I was born under the Hollywood Sign, at the Queen of Angels Hospital, Los Angeles, California. The medical operation is no more, but the building remains- now called "The Dream Center."
Hollywood, the city and the film industry it spawned, has often been called the "dream factory" both for the celluloid visions it produces and for the ambitious dreamers who arrive to produce the visions. They have left a deep imprint in the collective unconscious of the country and even of the world.
For the folks growing up under the sign, the imprint is multidimensional- not just celluloid images, but also first person memories on the streets and in the buildings. In my mind, personal and cinematic memories are confounded. Hazily recorded images from a half forgotten infancy and ever more distant youth become indistinguishable from old black and white photos and mental flashes of movie and TV scenes
Hollywood sign atop Mt. Lee in the distance. The Queen of Angels Hospital is one of the large buidlings beneath the sign
Hollywood has ghosts. If you believe in the paranormal, the city seems rife with such activity. And if you have no patience with or belief in such spirits, there are still ghosts. They are found in the places (and the memories of places) that still echo with the laughter and cries of those distant dream makers. These places resonate with history. They resonate with an emotion that only the passage of time and the accumulation of history calls forth- nostalgia.
The artworks presented here depict buildings chosen for that kind of resonance. Some are gone, demolished, living on only in someone's memories and in those old grainy black and white photos which long ago captured an instant of vitality. Others have been remodeled (or one might say defaced) beyond recognition. Some still stand and shine with their former and present glory.
Frolic Room is what I'd call a "living ghost." The locale is still there in its original form ( part of the Pantages Theater building opened in 1930). Once the hang out of Hollywood elite (in the years the Pantages hosted the Academy Awards 1948-1959) it is now known as THE dive bar of Hollywood.
detail of artwork
night view of the artwork featuring neon electroluminscent wire and LEDs.
32" x 38" x 4-1/2"
Schwab's is a ghost, opened in 1934, it closed its doors in 1983 and was demolished in 1988 to make way for Virgin Records Megastore, which has also been demolished.
I could not make out clearly what was in the window from looking at old photos so I invented something. I chose a picture of Charlie Chaplin as it was said he had permission to go behind the famous soda counter and make his milk shakes. All the bottles are hand turned on a mini lathe and depict period soda brands.
On this side I chose a photo of Lana Turner as there was a legend of her being discovered at the Schwab's soda fountain (although that legend is inaccurate). I included a movie poster from one of her films entitled "Imitation of Life" as a reference to both the nature of Hollywood films and representational art making.
46" x 18" x 8"
Like Frolic Room, Pantages is a living ghost, still showcasing theatrical and musical talent. There are stories about the ghost of Howard Hughes (a former owner who had his offices in the building) moving about. Artistically, this work took some creative dissection to succeed.
night view of artwork.
24" x 41-3/4" x 4"
John's Cafe was the first restaurant in Hollywood. It started with a guy serving hot dogs to the commuters waiting to take the train over the hill to Universal Studios. Eventually it became a haunt of the movie makers, notably Charlie Chaplin. The building is still there, but it is unrecognizable. Many details of this painting including the colors, were invented due to the haziness of the black and white period photo.
5121 Hollywood Blvd
5121 Hollywood Blvd.
14" x 12" x 2"
The old Red Cars.....long gone.
24" x 40" x 2-1/2"
Ciro's opened in 1940 and quickly became the dinner/dance club of choice for the entertainment industry elite. Today it is occupied by the Comedy Store. Of all the paranormal Hollywood ghosts Ciro's seems to harbor the most malvolent.
night view of the artwork
mixed media 24" x 38" x 8"
Sardi's became a subject matter for me because I admired its modern geometry and was shocked to discover it was built in 1932! But then I discovered the architect was Rudolph Schindler. My work up until now was always a search for historic, nostalgic locations but I am now thinking about the possibilities of depicting modernist subjects. As usual I had to take much liberty in interpreting the building into a sculpture.
42" x 15-1/2" x 7-3/4
The Warner Brothers theater is now called the "Pacific Theater" and the sign still exists on Hollywood Blvd. The original theater was constructed in 1926 and was set to open with the premier of their first talking picture, "The Jazz SInger" but brother Sam died just before the scheduled opening. Sam's ghost is said to haunt its halls.
Hotel Mark Twain
Hotel Mark Twain
19" x 32" x 5"
This I would call a soon to be ghost, unless a historic preservation society steps in. It sits atop a hotel on on Wilcox Ave just block south of Hollywood Blvd. It is what could be called a "fleabag" hotel. Seriously. Read the online reviews. Funny thing is, the only historical mention is from the 1940's and the hotel was even then described as, "...penitentiary like." Save the sign!
Macintosh Studio Clothes
Macintosh Studio Clothes 1.2 and 3
op.CCII, CCIII, CCIV
each 20" x 20" x 2"
This is the back of a building that fronts Hollywood Blvd. Doing some research I discovered that Macintosh Studio Clothes made men's suits for film productions. How old school Hollywood is that? It's gone. But a newer tenant, "the school of beauty" makes a fitting statement for an artwork.
Musso and Franks
Musso and Frank's
26-3/4" x 38" x 5-1/4"
Musso's is still there but the facade is completely transformed. I found a photo of the old facade in the back of Musso's, by the restrooms (which if you go there, you must visit in order to see the old vintage phone booths). I think I saw a ghost there. Weirdest thing. I'll tell the story another time. Oh, and by the way, the ghost of guess who inhabits this place? Again, Charlie Chaplin visits from time to time his old favorite booth by the front window.