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Artist's Notebook -- Third Street Promenade

September 12, 2009 | 12:00 am


2009_0904_third_street_promenade_550
Third Street Promenade by Marion Eisenmann, Sept. 4, 2009

Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade awakens a bit at a time in the sweet coolness of a summer morning near the ocean. Along the darkened strip of gleaming glass and steel shops -- Armani Exchange, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, Diesel, Urban Outfitters and Foot Locker -- the Starbucks flickers to life. Men with long-handled push brooms sweep the gutters and people selling earrings and jewelry set up their kiosks along the street closed to cars.

The outdoor court at Barney's Beanery fills up with the breakfast crowd while the staff of the restaurant up at the corner unfurls white tablecloths with a quick snap and lays down sets of silverware. Some storefronts are still covered with curtains of steel rods. At others, a manager -- hair wet from a morning shower -- stoops to unlock the front door. At still others, clerks gather in small clusters out front and wait, while at one shop, a man taps on the window to be let in.

People dressed for the weekend heat stroll by, alone or in pairs. A mother and her young child sit pensively at a fountain shaped like a dinosaur and covered with greenery, like the world's biggest Chia Pet spewing water.

The first of the street musicians arrives: a young woman with a guitar who attracts a crowd as she begins singing, her voice floating on the air half a block to the next guitarist. A young man takes out a violin, sets up a music stand and begins playing. Other performers -- displaying their bright pink city permits -- wait in the shade for people to straggle in as a cleaning crew emerges from a store and heads home, wheeling their equipment down the sidewalk as they talk in Spanish.

The day has arrived.

Marion says: "This was a fun incident. I was looking for some street performance and encountered these two young boys playing flamenco, I was attracted to their music and the 'snappers.' The 'spin & win' in the background* I saw a little bit later, it made the sound of what I thought were Kastagnetten (castanets). Moments later an elderly lady passed the young man with her walking device,  causing a scratchy addition to the BG foley.

"Many years ago I saw two black guys there performing tap dance in a hip hop way, super fast. I loved it. Years later I met one of the  brothers in an airplane on the way from Mexico City to L.A. We introduced each other, and I recognized him as the dancer. He now travels, does TV dance competitions and choreographed dance parts for Usher. It's a place with the weirdest and most innovative things before they go mainstream." 

Note: In case you just tuned in, Marion and I are visiting local landmarks in a project inspired by what Charles Owens and Joe Seewerker did in Nuestro Pueblo. Check back next week for another page from Marion's notebook.

By the way, Daily Mirror readers have asked about buying copies of Marion's artwork. Naturally, this is gratifying because I think Marion's work is terrific, and one of my great pleasures is sharing it with readers every week. We have decided that the project is a journey about discovering Los Angeles rather than creating things to sell. Marion is busy with other projects and says she isn't set up to mass-produce prints but would entertain inquiries about specific pieces. For further information, contact Marion directly.


*One store has a roulette wheel offering customers discounts on shoes.







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