November 2, 2019

neon museum
The Neon Museum, SketchCrawl, 10/26/2019 (Graphite on sketch paper)

On the morning of last week’s post I was on yet another SketchCrawl, dubbed the USkLA Brand Boulevard Sketch Walk. Our fearless leader, Virginia Hein, organized a very fun, inspiring and surprising walk up and down Brand Blvd. There were so many firsts for me that day that I actually can’t describe all of them—makes me sound totally unaware of my CA surroundings, right? But our first stop was the Neon Museum, where we sat in the shade beside the building and sketched some old neon signs that are part of the exterior. I focused on the swimmer at the top of the museum—loving her modest swimming suit and swimming cap (women wore such caps many years ago). I was surprised to finally see that the giant Clayton Plumbers neon sign just to the right and off the street was actually part of the museum. I have been past that museum countless times and just assumed there was a plumbing shop back there. I always wondered how to find the entrance to the business, but could never find it. That’s because there isn’t one!

Next, we walked north on Brand for several blocks and stopped at the Alex Theater. The Alex is a landmark here in Glendale and was built in 1925 in the Art Deco and Classical Revival styles. Some of us walked across the street to get a better view of the 100 foot tall art deco column with neon lights topped with a spiked neon sphere. I joined that group, but didn’t post the sketch here as it was just “so so.” I couldn’t quite capture the scale of that 100 foot spire so close up. But no matter, we left a little later and headed south on Brand to an interesting fountain. It was just a bit off the street, but I had never noticed that is was interactive. On a tall building in front of the fountain was a wall of moving lights accompanied with interesting moody sounds. And if you touched some sensors on a platform in front of the wall and fountain, you could change and affect the wall of moving lights. I was again blown away that I hadn’t noticed any of this before, even though I  had walked past this fountain countless times. However, I was glad to check out its coolness for the first time. 

Tower at the Americana, SketchCrawl, 10/26/2019 (pen and ink, Inktense and watercolor pencils on toned paper)

Then it was off to the Americana, where I had yet another first in a very familiar place. This piece was done while sitting at a rather lovely outdoor spot above a central area of the Americana—at a Barnes and Noble bookstore. I had no idea that the third floor of the bookstore had a balcony that opened out to this plaza. What a treat, sitting outside on a balmy mid morning with a whole bunch of my fellow artists. I had been to their coffee area on that floor many times, but just sat at the tables nearby. So, before I took up residence there I went inside and got a cappuccino. Then I went outside and found the perfect spot to sketch. It doesn’t get any better than that. I think I should add that I have always liked the look of this rust colored tower and would love to report that it houses something very amazing. But as it turns out, it is the structure that houses a glass elevator–not very exciting I think. Certainly no Eiffel Tower, right? 

After a time it was time to move along to our last stop of the USkLA Brand Boulevard Sketch Walk. I kind of hated to leave, but vowed to come back for another visit as the plaza was being transformed into a huge holiday shopping miracle. We packed up all our materials and headed back to where we started—the Neon Museum. But this time we didn’t stop at the museum, but went past the Clayton Plumbers neon sign to the Glendale Central Park at the back. And here I saw a first that moved me most that day. Virginia directed us to a corner of the grass to see a statue. It was called the Korean Comfort Women Statue—a statue of peace. Such an unassuming, yet moving statue. Such a thought provoking sculpture. Maybe that’s what great art does, it provokes you in some way. I wish I could do this piece justice with a better description, but I can’t. Google it. You won’t be disappointed. I hope to go back sometime soon to do a sketch. 

So, here’s to a day of wonderful discovery and firsts! Maybe you have had similar experiences where you learned about something in your area you had never heard of before. Take a walk and take a look!

Update on the Southern CA fires… 

I didn’t write about the SoCal fires last week. I just couldn’t bear thinking about it anymore, even though it’s all around me. All the smoke and dust in the air is pretty hard to take—literally and figuratively. On Friday, 10/25/2019, many of the public schools in the northern part of LA were closed because of a nearby fire that had been whipped up by intense winds the afternoon before. When I walked out of my office the afternoon of the 24th (around 3:30) there was a huge wall of smoke on the horizon. So, I immediately went home. I felt momentary relief to be driving away from that mess. But in the early hours of the 28th, the west side of LA caught fire. The area burning there was near the Getty Museum, and the public schools close by were closed a couple days because of the intense smoke in the skies. Then Thursday morning, Halloween day, the Marie fire (near Santa Paula, in Ventura County) exploded. We are all so done with this…

Here’s to peace! And happy birthday to my youngest niece! (I think I owe you a painting.)

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