The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: Marion Eisenmann

Artist's Notebook -- Huntington Gardens



2009_0909_huntington_01


The Huntington Gardens by Marion Eisenmann

2009_0909_huntington_02


The Huntington Gardens by Marion Eisenmann

2009_0909_Huntington_003


The Huntington Gardens by Marion Eisenmann

Marion Eisenmann and I were going over some of her recent work and this caught my eye: A page of value studies she did earlier this month at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens to prepare for classes she is giving. These are three of the six studies that were on one page.

I always enjoy the time I spend roaming the grounds at the Huntington. My favorite place to watch people is on one of the benches beneath the wisteria on the hill overlooking the Japanese gardens. There are several koi ponds there and I think I have heard people say "Look at those huge fish!" in every language known to mankind.

Marion says: I did these value studies instead of preliminary pencil sketches to capture the light of the multiple layers of plants before working in color. I used a brush versus a pencil in order to not get so much into the detail of the scenario in front of me, but focus more on the light situation, contrast and composition. I like the silhouetted and layered feel of these studies, they remind me of little miniature theater stages.

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.




Artist's Notebook -- Pasadena



Green_hotel_color_thumb

Castle Green, Pasadena, by Marion Eisenmann
Marion sends her impressions of one of Pasadena's more unusual landmarks, the truncated remains of a bridge -- demolished in 1929 -- over Raymond Avenue that once connected Castle Green with the Hotel Green. Castle Green has been converted to apartments, with ballrooms on the first floor that are frequently used for weddings and receptions.

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.


 

Coming Attractions -- Marion Eisenmann



July 10, 2009, The Huntington The Huntington Gardens, Marion Eisenmann, July 10, 2009

Marion Eisenmann, who contributes artwork to the Daily Mirror, is giving classes on Plein Air watercolor painting on the next two Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Further information is available at (626) 405-2128.

Artist's Notebook -- Third Street Promenade



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.







Artist's Notebook -- Santa Monica/Malibu




2009_0830_santa_monica_malibu02_thumb
Santa Monica/Malibu by Marion Eisenmann, Aug. 30, 2009

Wildfires burning out of control in the mountains north of the city might be churning clouds of smoke over the simmering Los Angeles Basin, but rather than stay indoors, many people are still heading to the beach.

I had an appointment in Santa Monica on Saturday morning at 9, and even at that hour, traffic on the westbound 10 was heavy with vehicles of all kinds carrying a surfboard or two on the roof. I never thought of a shiny, black Lincoln Town Car with vanity plates as a surf wagon, but I saw one with a board on top headed for the coast.

My first glimpse of the ocean is always the gray horizon at Pico and Main. Down Main a block or two, I hit the brakes as a young man with a wax-encrusted board darted across the street,  only half-aware of traffic, with his gaze fixed toward the bay. The young woman with him, carrying a mat, trailed a few steps behind.

Marion says: The beach was busy, and even here people were still concerned about  the air they are breathing these days. It was really just an escape from smoky Pasadena.

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.

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.

Artist's Notebook -- Pasadena City Hall





2008_0906_pasadena_city_hall_thumb

Pasadena City Hall by Marion Eisenmann, Sept. 6, 2008

Marion sends her impressions of this Pasadena landmark, which was closed for a major restoration and renovation after being badly damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake and the 1991 Sierra Madre quake. As part of the work, the building's substructure was replaced with a system of base isolators to insulate it from further seismic damage.

Now that the retrofitting is done, the 1927 building sparkles like new, especially when it's lit up against the night sky.

Marion says: It is probably not the most accessible view of the Pasadena City Hall, yet the sky-high cypresses emphasize the monumental value of the architecture behind them.

There is no palm tree in the drawing, because there was none standing there, which is uncommon for a site in Pasadena. Just a few weeks ago I was commissioned to do a painting of the San Gabriel Mountains viewed from Pasadena. The person paid the full amount up-front and asked me to leave out the palm trees, she didn't like them. This just came to my mind, while I thought about the production of this pencil sketch. That's funny, no?




2009_0808_union_station_thumb

"Union Station"
2009_0808_olvera_street_thumb

"Olvera Street"

By the way, Daily Mirror readers have asked about buying copies of Marion's artwork. Naturally, the interest is gratifying because I think Marion's work is terrific and one of my great pleasures is sharing it with readers every week.

When we began this project, it was without any thought of sales so Marion and I hadn't discussed the matter until now. We decided that the project is still new and evolving, and that it's a journey about discovering Los Angeles rather than creating things to sell. Working as an independent artist, Marion is busy with other projects and says she isn't set up to mass-produce prints but she would entertain inquiries about specific pieces.

For further information, readers should contact Marion directly.

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.


