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Imaginary conversation with Moby

I'm back after a long hiatus due to my being a brand new Mom!

Since I still haven’t figured out an alternative to being devoted to my son, I had to live with the status quo of my blog – until now.

Max’s entry in my life shifted all my priorities. His need for love and protection has awakened my innermost instincts. But I gradually became aware that I also owe you – my readers – a new entry in my blog.

So if you’ll excuse my snail-like speed, I’d like to offer you my third story.

I couldn’t leap too far from my favorite topic - Los Angeles.

                                              Photo by  Vladimir Neri , wearing  Eva Culture

                                              Photo by Vladimir Neri, wearing Eva Culture

What makes this entry special is what triggered it: I came across Moby’s blog (http://mobylosangelesarchitecture.com), a while ago, and I immediately I wanted to have an imaginary conversation with him.

So listen up, Moby :).

As many of us know, you are an architecture aficionado and a huge fan of Los Angeles.

You’re a transplant from New York, and by now a rather assimilated denizen of our city. You’re a knowledgeable lover of architecture and I can only guess that in Los Angeles you found a new life-rhythm that fed your creative muse - since the LA experience fundamentally opposes the New York lifestyle.

                                                                     Photo by Sunny Khalsa

                                                                     Photo by Sunny Khalsa

 

In your blog you talk in detail about the evolution that New York City has undergone from the 80’s until now, discussing the changes in what New Yorkers practiced and preached over time, as well.  Cities can change… and so can their residents.

It’s borderline cliché easy to love a universal archetype city like Paris - a metropolis infused with such timeless architecture and beauty. It inspires romance at every turn, and brings out any dormant passion you might have lurking in your heart.

By contrast, loving New York or Los Angeles for the long haul – long past the immediate falling in love with a new city vibe – requires both conscious choice and commitment.

The universal mind agrees that to love Los Angeles takes patience and tolerance.  I think that’s what has been asked of me, and I would fully advise opening your heart to those qualities, to whoever considers living here… You, Moby, did just that.

On the rooftop at  Sixty Beverly Hills 

On the rooftop at Sixty Beverly Hills 

Angelinos are very happy to assimilate new comers. I think you would agree that ambitious people living in big, densely populated cities with diverse cultural dynamics and high expectations are very often tested, broken, or sorely tempted to flee “Gotham“, sizing down and cocooning in a more welcoming, smaller place with slower living.

NY is a city that has defeated many. You don’t see it that way, and neither do I.  Like you, I live in LA because I’m looking for occasional epiphanies within its serial monotony.

New York and me - photo by  Alex Rotaru

New York and me - photo by Alex Rotaru

What struck me while reading your blog was that we both love houses, we love looking for houses, talking about houses and we are dreaming about owning houses we see for sale.

I know you just purchased a dream place in our hood. Congratulations!!! http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/garden/28moby.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Many artists were fascinated with Los Angeles and made it their mirror and canvas, before it was fashionable to do so…  Some were realistic and raw,  while others went beyond – into a dreamlike imagination.

We honor and are proud of having such artists living and creating in the city we love. Ed Ruscha and John Humble are two of my favorites: they romanced and were seduced by Los Angeles at a time where its great expanses were still undeveloped and the definition of bad traffic was more than five Model T’s on the road at the same time :)

 

                                                            Beverly Hills traffic jam -Wilshire and Santa Monica  1920's

                                                           Beverly Hills traffic jam -Wilshire and Santa Monica  1920's

 

                          The Los Angeles River-by  John Humble


 

                       The Los Angeles River-by John Humble

John Humble’s unique talent is the blending of commercial and residential neighborhoods, the intertwined highways and nondescript neighborhoods in a  seamless way.

Here are some glimpses of  Los Angeles by John Humble and Ed Ruscha, two artists that portrayed both its beauty and ugliness, at the time, the world maybe didn`t see them before.

