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.

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