so enjoyable. Long known for auto body shops and hair salons, the stretch of Pico Boulevard between Fairfax and La Brea avenues now stands out for its eclectic — and growing — mix of stores and restaurants with sidewalk seating.

Pico Modern“When I came here, it was myself, Sky’s Tacos, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles and CJs,” said Pinky Rose Charles, who opened her clothing boutique Pinky Rose nine years ago among the restaurants. “Melrose was so saturated I decided to move south.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Pico Boulevard shopping

The stretch of Pico Boulevard had long been predicted to be the next big shopping district, but the renaissance that Charles and others had hoped for was slow to transpire. Only in the last year have four design stores opened, all within a few blocks of one another. A new development, Pico Hauser Plaza, is slated to open this year.

The mix includes Pilates studios, the kosher and gluten-free Breakaway Bakery, an Eco Dog Wash, Mike's Bike and Skateboard Shop, and Cordially Invited, a stationery and gift store that also has a Southern Girl Desserts cupcake bar and ice cream by the scoop from Fosselman’s, the popular Alhambra parlor.

“There is an element of what is current right now in this neighborhood,” said Erin Adams, who opened Brainworks Home in May. Like many store owners, Adams lives in the neighborhood and augments her art consulting business in the back with her elegant storefront featuring vintage wallpaper, doorknobs, switch plates and other hardware, as well as decorative objects and rehabilitated mid-century furniture such as Marcel Breuer Wassily chairs.

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Hotter than hot: Welding lessons for the DIYer

Welding is not for the timid.

Temperatures above 7,000 degrees — Fahrenheit? Centigrade? At that point, who cares? About a gazillion sparks shooting off the grinding tool. And then there’s the warning from our teacher not to wear synthetic fabrics because they could melt right into your skin if they catch fire.

Welding class Paul DavisBesides, it’s physically demanding work. And when was the last time you had to apply sunscreen to work indoors? (The welder gives off enough UV rays to burn skin.)

But my five-hour beginner’s class in welding ($160) was great fun. At the end, I had welded a steel “pillow” and gained some confidence that I could figure out a simple repair and, with help, maybe make something simple.

I learned the basics of arc welding (or MIG, metal inert gas) with five other people in Matt Jones’ cavernous Molten Metal Works studio in Echo Park. It’s the easiest kind of welding, he says, and the equipment to do it can be rented from home supply stores. This is not a class for aspiring structural welders; it’s for artists and DIY metalworkers.

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Watercolor paintings based on Julius Shulman photos

Eames House Amy ParkIf the famed architectural photographs of Julius Shulman sketched a story about California, then New York artist Amy Park has added her own chapter, painting color into images that many of us have seen over and over again.

Park creates large-scale watercolors from architectural photographs, and Shulman's images of California homes and other buildings were inspiration for a show that opens Saturday at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles.

“His photographs capture such an idyllic time in California,” Park said by phone from her studio. “The landscape, the light. It is magical for someone like me who grew up in the Midwest and now lives in New York.”

The painter, originally inspired by the documentary “Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman,” did not work on site or even visit the buildings. She worked exclusively from Shulman's black-and-white photographs, on loan from the Getty Research Institute. Though Shulman’s archive does include color photography, Park chose black-and-white images as a challenge. The colors in her paintings of the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, for instance, are based on her recollection. 

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Artists open studios for Venice Art Walk & Auctions

Gary Palmer Venice Art Walk
Venice artists and architects will open their studios and homes to the public this weekend for the Venice Art Walk & Auctions, the 34th annual fundraiser for the Venice Family free Clinic. Artist Jesse Hazelip will be working on "Hearts of Oak," a live painting and mural installation throughout the weekend on the Red Fort, a Venice landmark built in 1922 and located at 901 Pacific Ave. Other painters, sculptors and photographers will be part of a self-guided tour from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. (That's painter Gary Palmer pictured in his studio at the Distillery.)

Isabelle Alford-Lago Venice Art Walk Painter Isabelle Alford-Lago, known for her human-like gorilla portraits, right, will be featured inside the building at 1320 Main St. The show will include her signature artworks on large oil canvas along with several new pieces.

Alford-Lago's work will be among 400 items donated for a silent auction on Sunday, held at Google Los Angeles, Hampton Drive and Sunset Avenue. The auction runs from noon to 6 p.m. followed by a party until 7:30 p.m.

Self-guided architecture tours run from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. They will highlight homes designed by architects including Neil Kaufman, Steven Shortridge, Molly Reid, Steven Ehrlich, John Frane and David Ritch, whose update of a 1906 bunaglow we featured a few years ago.

Tickets to the Art Walk are $50. Architecture tour tickets are $125. Buy online or register at the Westminster School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. For a full schedule of studio and architecture tours, silent auction and family events, consult the Venice Art Walk website.


