Sunday, January 30, 2011

Los Angeles Library Tour - Brand Library and Art Center

If The Brand Library was just a library, it would be exceptional. The fact that it was once the home of Leslie Coombs Brand, one of Glendale's early banking and business pioneers, makes it historic. The fact that it has an amazing art center makes it a showcase for arts of all sorts. The fact that it is located in Brand Park overlooking Glendale, makes it one of Los Angeles' most interesting and beautiful attractions.
According to the city of Glendale's website, the Brand Library and Art Center was once El Miradero. Completed in 1904, El Miradero was the home to Brand and his wife. Mr. Brand died in 1925, followed by Mrs. Brand in 1945. Leslie Coombs Brand's will provided that the property be turned into a park and library upon his (and his wife's) death. The Brand Library opened in 1956 and in 1969 the arts center was added.
The entire complex is almost one of those "only in Los Angeles" locations. The entrance to the park has a Moorish feel which mirrors the former residence/current library. Look up the hill, past a row of palm trees, and you'll see El Miradero. It is such a beautiful and photogenic locale, there always seems to be a wedding party posing on the lawn in front (perhaps second only to the Mulholland fountain outside Griffith Park).
The Brand Library houses the Arts and Music collections of the Glendale library system. The Glendale library system moved all of their music collections to this branch, so it is quite extensive. They've got records. Actual vinyl records. There is a good selection of VHS and DVD on the arts. I asked about the 16mm films that were once in circulation at the main Glendale library branch. They are now gone. I'll always remember checking out "Skater Dater" on 16mm and screening it in our backyard on an old Bell & Howell projector.
The Brand is inspiring in so many ways. Just browsing the aisles, there is so much eye-candy. The library is a great resource for enthusiasts of all the arts. On the pages of over one hundred thousand volumes you can find Indian movie posters, product graphics, matchbooks, comics, photography, pattern books, furniture making, interior design, fashion, music, painting, drawing, architecture. Where do I stop?
If you're still looking for a little more, there is a gallery showcasing local artists, lectures on an array of fascinating topics, and a recital hall for your listening pleasure.
When the relatives visit from out of town and they want to get some local flavor you can always pack a picnic lunch (or stop by Glendale's Mario Italian Deli and grab some sandwiches). Head up to The Brand. Spend the day wandering the grounds. Browse the aisles. Enjoy the view.
Surrounding the library is a 31 acre park which offers hiking and biking trails, a basketball court, softball field, children's playground, the Whispering Pines Teahouse and Friendship Garden and the Doctors Museum & Gazebo. And if you've been there all day don't forget to stop by Foxy's for dinner.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Who's Got the Book? Los Angeles Times 'Reading L.A.' project

Los Angeles Times Architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne, has given himself a project this year. He will read two Southern California-centric architecture and urbanism books a month throughout the next year and post brief essays on each to the Los Angeles Times Culture Monster blog. Here is a list of the books he currently has on his list, followed in parentheses by the local library systems that carry them in case you'd like to read along.

The library acronyms used below are Los Angeles Public Library system (LAPL), the County of Los Angeles Public Library system (COLA), the Pasadena/Glendale libraries (PPL), Santa Monica Library system (SMPL) and the Beverly Hills Public Library (BHPL).

January: "The Truth About Los Angeles," by Louis Adamic (1927) [none] and "Los Angeles," by Morrow Mayo (1933) [LAPL, PPL, SMPL].

February: "Southern California: An Island on the Land," by Carey McWilliams (1946) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL] and "Five California Architects," by Esther McCoy (1960) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL].

March: "Eden in Jeopardy: Man's Prodigal Meddling With the Environment," by Richard Lillard (1966) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL] and "The Fragmented Metropolis: Los Angeles 1850-1930," by Robert M. Fogelson (1967) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL].

April: "Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies," by Reyner Banham (1971) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL] and "Guide to the Ugliest Buildings of Los Angeles," by Richard Meltzer (1980) [PPL].

May: "L.A Freeway: An Appreciative Essay," by David Brodsly (1981) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL] and "Richard Neutra and the Search for Modern Architecture," by Thomas Hines (1982) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL].

June: "Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water," by Marc Reisner (1986) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL] and "City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles," by Mike Davis (1990) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL].

July: "Heteropolis: Los Angeles, the Riots and the Strange Beauty of Hetero-Architecture," by Charles Jencks (1993) [LAPL, PPL, BHPL]; "Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir," by D.J. Waldie (1996) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL]; and "The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory," by Norman M. Klein (1997) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL].

August: "Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses," edited by Elizabeth A.T. Smith (1999) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, BHPL] and "Magnetic Los Angeles: Planning the Twentieth-Century Metropolis," by Greg Hise (1999) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL].

September: "Eden by Design: The 1930 Olmsted-Bartholomew Plan for the Los Angeles Region," edited by Hise and William Deverell (2000) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL] and "The Drive-In, the Supermarket, and the Transformation of Commercial Space in Los Angeles, 1914-41," by Richard Longstreth (2000). [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL]

October: "Glitter Stucco and Dumpster Diving: Reflections on Building Production in the Vernacular City," by John Chase (2000) [LAPL, SMPL] and "Landscapes of Desire: Anglo Mythologies of Los Angeles," by William Alexander McClung (2000)LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL].

November: "Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles," by William Fulton (2001) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL] and "Form Follows Libido: Architecture and Richard Neutra in a Psychoanalytic Culture," by Sylvia Lavin (2005) [LAPL, PPL].

December: "Making Time: Essays on the Nature of Los Angeles," by William Fox (2006) [LAPL, COLA] and "Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City," by Robert Gottlieb (2007) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL].

I'll be reading along - revisiting some old favorites and (hopefully) finding some new ones!

UPDATE- Two additional books have been added to Hawthorne's project- The Provisional City: Los Angeles Stories of Architecture and Urbanism by Dana Cuff (2000) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL, BHPL] and The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space by William David Estrada (2008) [LAPL, PPL, COLA, SMPL]