Relaxing at Plaza Las Fuentes in Pasadena

Currently all the rage, as made popular by Facebook and Twitter, short phrases which complete the idiom “Travelin’ Local is,” are all too common, vernacular, and often times lose the entire context.

However on this previous Saturday, its true meaning was the sine qua non of my visit to Pasadena; it was a day of the week—a workday of guilty pleasures– of walking, photography, relaxing, and discovery of art in our everyday world and life here.

Plaza Las Fuentes

The “Plaza of the Sources” is the direct translation from Spanish into English, of “Plaza Las Fuentes.”

From my visit, it’s obvious that Plaza Las Fuentes is a modern day equivalent of the Piazza’s of Rome or the Spanish Villas from Madrid.

Tile Pool

Although I was originally slated to visit Pasadena’s Old Town, my eye and my heart put that off partly because of what I saw below.

I love the sound of a fountain

This multi-layered fountain and its placement in the foreground of the Plaza, was the work and brilliant design of the world famous landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. The entire courtyard and surrounding grounds is an oasis of art, fountains, architecture, and unique sculptures.

So for this visit, since every picture tells a story, I’ll let the photographs of the Plaza Las Fuentes tell you its own tale:

Pasadena, the City of Roses

With over 80 public art works within a few city blocks, Pasadena is far and away a leader in bringing art into people’s everyday civic life. Above is the sculpture “Pasadena, the City of Roses” by Joyce Kozloff.

City Hall in the Background

With the distinct hexagon shape, color, and design of the Malibu Tile Factory, its frequent display and use takes you to a faraway place; although it’s at the forefront of Pasadena City Hall in the background.

California Pizza Kitchen

As my stomach frequently reads my mind, across from the plaza from the photo above, is a California Pizza Kitchen, with its stable of delivery bicycles for the area’s workers and patrons. What could be better, Pizza, “green” transportation, and a strapping young college guy on a bike delivering your favorite food?

Bubbling Snail

Although I spent over 2 hours in Pasadena this morning, today’s story is but a tiny precursor to everything that the great City of Pasadena has to be enjoyed, celebrated, and appreciated.

As I’m Travelin’ Local more and more, the sights, sounds, and images of my hometown become intertwined with other movers and shakers that view Los Angeles as a treasure to be protected and sustained—rather than the daily newspapers giving us mostly the bad, and the ugly, rather than more of the good.

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A Review of West Coast Drawings VIII at the Koplin Del Rio Gallery

I am pleased to announce that Travelin’ Local has a new arts, culture, essayist, and featured writer. Although he is using his pen name–Tom Jones–in the real world, his vast education and experience are in journalism, literature, law, and film. He is a writer, a thinker and above all, well admired for his ability to put pen to paper and create magic. As Travelin’ Local grows so too will our staff.

Saturday night’s opening at the Koplin Del Rio Gallery, was a multi-artist show to showcase figurative works on paper.

The show was guest curated by Normal Lundin, himself an exhibiting artist and Professor of Art, Emeritus at the University of Washington.

Evelyn Woods, "Lost and Found", charcoal on paper, 48" x 75"

Evelyn Woods, "Lost and Found", charcoal on paper, 48" x 75"

During my brief yet impressionable conversation with the curator, his comments provide context for further insight into the thinking behind the showing:

Before anything else, drawing is number one. Content is secondary to drawing. Realism can have an abstract component, and modernism is based on the here and now. Norman Lundin

The show accomplished its stated goals. The Koplin Del Rio gallery displayed venerable and impressive West Coast artists–and artists on the West Coast–which are fighting fit in more than basic aesthetics.

Elena Del Rio allows the viewer to copiously examine and purchase “state of the states” figurative and realistic based works on paper for any residential, commercial, or industrial space.

Fred Birchman, "Study for Puget Monument - Winter Solstice", 2006, charcoal on paper, 22 1/2” x 30”

Fred Birchman, "Study for Puget Monument - Winter Solstice", 2006, charcoal on paper, 22 1/2” x 30”

The drawings covered a wide range–from nudes, to industrial motifs, to portraits, abstract realism, and frequently whimsical content; in a show like this one “there is creative process we call drawing and another we call painting, then there is that combination where those process overlap.” It was a successful dalliance.

