Posts tagged Los Angeles

A traditional two-step altar with a modern touch.Creative Commons Photo:Luis Rojas (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Tomorrow, November 2nd, marks Dia de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead – a long observed Mesoamerican tradition born from a marriage of indigenous folklore and the pre-existing All Soul’s Day Catholic festivities. The holiday began as syncretic practice, later evolving into a clear example of enculturation. Its celebration has long been a recognizable part of the Mexican-American experience and woven into the Los Angeles cultural landscape.

Traditional altars are set up during Dia de los Muertos to honor and prayer for the souls of the dead, each equipped with an arrangement of necessary spiritual and physical accessories to aid the deads’ transition to the afterlife. Below is a list of the most common components of a Dia de los Muertos altar.

Photo by Lemad.resaeva (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Fragrances, plants and flowers

The infusion of some flowers and herbs like bay leaf, thymus vulgaris, rosemary, and chamomile in a pot covered by a prickly-pear cactus leaf is said to produce a pleasing fragrance that helps guide souls back to Earth. Other aromas like copal resin and incense are also used.

The key component of a Day of the Dead altar is the floristic color, prominently characterized by the Mexican/Aztec Marigold (Targetes erecta). Their colors may vary, ranging from white, pink, yellow, or orange. Its flowers are used to form shapes and platters to make the altar more attractive; the flowers are often combined with other plants like the Chenille Plant (Acalypha hispida) and Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila paniculata). Other flowers not native to Mexico, like birds of paradise and tulips are also used to add to the color themes of the altar arrangements.

Another element is the inclusion of an ‘arched portal’ at the top level made out of vegetation using reeds, ferns or ferns. The portal symbolizes the entrance or gateway to the netherworld.

Here is the Targes erecta, the characteristic flower that surrounds all ‘Dia de Muertos’ representations of altars. Creative Commons photo: Ana Rodriguez Carrington (CC BY 2.0)

Sugar skulls
With the importation of sugar into the New World, the indigenous people of Mexico began sculpting sugar in the shape of skulls to portray their beloved departed.

Steps or Levels
Steps are used to represent the dualist perspective of the physical world, both sky and ground. When three levels are used, each level represents a plane of the spiritual world: Heaven, Earth & Purgatory (or the netherworld = Hades or Sheol in Hebrew [שְׁאוֹל]). Seven levels references the Seven Deadly Sins faced and overcome during a lifetime.

Papel Picado
The Aztecs used amate bark paper for carving or painting figures, deities, and sceneries as a codex. With the introduction of other paper types by the Spaniards, the indigenous population began using other colors and patterns. Yellow and purple symbolize purity and grief respectively, but other colors are used commonly as well.

Fire
The element of fire is represented using candles, their flame believed to be essential to guide the souls toward their afterlife journey. Some people arrange candles in the shape of the cross or to point out the four cardinal directions.

Water
A glass of water is meant to satiate the thirst of the souls. Mayans believed cenotes (sinkholes) were sacred entries to the netherworld, therefore some altars include a larger receptacle of water symbolizing cenotes.

Earth
The earthly plane is represened with fruits, seeds, spices, and other objects extracted from nature. Usually, corn kernel and cocoa beans are used to form artistic patterns at the foot of the altar. The arrangement also connotates a connection with the Book of Genesis/Bereshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית) and its devotion, “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.

Food
Since the journey of the dead is deemed long and difficult, the family of the deceased usually cooks his/her favorite meal, offering it as pleasing sustenance for their journey. Traditional food like mole, pozole, tacos, and tamales are often depicted, representative of Mexican cuisine. Pan de muertos (“bread of the dead”) is another important and characteristic component on its own, representing the bones and the tears of those souls seeking rest.

Some candles, sugar skulls, pottery and food are placed surrounded by flowers. Creative Commons photo: Angelica Portales (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Other elements
Families may also place personal items of the deceased like clothing, favorite objects, etc. at the altar. Some even quietly play the deceased’s favorite music while the altar is up.

Religious items may include imagery, rosaries, crucifixes, etc. while others add sculptures like the traditional black Itzcuintli Dog believed to guide souls across the Itzcuintlan River in the netherworld. For the same reason, coins supposedly made out of gold are placed at the altar – the fee to pay the boatman Caronte to sail his/her soul to the other side of the river.

Want to know more? The Chicago Tribune just shared a great post about the Anatomy of a Day of the Dead altar we highly recommend checking out.

