Women celebrating Day of the Dead at Olvera Street

The Olvera Street Merchants were the first group to launch Dia de los Muertos celebrations this year on October 6th. And the women of Los Angeles definitely got into the spirit of this ancient and now very popular holiday.

It is almost a month until Dia de los Muertos or All Saints Day, as it is also known, on November 1st, the day after Halloween. These two holidays have run together here in Los Angeles into one huge party.

So here is what I saw:

Painted ladies Day of Dead LA City Pix
Women of all ages were caught up in the festivities.  These two painted designs on their faces without the usual white mask, seen below.
ArtGirlCathy Day of Dead LA City Pix
Cathy Mejia, AKA ArtGirlCathy, told me that there were 20 other Dia de los Muertos events in October.  She and her friend are going to be very busy. 
 women red and purple hair Day of Dead LA City Pix
Flowers in their hair.  I like the color co-ordination of the woman on the left with a skirt that matches the touch of yellow in the floral headband and the shirt that matches her hair.
Butterflies Olvera St. LA City Pix
I really love the headbands with flowers. I knew one woman in Pasadena who wore hers regularly year ’round and she was not a Latina. She just liked wearing it.  
Day of Dead face painting LA City Pix
Two face-painters were busy at their booth. Half-faces seemed to be the rule of the day this year.  Perhaps because of the price?
Folklorico dancer Day of Dead LA City Pix
This woman seemed to be the leader of the young Folklorico dancers but she also danced on the bandstand by herself.  She posed for me and other photographers while the young father watched it all.
Red hair Day of Dead LA City Pix
As usual, there were young Folklorico dancers and Mexican music DJs on the bandstand entertaining the crowd, including this woman with red flowers in her red hair.
Lady in White Day of Dead LA City Pix
This woman in white and gold was clearly celebrating Day of the Dead.
Woman in spider dress Olvera St. LA City Pix
Seeing her spider webs dress I was not sure if it was Halloween or Dia de los Muertos she was honoring.










According to one vendor there are 20 other Day of the Dead events in Los Angeles this year. The two big ones I intend to go to are at Grand Park in downtown L.A. where the large colorful altars will be unveiled on October 27th and 28th. Then on November 2nd – 4th, there will be altars in stores and Halloween events in Old Town Pasadena.


Throwback to ’70s and ’80s arcade games at Retrocade in Union Station

Imagine this challenge:  convert a train ticketing hall with 40 foot high ceilings into one of those dark digital game arcades from way back when.  Or convert the same space into a dark glittery discos from that same era.

Disco ball Union Station
A disco ball was hanging up high to remind people that this was supposed to be a disco. Sorta.

Well, it wasn’t quite as dark or as glittery as in the ’70s and ’80s, but the Retrocade Experience at Union Station was fun and free during this last weekend.  The music from that era was loud and the players focused on the games including some that were warming up for a Pac Man contest.

I’m not going to explain any more; just show you some photos.

Retrocade arcade games Union Station LACity Pix
The very first to enter got their pick of the 40 or so retro arcade games lined up around the Ticketing Hall at Union Station Los Angeles.  Within 5 minutes after this photo was taken every arcade game had a player.
Pac Man arcade game LA City Pix 2018
It cost $5 to enter the Pac Man contest which was conducted in the evening. During the day anyone could play and I bet that some ambitious gamers warmed up during the day for free.
Anti Social Social Club Retrocade LA City Pix
The shirt says it all!
Michael Jackson arcade game Union Station
Michael Jackson was really the archetype for the ’80s. His arcade game was tucked way back in a distant corner.  But notice the strip lighting!
Cruisn arcade game LA City Pix
An arcade game built for 2. Both Moms and Dads brought their children to this event.
Flirty muscle art arcade game LA City Pix
This tough guy stomping on a TV looked pretty flirty to me. Fun art!
Simpsons arcade game Retrocade Union Station
Among the first to enter, these 3 guys made a beeline for the old Simpson’s game.
Too short for arcade game LA City Pix
This boy had to look through the steering wheel of this arcade game.
I like the TV game better LA City Pix
One boy decided he wanted to play the early video games on a TV.




The historic La Placita church has fresh paint on its 204th birthday

The cornerstone for the church commonly called “La Placita” church in the historic district of the Pueblo of Los Angeles was laid by Franciscan Luis Gil y Taboada in 1814 on the ruins of an older church founded in 1784.  It is the oldest church in Los Angeles.