I’m neither puerile nor militant in being an art critic; I expect a marked degree of quality and sparkle before I’m going to give it a thumb’s up.

Saturday night I came away with more than a couple of up-and-coming artists that I would highly recommend to collect and to appreciate.

To achieve good drawing, that’s the focus, and to achieve it—don’t push it. Norman Lundin, Curator

Eric Elliot, "Studio #15", 2008, ink on paper, 22” x 30”

Eric Elliot, "Studio #15", 2008, ink on paper, 22” x 30”

Although some pictures used far too much charcoal on portions of their paper; –the shades and hues afforded by that enormous medium were never questioned, and was raised to a Raison d’Être—by the sketch drawn by Mark Kang-O’Higgins, entitled “Head of Nagle.” (top row, far right)

The figure reminisced of a Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon, or a David Hockney portrait.

The picture draws the viewer in to a marked degree, to conjecture what the person whose portrait was taken was thinking, who they are, and so on—-while the medium of charcoal, is accepted in both its heaviest tonality of all black and with its textures leave you wanting for more.

That’s the mystery and beauty of this show—it’s for us to find what we’re uniquely lured to in a drawing.

West Coast Drawings for both the Seattle Davidson Galleries and in Los Angeles at Koplin Del Rio Gallery

Drawings VIII

Exhibition Dates: July 11 – August 29, 2009

All artists are represented by several works, and a full list will be available at the exhibition or may be obtained by contacting the galleries.

The Participating artists include:

Koplin Del Rio

Juliette Aristides, Fred Birchman, David Brody, Sally Cleveland, Eric Elliott, Gary Faigin, Ann Gale, Philip Govedare, Michael Howard, Katina Huston, Etsuko Ichikawa, Mark Kang-O’Higgins, Philip Levine, Zhi Lin, Margie Livingston, Norman Lundin, Brian Murphy, Ed Musante, Linda Thomas, Kimberly Trowbridge, Evelyn Woods.

Davidson Galleries

David Bailin, Sandow Birk, Hilary Brace, Shay Bredimus, Wes Christensen, Melissa Cooke, Fred Dalkey, David Fertig, Kim Frohsin, Moira Hahn, D.J. Hall, Grant Hottle, Ira Korman, David Ligare, Tim Lowly, Robert Schultz, Fred Stonehouse, Bill Vuksanovich, Michelle Wiener

The Koplin Del Rio Gallery is located at 6031 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232 (310)836-9055

Finding Art on the Beach

When I recently took a trip to the beach, I was amazed to find the wide variety of nature which presented itself. The ebb and flow of the beach’s water and waves creates a perpetual motion that hits nature right between the eyes, which then nature turns into art.

What do you see when you look down at the sand and seashore?

You’ll probably see your feet, but if you look a little harder, you might be surprised. I know I was.

Each of these photos was taken just as I found it; just waiting for me to come along with my camera.

I hope you enjoy the Art on the Beach as much as I did:

Draw Lines in the Sand


Black Seaweed


Nature's Wokders


Small Wonders

(To give you an idea of the actual size of this, I measured this little guy, 3in by 1.5in.)


Sand, Seaweed, and Pink

Like all great paintings and art, you typically always see a new facet of meaning and design aesthetic, you didn’t see the previous time. And each time I look at these pictures, I always discover a new texture, color, sea-shell, or grain of sand I didn’t see before. Now I’m convinced that I don’t have to go to an art museum or gallery to view art:

I can always find it in my own backyard while Travelin’ Local.

I know that many of my readers create their own art:

From the thought provoking and painstaking photography of Kevin, Travis, to Diane C, Lisa, Kim, and Henie, to the literary creative musings of Lance, Paisley, and Urban Panther.

What about you, do you have any art plans this weekend? What art lives in your backyard?

For me, art screams at me every day here at Travelin’ Local, and there’s never enough time to etch my prose and pictures of the many splendorous places I go and things I do; but little by little, what started off as a tiny hobby of mine called Travelin’ Local, is quickly turning into my life’s passion and work.

