Halloween in Hancock Park is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. If you’re not familiar with Hancock Park, and neighboring Windsor Square, it’s because it’s one of LA’s best kept secrets.
The affluent neighborhood was founded in the early 1920’s by developer – philanthropist George Allan Hancock, and includes roughly 1200 homes. The homes tend to be architecturally significant, sitting on palatial lots, frequently with guest homes and pools tucked behind them. And when it comes to Halloween, these magnificent homes are frequently decorated to the nines. Why? Because trick or treaters come flocking to these homes by the thousands… and I’m not exaggerating. I’ve seen it first hand year after year.
The magic starts at sundown, with the youngest goblins strolling in. As the moon rises in the night sky, the streets get more and more crowded. The lines outside each home can be 50 to 100 deep, with zombie cheerleaders, biker babies and little mermaids filling their bags with some of the best candy south of Melrose avenue. One of my clients who lives in the neighborhood told me he spends on average of $500 a year, or more, on candy. With numbers like that, maybe I should be donning a mask and making the rounds too… kidding. Seriously tho, It’s so much fun to see so many happy faces making the rounds, awed by the Disney-esk mansions. Maybe someday when they’re older, they’ll come to truly appreciate theses grand Mediterranean and Spanish Revival homes for their architecture… but for now, it’s all about the Candy.
I’m thrilled to announce the debut of my new TV pilot Artful Living with Romi Cortier! The concept has been years in the making, inspired by my multiple DIY mural making videos on Youtube, of which I have over 1,500,000 views. Yes, that’s 1 1/2 million views!!
Artful Living with Romi Cortier is a celebration of Art, Architecture and Interior Design. As an artist and a purveyor of good taste, I want to focus on what’s right and beautiful in this world. There is so much to be explored, and that’s our concept for this show. Interviews with designers, artists, architects, scholars, all threaded together by the history of the built environment. Art Deco, Hollywood Regency, Post Modernism… they’re all words we’ve heard, but what do they really mean? I’ll help you understand that in my show, and I’ll also show you some fun DIY tricks for things that you can do around your own home.
And did I happen to mention that my co-host is the cutest white Pomeranian you’ve ever seen? Her name is Coco, aka Malibu Pom, which is the name of her Instagram page. (Hey, this is Hollywood and all the cool pups here have their own Instagram accounts). But what’s even more fun is that she actually LOVES riding around in the car with the top down, cruising Rodeo Drive and brunching at Villa Blanca. If there’s a camera around you can bet Coco has a smile on her face… and with that cute mug she makes friends everywhere she goes.
In this pilot episode you’ll learn a little bit about the history of Palm Springs and some of the hallmarks of mid-century modernism. You’ll also see a beautiful mid-century inspired table setting that I created, which was done in front of a mural that I’d painted earlier that day. The Mural was inspired by the drawings of Saul Lewitt whose work I’d seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I like to think of Op Art (optical illusion art) as an art movement that dovetails nicely with mid-century modernism, because it has it roots in the early 1960’s.
Here’s a close up look at a few of the details on the table. The plates with the platinum dots are from my personal collection of Bernardaud (fine china from France), and the crystal glass is by Reed and Barton available at Bloomingdales.
Here are our two cameramen making the magic happen while on set in Palm Springs: Willy Lazlo and Jacob Kelso… it takes a village, especially when it’s over 100 degrees!
And lastly, here’s a great photo from our wrap party with our editors Antone Hammers and Amanda Bliss Taylor. They were hands down an extraordinary duo. Antone was our story editor and created the rough cut, and Amanda created the finished product complete with a final polish. And most importantly, meet our producer Recio Carrington Young of Red Carpet Recio Productions. He pulled together this amazing team, spent countless hours with our editors choosing music, directing cuts, and creating the overall tone of the show.
We’d really love your support and hope you’ll check out the pilot while it’s available on Go Indie TV. Please follow the link below to watch the entire 22 minute pilot for free.
There’s an exciting new design trend happening in Los Angeles… RED!
This color isn’t for the faint of heart. From a psychological point of view, red is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination, passion, desire and love. Physiologically, it enhances human metabolism, increases the respiration rate, and raises blood pressure. It also attracts attention more than any other color and often times signifies danger. So why use red for the exterior of a building?
The use of the color red for interiors and exteriors can be traced back to the roaring 1920’s. The Formosa Cafe, founded in 1925, started out in a red trolley car. Today, while currently closed, the historically protected building still sports a red exterior. And Bullocks Wilshire, one of the cities most important art deco buildings, features this amazing geometric red paneled ceilings in one of its upstairs offices.
During the last forty to fifty years, red was reserved for things like signage and neon as a way to grab your attention while driving by. The colors red, orange and yellow were also frequently used in fast food, or quick service establishments, as a way to move their patrons through quickly. Remember the days of seeing a red stripe at eye level around a beige or tan room? It was known to quicken your heart rate, and keep you from feeling to comfortable. So you’d eat your burgers and fries quickly, and keep it pushing.
Red is considered a primary color, along with yellow and blue. And if you think about it, you rarely see any building exteriors in a primary color. That said, times are changing. Maybe it’s a desire to stand out in a world that feels a bit to monochromatic. Or maybe it has something to do with the development of new materials that can withstand fading from the increasing warm sunny days in Southern California. Whatever the case, I think it’s trend worth taking notice of. That said, I sure would love to hear from people who work across the street from one of these buildings. Are they more productive than sister locations that don’t look at red buildings? Are tensions higher in these types of offices? Do the employees have better love lives?
