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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Saint Monica and Joshua Tree

My best friend Monica Smith would often bemoan her early Catholic upbringing. Nonetheless, the southern California mecca, Santa Monica was named after Monica's patron saint and I will forever be mindful of her while visiting the site.

Just north of Venice the welcome sign says it's famous for it's sport fishing, yacht harbor, cafes and carnival rides. The entrance and palm-lined walkway border the beach.

We listened to Christmas songs in the 70 degree weather at the Santa Monica market.

A pending storm rolled in on Thanksgiving Day.

. . . so we headed over to Joshua Tree National Park

Where I had to sketch quickly before the storm moved in.

The next day we headed to both Getty museums. I caught this sketch of "Faustina" in one of the galleries.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Abbot Kinney's Dream

With the flip of a coin in 1898 Abbott Kinney won the rights to the marshy tract of land along the Pacific Ocean just south of Santa Monica. A businessman and real estate developer, Kinney developed his vision to create a cultural mecca - the Venice of America - while traveling in Europe. Despite his efforts at establishing a cultural mecca with gondolas and gondoliers  the dream morphed to accommodate the tastes of the beach-goers and summer holiday guests--the Coney Island of the Pacific complete with freak shows, foreign exhibits and carnival rides.

The canals have been cleaned up and the area has become one of the most desirable residential areas in Los Angeles. We walked the public paths that line the canals and provide a glimpse into the backyards and living rooms of residents.

The Venice Boardwalk borders the beach and maintains the amusement park identity. Cheap eateries, psychedelic shops and medical marijuana dispensaries lure locas and tourists alike. We were warned off the strip after dark "when the gangs come out".

A couple of blocks inland Abbot Kinney Avenue attracts a different set - hipsters and shoppers with enough expendable income that allows them to shop in the boutiques and eat in the upscale restaurants or at least pose in the daily line at Intelligencia coffee.

I did a quick sketch on the LAX Shuttle bus as we toured the parking lot dropping folks off at their respective lot locations.