We got started early today. Our first stop was at the Costco gas station. We were not sure if our Canadian Costco membership would allow us to purchase gas in the US but our card worked like a charm and we got some reasonably priced gas.
We drove to Marilyn and Vergil's home. After feeding the fish, we set off to Watts, a community in Los Angeles.
Reta had heard about an art installation called The Watts Towers Art Center, which we thought we would explore. The neighbourhood of Watts has a bad reputation from the 60's riots and the movie, "Straight Out of Compton". We found the art center and found parking. We had arrived shortly after the center opened. The streets were quiet. We purchased a ticket to the guided tour of the art installation and waited for our tour to start. Reta and Vergil noticed a tree which was unfamiliar to Reta but Vergil knew what it was. It was a Bahinia or Hong Kong Orchid Tree. This tree had a small bud on it.
Bud on Bahinia or Hong Kong Orchid Tree
Marilyn and Vergil found that the Artist in Residence is Norma Rosen, a woman they have known for many years.
The Watts Towers are a work by Simon Rodia. Simon was a young man who emigrated to the United States in the late 1800's from Italy. He eventually arrived in Watts in about 1921 and purchased a lot with a small house on it. Simon was not an educated man but had a passion to build something. He used steel rebars wrapped with wire mesh, and hand mixed concrete imbedded with broken glass bottles and broken porcelain tiles, dishes and cups and his own artistic designs. Rodia emulated the towers and designs of his native Italy. He designed walls around his backyard in the shape of a ship and filled it with 17 towers. The tallest tower is 99 feet high. He built these towers without scaffolds or safety devises.
Rodia left Watts in 1954. He left his property to a neighbour who sold it and after a couple different owners the property became The Watts Towers Art Center in Simon Rodia Historic State Park. Today there is need for some rehabilitation of the towers and the work is being done by skilled preservationists.
We were greeted by a statue of a reclining woman/lady.
Two of the houses across the street from this art installation have decorated their fences in the same theme of discarded items that are repurposed.
Close-up of decorated fence
This picture shows the decoration on the visitors center.
Watts Towers Arts Center
Our guide, James, was very knowledgeable about the work that Rodia did. He was an excellent guide as he took us through the work. He described how many of the designs were made.
Peacock tiles in wall
Heart leads the art installation
After our tour we watched a video made in 1950's about this project. We were able to meet Rodia as he did his work and described it himself.
We then drove to see the Art District where there are a number of murals in downtown Los Angeles.
Reta spotted a decoration on a street light in Little Korea. This decoration features a fan with a Daruma Doll on it. This doll has one black eye and one white eye. Marilyn explained that when your wish is accomplished you can colour in the white eye with black.
Street decoration in Little Korea, picture on fan represents a Daruma Doll
We then went to the Autry Museum of the American West which is part of Griffith Park. Our first order of business was to get lunch. After we were fortified by acorn squash soup and sandwiches, we set off to explore the museum. This museum features artwork and artifacts from the American West, memorabilia from Western Movies dating back to the silent movies and displays featuring First Nations artifacts and art.
There was also a garden composed of western American vegetation.
Pony Express statue
Gene Autry statue, the singing cowboy
Reta found one display where a visitor can sit on a saddle in front of a green wall. The visitor is then recorded and shown on the television screen and it appears that the visitor is riding with a group of cowboys.
Reta rides into a cowboy scene
A bit further on Reta found a large fiberglass horse all saddled up and ready to ride.
Hey, Reta found another horse
We enjoyed the museum so long that we closed the museum. Reta took one last photo before we left.
First Nation statue
Reta took this photo of the skyline of Los Angeles as we drove south on I5 heading for home.
Los Angeles skyline
By the way, we did not stay on I5 for long, just long enough to get ourselves to another less popular freeway that took us east and south and back to Yorba Linda.
We had a wonderful supper at the Blue Agave Southwestern Grill. The guacamole made at your table was excellent.
We shared our photos back at Marilyn and Vergil's and said goodbye to our dear Los Angeles family.