When it comes to red, the one thing that never gets old in LA, is a red carpet! They conjure up a sense of excitement and anticipation. The Beverly Hills Hotel in recent years installed a permanent massive red carpet to welcome its guests. From a branding point of view, it’s quite brilliant. Whenever I take friends and family there, they’re always wowed and can’t wait to have their photo taken on it… myself included. We live in a world of social media, where photo ops are worth their weight in gold.
On May 18th, 2017, Grauman’s Chinese Theater will turn 90!
Try to imagine it’s 1927, and you’re invited to one of Hollywood’s most spectacular events. Thousands of people are lining Hollywood Boulevard in hopes of catching a glimpse of movie stars and celebrities of the era. Massive spotlights can be seen for miles. A Wurlitzer organ and 65-piece orchestra provide music for the prologue. And the premiere film is Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings, preceded by Glories of the Scriptures, a live prologue devised by master showman Sid Grauman. $2,000,000 sure could buy a lot back in those days.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of standing in front of the theater, it still thrills. And the change of energy as you step from the sidewalk into the forecourt, is palpable. Could it be the footprints and signatures of those glorious stars from Hollywood’s Golden Era who’ve left echoes of their lives in the concrete, letting us literally touch the past? Is it the feeling of being wrapped by 40-foot high curved walls with copper turrets, creating a big warm cosmic hug? Or is it the effects of amazing feng shui, as chi is channeled from the heavens down into those curved walls circling the forecourt before it breaks out onto the sidewalk. Whatever the case, it’s tangible and it’s exciting.
I was surprised to learn that the forecourt, designed by architect Raymond M. Kennedy of the firm Meyer and Holler, was inspired by St. Peter’s Square. Apparently there were lots of issues regarding morality during the early days of filmmaking, with great concern about the impact of movies on society in general. There was great social change happening at the turn of the 20th century as we transitioned from a Victorian sensibility into our modern era. It was absolutely scandalous for women to even show their ankles. And who could imagine that within 20 years women would be lopping off their hair into bobs, smoking cigarettes in public, and wearing slinky glitzy sheath dresses. Quite frankly, morality was going to hell in a hand basket, and those movies were promoting a degenerate lifestyle… as some would say. Therefore, the subtext of the theaters forecourt was meant to have a religious, and thus moral feeling to it. What a great way to use architecture and design to shape social attitudes. Below is a fantastic 1925 rendering by Mr. Kennedy, illustrating his idea for this slice of chinoiserie heaven.
The 18th of May is just a few days away, and I may have to drop by the theater again to see what kind of celebration is happening. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this interview that I recently had with Barbie artist Judy Ragagli, as she discusses the inspiration behind her painting Barbie in Hollywood.
The Laramie State Bank Building in Chicago is a feast for the eyes. Whether or not you’re a lover of Art Deco, you can’t help but notice this gem while driving by. The butterscotch colored terra cotta, created by the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
What started out as a one-story addition and remodel of a modest 1909 building, grew into a massive overhaul which was completed by 1929. Architects Meyer & Cook were responsible for the Deco makeover that features such details as: coins, squirrels, beehives, men at work, and the american eagle sinking it’s talons into the entire globe, all of which are symbols of industry and thrift. The moral of the story appears to be hard work and savings. The building resides at 5200 W. Chicago Avenue, on the corner of Laramie, in the community of Austin.
I found this building quite by accident, while driving to Oak Park to see all of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes and his personal studio last summer. It looked to be a short drive from the friends home that I was staying at. I dipped out early that Sunday morning while my friends slept, using google maps to find my way to Oak Park. The map looked simple, take a left anywhere, turn right at Chicago Avenue, and follow it all the way to Oak Park. As I rolled through the neighborhood, it appeared to be quite run down, and to be honest… downright scary. I saw the ‘Golden Arches’ of McDonald’s on my left and beelined it into the drive-thru for a quick bite. While waiting in line, I started observing the goings on in the parking lot…. hmmm. Drug deals, prostitution, it was very sketchy and I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I saw the amazing deco building sitting caddy corner and made a mental note to stop on my way back from Oak Park. If you’ve read previous posts on my blog, then you’ll see some of the other great buildings from my visit there, and I still have a few more to post.
Anyway, as I drove back from Oak Park, I parked my Jeep in the driveway of a different quick service restaurant, hopped out, and took a ton of photos in about 10 minutes. Yes, I was the only middle aged white guy with silver hair in the hood, so I sorta stood out. I simply smiled and said hello to those who looked at me, got my images and then bolted. When I got back to my friends house, I told her about my adventure. She said What! You went where?! Oh my god, don’t ever go there again, especially at night. You know when a fine looking black woman tells you to stay out of the hood, you’d better listen. I know I’m no Anderson Cooper covering some war torn country abroad, but I did feel like a bit of a rebel for being willing to get my blog photos. That said, so often these old buildings are in parts of town that are less than desirable. So you just have to throw on your best New York attitude and go for it. It’s always so rewarding when you come away with so many amazing images. I hope you like them as much as I do.