Marmol Radziner house 2New Marmol-Radziner house in Venice

Shopper's guide to Abbot Kinney Boulevard

A peek inside a Maya Lin-designed Venice house

A green cube: Venice house planted on three sides

-- Lisa Boone

Photo: Gary Palmer

Painting: "Grandmaster" by Isabelle Alford-Lago


San Simeon style painted onto tiles made of wood

Hearst Celestial Fruitwood 15x15 Margarita Hearst Driftwood Aloe VeraJacqueline Moore, a furniture restorer and decorative painter, felt the recession hit in 2009. Worried about the future of her business, she spent a day walking around Lotusland, the garden near Santa Barbara. She became intrigued by the Malibu tiles she saw there and was inspired to try tiles in her medium -- wood.

“I started sketching. It really kicked my interest,” Moore said one morning last week in her Santa Monica studio.

Using the research skills she gained doing restoration work, she sought out the wood, glazes and sealers that would make her tiles useful indoors and out. Though silver and gold leaf are too delicate for ceramic tile, she said, they can be used on wood.

Each handmade tile, she said, is like lasagna -- layers of Baltic birch and layers of design and finish. Twelve to 20 layers of conditioners, glazes, paints, inks and sealers are on the wood. The final step for each tile is a “secret sealer” to make it durable without altering the appearance. She even submerged some for two months and they were fine, she said.

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Lladró gets hip with Jaime Hayon, Tim Biskup, Devilrobots

The sentimental Lladro figurines have taken a radical leap into contemporary culture with the Guest, top Spanish designer Jaime Hayon Hayon's collaboration with L.A. artist Tim Biskup and the Tokyo design team Devilrobots
This ain't your grandmother's Lladró. The sentimental -- some might say saccharine -- figurines that porcelain collectors have prized for generations take a radical leap with the Guest, pictured above. Working for Lladró Atelier, top Spanish designer Jaime Hayon commissioned L.A. artist Tim Biskup and the Tokyo design team Devilrobots to collaborate on a Red Bull character for a company built on sarsaparilla style.

The large Guests stand about 20 inches tall on lacquered wood bases and sport crazy eyes (Devilrobots), a skull shirt (Biskup) or a tattooed face (Hayon). Created in a limited edition of 250, each sells for $2,800.

Flowers of the seasonThe smaller Guests are about 1 foot tall and are also designed by, from left, Devilrobots, Hayon and Biskup. Each sells for $775 in a numbered, unlimited edition. (By comparison, the bestselling 1983 Lladró piece "Flowers of the Season," pictured here, is $3,500.)

Lladró appointed Hayon as an artistic advisor in 2006. His first collection, Fantasy, included porcelain jewelry, vases and sculptural objects showcasing the designer's mix of classical forms and the graphics found on Japanese vinyl art toys.

Other china and porcelain manufacturers such as Nymphenburg and Rosenthal have updated their offerings by working with contemporary designers too, but Lladró arguably has taken the boldest leap forward.

You can see for yourself. The Guest collection premieres in Los Angeles at an event open to the public from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 13 at Unici Casa, 9461 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City. Lladró President Rosa Lladró and artist Biskup will be on hand to greet guests of the Guest.


CasamaniaScenes from the Milan Furniture Fair

Inside Sunnylands, Xanadu of the California

Centre Street: Apartment living for a modern generation

-- David A. Keeps

Photo credit: Lladró

Sunnylands: Sneak peek inside the Annenberg desert fantasyland

It is the Xanadu of the California desert: Sunnylands, formerly the winter residence of Walter and Leonore Annenberg, he the TV Guide publishing magnate, she the niece of Columbia Pictures chief Harry Cohn, who raised her. On 200 fabled acres now set behind a pink security wall, Walter and Leonore built a 25,000-square-foot house with an art and design collection so singular, no one seems able to estimate its value.

Sunnylands-antique-wallpapePresidents, princes and movie-star friends arrived by helicopter and limousine to golf on the private course, fish in stocked lakes and otherwise luxuriate in the Annenberg fantasyland. Now you can have a glimpse of it too.

On March 1, after a $61.5-million renovation that includes a new visitors center and garden, Sunnylands will open to the public. On view will be the Midcentury architecture by Los Angeles icon A. Quincy Jones, the interior design by the legendary William Haines and his associate, Ted Graber, and, most important, the Sunnylands mystique.

PHOTO GALLERY: Inside Sunnylands, a modern castle in the California desert

Preview tours during Palm Springs Modernism Week quickly sold out. But earlier this month, Geoffrey Cowan, president of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, and curator Anne Rowe led a private walk-through of the storied Rancho Mirage home, one of the Coachella Valley's largest and most historic.

