Photo Essays


My parents, niece, nephew and sister-in-law met me in New York last April. For many years, I had been resisting the call to New York.  Crowded streets and underground transportation don’t appeal to me. I was happy to leave it all behind when I moved from Paris to Los Angeles. But my father insisted: “Tu dois voir New York!”

My French family doesn’t understand that, having only 2 weeks vacation a year, I’d rather spend it at Mono Lake or Big Sur – two out of the many dream spots that gorgeous California has to offer – than in a congested city. You see, my sister-in-law has 12 weeks paid vacation. I repeat: TWELVE WEEKS.  I rest my case. In fact, I stopped talking to her after she mentioned this little known fact. If I had twelve weeks paid vacation, I would probably spend one of them in New York.  

I must say at first I was put off by the many RULES OF CONDUCT postings we saw in the subway. By the time I spotted this sign on the Hell’s Kitchen street where we rented an apartment, I had it: “If you can’t even stand in your own street!!!!”

Seriously, I’ve never seen a NO STANDING sign in Los Angeles and for a moment I pondered the meaning of this one. Cars don’t stand, do they? Buildings do. Is this skyscraper truly blue or is it the sky reflecting in its windows? I call it the Cloud Scraper.

Loved the juxtaposition of past and present:

Visiting New York with my family meant we hit a lot of  tourists’ spots. 

(more…)

darkangels

littlegirl

sombrero

sadgirl

tallboy

Situated in the century-old Lincoln Park, Plaza de la Raza is the only multidisciplinary cultural arts center serving Latinos in Los Angeles. The organization was founded over 33 years ago by prominent labor, business and community leaders and incorporated into a non-profit cultural arts and educational center in 1970. Today, Plaza provides year-round programs in arts education and fosters the enrichment of all cultures. Through the arts, Plaza provides a vital human resource service, bridging geographic, social, artistic and cultural boundaries of Los Angeles and beyond.

Plaza de la Raza’s principal community-based program and crowning achievement of its 33-year legacy is the School of Performing and Visual Arts (SPVA). Since its inception in 1975, the SPVA has grown to provide 500-600 students each week with a full curriculum in theatre, dance, music and visual arts. Plaza recognizes the ability art has as an alternative to the often harsh experiences that come with growing up and living in Los Angeles’ inner city and is committed to providing a space where every student can give life to self-expression, innovation, creativity and individuality. Plaza also presents an energetic list of programs including performances on the Willie Velasquez outdoor stage and the Margo Albert Theatre. In the Boathouse Gallery, the school has exhibitions of work produced by its students ages five to adult.

clown

(more…)

eebo.jpg“By the late 1880s, the boom had peaked, and some of the dream of a new city East of Los Angeles had given way to concessions to certain other kinds of settlers. The black labor force settled into the East side, as did Italians, who would build much of the houses during the time, Germans and French, followed by the Russian Molokans and Armenians, who were fleeing the horrors of terror and repression in their respective homelands. The small pockets of Chinese and Japanese families that didn’t live in Little Tokyo or new Chinatown were also in East L.A., and Mexicans who had survived the push east were still very much a growing presence. Several years before, during the height of the first wave of xenophobia, the city fathers found it appropriate to move the local graveyard, far too close to the civic center, and for sanitation purposes, out to a then remote locale in East Los Angeles. Thus, the Evergreen Cemetery was established, and remains the resting site of many of the new settlers of East L.A.” From www.pbs.org/americanfamily/eastla.html.headstones1.jpgkyotaanigosh.jpg

It’s Sunday afternoon and I feel called to walk among our brave “early settlers” at the oldest cemetery in Los Angeles County as if one of them extended a personal invitation in my sleeping hours. As soon as I get out of my car and follow the paved road I wonder what I’m doing here. Suddenly I feel ashamed of my own oddity when I realize there is no one around., except a few young men who park themselves around a tomb with folding chairs and stereo. I say hello but I shy away from my desire to connect with the 3 in a city of millions who, like me, choose to spend their Sunday afternoon in a place which feels at this moment terribly empty when you have no living or dead one with whom to share it.

montgolfiere.jpg

discount-market.jpg

grief.jpg

I want to take a closer look at this beautiful statue I see in the background. I yearn to console and be consoled too. Whoever called me in to visit this place didn’t stay to welcome me.

Click here for more.

rsz_freedom.jpg

January 01, 2008

“The nineteenth century was an era of significant change for Santa Catalina Island. The Island was host to Spanish ships, Native Americans, Russian and Aleutian otter hunters, miners, ranchers, and a company of Union soldiers. As the century drew to a close the Island’s history took an interesting turn when the fishermen and sheepherders were joined by entrepreneurs with the foresight and vision to develop the Island into a resort community. ” www.ecatalina.com

rsz_cansticker2.jpg

toplesstacos.jpg

“At the time of first European contact, it is thought that the people living on Santa Catalina Island called their island Pimu and themselves Pimungans (or Pimuvit). They were excellent seamen and paddled their plank canoes skillfully across the sometimes treacherous channel to trade. After Spanish colonization, their apparently flourishing population declined drastically with the introduction of new diseases to which they had little immunity. As the mission system altered the economic landscape of Southern California, the Pimungans’ trade and social networks were disrupted.” www.catalina.com

rsz_spain.jpg

statue.jpg

rsz_phonefirst.jpg

“In the aftermath of this enormous culture shock, their society could no longer sustain itself. By the mid-1820s, the few Pimungans left had migrated or were moved to the mainland. The Pimungans, along with other Native American groups that were in the sphere of influence of Mission San Gabriel, came to be referred to in the European community as Gabrielinos. There are people living in the Southern California area today who have Gabrielinos among their ancestors. Some are actively involved in researching and preserving their traditional culture.” www.catalina.com

Click here for full essay.