Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Play's the Thing

 On Saturday, I visited the Mission Playhouse in San Gabriel.  Those of you who have extensively poked around the blog or my house might recognize that I painted this view once before.  It was easier the second time.

The Mission Playhouse was built in 1927 by John Steven McGroarty for his Mission Play.  The Playhouse was designed by the chief architect of Riverside's Mission Inn.  It is fashioned after the Mission San Antonio De Padua.  I know the latter fact because of my son's fourth grade mission report.  I recognize McGroarty's name because of the McGroarty Art Center in Tujunga.  That was McGroarty's home.  During his life McGroarty was famous as a poet, politician, and journalist, and perhaps most of all because of the Mission Play.  The Mission Play was a pageant that told a history of California, in highly romanticized and euro-biased terms.  Next year, for its centennial, City of San Gabriel will be staging a revival of the Mission Play.

And here are some pertinent internet grabs.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fork In It

You know how much I like the Coffee Gallery Backstage.  The wizard behind the Backstage is Bob Stane.  And this is a picture of Bob Stane's fork.  Bob dreamed of giant piece of flatware placed at an actual fork in the road.  His friends made it happen.  It is Pasadena's quirkiest public artwork, found between Pasadena Avenue and St. John, south of Bellefontaine and the snooty tea shop.  The fork stands, ever poised, as kind of a tribute to light-hardheartedness, and flatware, and dreams.  

My painting is nearly as busy as Pasadena Avenue.  It really wasn't quite finished, but here you have it. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Over and Under

Saturday's painting location was the Lower Arroyo Seco in Pasadena.  I found some shade just a short walk from archery range.  I always thought the archery range was the coolest place (at least since I was 19 and a boy took me there at night and played his flute for me.)  So I was pretty surprised to hear a year ago that the range was in danger of being shut down by the city.  What gripe could anybody possibly have with this marvelous old lightly used archery range among the oak trees in the Lower Arroyo?  The archers who use the range seem largely a good bunch.  Out of generosity and love of their sport they offer free lessons.  This was all for the good until the Hunger Games phenomenon.  Now every little girl and boy in Southern California wants free archery lessons, and their indulgent parents pack the parking lot starting at 7 a.m.  I arrived a full half-hour early for painting, and I had to park way up Arroyo Boulevard, and trek my wood easel and painting paraphernalia down the road, down the long driveway, and through the entirely full parking lot.  All the while muttering to myself as the curmudgeon I'm becoming.  It's summer for heaven's sake.  Those children aren't even in school, so couldn't they play out their bow and arrow fantasies on some other day?  Couldn't they leave some open space on Saturdays to those of us who are stuck in office buildings all week, and, when Saturday comes, just want to paint bridges, walk dogs, cast flies, or sleep in before archery?  It will pass I suppose.  Just like the casting pond boom after A River Runs Though It.

In spite of the difficulty arriving, painting was good.  I painted the Colorado Street Bridge.  I was distracted from my crankiness, and the walk back to the car seemed easier, even though it was up hill and much hotter.  In the evening I went to Pasadena Heritage's bridge party and celebrated the bridge on the bridge.  The bridge is 99 years old, spans 1486 feet in a graceful curve 150 feet above the Arroyo.      

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Public Chambers

This is a small bit of the Richard H. Chambers Courthouse that houses the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Bankruptcy Court.  Built as the Vista del Arroyo resort hotel, this building also served as the McCormack Army Hospital in the 1940s, and later - rumor has it - mysterious military intelligence went on there.  The Pasadena area does not have any of California's beautiful historic courthouses.  Possibly Riverside is the closest one.  But thanks to the vision of Richard Harvey Chambers, an architecture-loving federal judge, we have a beautiful federal court.  And this lovely building perched on the edge of the Arroyo Seco overlooking the Colorado Bridge belongs to the public.  I was inside not too long ago - not for a bankruptcy, thank goodness - and a saw an exhibit of furniture made by a Pasadena craftsman from fallen Pasadena trees.  Tree artist, I'm sorry I don't recall and can't find your name.  I learned on Saturday that the grounds of the courthouse are not fully accessible.  Still, the garden was beautiful and the parking lot open and free.  

As for the painting, I'd give it slightly mixed reviews.  The drawing is a little off in a distracting way, with the bowed archway and wrong angle of the doors.  I tried and failed to get the beautiful warm reflected light inside the archway.  To be honest with you, I cropped off some of the right side, which was just more of the same distracting dapples of green.  There's some nice technique in the agapanthus, ubiquitous purple flowers I'm glad I painted.  I'm fond of the shadows.  I chose to paint this view because of the the interesting shadows, and because it has a face.      

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fountain of Light

From the shade of an evergreen at Arlington Garden, I painted a dry fountain planted with succulents  among the flax and the bearded iris and a small pine.  Afterwards I visited the cactus and succulent sale at the Huntington Library.  I acquired some new small cacti and succulents of my own.