Tag Archives: silver lake

TECHNOLOGY: STREET ARTWORK LITERALLY “PHONY”

An electric utility box along Sunset Blvd. in Silver Lake, in Los Angeles, has been painted as an old-school public pay telephone. See pic below.

From a distance you might be fooled into thinking you were spying a real pay phone, albeit a questionably larger-than-life-size one. But, of course, it’s fake, a phony — literally a “phony” in the original sense of the word.

The painting is cartoon-like, but accurate in its rendering of the design and details of the phone. The real public pay phones were once common in cities around the United States, but have all but completely disappeared from American life.

The artwork is a cute and clever reminder of how quickly technology has changed and how physically pervasive and visible it can be in our lives.

As by-product of the explosive growth and adoption of cellphones, and later smartphones, over the past two decades is the erasure of pay phones from the urban landscape.

Calvin & Hobbes Mural at Dangerbird

Pictured here is artist David Flores’s super-Instagrammable and super-cute mural depicting the classic comicstrip characters Calvin and Hobbes at the Dangerbird Records building in Los Angeles. There’s a mashup of graphic visions at play here. Flore’s work has a impressionistic illustrative style that relies on strong clean lines that organize the surfaces of his subjects into panels in various hues of a thematic color. The challenge here is rendering that style on popular characters that have an established and easily recognizable graphic identity. Calvin and Hobbes are drawn in a style by Bill Waterson, their original creator, that is distinct. Flores has managed to faithfully render Waterson’s characters and style and yet bring his recognizable aesthetic to the artwork.

Bicycle-Shaped Bicycle Rack

There must be a word in the English language for when a thing is designed to look like another object with which it’s associated in some practical way, but we can’t find a suitable word. Take for example, this bicycle rack in Silver Lake, in Los Angeles. The rack is shaped like a set of bicycles. It’s a nice touch that makes an otherwise mundane, utilitarian piece of street furniture into an amusing part of the urban landscape. The bicycle shape of the rack communicates its purpose, making the rack easier to visually identify at a distance and thus the search for it that much easier. As for a suitable word, we suggest creating a new, more applicable word. Our suggestion: “resembladinger.” It’s a portmanteau we mashed up from the the words “resemble” and the old Germanic word “ding,” which means thing. We added an “-er” suffix for effect and to suggest it having a practical, tool-like quality. Any other suggestions? Let us know.

“Deface This” Trump Street Art

These repeated black-and-white “Deface This” and “Not Norml” (sic) posters of new U.S. President Donald Trump are funny political commentary and an invitation to a form of participatory art and creative activism. We’ve being seeing these pop up around Los Angeles the past week or so. The ones pictured here were on a utility box on Sunset Blvd. in L.A.’s hip Silver Lake neighborhood.

Locals Only

    Last weekend, we stumbled upon this throw pillow with the words “Locals Only” embroidered on it at the Mollusk Surf Shop in Silver Lake in Los Angeles. The pillow is a funny, cute mash-up of old-school, cliched surf-culture sentiment and a folksy, homespun style more fitting in grandma’s living room than a surfer fort at Lunada Bay. It’s not the kind of item that the average surf shop would stock, but then Mollusk is not an average surf shop and Silver Lake is not your average surf shop locale. It’s not a laidback seaside surf haven. That there’s even a surf shop in Silver Lake at all is an anomaly.

    Mollusk originated in San Francisco where it made a name for itself that traveled far beyond the Bay Area. It established a style and a reputation for great taste. And for selling interesting, quality surfboards from shapers who made their boards by hand and were influenced by retro designs. Whether it was a shortboard, longboard for a 1970s-inspired “mid-length” board with a single fin, by and large many of these surfboard makers themselves appreciated design and style and their aesthetic tastes were reflected in their boards. (And, by the way, yes, we surf and we enjoy nerding out on this stuff.)

    Then Mollusk opened up branches in LA. One is in Venice, LA’s infamous and gritty (if now largely gentrified) beach town. It’s not a mecca of great surfing nor great waves. In fact, the surf at Venice Beach sucks most of the time. But it is a block from the beach and central for the greater LA metro area, and it’s a hub for a creative surfer community. Surfers still paddle out into the waves at the Venice breakwater most days in spite of the poor surf conditions.

    Then there’s Silver Lake. It doesn’t have Venice’s location or vibe, but there’s a niche demographic overlap. SLake is home to a class of fashionable creative types (music, film, art, advertising, design), both the moneyed kind and the less-moneyed aspiring kind, and it’s a magnet for a generation of hipsters, some of whom surf or pretend to. Mollusk is right at home here and yet it’s also totally legit, albeit with those ironic, stylish “Locals Only” throw pillows strategically placed in the store.

    “Locals Only” has come a long way.  It was the kind of thing that one often encountered back in the ’70s and ’80s in the form of crudley spray-painted graffiti near remote or hardcore surf spots along Pacific Coast Highway or at a handlulf of certain “localised” beaches in the string of seaside communities up and down the California coast or in Hawaii. It was a warning to outsiders, one tinged with menace, not to surf that beach … or else. This localism was the harder-edged face of surf culture. So to see those words rendered on the kind of soft, cuddly pillow you might cozy up to on a sofa while sipping a cup of tea and savoring the prose of a Maya Angelou novel, well, it’s funny and brilliant.  Its trick is how it both deflates the inherent threat and danger associated with those words while in another way making those words even scarier.

     

    Warm Minimalist Shelf Architecture at A.P.C.

    The Parisian clothing and retail brand A.P.C. recently opened a shop in Silver Lake in Los Angeles. Like may of this French fashion label’s stores, whether it’s in Tokyo, Paris or New York, this new LA outpost has its own distinct interior design aesthetic, different from all the other A.P.C. stores, yet inscrutably “on brand” in its warm minimalism.

    A.P.C. stores embrace the constraints and quirks of the space they occupy and subtly absorb the character of the surrounding neighborhoods they’re in. At the Silver Lake store, the tiered shelving system is the foremost feature of the space. It’s a piece of architecture in and of itself within the shop space, built in smack in the center of the store and easily eating up much of the architectural footprint. Customers can walk through it.

    The plain distilled earthiness of the wood suggests a casual, clean organic aesthetic in sync with the Southern California “canyon spirit” style, but the thin bars of LED lights augment this with a restrained hint of the Hollywood glamor. All in all, it sweetly aligns with the the clothing brand’s style of fashion.

    DIY Taco Stand Architecture

    This taco stand popped up at the biannual Echo Park Craft Fair in Silver Lake this past weekend. It seems you can’t drive a block in Los Angeles wihtout seeing either a small taco joint, truck, take-out window or improvised stand. But this one is unique in a couple of ways, most notably in its architecture and construction. The do-it-yourself quality to the construction and use of materials is clever. Long wood boards have been slotted into the gaps in a stack of wood pallets. These pallets form columns and the boards function as shelves and a counter. The menu items are written in chalk on the side of the pallets. White fabric has been thrown over the contruction to form a roof. Then there is the decor. There’s a Tibetan Buddhist-style string of colorful flags strung along the top of the stand. Woven Mexican bowls on the columns add color. Potted plants accent the facade and rest on heavy wood blocks that help support the columns. It’s brilliant, though one wonders how structurally sound it is and whether it’s “up to code,” as they say.


    Cute Monster Stencil Street Art … Atwater Village, Los Angeles

    Atwater Village in Los Angeles is where we found this stencil street art of a cute Sesame Street muppets-like monster on the sidewalk. (If you’re looking for it, it’s in front of Kaldi Coffee on Glendale Blvd.) There’s not a lot of this type of street art in Atwater, but it’s not much of a surprise to find it here either.

    Atwater is a relaxed neighborhood tucked on a plain across the L.A. river north of and directly adjacent to the small mountainous areas of Silver Lake and Echo Park, L.A.’s long-established two-name combo of gentrified hipsterland. These two hoods feel very much a part of the city and have layers of grit and patination suggesting the edgy character of their pre-gentrification past. Atwater, on the other hand, only a couple of minutes drive away, feels like a quiet residential suburb a world away and is largely devoid of central L.A.’s gritty tinctures.  

    Yet it has captured the hipster overspill of cool restaurants and foodie haunts, third-wave espresso bars, indie book and record stores, vintage clothing shops and yoga studios that have signified the gentrification process in the Silver Lake and Echo Park for the past 10-15 years. With has come art and street art.

    That said, there’s some hipster cultural heritage in Atwater. In the 1990s, the Beastie Boys ran their mini music and Grand Royal magazine empire from offices and studios on Glendale Blvd., Atwater’s main drag. They recorded their seminal sample-heavy album “Paul’s Boutique” there, too. Atwater is also home to what some consider to be among the finest tacos in Los Angeles. For a segment a few years ago on his TV series “The Layover,” Anthony Bourdain stopped by Tacos Villa Corona, a microscopic hole-in-the-wall Mexican food joint that the Beasties used to frequent.

    “Love Wall” by JGoldcrown at Alfred Coffee … Silver Lake, Los Angeles

    UK artist J Goldcrown has made these “Lovewall” / “Bleeding Hearts” murals of simple, spray-painted hearts part of the urban scenery of Los Angeles and New York throughout the past year. This one is painted at the entrance to Alfred Coffee, a popular cafe in the fashionable “establishment hipster” neighborhood of Silver Lake in Los Angeles.

    “But First, Coffee” Curb … Silver Lake, Los Angeles

    The curb in front of the Alfred Coffee in Silver Lake, Los Angeles has been cheekily employed as signage, and as such a clever branding device that bears the cafe’s slogan in stenciled white-on-black paint: “But First, Coffee.” Whether this guerrilla marketing tactic is legal is unknown. (We suspect it isn’t legal and they didn’t ask the city for permission.) In the extreme car culture of L.A., where people are especially attuned to the meanings of the city’s various color-coded curb markings, finding free, legal street parking can be frustrating. Alfred Coffee brings a welcomed touch of levity to the experience, as well as a reminder of our caffeinated priorities.

    One more note … On the sidewalk is a purple stencil street art that riffs on graphic designer Milton Glaser’s iconic “I Heart NY” logo concept, but the graphical quality with this street stencil is muddled and it isn’t clear what the message is. But the “heart” part of the visual trope looks a lot like the face of legendary film actor Jack Nicholson as he appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”

    Tattered “Vegan Club” Poster … Silver Lake, Los Angeles

    Here’s another one of those Vegan Club wheat-pasted street art posters that have been popping up all over Los Angeles and New York. The posters have a guerla-marketing quality and are usually two-toned single color prints of a pop-cultural icon rendered in high-contrast. The one pictured here is on a utility box on the pavement off Sunset Blvd. in Silver Lake, in Los Angeles. There seem to be tons of these in Silver Lake and neighboring  Echo Park.

    The Beautiful Space at Mohawk Bend … Los Angeles

    We recently stopped by the restaurant Mohawk Bend in the Echo Park neighborhood near Silver Lake in Los Angeles. The restaurant lies at a spot on Sunset Boulevard near Mohawk Street and where Sunset curves or “bends,” hence the name. The space is beautiful, especially the back room, a cavernous space that’s filled with natural light during the day and by night glows with a beautiful fireplace flanked by stacked firewood. The place is a combination of contemporary high design, industrial patination, California beachwoodiness and 1970s-retro vintage modern. The food is pretty damn good, too. Their burgers were super yummy.

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    Good Morning, L.A.

    We’ve decamped to Los Angeles for a few days, where we like to start our days with serious coffee from Intelligentsia Coffee at our satellite Global Graphica home, at Sunset Junction in Silver Lake. Pictured below are a couple of Black Cat espresso shots and an Indonesian slow-pour coffee.

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