Our Lady Queen of the Angels church Los Angeles LA City Pix

Our Lady Queen of the Angels Olvera Street
This photo of the  La Placita church was taken about 10 years ago.

And, much to my surprise, La Placita has recently been painted all white…well, except for one wall on the side by the cemetery so perhaps the painting is not complete. Quite frankly, I preferred the beige and red colors of the previous exterior paint.  Because it is a parish church and Sunday services were being held I did not see if the interior has been repainted too.

This church faces onto the historic plaza at the end of Olvera Street near downtown Los Angeles.


The Annunciation on La Placita church LA City Pix
A closer view of the painting above the front entry. In fact, parishioners enter the church from a doorway inside the courtyard at the side of the church. While this artwork remains, the name of the church over the archway entrance to the side patio has been painted over.  I assume the name will be restored,



Cemetery by La Placita church LA City Pix
The dark green fence surrounds the old cemetery. The remains of more than 680 people are in this graveyard where native plants have been allowed to grow. The beige wall on the left side seems to be the only one that has not been repainted white..




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Happy 200th Birthday, Avila Adobe on Olvera Street – Part 2

The Avila Adobe is the oldest remaining home in Los Angeles. (The nearby La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles, more commonly known as  La Placita church, is 4 years older and I’ll be writing about it in the next post.)

This home was built by Californio cattleman Francisco Avila in 1818 as an in-town residence for his family. He also had a home on his ranch near what is now the Mid-Wilshire area by the La Brea Tar Pits.

Green pomegranates Avila Adobe LA City Pix
Covering the kitchen, shown below, is a grape arbor and growing nearby is a pomegranate bush with these 2 green pomegranates on it.

Members of the Avila family lived in this adobe until 1868 then turned it into a rental.  By 1926 the building had fallen into disrepair before being restored as part of a revitalization of Olvera Street.

The building is now managed by the National Park Service and entry is free. It offers a good idea of how well-to-do people lived in Southern California back in 1818.


Avila Adobe oldest LA house
The home faces onto Olvera Street which was the Main Street of the little town of Los Angeles back then. 


Parlor Avila Adobe LA City Pix
The parlour was considered spacious for the era. I doubt that there was really a piano in this home when the Avilas first moved into the home.  Guitars were a more common musical instrument during the Californio period.
Office Avila Adobe LA City Pix
The rooms in the Adobe are furnished with items typical of the early 1800s.
Center courtyard Avila Adobe LA City Pix
The adobe courtyard, surrounded on 4 sides by the building walls which were 2.5 to 3 feet thick, was a center of household activities and festivities.


This cart, below, was built by Darryl Robertshaw in 2004 as a replica of the carts used originally to bring produce to Olvera Street, the main street of Los Angeles.  There is a similar cart used for bringing in grapes on display at the San Gabriel Mission.

Carreta at Avila Adobe


Kitchens back then were always separate from the main house– not only in California, but in homes around the world.  Here in California, the Avila kitchen was outdoors on one side of the courtyard.

Avila adobe kitchen outdoors
This kitchen looks very spiffy painted white.  No doubt it was discolored by smoke back when the Avilas lived in the home.




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Dancing in the Plaza by Olvera Street – Part 1

From a block away I could hear the Mexican music from the bandstand in the enter of La Placita at the historic Pueblo de Los Angeles near Union Station.  Hundreds of people had gathered in the area and it felt just like a central plaza in a small Mexican town. And the music was almost non-stop thanks to the Olvera Street Merchants Association which sponsors entertainment in the Plaza during summer months.  Supposedly it is for tourists, but it is very obvious that locals love it, too!

crowd of people in La Placita LA City Pix
It is an old tradition in Mexico to gather in the central plaza of the town or city to talk with friends and do some people-watching. This custom has been transferred to some parts of Los Angeles..


And dozens of people were dancing to the sounds of a Mexican DJ up on the bandstand in the middle of the plaza.

Dancing to Mexican music Olvera Plaza LA City Pix
Near the bandstand couples danced the the beat.
Two women dancing La Placita Olvera St. LA City Pix
Further away there were women dancing with women and solo people dancing by themselves. The music really called people to the “dance floor”.