Architecture as Art

Culver City, a small city within the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, has successfully initiated a program that is designed to give architects a place to show off their innovative and creative work. It’s called Architecture as Art, and features varied and illustrious architects, such as Eric Owen Moss, Tom Farrage, Laddie John Dill, and James Heimann.

All of these pictures were taken within a few block radius; most centering on the Conjunctive Points– which is an industrial/office area located between National Boulevard and Jefferson Street. I was amazed and intrigued at the varied designs:

This is known as the Beehive, built in 1998. Besides the basic structure itself, I found the mounds of grass in its foreground to create additional texture and depth to the structure, substantially adding to the architect’s creativity.

This structure is known as the Umbrella, due to its resemblance to an upside down umbrella. It features a balcony from which the surrounding area can be viewed. Umbrella received the Los Angeles Business Council’s Design Award in 2000 and the AIA/LA Design Honor Award in 1999.

This is the Tennis Channel’s building. I love the combination of glass, metal, brick, and terra cotta creating a multi-dimensional and textured exterior.

Untitled, built in 1997, was the first of Eric Owen Moss’ designs to be approved by Culver City under the “Architecture as Art” program. With the incorporation of older, existing building components, Moss created a new concept by using its original elements.

Located at the Willows Community School, this type of artwork is mounted on several of the various building façade’s, which are on the school’s campus. I love the quilt feel of it.

I don’t know what the end result for this construction will be, but if it’s like anything close to the other buildings—and I’m pretty sure that it will be–I’ll definitely be returning to shoot and document its end result.

Do you have any unusual construction projects in your neighborhoods? How about underground houses, houses with grass roofs, or an office building with an artistic slat?

It’s amazing what little—or big–treasures can be found while Travelin’ Local.

Graffiti is Art

Today, my mission was to find the Venice Art Walls. It’s legal graffiti art, requiring each artist to obtain a permit—essentially murals, to be more exacting.

“Pursuant to LA’s city permits, as of June 3, 2007 anyone who wants to paint on the walls needs to apply for and obtain the requisite approvals. If you don’t, and then paint or mark any surface on the Venice Art Walls area without a permit, you’ll receive a ticket for vandalism by the LAPD or the Park Rangers. You may apply for a permit in person (on-site), over the Internet, or via fax. The physical permit itself will be issued by an on-site Supervisor the day you’ll be painting. Permits are free of charge, and are issued only by ICU Art. Permits are valid for one day only and must be returned at the end of the day.”

Personally, I love the idea that graffiti artists have a legal place to display their skills and to highlight their work. So many of these artists have mad talent but instead of a permit they could and often land in jail or worse for expressing themselves.

Although their medium isn’t considered mainstream quite yet, urban arts are definitely being more and more accepted—the early works of Keith Haring, Banksy, and Basquiat surely helped pave the way for the younger generations.

Because the murals are only allowed to be painting on the weekends, I’m assuming each week, the designs change.

Although, I won’t be visiting this location every weekend, the idea of letting the artists create new art every week is exactly like an outdoor art gallery so you can always find a new artist featured that you may want to learn more about or even to collect other artwork from.

Over the years, the regulations that govern painting on these walls have changed several times. Painting first started in 1961, although technically illegal to paint the walls then, but was generally tolerated by the Police and was loved by the community.

Only in 2000, did it became barely legal to paint on walls; however, the artists had to submit sketches to ICU (In Creative Unity) Art, a Venice based arts organization, in order to be scheduled to paint on one of the four large walls featured here.

But to be frank, this is art at its finest and hippest:


I’m not sure what the regulations are for painting on the trees, garbage cans, or garbage bins may be, but it’s definitely a form of expression.

Stash Maleski, the Director of ICU Art has been curating the Venice Art Walls since 2000, and to this day continues to advocate for the rights of public artists and graffiti artists in general.

Mr. Maleski states, “My goal is to provide opportunities for artists to create great public art in such a way that it will add to our visual environment and be appreciated by the public.”

I must admit my eyes are now wide open to this beautiful and visually stimulating type of art and excited to have discovered something that was always here, but I didn’t know about, until I decided to go Travelin’ Local.