Artist's Notebook -- Olvera Street



Aug. 8, 2009, Olvera Street, Marion Eisenmann

Olvera Street by Marion Eisenmann, Aug. 8, 2009

To visit the old Plaza is to stand at the crossroads of the city's past and present -- and maybe even its future. I wonder what the preservationists who envisioned "a Mexican street of yesterday in a city of today" -- like a Colonial Williamsburg with sombreros and castanets -- would think of the crowded sidewalks and live performances with calls of "Viva Mexico!"

Talking about Olvera Street is a bit like the old fable of the blind men describing the elephant. To some, it may be the parade of proud parents with their beautifully dressed little girls in their christening outfits headed for church, or perhaps it's the teenagers, in elegant quinceanera outfits, posing for pictures. Maybe it's one of the restaurants, the life-size burro on wheels used in the souvenir photos, people lounging around the bandstand listening to live music, the ringing bells of the pushcart vendors or the booths selling masks, marionettes and miniature guitars. I even found a Frida Kahlo mesh shopping bag for sale at one stall.

In writing about the 1920s preservation campaign, led by Christine Sterling, The Times often underscored the contrast between humble, old Olvera Street, "a highway of memories," and the nearby, modern City Hall, dedicated in 1928 and topped by the Lindbergh Beacon.

Now, we stand about as far in history from the opening of City Hall as its construction workers did from the time when the American Army occupied the Avila Adobe in 1847. It's an interesting point of departure for a long conversation -- for another time, although I wonder what they'll say about Disney Hall in 80 years. 

Marion says: What I liked about drawing this place and spending time there are my personal memories connected with Hispanic culture. Some couples, the ladies in colorful and layered dresses, danced quebrada.

People were very friendly and showed interest in what I was doing and how I was doing it, a few homeless people stopped by too, not to leave out the security, who moved out from their shady spots to inquire what I was sketching and what for. I normally don't choose a position in the full sunlight, but I thought where I settled was just right. I put on a spf 50.

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. [By the way,  the Plaza was one of their favorite subjects and they did several entries on various buildings]. Check back next week for another page from Marion's notebook. In the meantime, you can contact Marion here.



Artist's Notebook -- Union Station



2009_0808_union_station_thumb

Union Station by Marion Eisenmann, Aug, 8, 2009

Marion sends her impressions of Union Station, the crossroads for countless travelers since it opened in 1939. Think of how many people have rushed through the station to catch their train -- and how many more have spent tedious hours waiting to leave or anxiously anticipating someone's arrival. The nation no longer travels by rail as it once did, but I still feel a spirit of adventure whenever I see the sign: "TO TRAINS."

Marion writes: This place is interesting, what I mean by it are its visuals, sound 
and situations. Back in Germany I commuted a lot by train, I am glad I only joined these people on their wait, for a quick sketch, I then took the Metro home. I like the acoustic, the cave-like shelter and cool.

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. In the meantime, you can contact Marion here.



Artist's Notebook -- Vista del Arroyo Hotel



2009_0731_pasadena_view_thumb

Vista del Arroyo Hotel by Marion Eisenmann, July 31, 2009
This week, Marion Eisenmann sends a view from the Rose Bowl of one of Pasadena's old landmarks, the former Vista del Arroyo Hotel, which houses the Southern California headquarters of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Marion drew this sketch from a small bridge over the concrete river channel just south of the Rose Bowl, where joggers, bicyclists and people walking their dogs circle the stadium.

She says: "I liked the contrast of that fallow concrete river overgrown by a variety of plants framing the building, which is always higher up than its viewer no matter from which direction you look at it. That spot is one of my favorites to look at it, but there are a few others, more hidden."

::

Begun by Emma C. Bangs in the 1880s as a wood-frame building, the hotel was repeatedly expanded, renovated and transformed, most notably in the 1920s and '30s. In 1943, armed with a court order, the Army took over the hotel and evicted the guests, quickly converting the building to McCornack General Hospital. 

Defense Secretary James Forrestal closed the hospital in 1949, but the U.S. refused to release the property to private hands, using it for a variety of purposes while allowing it to decay despite the city of Pasadena's continuing attempts to wrest it from government control. For a brief time, it looked like the hotel would be sold to nearby Ambassador College, which has since closed, but it in 1979, the government decided to renovate the building for the 9th Circuit. The building has been named the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Court of Appeals in honor of the judge who helped lead the campaign for preservation.

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. In the meantime, you can contact Marion here.

