Victory – The Historic Bridges Over The Los Angeles
Ink, acrylic, gold leaf, copper leaf, chalk and grommets on canvas drop cloth. 9’x12’. 2010.
At twelve feet tall, this painting has presence. My attraction to searching for existing buildings or my own location on old, panoramic maps shifted during the process of working on Victory. Instead of leaning over a book and tracing a path with my finger, twelve feet of painting leans over me, enveloping me, and declaring my presence in every inch of the composition. Likewise, it is fascinating to watch people identify with particular parts of the work, thereby understanding a location within a larger map of related monuments, which are (from North to South):
Victory – Detail
Detail showing the contrast of materials and techniques
The Fletcher Drive Bridge (1927, 469’) The Fletcher Drive Bridge was constructed as part of a grand boulevard plan for Northeast Los Angeles known as the “Great Fletcher Drive Improvement.” It is located in the Glendale Narrows which is the most central and longest stretch of natural habitat in the Los Angeles River.
The Riverside Drive Bridge - Figueroa (1927/1939, 451’, aka. Dayton Avenue Bridge) The original 1927 structure was damaged in flooding in 1937-8 and was mostly replaced by the current bridge, reflecting the upper deck aesthetic of the original, but supported from below by a metal truss. This bridge is a favorite of mine due to its contrasting elements or Beaux-Arts bridge design, Warren Truss construction and that ridiculous ninety degree turn in the middle of it. The Riverside Drive Bridge to Figueroa is slated for demolition and replacement in late 2010.
The North Broadway Viaduct (1911, 968’, originally The Buena Vista Viaduct) The Buena Vista Viaduct was the first of the monumental Beaux-Art bridges built over the Los Angeles as well as the first open-spandrel arched bridge in California. At the time of its opening it was also the longest and widest cement bridge in the state.
The North Spring Street Viaduct (1927, 682’) The North Spring Street Viaduct was built to relieve traffic congestion on the Buena Vista Viaduct and was designed to complete a sub-group (including The Buena Vista Viaduct and Main Street Bridge) of bridges unified through their classical theme. The Spring Street Viaduct is perhaps the most imminently endangered of all the historic bridges over the river as The Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering is currently fast-tracking a proposal which would eliminate the bridge’s Historic-Cultural Monument status and potentially demolish the bridge in order to add a bicycle lane and widen sidewalks. Passage of the BOE’s proposal would be a tragic precedent to set for the remainder of the river’s bridges.
The Main Street Bridge (1910, 280’) The shortest and most neglected of the historic bridges through downtown, The Main Street Bridge, is also the oldest, celebrating its centennial this year! The Main Street Bridge once sported a crisscrossed railing pattern and unusual light standards supporting cantilevered glass globes. What a marvelous birthday present it would be (for all of us) to see her adorned once again.
The Cesar Chavez Avenue Viaduct (1926, 1270’, originally The Macy Street Bridge) The Macy Street Bridge was designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style to commemorate its location along El Camino Real, a road linking the California missions originating in San Bruno, Baja California Sur through San Diego to Sonoma, California. It is the most ornately embellished bridge through Downtown Los Angeles.
The First Street Viaduct (1929, 1300’) The First Street Viaduct was built in a neo-classical style that includes five pairs of ornamental pylons which house viewing balconies. The First Street Bridge is currently being restored, as well as widened in order to accommodate the Gold Line Eastside Light Rail Extension, slated to be completed in April 2011.The Fourth Street Viaduct (1931, 1890’) The Fourth Street Viaduct is the only bridge over the Los Angeles exhibiting Gothic design elements. It is a long span, forking on the Western side and is (debatably) the iconic bridge of the Los Angeles Arts District.
The Sixth Street Viaduct (1932, 3546’) At two thirds of a mile long, the Sixth Street Viaduct is the longest, as well as youngest of the Los Angeles River bridges. With its pair of sweeping steel arches and unique Classical Moderne design, it is considered by many to be the Crown Jewel of the bridge collection. The future of this remarkable structure looks bleak. Afflicted with alkali-silica reaction (ASR), a chemical reaction which affects the structural integrity of cement, the bridge structure has been substantially weakened. The Bureau of Engineering is pushing for an expedited and thorough bridge replacement. Many members of the community are hoping for alternative options.