                                            Ed Ruscha photographed by  Denny Hopper

                                            Ed Ruscha photographed by Denny Hopper

Left: Atlantic Blvd, 1965, by Ed Ruscha, gelatin silver print; Right: 6565 Fountain Avenue, 1965, gelatin silver print-both at the J.Paul Getty Museum

   Ruscha's exploration of the incidences of the mundane ( parking lot)-Photo By  Ed Ruscha

 Ruscha's exploration of the incidences of the mundane ( parking lot)-Photo By Ed Ruscha

                                                                                  Lugo Park Avenue     at   Fernwood,   Lynwood, April 20, 1993-photo by  John Humble

                                                                                 Lugo Park Avenue at Fernwood, Lynwood, April 20, 1993-photo by John Humble

Construction I105 1993, photo by  John Humble

Construction I105 1993, photo by John Humble

Los Angeles is its own place, it`s commonly known to unfold the red carpet for the movies, while New York has the reputation for unfolding its carpet for world class art.  Its legendary museums are still front runners, Broadway- still the Temple of Musicals

Although Los Angeles has been diversifying in art galleries and temporary exhibits, concerts, musical events and various spectacles, one aspect I complain about is- the lack of more libraries and neighborhod coffee shops where you can get lost for the afternoon, chewing on some good reading.

Actually, there is one place everyone should check out: It`s called - The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA. 

 

I wonder Moby, if there some coffee shops that you would suggest?

A widespread city creates a giant network, a mingling place for unique, driven souls, making it quite hard to find one’s identity when one first gets off the bus at Union Station J.  As opposed to New York’s overbearing, madhouse daily grind one must accept to survive there, LA’s own brand of multicultural blend of identities enables a choice of a myriad paces of life one can adopt.

For the casual visitor, the lack of a singularly defined city center raises a subtle fear that living without a "nucleus” could make it hard to identify themselves. 

                                   Photo by Vladimir Neri  

                                 Photo by Vladimir Neri 

In by-gone times, it was said that Los Angeles was the place where intellectuals went to ruin themselves. 

Me? I’m grateful to be here every day…  I, too, find hidden layers and new social interactions among the admixture of cultures, the maze of transit lanes, and the magnificently crisscrossed highways….

                                                                                                Photo by Gabriela Oltean

                                                                                                Photo by Gabriela Oltean

Photo by  Gabriela Oltean

Los Angeles- “that bright, guilty place”, as Orson Welles called it….

Just like you, after traveling far and wide in the world, I discovered the art of living in Los Angeles.

 

THE ALCHEMY OF STYLE: STARCHITECTURE IN THE CITY OF ANGELS

 

Welcome to my blog, weary internet traveler,

 

Getty Center

Getty Center

It’s been my desire for a long time to start a dialog with art and design lovers, on a platform more personal than generic social media - a vision board where we can pin ideas of beauty, practicality and good design; I finally did it!

I want this blog to showcase my passion for life lived stylish and fun, and I’d like to share with you what moves and inspires me.

There is no better subject to start with than my love for my adopted city, Los Angeles. L.A. is an enigma in its diversity, and I’d like to put the accent on its architecture, which I believe gets less credit than it’s due. 

For good reason, the majority of the world thinks of L.A. as the land of possibilities; some due to the prospect of global fame while beaming on a movie poster, others due to the promise of freedom to experiment life in a wide variety of ways and - as a result - to be inspired and excite the imagination of people all around the planet through innovation in the arts or technology.

However, what fascinates me in comparison to the majority of the American cities that honor tradition and history is how the “architecture-scape” of Los Angeles doesn’t seem to be regulated by strict boundaries. Many apparent contradictions seem somehow appropriate and at home here. Maybe because Los Angeles has a relative short history, lacking the urban excitements of European cities…? Or maybe it’s something else, something far more mysterious and exciting.  

The bombing of  Los Angeles Times Building  
 Los Angeles Building

 Los Angeles Building

As a student of this city, on my own time as well of during my years of history studies at UCLA under the guidance and talent of the magnificent Eleanor Schapa, I always felt the fascination of a different kind of freedom that exists right here in California: the freedom to build. 

 Once you start unraveling its secrets, this city is a true Zona Franca of architecture, a place where dreams can not just come true, but be built above land.  Xanadu!

 I love architecture, so I always look at houses as I drive, dreaming about owning someday just the perfect one; a place of life enchanted, where I can take refuge after escaping our notorious traffic.

 Architects in Los Angeles have succeeded in capturing our imagination and fulfilling their dreams by pursuing ideas of expressive, intimate and sensual design, human and vibrant - whether their buildings are classical, Art Deco, streamlined, Mid-Century, contemporary, renovation projects, green and sustainable… or just plain quirky!

 

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      Frank Gehry ’s  Binoculars Building  in Venice Beach

Frank Gehry’s Binoculars Building in Venice Beach

From early on, Los Angeles was a perfect setting for architects to express themselves in singular harmony their international sense of style.

