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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Van Gogh, Monet and Rembrandt: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

This past April, my wife and teenage kids and I were back in Los Angeles for a three day family getaway. Day One highlights included: visiting the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, top of the Wilshire Grand, the La Brea Tar Pits

Day Two, after an early morning hike to the top of the Hollywood Sign, we drove from the AirBnB we were staying at to the Armand Hammer Museum in Westwood Village, adjacent to UCLA. 

Driving down Wilshire Blvd through Beverly Hills to Westwood. 

My daughter - now a senior in High School - outside the Hammer Museum. 

Entrance to the Hammer Museum, located at 10899 Wilshire Blvd, on the corner of Wilshire and Westwood Blvds in Westwood Village. 

According to their website, admission is "free for good." Meaning, permanently and with a progressive array of exhibitions and public programs (that's according to wikipedia). 

We didn't focus much on the political agenda, and instead enjoyed the (free) artwork. 

The very colorful and creative staircase walking in. This is the work of artist Yunhee Min, and apparently is only temporary - opening March 28 2019, and around only until October 27, 2019. 

Obligatory family photo. It had only been open a few days before we were there. Glad we were able to catch it. Really beautiful work. 

My son looking at glasswork sculpture. 

The "Richard Nixon Museum" - consisting of political buttons during the 37th Presidents' colorful and controversial political career. 

Nixon served as Vice President under Eisenhower from 1953-1961. He ran for President, narrowing loosing to John Kennedy, in 1960. He ran for governor of California in 1962, and lost. In perhaps one of the most remarkable political comebacks of all time, six years later he ran for President again, winning in 1968.

To avoid impeachment to his involvement in the Watergate break-in, Nixon resigned from office in April 1974. He remains the only President in US history to have done so. 

Nixon served in Congress, the Senate, as Vice President, and as President from 1947-1974. He - along with Ronald Reagan - are the only two US Presidents from California. Ironically, perhaps, both Republicans. 

I was unfamiliar with The Hammer, and assumed it was entirely contemporary artwork. 

Wrong. The Hammer also features a small collection of incredible classic works. To the left, Rembrandt's Portrait of a Man Holding a Black Hat (1637), to the right Titian's Portrait of a Man in Armor (1530).

The museum has two works by Vincent van Gogh. Above, The Sower Outskirts of Arles in the Background (1888).

Claude Monet's View of Bordighera (1894). 

My kid's admiring the Rembrandt. 

The Hammer is located at the corner of Wilshire & Westwood Blvd, consider the busiest intersection in Los Angeles. How many people drive or walk by this museum every day - having never been inside. Did I mention admission is free? And two hours of free parking in the city owned garage a couple blocks away? 

Outside in the courtyard. My daughter giving the thumbs up at the building to the left, my dad (her grandfather's) old office building. 

A slightly better view of 1962 Claud Beelman and Edward Larrabee Barness' office building. My dad's advertising firm was located here when we moved to Los Angeles in 1968. 

Formerly the Headquarters of Occidental Petroleum, the building was purchased by UCLA in 2015 for over $92 million and is being used as offices by the university. The ajacent Hammer Museum was formerly a parking garage and was opened in 1989. 

There was an temporary (Feb 10-May 12, 2019) exhibit of works by artist Allen Ruppersberg. Above: The Singing Posters: Allen Ginsberg’s Howl by Allen Ruppersberg (Parts I-III). 

Allen Ruppersberg, Cover Art (Space Adventures) 1985. 

More Allen Ruppersberg

Allen Ruppersberg, The Singing Posters: Allen Ginsberg's Howl by Allen Ruppersberg

Allen Ruppersberg's Reading Standing Up.

Allen Ruppersberg's Big Trouble (2010) - featuring Disney's Scrooge McDuck. 

The Hammer is unique with collection of both classical and modern works. 

Gift shop near the exit. 

There's an outdoor cafe towards the exit. And - of course - I liked seeing my dad's 1962 era office building. 

Heres' a link to The Hammer museum website. As mentioned, admission is free. And there's also two hours of free parking (practically unheard of in Los Angeles) in the public garage a couple of block at 1036 Broxton Avenue. 

Walking around Westwood Village afterwards. The building on the left on the corner is the 1929 Janns Investment Company Building.

The University Professional Building, located on the corner of Kinross and and Broxton. This 1929 era building is an excellent example of "Mediterranean Revival" style, and is typical of the historic architecture found in the Village. 

Back in the early/mid 1980's, when I was a student at UCLA, Westwood Village was THE place to go and experience, touting the tagline: "all roads lead to Westwood." It really felt that way. 

With the largest concentration of movie theaters in the world, the Village was absolutely packed Friday and Saturday nights. The decline of move theaters in general, and competition from other outdoor venues like The Grove and Third Street Promenade have made Westwood much less of a regional destination.

