In his long career Frank Romero has gone from being a young artist who was part of the landmark exhibition, ‘Los Four’, the first significant show of Chicano art at LACMA to a major international figure in the art world with his work owned by the Smithsonian.
The retrospective currently at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach covers the entire spectrum. Full disclosure: a Romero work on paper hangs in my living room.
Here are a few of his works at MOLAA now. My photographs do not really do them justice. The show closes on May 21st.
You can pre-order my new novel, ‘L.A. Ladies’ on either Kindle or Nook.
Since the early 1980s artist (and former collegiate soccer player) Victor Hugo Zayas has been painting the Los Angeles river, primarily at night. So yesterday on the Free Museum Day I took the Metro from Pasadena to Long Beach to see his work at the Museum of Latin American Art.
When I walked into the gallery my first reaction was ‘Oh, inspired by Turner’, but I changed my mind when I stepped back from the paintings and viewed them from a distance of 25 feet. Suddenly the dark, sweeping brush strokes became an impressionist view of the river. Unfortunately, I have to apologize for the poor quality of my photographs. These photos do not do the paintings justice at all.
In another gallery at the museum was an exhibition of works from Chicano artists who burst into the art scene after tagging LACMA back in the late 1980s. Many artists in this movement produced silk-screen prints at Self-Help Gallery under the guidance of Sister Karen.
I bought quite a few works at Self-Help years ago, including works by Frank Romero and Leo Limon. Sometime in the next year there will be a solo show of Romero’s work at LACMA. Also a solo show of Carlos Almarez’s work.
When the weather forecast indicated that it was going to be over 100F this weekend, I escaped to Long Beach where it was supposed to only reach a high of 86F.
My goal was to take some pictures of all the water sports and activities on Alamitos Bay where the water is usually flat–no waves to speak of. Well, either the weatherman lied or lost his skill at forecasting. In a sudden spike, the temperature in soared to over 100F by 11 a.m. so I took my camera and left. Happily I’d already taken a lot of shots of all the water-related activities around Naples Island, a man-made island in the middle of the Alamitos Bay.
Over the last year we’ve all seen oil prices plunge and — yipee!–gas prices plummet, too. Now gas prices, at least here in Los Angeles, are shooting back up. So during a visit to a friend in Long Beach I took some photos of the oil fields which surround the city including right in the harbor. All the wells are still pumping like crazy. The current leap upward in gas prices is being blamed, in part, on an explosion at a refinery in Torrance. I don’t believe it; that refinery was already closed for repairs.
In the Long Beach harbor are 4 man-made oil islands, disguised with palm trees and simulated buildings. The oil is pumped out and through pipelines under neighborhoods like Belmont Heights and Bluff Park to huge storage tanks further north. (There is an earthquake fault running through Belmont Heights,)
On one of the islands farther away from the beach, the fake building has come down and an oil derrick is exposed. Further west of the oil islands are wells on land near a couple of major shopping centers. And there are a bunch more on Signal Hill, which is actually an oil dome.
But the beach and harbor are not all oil, oil, oil. There is a terrific cycling route running along the 7 miles of beach in the city. It extends beyond the beach up the Los Angeles river for quite a ways.
In Belmont Shore on Second Street is one of my favorite bakeries in all of greater L.A. Stop at Babette’s Feast for the very best French pastries.
And in Bluff Park at Ocean and Paloma, overlooking those oil islands, is a larger-than-life statue of a World War II sailor looking boldly westward across the Pacific.
Winter barely happened in Southern California this year. We had less than half our normal rainfall and the winter weather, such as it was, was benign. For gardeners that lack of rainfall is not good, but for watersports enthusiasts the fun in the sun has started early.
Paddleboarders threaded their route through the canals on Naples Island in Alamitos Bay on the day I was there. Most of them were riding paddleboards which they had rented on a nearby beach.
At the same beach kayaks were available for rent at $9 per hour. A sign admonished prospective kayakers that they had to know how to swim! (I can’t imagine deciding to go out in a kayak without knowing how to swim.) And about a block away, kitesurfing boards and kites were lined up on another beach, this one actually facing the ocean, ready to rent to customers. The day I took these photos the Santa Ana wind was absolutely ferocious and not one person was kitesurfing. The kayaks seemed to be attracting the most business.
After taking these photos I went to my favorite bakery, Babette’s Feast on Second Street, where, looming above me was a huge billboard to remind everyone to save water. We don’t have mandatory water rationing in Southern California–yet–but with the continued effects of climate change, we may face it soon. Then it really will be too late for rain dances–or maybe it already is.
Seal Beach is a trip back in time to the 1950s and 1960s. You can almost hear the Beach Boys singing ‘Good Vibrations’ as you drive down Main Street looking for parking. Or maybe that is Annette Funicello (an original Disney Mouseketeer and star of several beach movies in the 1960s) in a bikini on the beach. Well, maybe her granddaughter. Or maybe her grandson with two of his pals going home from a morning of boogieboarding.
Unlike the beaches further north along Santa Monica and Redondo, Seal Beach is rarely crowded with people. For decades Ruby’s restaurant was located at the end of the Seal Beach Pier. It was a fun place to grab a burger and fries, or fish and chips and watch the cargo ships head in toward the Port of Lond Beach.
Since Ruby’s closed hungry beachgoers stop in at the small restaurants and shops that line Main Street.
There are the usual beach stores selling Hawaiian style shirts, sundresses and skimpy bikinis, but the Psychic Store was a new one!
And the menu at a restaurant called the Hangout, left me aghast. Shrimp, grits and brown gravy? I’d rather go across the street and have good, old-fashioned fish tacos.
After disappearing for decades, seals have returned to Seal Beach at certain times of year. The federal laws that protect them have resulted in a population explosion of sea mammals and all along the Pacific Coast seals, sea lions and even elephant seals are returning to their ancient habitats. The only one I saw was bronze.
Coming next weekend: the AmGen tour Stage 7 stops at Pasadena. I’ll be there!
As I was off to take photos of the old church near Olvera Street in Los Angeles, I came across a Cycling Club posing for a photo in Union Station. I probably ruined the photos for the other photographer, because when I began to take pictures, the cyclists all turned and smiled at me.
No doubt they had come into Union Station on one of the Metro trains. The Metro lines allow people to bring bikes right into the cars–easy to roll in and roll out. There are also secure enclosed stands at many stations for people who want to park their bikes and then ride the Metro.
My guess is that this Cycling Club was heading to the Blue Line which would take them to the beach. There is a fabulous cycling path that runs for 7 miles right on the beach in Long Beach. It extends beyond that up the Los Angeles River. I used to cycle along the beach almost every day when I lived in Long Beach, but was uncomfortable cycling up along the river. It felt “lonely”–not many people went there back in the early 1990s.