Unreal Los Angeles + Historic Downtown Los Angeles photos

Unreal Los Angeles

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One can go to one’s neighborhood supermarket, casual restaurant or quick purchase store for a decade and never see the same people twice. Los Angeles loves to eat sushi, yet it is well-known that sushi is enjoyed in Japan only as food for special occasions. Yet at once Los Angeles does not have a native cuisines based on seafood, or from eating of the sea.

Zoom out:
The view from the New York Artworld:

Perry Rubenstein gallery: “Los Angeles is a new center. It looks today the way New York looked compared to Paris after the war.”
L&M Arts: The creativity is comparable to what New York was like at the time of the abstract expressionists.”
Mayor Guliani: “Los Angeles is a city on tape.”

Regal Rosslyn Royalty Hotel Los Angeles (photo by Vincent Johnson.2012)

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Vital Statistics:

Los Angeles is a semi-arid desert but imagines itself to be a Mediterranian tropical paradise. To help the projection of this vision, palm trees were planted, as well as two kinds of orange trees that bloomed in different parts of the year, producing the impression of year round endless bounty.  The first freeway in the U.S. opened in 1950 – between business downtown Los Angeles and suburban escape white shoe East Coast Pasadena. Cal Tech is in Pasadena, and was master planned to be the West Coast equivalent of MIT. The city of Los Angeles does not actually touch the Pacific Ocean. It borders what have become over the past 25 years uniformly upscale beach communities. Downtown Los Angeles is located some 15 miles inland, and is where LA was founded. The reason for this is that the Spanish did not want to have to defend the coast, and therefore built inland. The El Camino Real spans through LA and into Northern Cali. It is the road in which the Spanish Missions of California were built. Inside of Los Angeles one can drive across part of the remnant of the historic Route 66, which actually starts in front of the Art Institute of Chicago. The route ends at the Pacific Ocean. Both Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards were originally Indian trails, yet there is almost no representation of the American Indian indigenous tribes in LA. For several decades the San Fernando Valley, which is the northern half of Los Angeles, was home to hundreds of thousand of defense contractor jobs. During the 1990’s over a quarter million of these jobs disappeared when the US military redirected its government contracts. Parallel to this relationship with government provided employment, was Los Angeles was the home to the second largest number of federal government workers in the US. In Central Los Angeles, just a few minutes drive from the Santa Monica freeway, the interstate highway that racially and economically bisects Los Angeles, major architectural experiments were made. The one, across Rodeo boulevard, is a historic master planned community called the Village Green. It was originally named Baldwin Hills Village. It is a historic Mid-Century modern “Garden City” movement property. Los Angeles was seen as a tabula rasa. Planned as an oasis in the urban territory, the central feature was that it was and still is literally a series of apartments that face into the park, forming a barricade to the outside world. One enters ones car not by walking to the street, but through the park, where low-rise structures for parking and washing clothing are set nearby. The entire landscape is exquisitely manicured. Some residents live in what seem to be single family homes, but they are actually apartments that are attached to one side of the larger apartment building. The purpose of building this community was to give a means of rents being collected that would then be pooled to buy the properties. The underlying motivation for this project was to metaphorically repay the beaten down workers in Victorian England.

Hotel Vogue downtown Los Angeles (photo by Vincent Johnson.2012)

The second “South of the 10 Freeway” historically significant to master planners, is Leimert Park. Designed by Olmsted & Olmsted in 1927. It was restricted to white residents until 1948, when restrictive covenants were struck down by the Supreme Court. Its design features were developed to decrease automobile traffic near schools and churches. Utility wires were buried or hidden; it was designed primarily for middle-income families but given the appearance of an upper income community. Just north of Leimert Park is the historic West Adams neighborhood. Several mansions remain, including Busby Berkeley’s and Fatty Arbuckle’s. Many more are being restored, as is a small 1920’s farm, from a time when the area was at the outskirts of central Los Angeles.

In the late nineteenth century, there were dozens of hotels in the Hollywood Hills that served as respite from the harsh East Coast and Midwestern winters. Nothing remains of this today.
In the first decade of the 20th century, neon was introduced into the US through LA via Earl Anthony. He had visited Paris and seen the liquid fire neon light displays there, and paid to have two neon signs for his Packard automobile showroom in downtown LA.

The motel concept is from California. Once it was combined with fantasy neon signage in LA, the shattered dreamscape of Los Angeles it became the symbol of a new genre of filmmaking: the Neon Noir cinema. The infamous Bates motel on Sunset boulevard (from Alfred Hitchcock’s neon noir thriller Psycho) in the Silverlake neighborhood of LA has been demolished.

Green Royal Eldorado Hotel Los Angeles (photo by Vincent Johnson.2012)

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California


Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson, Nine Grayscale Paintings, Beacon Arts Center, Los Angeles, (2001). Oil on canvas. Each panel is 20×24 inches.
photograph of silver paint on my hands in studio, Los Angeles, during the creation of Nine Grayscale paintings.
Vincent Johnson – in Los Angeles studio working on Nine Grayscale Paintings, 2011

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California

Vincent Johnson received his MFA in Fine Art Painting from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was selected for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 for the Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.

3 thoughts on “Unreal Los Angeles + Historic Downtown Los Angeles photos

  1. Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Soho House, Los Angeles, Palihouse, West Los Angeles, Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, Locust Projects, Miami, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming are projects in Europe and Los Angeles. His most recent work, a series of nine grayscale paintings, was shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles in the group show entitled The Optimist’s Parking Lot. He will have a new cutout collage work in the upcoming The Bearden Project at the Studio Museum in Harlem, opening in New York on November 10, 2011. He also participated in the inaugural edition of Pulse Fair Los Angeles with Las Cienegas Projects. He is also participating in Locust Projects Miami’s annual benefit exhibition in the late fall of 2011.

  2. courtesy of sean kelly gallery, new york” href=”http://www.bassmuseum.org/art/laurent-grasso/#image_4026″ rel=”gallery”>French artist Laurent Grasso investigates shifting and multiple time frames in his conceptual art practice. His project at the Bass Museum of Art juxtaposes historical works from our permanent collection of Renaissance and Baroque art with his own series of paintings, sculptures, videos and neons. Here, Grasso provocatively forms literal and figurative connections between the past and the present.

  3. we know that critical theory defamed painting and said painters were the idiots of the artworld. it sees duchamp as its master, who once painted in paris, then stopped to entertain the idea of art as a world not of images but ideas. his geometric thinking overthrew the school of paris painters, including matisse and picasso. after this time america’s abstract expressionism, america’s first cultural product in the visual arts joined jazz on the world stage. it was the parisian intellectuals who told new york that the negro who was eventually renamed the african americans had produced a brilliant new musical form, jazz. paris also told new york that hollywood had in its ranks a handful of auteur film giants, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Douglas Sirk to name a few. abstract expressionist painting continued to be taught in american art schools, then fell away but painting as an artisinal craft continued to be taught across the nation. only a tiny amount american artists, much less than one percent, were invited to study critical theory and philosophy.

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