 From a bungalow or hacienda in Hollywood filled with Bohemian, eclectic taste - colorful tiles and painted, exposed wood beams - to the elegant ranch surrounded by acres of land or the vine-covered hillside mega-mansion with arresting views of Bel-Air, Malibu or Beverly Hills, filled with art and antiques that make you feel not only in a different country but also in a different century, to the stark and skeletal Mid-Century homes, where indoor-outdoor living is at its best - the city has to offer many unmatched, unexpected sites in the geography of style and taste.

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    Lovell House , by  Richard Neutra

Lovell House, by Richard Neutra

Oscar Niemeyer  designed this international style office building in 1967

Oscar Niemeyer designed this international style office building in 1967

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      Rudolf Schindle r‘s Kings Road House, the precedent for California Modernist Architecture

Rudolf Schindler‘s Kings Road House, the precedent for California Modernist Architecture

Schindler strived for reinvention and use of new materials and there was always a consistency in his principles of design and spatial characteristics

 Schindler collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright, being sent by him from the Chicago studio to oversee the building of the Hollyhock House. Ever since then, in 1920, he decided to stay and built his own practice.

 

 

     Frank Lloyds Wright 's Hollyhock house,  Barnsdall Park

 

Frank Lloyds Wright's Hollyhock house, Barnsdall Park

 Ennis House is one of my favorite landmarks in Los Angeles. It is one of Lloyd’s last “textile block” houses, a Mayan Revival style and it known for housing many film productions including 1982’s ‘Blade Runner’. According to Discover Hollywood.com, the home is 6,000 square feet and has canyon and ocean views.  Imagine coming home to this living space… *Sigh*

FLW's  Ennis House

Schindler influenced many architects of his day and ours - from Richard Neutra to Morphosis: an architecture firm founded in 1972 with a philosophy based on producing work with a meaning while absorbing the culture for which it was made. They are famous for breaking the bounds of traditional forms.

Caltrans District 7 Headquarters  by  Morphosis

Caltrans District 7 Headquarters by Morphosis

 Team Eames

 Team Eames

In my opinion, the ultimate powerhouse of architectural and design creativity and the perfect symbiosis of love and work is the couple Charles and Ray Eames, who taught so many about the Universe with their great film Powers of Ten .

Charles,  partner and friend of architect Eero Saarinen and a big advocate for modern views in architecture, (sources claim that he was dismissed from Washington University in St. Louis for his advocacy of Frank Lloyd Wright and his interest in modern architects-thank you Wikipedia!), married his Cranbrook colleague, Ray, and moved with her to Los Angeles, where they would work and live until their deaths.

  Eames House   (Case Study House # 8) -a milestone of modern architecture.

 Eames House (Case Study House # 8) -a milestone of modern architecture.

 Eames Living Room

 Eames Living Room

 

  

The Chemosphere is “the most modern home in the world,” designed by John Lautner in 1960, the home which is only one story and is built on a concrete pedestal. 

 

John's Lautner 's  Chemosphere House

John's Lautner's Chemosphere House

And now, one of my favorite guilty pleasures: The Getty Center, this hilltop site with arresting views of the street-grid of the city and the Pacific Ocean, from where Angelenos reflect on the blessing of their globe positioning, and visitors can take in prominent features of the Los Angeles cityscape.

Richard Meie r's Getty Center

Richard Meier's Getty Center

 Architect Richard Meier interplays a horizontality reminiscent of the work of Rudolf Schindler, Richard Neutra, and Frank Lloyd Wright, intermixed with curvilinear design elements, like the circular Museum Entrance Hall and the canopy over the Harold M. Williams Auditorium entrance – both of which call to mind the Baroque. 

This is only the beginning of our journey, web traveler. I invite you in the times to come on a trek through my world: the City of Angels seen through my eyes.  The freedom afforded to Star Architects is not entirely unique to Los Angeles: Sidney, Toronto, London, or Astana come to mind, as well - but it’s the unique combination of the sweet climate of the land, mellow temper of the people, and the unbridled creativity, budgets and egos of the City’s moguls, and last but not least the men and women of the local industry come to be known globally as “Hollywood” that make my City of Angels a creuzet for a truly special Alchemy of Style the whole world can’t ever look away from.

 Come back and visit for the next step in this journey of initiation…

 Gabby