Art Deco Buildings Of Los Angeles, 21 July 2010


My girlfriend and I met up with sound reinforcement / recording engineer Mike Shelton, taking a break from recording a choir at the Cathedral for our Lady of the Angeles nearby.  We were there for a walking tour of the Art Deco buildings in downtown Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Conservancy.

This first photo, however, I don't believe is necessary Art Deco, but is of the movement that preceded it.  Please don't use this page for your research, as I'm not sure about several things here. And if you're looking for a comprehensive set of photos, this isn't it either.

Los Angeles has one of the largest and finest collections of Art Deco architecture in the world, due largely to the pervasiveness of the style in the 1920s coinciding with a time of intense growth in the city.

"Art Deco" is a term that wasn't actually coined until the 1960s, although the term comes from a 1925 Paris exhibition entitled Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. 

This is an upward look at the entrance to the Southern California Edison Building on 5th and Grand, looking at a large hanging lantern.

Bird on bird, outside the Los Angeles Public Library, which has amazing Art Deco features.

We didn't venture in to the Central Library, although we did this before when battling for historical preservation of three Kelton homes (we were successful; read about how we did it here in what is, curiously, still the only  tutorial on how to preserve a building in Los Angeles that I can see.  I still have this up on my website all these years later).

Left:  a silver fountain head outside the Los Angeles Central Library, with water coming out the eye sockets (!).  We can be quite certain this is not considered Art Deco, but who cares, it's good and weird, and that's good enough to get on this photoblog.

Here's Mike, photographing the interesting silver fountain head in front of the LA Central Library.  Mike brought an array of different Nikon lens in his backpack, ultimately choosing to go with an old-school Nikkor fixed wide-angle 16mm manual lens to complement his Nikon D90.

This is a photo of The Standard Downtown LA, which is not really an art deco building, but has some of the clean lines associated with Art Deco.  The rooftop bar is extremely popular.

Chandelier inside Cicada Restaurant, inside the Oviatt Building at 617 South Olive between 6th and 7th. 

According to the Cicada Restaurant website, the Oviatt Building, erected in 1927, was the first Art Deco building in Los Angeles.  It's a gorgeous building, noted for over 30 tons of Lalique's art glass, all of the thick glass carefully carved.

Inside the Cicada Restaurant, which was originally the opulent Alexander and Oviatt Clothing Store.

Rene Lalique himself designed and installed 30 tons of exquisitely sculptured glass in the lobby, including the double doors of the Cicada restaurant in the Oviatt Building.  The glasswork was extremely impressive, and the guides from the LA Conservancy encouraged us to touch it so we could feel the sculpted glass.

Below:  Lalique also designed the metalwork for the elevators, directories, and mailboxes.

We then rode the elevator up to the Oviatt Penthouse, the "Art Deco Palace In The Air", which has been kept intact. 

A frosted glass sculpture of a face and fish, located in the penthouse of the Oviatt Building.  I did a cursory Google search and could not find any information on this.  I took several photos of this while altering the white balance of my camera, including one with a more naturally lighted hue, but ended up liking this one although it doesn't actually appear with a bluish hue in person.

Left:  the rooftop of the Oviatt Penthouse, featuring a rounded door with a snowflake motif.

Below:  Lalique sculptured glass window in the Oviatt Penthouse.

Art Deco architects sought to emphasize verticality as a symbol of modernity and progress, and this is quite abundant here in the Sun Realty Building at 629 South Hill Street, just south of 6th Street and Pershing Square.  This building, designed by architect Claud Beelman in 1931, also features Egyptian papyrus motifs (about a quarter of the way up the building) and green terracotta tiles.  The building is now known as the Los Angeles Jewelry Center.

Art Deco architecture flourished in the United States, with many surviving examples in New York, Detroit, and Miami.  Mumbai in India has one of the largest number of Art Deco buildings in the world.  in Shanghai, China, there are many surviving Art Deco buildings as well.  And there are other fine examples in London, England, Velencia in Spain, Asmara in Eritrea, Casablanca in Morocco, and several cities in South Africa.

This is not an Art Deco building.  I just thought you should know.  You can, however, buy diamonds here.  This is just south of the Harris and Frank Building, which was designed by Beelman in 1925, a bit earlier than the Sun Realty Building.

I appreciate people who don't run away from a fun pun.  And that seems to be the case here, with a large portrait of the King of Pop built out of pop cans.  Built out of 1680 soda cans, the 144 square foot portrait was created by Sunland artist Seaton Brown as part of the annual "Art Squared" exhibition co-sponsored by the city's Recreation and Parks department and the Downtown L.A. Art Project in honor of the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death.  He paid for most of the cans at stores, pouring much of it down the drain since he doesn't really drink soda.  He found that the cream, root beer, and cherry vanilla drinks from Whole Foods made the best skin tones.

And no, this isn't Art Deco either.

If you are interested in exploring the architecture of Los Angeles, I recommend taking the walking tours with the LA Conservancy. They are a non-profit membership-based organization supporting education, advocacy, and preservation of our historic places and our cultural heritage.  We worked extensively with them when we were fighting to preserve the Kelton homes from destruction, and have immense respect for what they do.

Also, the next week, I decided to return to downtown Los Angeles, in large part to see some other Art Deco Buildings.  See these photos here.

Art Deco Buildings Of Los Angeles, 21 July 2010

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