We opted for lunch at Northern Cafe in Westwood Village - which was outstanding. Great food, good price. Highly recommend! 

The Hammer Museum is located at 10899 Wilshire Blvd. 

We lived in Los Angeles for five years. We've have made numerous family visits as well. For some reason, we've never been to Beverly Hills. So that was next on our agenda.  

© 2019

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Hike to the Top of the Hollywood Sign, Brush Canyon Trailhead

The most iconic symbol of Los Angeles is also one of the most challenging to actually experience. 

My family and I were back in Los Angeles during our kids Spring Break - and my wife and I (finally) made it to the top of the Hollywood Sign. 

Technically you can NOT hike to the Hollywood Sign. However, there are several trails allowing you to hike to the top of Mount Lee, just behind the sign - with, potentially stunning views. 

We opted for the Bruch Canyon Trailhead. There was a small parking lot, with additional parking down the hill. Here's a couple links ("Trails to the Hollywood Sign" and "Hiking to the Sign" which we found very helpful. Please note: as of April 2017, the trailhead to the Hollyridge Trail is closed). Whichever route you choose, I strongly recommend doing a bit of research ahead of time.  

Above, a map of Los Angeles' 4310 acre (1,740 hectare) Griffith Park. The majority of the park is mountainous open space, with hiking trails along it's various canyons and ridges. Very different than, say, New York's Central Park or Chicago's Millennium Park. 

Where ever you start, know where you're going - even if it means just taking a photo of the route, which is what we did. Our destination was Mt. Lee, overlooking the Hollywood Sign. 

There was a small seasonal stream running down the canyon, which was beautiful. All this is within Los Angeles city limits. 

Looking up Brush Canyon. The hike was pleasant and cool when we started around 7am. 

While there's some great views along the trail, there's little or no shade. If you go - go early.

View of the Griffith Observatory (left). Beyond it, the skyline of Downtown Los Angeles

Pay attention to the signage, and your map. The Brush Canyon Trail is considered a moderate, three hour hike. It's 6.4 miles (10.2 km) roundtrip, with a 1,110 ft (335 m) elevation gain.

As you hike, you'll catch small glimpses of the Sign.

The "trail" is actually a fire road, which is actually paved towards the top.

In addition to some spectacular views from the "city side," the trail also offers views on the other side of Mount Lee, of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. 

Looking north with views of Forest Lawn Memorial Park, the Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Brothers Studios. Unknown to most people, only one of the six major studios (Paramount) is located in Hollywood proper.

Cahuenga Peak, adjacent to Mount Lee, was added to Griffith Park in December 2010. Our family, along with thousands of other individuals from around the world, made a small donation to this project. Here's a link with more information.

View of the Lake Hollywood, the reservoir in the Hollywood Hills. Here's a link to when my wife and I hike around the reservoir back in 2011. Which I'd recommend if you're looking for something more leisurely. 

Made it to the top. Was it worth it? You tell me.

There's a small, very handmade bench of sorts at the top. The City of Los Angeles is in a perpetual tug of war with an incredible landmark that people from all around the world want to see --- AND a group of wealthy and very influential homeowners that have worked to make access to the sign very difficult. In 2017, local residents were able to close access to the sign via the much shorter Hollyridge Trail. Which is too bad.

While you can see the sign - the backside of the sign - there is a fence preventing you from getting to the actual sign. Of course, people try. Don't be one of those people. 

Time to break out the "pano" feature on the iPhone.

And, of course, a selfie or two. 

In addition to views of downtown Los Angeles, there were views of Hollywood, Koreatown, and Miracle Mile district along Wilshire Blvd in the distance.

A final photo before heading back.

Apparently, there's a trail along the recently acquired Cahuenga Peak, but is described as a "rugged single track" trail. Maybe another time.

Heading back down. The fence to the left - with several "keep out" signs - are along the top of the Hollywood Sign. The City has gotten very serious about keeping hikers or adventurous types away from the actual sign. Again, please don't try it.

A final view looking over the fence with Beverly Hills, Century City, and the Pacific Ocean off in the distance. 

A view of the fireroad, plus Griffith Observatory and downtown Los Angeles, heading back. 

Unfortunately - there are no toilet facilities anywhere along the trail (or at the top). 

Back towards the parking lot.

The seasonal stream. Apparently, the Bronson Cave is located 1/2 a mile from here. The Bronson Cave has been used in many movies and TV shows, it's most famous role as the Batcave in the 1960's Batman TV Show.

Back at the parking lot. Our teenage kids were not excited about getting up at 6am for the hike. Sorry. They missed out. 

Heading back, we rolled up the the Emerson College, at Sunset Blvd and Gordon Street. Emerson main campus is is located in Boston. This is their West Coast extension campus.

Waiting for the light at Sunset and Gordon, I grabbed a final photo of the Hollywood Sign out my rear view mirror. 

Up next: The Hammer Museum, Westwood Village. 

© 2019