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Palm Springs museum dives into pool culture in 'Backyard Oasis'

Bill Owens "We Don't Have to Conform"
The backyard swimming pool can be an object of desire or a sign of suburban sterility, an icon of the good life or a symbol of its demise. The Palm Springs Art Museum’s new show, “Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography,” looks at these contradictions and provides a revealing peek at this fixture of Southern California life, one that dots the landscape but nonetheless often remains hidden from view.

The photographs, taken from 1945 to 1982, are just plain fun to look at — the exquisite skill of the photographers, pretty bodies in pretty settings, recognizable pieces of recent cultural history. But a closer look uncovers a much more thought-provoking exhibition.

PHOTO GALLERY: ""Backyard Oasis" at the Palm Springs Art Museum

“I had been wanting for a really long time to do a show that looked at cultural geography,” the idea that place is not just its physical coordinates but also “the ideology that makes up people’s imagination of a place,” said Daniell Cornell, senior curator.

Life seems perfect in the 1970 photograph “Poolside Gossip” taken by Slim Aarons — from the pose of a lounging woman and her flip hairdo, to the glassy blue of the generous-sized pool, to the purples and blues of the mountain view.

The group of partygoers in “We Don’t Have to Conform,” a 1971 photograph shown at top by Bill Owens, practically screams Southern California stereotypes. Seven people, drinks in hand, sit in a hot tub with their feet raised at the center, touching, forming a leg tepee.

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Spots Illustrated: Nat Reed's Modern map of Palm Springs

Nat Reed's map of Palm Springs Modern design sights is part of "Postfabricated," an exhibition at a Palm Springs pop-up shop Feb. 17-26 as part of Palm Springs Modernism Week
If Nat Reed's "Palm Springs Modern" map evokes memories of traipsing around the Magic Kingdom jacked up on cotton candy, it's purely intentional. "My inspiration was the Disneyland maps," said the Los Angeles artist, who weekends in a butterfly-roof midcentury home in the desert. "They are certainly not meant to be used for navigation, but to draw you into the Fantasyland of Palm Springs."

Nat Reed's map of Palm Springs Modern design sights is part of "Postfabricated," an exhibition at a Palm Springs pop-up shop Feb. 17-26 as part of Palm Springs Modernism WeekReed will be selling the 24-by-32-inch map as a signed limited edition giclee print ($250 unframed, $400 framed) along with other prints of his giddy midcentury landscapes at "Postfabricated," an exhibition at a Palm Springs pop-up shop open Feb. 17-26 as part of the city's Modernism Week.

The various prints depicting landmarks such as John Lautner's Garcia House (often called the Rainbow House) and the colonnade at the Spa Resort Casino in downtown Palm Springs (a 12-by-20-inch piece, pictured at right, $225 unframed), can also be bought through the Nat Reed website.

Reed grew up in Huntington Beach in the 1960s and 1970s. His maternal grandfather, Eli Hedley, was a tiki carver and interior designer of Polynesian lounges across the U.S. and opened the original Island Trade Store at Disneyland. Reed's father was a set designer for RKO studios.

Reed began showing work in galleries in 2009 and created a large-scale mural for the Peterson Automotive Museum's "Fantasies in Fiberglass" exhibition in 2010. 

His art is inspired by Modernism as well as Googie, the kitschy Atomic Age style seen in coffee shops and bowling alleys. Fans of the artist Josh "Shag" Agle will recognize a similar sensibility, though Reed has a slightly more psychedelic approach to color and form. He also exercises a surrealistic playfulness, plopping Tiki heads atop human forms and painting poodles in toreador costumes perched on midcentury lounge chairs. 

"My art takes me down a garden path," he said, "that is a little more contemplative."

"Postfabricated" is on display from noon to 6 p.m. daily at 388 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; (323) 304-8822. An opening reception runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday.


John Lautner tours during Modernism Week

-- David A. Keeps

Illustration credit: Nat Reed

UCLA Japanese garden supporters meet to preserve public access

UCLA Japanese garden azalea
For those interested in helping the Garden Conservancy, the Los Angeles Conservancy, the California Preservation Foundation and the California Garden and Landscape Society brainstorm ways to keep the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden open to the public, there's a gathering Tuesday. Kendall Brown, an expert on Japanese gardens in America, will discuss the historical importance of the garden, which is scheduled to be put up for sale next month.

The gathering will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Community Magnet Charter School auditorium, 11301 Bellagio Road, Los Angeles. Carpooling is recommended because parking is limited. Reservations: Paulette DuBey of the Bel-Air Assn., (310) 474-3527; [email protected].


Preservationists decry alteration, sale of UCLA garden

-- Emily Young

UCLA Japanese garden
Bel-Air resident Michael rich walks through the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden.

Photos: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times


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