Artist's Notebook -- MacArthur Park



2008_0624_macarthur_park_thumb

MacArthur Park by Marion Eisenmann, 2008
This is a piece Marion did last year of MacArthur Park, which is only one Red Line stop from downtown, but a world away. On one corner, a 24-hour check-cashing business does a brisk trade in wiring money to Latin America. Vendors on the crowded sidewalk between the Metro station and 7th Street offer shoeshines, wallets, belts, votive candles and all sorts of other merchandise. Sometimes there's a street corner evangelist with a megaphone shouting "Jesucristo es el SeƱor!" I'll always remember the first time someone tried to sell me "papeles" (immigration papers) on my way to Langer's Deli at 7th and Alvarado, as if I look like I need them. (Note for vegetarians: Mama's Hot Tamales Cafe is half a block away).

Marion says:  I mainly feel attracted to this place because of its variety in colors shapes and other atmospherical reasons. Also, it feels a bit like the pulse of the area, people are gathering around the lake, a green and filthy "paradise," and the surrounding streets connect it with Koreatown, Downtown, Echo Park, and Hollywood.

Note: If you just tuned in, Marion and I are roaming Los Angeles to produce something similar to what Charles Owens and Joe Seewerker did with Nuestro Pueblo in 1938-39. I'll have another sketch by Marion next week. In the meantime, you can contact her here.





Artist's Notebook -- Pasadena Ice Skating Center



July 17, 2009, Pasadena Ice Skating Center
Pasadena Ice Skating Center by Marion Eisenmann, July 17, 2009.

Young skater Emma Linde puts on a show.

Los Angeles has had a hot spell for the last week so I gave Marion a list of alternatives to Travel Town, which has an old streetcar I think would be an interesting subject--except that it's outdoors. We settled on the Pasadena Ice Skating Center, which was a pleasant way to spend a hot Friday afternoon.

The rink was once a ballroom and it retains many grand features, including elaborate chandeliers and large windows, which make a peculiar contrast to a big Zamboni waltzing around as it smooths the ice for the skaters. 

I got there a bit early and waited at the entrance with a dozen or so youngsters, evidently from summer camp, who were eating their lunches in the shade and waiting for the center to open. I noticed one of the young girls zipping around on a pair of shoes that have wheels in the soles like roller skates but I didn't give it much thought.

Once they got on the ice, it was a different story. The boys slowly groped along the outside rail, mostly keeping their balance but occasionally falling and sometimes a bit hard.

In the middle of a slowly circling herd of kids was an astounding girl of 9 who put on a fantastic show in the center of the rink -- like a tiny ice princess in a little skirt and pink sweatshirt.

It turned out she was the girl with the roller shoes and she put on quite a show for us; the first time I saw her skating backward at a pretty good clip I could hardly believe it. She was working with a coach named Scott Carson, a 1973 national gold medalist, who was in an oversized bright red parka, and like an opera singer who is "marking" in rehearsal, he made slight hints of movements that she carried out in full gestures. We watched her go through all her turns and polish what was clearly the big finish of a routine she was rehearsing. If I didn't know better, I would have thought I was watching a miniature adult. 

We learned afterward that her name is Emma Linde and she was getting ready for a competition in Burbank. Carson told me later that she placed first in her group and I wasn't at all surprised.

The fate of skating in Pasadena remains uncertain. The rink is moving out next year (in fact, I had the mistaken impression that it was already closed) and is hoping to build a new home. The Pasadena City Council will discuss the future of a new skating rink at 4 p.m. July 27, More information is here>>>

And, yes, in case you're wondering, Marion took artistic liberties by leaving out the Plexiglas shield around the rink. I plan to have more of her artwork in the future. In the meantime, you can contact her here.

Artist's Notebook -- The Huntington Gardens



2009_0710_marion_eisenmann_huntington_472

Watercolor by Marion Eisenmann
Marion stopped by the Huntington on Friday and did this before we went on a sketching expedition to Grand Central Market. (More on that in a later post). 

She says: Here is the bench at the Huntington I have been wanting to capture for a long time. I was sitting in the shade of a large tree across from it, where squirrels dropped all kinds of things at me. I felt very connected with their habitat.

As we talked about her watercolor on our walk down Hill Street, she mentioned as a footnote that she would be teaching a class at the Huntington this fall on plein-aire painting. (Me: "Do you do plein-aire painting, too?" Marion, as if I were asking whether she could drive a car: "Oh, yes.").

I hope to feature more of Marion's art on the Daily Mirror in the future as a modern counterpoint to Charles Owens and Joe Seewerker's Nuestro Pueblo. In the meantime, you can contact her here.


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...



Recent Posts
The Daily Mirror Is Moving |  June 16, 2011, 2:42 am »
Movieland Mystery Photo |  June 11, 2011, 9:26 am »
Movieland Mystery Photo [Updated] |  June 11, 2011, 8:06 am »
Found on EBay 1909 Mayor's Race |  June 9, 2011, 2:33 pm »


Categories


Archives