 

“Architecture Exposed” LIGA Book Presentation
The Neutra VDL House invites you to the launch of the second book of LIGA, Space for Architecture, Mexico City. The volume “Architecture Exposed” has the exhibition of architecture as its central theme. Founding directors Wonne Ickx and Ruth Estevez, will engage in a conversation with architecture critic, historian and curator Sylvia Lavin on curating architecture.
When: October 28th, 4-6pm
Where: Neutra VDL House, 2300 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90039

Dia de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever
Hollywood Forever Cemetery is proud to present the 18th annual Dia de los Muertos festival:
The Legacy of Posada – El Legado De Posada. For our 18th Annual Dia de los Muertos, we tip our feather and flower adorned hat to the Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada. Over 100 years ago, Posada gave us many of the foundational images of Dia de los Muertos that are still venerated today and which have become treasured images of Mexican culture and identity. J.G. Posada reminds us that art is power – political and social speech – mass produced by the printing presses and now social media. Posada’s La Catrina asks us to embrace the beauty and grace inherent in facing our own death and the inevitable loss of those we love. By facing loss with love, and art, we find transcendence.
When: October 28th; 12pm – 12am
Where: Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Smorgasburg L.A.
Smorgasburg LA is open every Sunday on the five-acre site of the weekday Alameda Produce Market in Downtown Los Angeles, which is part of a larger, new development called ROW DTLA. Each Sunday, find dozens of exciting food vendors at Smorgasburg LA, plus sophisticated shopping from the realms of design, craft, style, vintage, wellness, and more. Cultural events, pop-ups, and other surprises transform the vast site into a new node in Downtown LA’s burgeoning scene, and a unique destination for the region.
When: October 29th; 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Where: The Row DTLA; 777 S. Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA

Sergei Tchoban Architectural Drawings
On Friday 27th of October at 4pm an afternoon lecture called Drawn Visions and book signing of the monograph Sergei Tchoban Architecture Drawings will take place at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles. This lecture is concurrent with Sergei Tchoban Architectural Drawings exhibition opening reception at the AD Museum at 7pm. The exhibition presents design sketches, imaginary travel studies and architectural fantasies depicting the contrasty dialogue between the historical and contemporary architecture. The show is on view at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum until 8th of January 2018.
When: October 27th, 4pm
Where: A+D Architecture and Design Museum; 900 E 4th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Pasadena Heritage Craftsman Weekend 2017
A tribute to Pasadena’s unique contributions to the American Arts & Crafts Movement, Craftsman Weekend is the largest most comprehensive celebration of the Craftsman Movement in the Western United States. The Weekend’s offerings will include a tour of significant Craftsman-era houses, a variety of bus and walking tours, an Exposition Show & Sale of over 40 exhibitors featuring antique and contemporary furniture and decorative arts, a silent auction, presentations and exclusive receptions at historic sites.
When: October 26th; 4:00 PM and October 29th, 8:00 PM
Where: Pasadena, CA

In Pursuit of Flora: 18th-Century Botanical Drawings from The Huntington’s Art Collections
European exploration of other lands during the so-called Age of Discovery revealed a vast new world of plant life that required description, cataloging, and recording. By the 18th century, the practice of botanical illustration had become an essential tool in the study of natural history. From lusciously detailed drawings of fruit and flowers by Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-1770), a collaborator of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, to depictions of more exotic examples by Matilda Conyers (1753-1803), “In Pursuit of Flora” reveals 18th-century European appreciation for the beauty of the natural world.
When: October 28th – February 19th, 2018
Where: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens; 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108

Edible Options for Harvested Seeds | San Bernardino Regional Seed Library Workshop
This month’s seed library presentation will be about edible seeds. We have spent the year so far talking about plant breeding, seed cleaning, seed saving…. but what about seed eating?! We will talk about which seeds are edible, and different cleaning and preparation techniques and seed eating around the globe. Some seeds are toxic though, and we will go over some of those too. But……of course… Always do your research before you eat interesting and unusual things out of the garden or the forest! Don’t forget to check out our “what to plant” list for this month in our seed library and pick up or drop off some seeds there, too!
When: October 28th, 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Where: Chino Basin Water Conservation District, 4594 San Bernardino Street, Montclair, CA 91763

CA Native Garden with James Maxwell
Join expert horticulturist, James Maxwell, as he explains the aspects of planting and caring for a California native garden. Learn about different California native plants, plant pairings for design possibilities, and the needs of native plants to better maintain them in your outdoor space. Also, discover how to incorporate native plants in your existing garden to reduce watering needs and improve wildlife habitat.
When: October 28th, 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Where: 2301 San Joaquin Hills Rd, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

When my parents moved to California, they settled down just east of Chinatown in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Lincoln Heights. At that time, my parents decided to settle there due to it’s close proximity to Chinatown and the relatively affordable rent. I spent a good part of my childhood exploring the neighborhood, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to truly appreciate the walkability Chinatown offers.

What makes Chinatown so walking friendly?

I believe it’s partially attributed to the Chinese culture, but also because of the dense residential layouts, short blocks, human scaled storefronts, and most importantly, the small businesses that serve the community. There’s a wide variety of shops ranging from family owned supermarkets, herb shops, seafood, eateries, bakeries, clothiers, and many more serving the tight knit community. Growing up, my parents did all of their shopping and errands within a few square miles. We purchased our birthday cakes at Queen Bakery and Phoenix Bakery, brought our produce at Ai Hoa Supermarket, and picked up fresh chicken from the local poultry shop.

