Monday, December 30, 2013

A trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art during the last two years.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is located on Wilshire Blvd. in the Miracle Mile area.  The museum is next to the Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits.  LACMA is the largest art museum in the Western United States and was established as a museum in 1961.  Prior to 1961, the museum was part of the Los Angeles Museum of Science, History and Art that was founded in 1910 in Expostion Park near USC.  Howard F. Ahmanson, Sr. made the first donation of $2M and convinced the museum board that enough funds could be raised to establish the new museum.  In 1965, the museum moved to a new location on Wilshire Blvd., as an independent, art-focused institution.  It was the largest new museum to be built in the United States after the National Gallery of Art.  The museum was built in a style similar to the Lincoln Center and the Los Angeles Music Center.  There were three buildings-the Ahmanson building, the Bing Center and the Lytton Gallery, which was renamed the Frances and Armand Hammer Building in 1968.  The board selected a Los Angeles architect whose name was William Pereira.

During the 1980's, money poured into LACMA to the tune of $209 million in private donations.  The collection of modern and contemporary art was growing and to provide more space for exhibitions, the museum hired the architectural firm of Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer Associates to design its $35.3 million, 115,000 square foot Robert O. Anderson Building for 20th century art, which opened in 1986 and was renamed the Art of the Americas building in 2007.  The Pavilion for Japanese Art was designed by Bruce Goff and opened in 1988, as did the B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden of Rodin bronzes.    In 1994,  LACMA purchased the adjacent May Department Stores building, which is a good example of streamline moderne architecture designed by Albert C. Martin Sr.  This building increased the museums's size by30% when the building opened in 1998.  There are more changes planned for LACMA planned for the future.

Pictures taken in 2011

Pictures taken in 2012 from a Stanley Kubrick exhibit we went to see.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing day and a trip to the Great Park

Did you know that today is Boxing Day?  What is Boxing Day?

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box" from their bosses.  Today, Boxing is the bank holiday that generally takes place on December 26.  It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and other Commonwealth nations.

In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994.  In Ireland and Italy, the day ks known as St. Stephen's Day or the Day of the Wren.  In many European countries, December 26 is celebrated as the Second Day of Christmas.

There are several competing theories as to the origin of Boxing Day, none of which are definitive.  The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, dates back to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown.  It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship to collect donations to the poor.  Also it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, where metal blokes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the western church, falls on the same day.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas, as thanks for good service throughout the year.  This custom is linked to an older English tradition, since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day off to visit with their families.  The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses and maybe sometimes leftover food.


The Great Park  in Irvine, CA, is the official name of a plan for the public, non-aviation reuse of the decommissioned Marine Corps air Station El Toro.  The county park will comprise 1347 acres of the 4682 acres total that made up the old MCAS El Toro.  It is a $1.1 billion project that was approved by the voters of Orange County in 2002. The park opened its first attraction, which was a balloon ride that takes visitors up 500 feet for a panoramic view on July 14, 2007.  A second attraction, the Kids Rock playground, opened on July 10, 2010.

Initial proposals after the retirement of the Marine Corps air Station included an international airport, possible housing and the great park.  In 2001, Orange County voters passed "Measure W" authorizing the former air station's use as a Central Park/Nature Preserve and multi-use development.  The measure was passed, which led to the designation of the land as the OC Great Park.  In 203, the city of Irvine annexed the air station property and was thus able to determine the Great Park's future by zoning.

Following the annexation of the property, the Department of the Navy held an online auction for the El Toro property and Lennar Corporation for $649,500,000 and entered into a development agreement  with the City of Irvine.  Under the terms of the development agreement, Lennar would build the Great Parks Neighborhoods in return for land and capital that will allow the contraction of the Great Park.

The agreement required Lennar to deed 1347 acres to public ownership and contribute $200 million toward the development of the Great Park.  Future owners will con contribute an additional $200 million toward the park's development.

The Great Park Plan focuses on the 1347 acres public of the property and includes a 2.5 mile canyon, a 26-acre lake, botanical gardens, a cultural terrace, lawns, performing arts venues, a sports park, and a wildlife corridor connecting the Cleveland National Forest to the Laguna coast Wilderness.

When completed, the park will be the largest municipal  park in Orange County and will be larger than New York's Central Park, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and San Diego's Balboa Park.  The design was modified to include a large section of the runway and conform more to the layout of the original base and a reminder of the the history of the base.  There are plans to restore Agua Chinon Creek, which was channeled underground, when the base was built in the 1940's.  Southern California Edison has committed to contributing 50,000 trees to the park.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mission Inn, Riverside, CA

The Mission Inn began as a 12-room adobe boarding house that was built by Christopher Columbus Miller on land that was deeded him by the city as payment for his services as a civil engineer.  At the time it was known as Glenwood Cottage.  Mission Inn began its evolution under the ownership of Frank Miller, a voracious collector who has forever defied accurate description.  Following family tours abroad, Miller incorporated his extensive acquisitions into both the Inn's decor and its structure.  From the home's first addition, the Mission Wing, grew the Cloister Wing and Music Room, the Spanish Wing and Art Gallery and the dramatic International Rotunda with its flying buttresses.  Other parts of Mission Inn that are of interest are the outdoor Court of the Orient, the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel with its 18-Karat gold leaf Rayas altar and Spanish colonial inspired courtyard known as the Atrio.  There are docent tours that highlight the history and evolution of the Mission Inn and the more than 6000 pieces of art on display throughout the hotel.

At Christmas time, the Mission Inn has Festival of Lights.  On November 29, 2013 was the "flipping of the switch" ceremony, which kicks off five weeks of holiday merriment featuring one of the nation's largest holiday light collections of its kind.  The is the 21st year and the Festival of Lights is na annual gift to the community from property owners Duane and Kelly Roberts who saved the Mission Inn from destruction in 1992.  There are nearly 4 million holiday lights followed by a full fireworks display and continues through January 5, 2014. This event is free.  Highlights of the event include appearances by Santa Claus, the world's largest manmade mistletoe  measuring 12'x 8', horse -drawn carriage rides, freshly fallen snow, an elaborately decorated Christmas tree in the hotel lobby, and delectable holiday confections at the original famous Casey's boutique located at the Inn.

The City of Riverside has adopted the Mission Inn's Festival of Lights as a citywide initiative with a vision of a Dickensian holiday spectacle featuring lights and decorations throughout downtown Riverside.  There is an outdoor ice-skating rink on the Main Street pedestrian mall, holiday vendors and family-friendly entertainment.