Saturday, August 22, 2009

Inglewood History of Transportation Mural

Southern California Modernist artist Helen Lundeberg (1908-1999) designed the History of Transportation Mural in Inglewood in 1939 as a project of the Works Progress Administration. The mural is 8 feet high, 240 feet long, and is comprised of 60 mosaic panels mounted on a curved cast concrete wall.

The mural depicts the historic inhabitants of the Centinela Valley including Native Americans, Spanish Missionaries, and Anglo settlers. The mural shows forms of transportation including walking, ox-drawn carriages, steam trains, automobiles, and airplanes.

The History of Transportation Mural is made with petrachrome mosaic, a process designed by the WPA specifically for California's hot, sunny climate. Petrachrome mosaics were made with colored, crushed stones embedded in tinted concrete mortar. The WPA designed the petrachrome process to be labor intensive so that the projects would employ a large number of laborers and artisans. The Inglewood mural is one of the last remaining petrachrome artworks in the country.

Here is a detail depicting a boy on horseback waiving at two girls in an ox-drawn cart:
Spanish Missionaries on horseback in the background:

By the 1990s, the mural was severely damaged from weather, pollution, car collisions, and vandalism. The City of Inglewood and a variety of preservation groups raised $1 million in grants from the Getty, the California Heritage Fund, the California Cultural Historical Endowment, and other private donors for a major restoration and re-installation that began in 2001 and was completed in 2007.

The Inglewood transportation mural is appropriately located just a few miles East of LAX International Airport.

Here are some closer details from the mosaic. Some of the color areas are delineated with thin, inlaid brass outlines.

Here is an even closer view which shows the crushed stone embedded in the tinted mortar:

The History of Transportation Mural is located at the corner of Manchester Boulevard and Grevallia Avenue across the street from Inglewood High School just a few blocks away from Randy's Donuts. There is more information about the mural, the restoration effort, the petrachrome process and artist Helen Lundeberg available on the City of Inglewood's website.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Zuma Beach

From the southernmost tip of Zuma Beach in Malibu, there is a nice 4-mile walk that goes over Point Dume peninsula and along several pretty coves. Here is the view south from the top of Point Dume:

When we did this walk, we saw spear fishermen, scuba divers, surfers, rock climbers, pelicans, anemones, two seals, a starfish, and a beach wedding. Here is a view from the top of the stairs down to Zuma Cove:

Directions to the Point Dume hike are available on the Local Hikes website.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Randy's Donuts

Randy's drive-through donut shop is one of the most iconic examples of mid-century "programmatic" architecture, in which the shape of a building represents the product sold at the location. This style of roadside architecture was particularly popular in Los Angeles in the 1950s and was designed to be easily readable from the freeway.

Randy's was built in 1953 as part of the Big Donut Chain, a series of drive-through donut shops which included locations in Culver City, Van Nuys, and North Hollywood. The Randy's giant donut is 32.5 feet high (9.9 meters) and is made of a steel frame with a sprayed concrete exterior.

Randy's has featured in countless movies, television shows, video games, and music videos. It's a good place to stop for a treat if you are on your way to or from LAX as it is located in Inglewood 1 mile from the airport, is open 24 hours a day, and sells delicious donuts at cheap prices.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Fairfax Community Mural

Los Angeles muralist Art Mortimer painted the 7-panel Fairfax Community Mural on the wall in the Canter's Deli parking lot in 1985. The photo-collage style mural depicts the Jewish history of Los Angeles from 1841 to 1985.

The first panel of the mural includes the constitution and bylaws of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Los Angeles, one of the first charitable groups formed in Los Angeles. The Benevolent Society provided religious services and founded a Jewish cemetery in Chavez Ravine (now the site of Dodger Stadium):

This panel of the mural depicts the Jacoby Brother's Department store in downtown Los Angeles. The black and white color scheme and the photo-collage style give the mural a nostalgic quality:

In 1914, Cecil B. DeMille and Jesse Lasky produced "The Squaw Man," the first feature length movie filmed in Hollywood. In early 20th century films, many Native American characters were played by Jewish actors in "redface."

The Canter brothers moved their delicatessen business from New Jersey to L.A.'s Boyle Heights in 1931. At that time, Boyle Heights, which is now primarily Latino, was the main Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles. In 1948, another Canter's Deli location opened in the Fairfax district:

There have been Jewish residents in Los Angeles since the mid-1800s, but there was not a large influx of Jews to L.A. until the 1920s when Jewish immigrants who originally settled on the East Coast were drawn to economic opportunities in Southern California. Los Angeles now has the second largest Jewish population of any metropolitan area in the United States.
The detail below includes an image of Sandy Kofax pitching for the Dodgers. The curved bandstand in the upper left portion of this panel is the Hollywood Bowl:

Canter's Deli and Bakery is located at 419 N. Fairfax Avenue at Oakwood. It is open 24 hours everyday and I recommend a visit there for anyone who loves baked goods, traditional deli food, and classic 1950s diner decor.

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Cat of the Week: Frannie

Frannie of Los Feliz is the bookstore cat at Skylight Books: