Monday, May 21, 2007

Back Home Again

I’m in Los Angeles for the first time in my life, but it feels like coming home again. Here I am in a gray coastal city, misty and a little cold for the time of year, going on a hilly jog through a lovely neighborhood full of gorgeous homes with even prettier gardens. Rhododendrons and roses are in bloom everywhere and the trees, even on the planting strips of the neighborhood across Hilgard from the UCLA campus, seem primeval in their height and girth.

How is this not the Seattle of my girlhood?

True, I don’t ever remember seeing Variety lying in the driveways of the upper middle class. But I’m surprised at how much is familiar. And, after years of feeling intimidated to visit this other great city, all that anxiety about how I probably wouldn’t like L.A., how I was not pretty enough to be in L.A., how L.A. was not for me, seems pretty silly.

Strangest of all is this: the art in my hotel (the lovely and affordable UCLA Guest House), was done by a family friend. It may have even been done, in part by me!

That’s right. In college I worked in the art studio of our neighbor hand-coloring silk-screened prints with chalk. The artist, Susan Singleton, sold these prints in bulk to a gallery in a Design Center. The large editions were often purchased by hotels. The UCLA Guest House clearly purchased some and the lithograph outside my door is by Sue. Further down the hall is a triptych from her Clouds series, a series I vividly remember coloring. I would sit at a drafting table in her loft South of Pioneer Square, and color with pastels alongside 3 or 4 other artists. We listened to the Talking Heads, took breaks to dance, and practiced chalking and smearing. Only Sue and Nani, her best assistant, were allowed to make the trademark red squiggle at the end.

Uncanny. And very welcoming.


Anonymous said...

I, too, was shocked when I recently visited LA and found it a lot more like Seattle than I ever imagined. The view from Seattle growing up had LA as a glamorous, much warmer place. But after living in the South for more than a decade, LA seems downright chilly. And Seattle seems pretty darned glamorous.

bhadd said...

Received inspiration anyway might turn your authorship around. You mightn't draw--you're drawn though!

The Hood Company

Nani said...

Hi Anne,

Hello, long-lost Singleton Studio comrade! Susan forwarded me this link to your blog. Glad to see you're thriving.

It is funny to run into Singleton's art and think, "There's more of me in that than anyone would guess."

Some of her current work is layered over those old prints, so that's true even now!

It was John Rizzotto who got to do the squiggles, not me... You should see his paintings: You'll be astounded by their beauty and craft.

All the best, ~Nani