Sunday, March 28, 2010

Stepping over the property line

Walking through Downtown Los Angeles, you probably will not even notice those lines in the side walk that separate private from public property. Stepping over them is usually not a big deal, since, across the line, on the private side, hotels, restaurants, delis, coffee shops and other businesses are eagerly waiting for customers.
Some downtown art objects are also located on private property—usually of the financial world. Here, stepping over the property line for some close-up photo opportunities next to a picturesque sculpture may be less welcome for security reasons. Permission to take pictures can be revoked at any time, since not so innocent tourists may zoom right through a sculpture and spy on activities inside those high rising buildings, informing the world in real time —via smart clicks on their iDevice—of some secret transactions or forecasting the next financial meltdown.

On the sculpture trail: “Uptown Rocker” by Lloyd Hamrol in Downtown Los Angeles

Sites of Los Angeles display sculptures you can walk through (Sequi) or walk around (Liberman's Ulysses and Phoenix). The Bunker Hill art project “Uptown Rocker” by Lloyd Hamrol on busy Fourth Street is best experienced while driving by, according to the artist's feel [1]. But on your leisurely art stroll through Downtown Los Angeles you may not want to drive around. Then, the best place to see the “Uptown Rocker” is from the South Grand Avenue bridge crossing Fourth Street.
You'll see real traffic zipping by on both sides of the rocker, while silhouttes of painted steel cars are roller-coasting the sculpture curve. This art installation may remind you of cars jumping around and running crazy during a strong earthquake. The sculpture is unbalanced, being higher towards the Grand Avenue side. The curved rocker is a concrete structure, which hopefully is balanced and well-anchored, in case an actual earthquake rocks!

More on Uptown Rocker
[1] Search uptown rocker at
[2] Uptown Rocker sculpture 1986 by Lloyd Hamrol.

On the sculpture trail: “Sequi” by Nancy Graves on Wells Fargo Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles

“Sequi” is a walk-through sculpture on Wells Fargo Plaza, just off South Grand Avenue, in Downtown Los Angeles, California. This open sculpture by Nancy Grave (1940-1995) is a polychrome-painted bronze composed of colorful element such as banana blossom, lobster claw, seed pod and vines, which all together are anchored to the plaza ground at four points.

Continue viewing: Sequi, Crocker Center.

On the sculpture trail: “Phoenix” by Alexander Liberman next to LA Brea Tar Pits

Phoenix is the firebird, known from ancient mythology and symbolizing, among other things, the cycle of fire, ash, and rebirth. The Phoenix installation by artist Alexander Semeonovitch Liberman (1912-1999), which is a uniformly painted bright red steel sculpture, may remind people, driving along Wilshire Boulevard between Downtown Los Angeles and Beverly Hills [1], of a swirling fire. “Phoenix” appears to be the red version of its brother sculpture “Ulysses,” which is standing a few miles away, off Fourth Street on Bunker Hill in Downtown L.A. [2].

Liberman's “Phoenixsculpture (1974-75), a gift of Anna Bing Arnold, is located in the outdoor section of the L.A. County Art Museum (5905 Wilshire BLVD.), bordering Hancock Park, which exhibits a different kind of sculptures: life-size animations of extinct macro-fauna animals (though no firebirds) that were thriving in the L.A. area during the Pleistocene. Some animals died then around this location, not because of firebirds, but due to their trapping in coal tar pits. An oily, bubbling pond is still there, just a few steps northeast of “Phoenix.” Trails (short walking paths) through Hancock Park connect you with sculptures and sites giving some evidence of the Pleistocene and Holocene stages. This L.A. neighborhood is bubbling of synergy: celebrating the cycle—or confluence—of art, science, and imagination.

View-me-too pages
Phoenix painted steel sculpture 1974 by Alexander Liberman.
[2] On the sculpture trail: “Ulysses” by Alexander Liberman in Downtown Los Angeles.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

On the sculpture trail: “Ulysses” by Alexander Liberman in Downtown Los Angeles

On an “odyssey” through Downtown Los Angeles in California you'll pass a diverse set of sculptures and other art objects. From the “classical” Beethoven sculpture on Pershing Square or composed airplane parts near the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), large sculptures are often dwarfted by the high-rise office buildings between which they are placed and in whose facades they often are beautifully reflected.
One such sculpture is “Ulysses” by Kiev-born artist Alexander Semeonovitch Liberman (1912-1999), a white-painted steel sculpture (1988), easily spotted from South Grand Avenue. By walking around the sculpture you may get lost by looking into the tubes or trying to find a path along the swirling loops.

[1] UlyssesHistorical Background.
[2] Alexander Liberman.

Friday, March 26, 2010

On the sculpture trail: “Trisem” rock columns in the Fulton Mall, Fresno, California

Hikers in rocky terrain, especially in remote places and locations where the path of a trail is less obvious, often come across piled-up rocks or—more artistically—columns of stacked rocks, neatly balanced one on top of the other by thoughtful or playful travelers. Those rock piles or towers serve as trail markers telling you that somebody else came through before you. Sometimes a sequence of such artificial rock assemblies show you the path of the trail.
A super version of such a rock marker is towering in the Fulton Mall between Fresno and Merced Street in Downtown Fresno. Of course, this is not a marker with the purpose of providing direction or orientation, just delight. The columns of granite boulders are called “Trisem”, a sculpture donated to the city by Fresno artist T. Newton Russell. In contrast to those hiking-trail rock stacks, which fall and disassemble, these three towers are each hold together by hidden steel rods. The vertically stacked rocks are native San Joaquin Valley river rocks. It is a pleasure to look at them from further away as well as close-up—remember they don't fall.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Share the Fulton Mall in Fresno, California

The Fulton Mall in Fresno, a city in the San Joaquin Valley of Upper California, is a pedestrian mall. It is located in Downtown Fresno between the Warriors Theatre on Tuolumne Street and Inyo Street. “Mall traffic” includes pedestrians and bikers, but generally no motorized vehicles. Although a shopping mall (in parts), the Fulton Mall is a public outdoor art museum with animated facades, mosaics, a variety of sculptures and garden-like settings of fountains and bench groupings. The Fulton Mall Public Art Tour pages describe both sculptors and artists. An entry into Fresno's geography and history is available with Fresno, the Spanish word for ash tree on maps of Upper California (Alta California).
Long before fountains were designed and sculptured for the Fulton Mall, a natural spring already existed in the center of what is now Fresno: Green Bush Spring. That spot is found on the plaza at the midpoint of the mall. A marker between the clock tower and the abstract “Big A” sculpture brings you back in time:
On this spot in the early days was a flowing spring beside which stood a large green bush. Wild horses, deer, elk, and antelope watered here and later it served as a watering place for sheep and cattle.

The presence of this water caused the Railroad in 1872 to locate its station and townsite here.

The name shown on the first map of the proposed town was Green Bush.

Because of its central location in Fresno County Leland Stanford changed the name to Fresno Station.

In 1873 when the official map was filed it was entitled Town of Fresno.