The Seventh Street Viaduct (1910/1927, 1530’) At first glance, the Seventh Street Viaduct appears to be a double-decker bridge. On closer inspection, one discovers that an original 1910 street car bridge supports a 1927 addition that was constructed to carry automobile traffic over the grade level train tracks. The interior of the bridge is not accessible by vehicle.
The Olympic Boulevard Viaduct (1925, 1420’, originally 9th Street Viaduct) The 9th Street Viaduct was re-named in honor of the 1932 Olympics, held in Los Angeles. It was the first span to be completed under Los Angele’s bridge replacement push in mid 20s and is stylistically more organic and delicate than subsequent bridge structures. The ornamental pylons which support the lamp posts protrude past the edges of the deck, giving the bridge a rhythmically patterned silhouette.
The Washington Boulevard Bridge (1930, 312’) The most notable features of the Washington Boulevard Bridge are the terra cotta friezes which adorn two pairs of monumental pylons at the entrances to the bridge. These bas relief panels depict engineers, laborers and equipment operators entrenched in the art of bridge design and construction.
The Los Angeles through Downtown – Triptych
Ink, acrylic, gold leaf, bleach on singed linen. 8” x10” each.
The Golden Gate Bridge
Ink, acrylic, copper leaf, bleach on singed linen. 26” x 52”.
The Golden Gate Bridge (1937, 1.7 miles) At the time of its opening, the Art Deco style Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge with the tallest suspension towers in the world. The deck of the bridge is suspended from two cables made of 80,000 miles of wire, at a height of 220 feet above the high water mark. Painting the bridge International Orange, a color chosen to complement its environment as well as increase its visibility in fog, upwards of thirty staff painters work continuously to abate corrosion of the all steel edifice. One of the most iconic structures in the United States, the WPA era Golden Gate Bridge was declared one of the modern Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The Sixth Street Viaduct
Ink, acrylic, gold leaf, bleach on singed linen. 24” x 48”.
The Fourth Street Viaduct
Ink, acrylic, gold leaf, bleach on singed linen. 15” x 45”.
Light On The Olympic Boulevard Viaduct
Ink, acrylic, gold leaf, bleach on singed linen. 15” x 45”.
Ink, acrylic, bleach, gold leaf on singed linen. 36” x 48”. 2008.
Envisioned in the 1920’s by George Ellery Hale and conceptually modeled after The Athenaeum of London (a club whose members included distinguished individuals known for their scientific, literary and artistic eminence as well as men recognized as patrons of the afore mentioned pursuits), The Athenaeum at Caltech was designed by Gordon Kaufmann to provide an environment where faculty, students and associates could exchange intellectual, cultural, and social ideas. The first formal dinner was held in February 1931. Three Nobel Prize winners, Albert Einstein, Robert A. Millikan, and A. A. Michelson, attended that dinner. Today, exclusive membership is available to associates of Caltech, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Huntington Library and Art Gallery, and the Palomar Observatory.
Acrylic, copper leaf, bleach on singed linen. 36” x 48”.
Southern California Edison, Electric Power Station #3 was built in 1902 by John Parkinson and was originally part of the Edison Electric Company. In 1992, the building was registered as Historic Cultural Los Angeles City Landmark #388 and currently serves as the iconic structure of the Brewery Arts Complex as well as a location for film and television. The frequently photographed Paradox Iron facade is a remnant from the 1994 film “Color of Night.”
The Fine Arts Building Diptych
Ink, acrylic, bleach, metal leaf on singed linen. 15” x 30” each.
Originally constructed for artist studios, artisan workshops and dealer showrooms, The Fine Arts Building was designed by Albert R. Walker and Percy A. Eisen and completed in 1926. The ornate, Romanesque Revival facade is embellished with architectural detailing including two enormous figures representing Architecture and Sculpture, created and designed by Burt Johnson, which recline at the second and third levels. The interior art works include display cases for art and Batchelder tile on arches, columns, and the shallow pool in the center of the lobby. Figures representing various fine and decorative arts kneel atop interior columns, and were designed by Johnson, but sculpted by Kathleen B. Ingels under the supervision of Ernest Batchelder. Sold four years after its completion, the Fine Arts Building has never fully realized its intended purpose of becoming a cultural mecca for Los Angeles.
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