But the small businesses environment in Chinatown is changing. There is now a mixture of new and old businesses that co-exist together, each serving different demographics, both culturally and generationally. The younger generation has moved away from Chinatown, leaving an increasingly elderly immigrant population that relies heavily upon the shops and services for their daily needs.
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Gabba Alley Project. Mural: DOURONE / Photo: Alissa Walker

Making LA Together Meet-and-Greet
Join us for the kickoff of the Making LA Together series with the four winning teams from our Making LA Together event, each representing Transportation, Water, Density, and Community. Here’s your chance to learn more about the projects, meet the people behind them, and find out how you can get involved to bring their ideas to life. RSVP on Facebook so we can give the bar a headcount!
When: July 16th, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Where: Tabula Rasa, 5125 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027

 

Summer Movie Nights at the LA River
Join Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, your neighbors, friends and family for an outdoor summer movie night at the Los Angeles River featuring Moana!!! Come enjoy the LA River informational booths, food trucks, and family fun activities. Make sure to bring a blanket and a comfortable chair. The movie will screen in the Los Angeles River channel!! You can bike, walk, or drive to the site. Limited parking available so get there early.
When: July 15, 2017 at 6:30pm – 10pm
Where: 5532 Imperial Hwy, South Gate, CA 90262

 

Choreography of the City: Hans Scharoun’s Philharmonie as a Landscape of the Mind
The In Studio drop-in program presents a demonstration by artist Jamie Sweetman. She explores drawing concepts on form, structure and composition using a variety of mark-making techniques, as in parallel lines, cross-hatching and contour lines. Following the demonstration, visitors are welcome to draw directly from nature in the Sculpture Garden as well as from works in the collections. Join each week to see a different demonstration, and come away with drawings of your own.
When: Thursday, July 27, 2017, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Where: Norton Simon Museum Entrance Gallery

 

Lotus Festival Echo Park Lake
It is an annual event showcasing the people and culture of Asia through verbal and stattionary arts, dances, dragon boat races, and entertainment offered free to the general public. The event is sponsred by the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and the Los Angeles lotus Festival, Inc.
When: July 15 at 12 PM to July 16 at 9 PM
Where: 751 Echo Park Ave, Los Angeles, California 90026

 

Concrete Poetry: Words and Sounds in Graphic Space
Drawn principally from the Getty Research Institute’s collection of prints, artists’ books, journals, and manuscripts documenting the international concrete poetry movement, this exhibition focuses on the visual, verbal, and sonic experiments of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Featuring works by foundational figures Augusto de Campos and Ian Hamilton Finlay, Concrete Poetry explores how these artists invented new forms such as cube poems and standing poems and continuously re-created their projects across media. Poetry by contemporaries including Henri Chopin, Ernst Jandl, Mary Ellen Solt, and Emmett Williams also plays a prominent role.
When: Thru July 30th, 2017
Where: Getty Research Institute

Photo by Gary Lai

All photos by Gary Lai.

Inspired by our recent viewing of La La Land, my wife and I felt compelled to make the trek up the hill to visit the Griffith Observatory. We had heard stories about the epic traffic caused by the popularity of the film, so we decided to take the LA DOT DASH shuttle from the Metro Redline Station at Vermont and Sunset up to our destination to make life easier.

It proved to be the right decision.

Cars stretched down to Los Feliz Boulevard, the traffic snaking upward from both the Greek Theater and from Fern Dell Drive routes up to the Observatory. Even though the DASH crawled up the same road as the rest of the traffic, we were eventually dropped off directly in front of the entry plaza while everyone else in their cars had to still navigate and battle for parking up top.

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The day was spectacularly clear with a moody sky perfect for an amateur iPhone photographer. Even though we had been to the Observatory many times, the trip never disappoints. The building itself screams nostalgia with its Art Deco architecture from a by-gone era of old Hollywood glamor. This combination of architecture and the breathtaking view offers a spectacular experience worthy of the crowds.

Photo by Gary Lai

Standing on the rooftop deck of the Griffith Park Observatory, the urbanist in me couldn’t help but imagine the view back in 1935, the sight of a central city surrounded by orchards, farmland and small, somewhat isolated communities. I would have surely been shocked to see a vast megapolis with long boulevards stretching toward the horizon.

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If the 1927 film Metropolis seemed far-fetched to my imaginary 1935 self – or even my former 1982 “Blade Runner” self  – surely this view would convince me that those  fictional visions of the future are entirely plausible. As we run out of developable land and concentrate on densification and in-fill, I hope that we will make smarter decisions to manage our growth in the next century as opposed to the last. It was something for my wife and me to contemplate as we made our way back down the hill on the shuttle in bumper-to-bumper traffic.