After a while the DJ folded up his speakers and left. Before long one of the Native American/Mexican Indian dance troops started beating their drums and dancing. Their costumes look a lot more Mexican Indian than American Indian to me, but who am I to judge?  They look cool!

native american dancers at La Placita Olvera st. LA City Pix


And when I wandered away from the bandstand down a narrow lane on  Olvera St. what did I find but two mariachis. The rest of the band and a singer were inside the restaurant. (More from Olvera Street in the next post)

Two mariachis at Olvera Steet LA City Pix




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Lummis Days celebrates that party animal with a critter puppet parade

Cunao official band Lummis Days 2018
The official band to lead the parade for Lummis Days was Cunao.  Here  they are wearing their critter masks in keeping with the parade theme.  Coyote tricksters?

Charles Lummis was quite a guy!  Adventurer, author, editor of the L.A. Times, cross-country hiker, archeologist, photographer, and founder of the Southwest Museum.

Charles Lummis treking across America
A photograph of Charles Lummis during his tramp across America to start his job as L.A. Times editor.

He was also somewhat infamous for the parties he held at his home, El Alisal, in Highland Park.  You can see my post about Lummis ‘s home here.

Now, almost a hundred years after his death, he has become the namesake of a celebration of life, fun, music and art in the Arroyo in northeast Los Angeles. Here is a link to the Lummis Days organization.  I understand that the Arroyo Arts Collective also helps with this event.

On Sunday I came across the official parade for Lummis Days after visiting the Southwest West Museum‘s pottery exhibition.  Parade participants gathered in front of the museum entrance, then marched to Sycamore Grove Park where a concert and puppet show were held.

I only stayed for the parade and here is some of what I saw.

3 marchers Lummis Days 2018
Three marchers waiting for the parade to begin outside the Southwest Museum entrance.
Lummis days marcher snake puppet
This colorful marcher created a long snake puppet to wear on her arms.
Marcher with puppets Lummis Days 2018
This masked marcher wore frog puppets on her hands.
man in tree Lummis Days
As I was hanging around waiting for the parade to begin I noticed this man in a tree and suddenly was reminded of the old hippy days around San Francisco in the 1960s when people did things like that. There was a bit of that spirit in all of this event.
Lummis days parade 2018
As you can see the parade was definitely a neighborhood event. Probably not many more than a 100 people took part. But fun!  Oh, the big green and  blue puppet carried by 4 men is a blue-bellied lizard.  
Native American dancers Lummis Days
I’ve seen these Native American dancers perform at the plaza at Olvera Street, downtown. Here they were part of the parade. Very suitable!



Guardian angel at Southwest Museum station
The parade crossed through the Southwest Museum Gold Line station and continued downhill to Sycamore Grove Park. I love the “guardian angels” that surround this Metro station. Art and architecture critics go off on the art and seating at this station, but  they miss the whimsy and fun of it all.   Metro stations don’t have to be boring!


Flying men and tile baseball players in the Civic Center Metro Station L.A.

Civic Center station flying man
This is just one of a half a dozen sculptures of young flying men hanging from the ceiling in the Red Line Civic Center station in downtown L.A. The sculptures  entitled “I dreamed I could Fly”were created by Jonathan Borofsky and each resembles him.  Well, that’s one way to become an immortal among artists!

Back in the late 1980s and 1990s when the Metro system was being built in Los Angeles, the city went all out for art. In the stations built since then there is still art–usually modest tile panels–but nothing quite as extravagant and amazing as the artwork in the Red and Gold lines. The artists back then were given almost total freedom to do what they wanted with very generous budgets.

The Civic Center Station in downtown L.A. is probably most famous for its “flying men” sculptures suspended from the ceiling. There are also dozens of tile mosaic murals lining the walls upstairs in the station, but I suspect many people walk right by them as they rush to the trains or to the street upstairs.  They were designed by Faith Ringgold and produced by artisans at Mosaika Art and Design in Montreal.

So here are a few of these many glass tile mosaics. Because L.A. is such a sports town–8 professional sports teams here–I picked a few sports murals to show you.  But there are others–especially musicians and dancers–in the Civic Center Station.

Was this mural inspired by Muhammad Ali?
Baseball player 6 Metro Station
I suspect this tile mural of a baseball player is supposed to represent the Dodgers with the blue cap.
Is this tile figure supposed to be a Yankee in the pinstripe uniform?
Surfer tile mural civic center
Obviously, you can’t have sports in L.A. without a surfer!



Soccer player 15 Civic Center Metro
I am not sure whether these days we have one or two soccer teams–or as the rest of the world calls it “football” teams.
Dancers tile mural civic center station
I love these dancers!