27 April 2014


I had the idea today, at the very last minute, to do a little sketch of the Burbank Central Library for my boss. Our assistant director, Helen, is retiring after 30+ years, and the library supervisors are taking her to breakfast tomorrow morning, her second-to-last day!

She spent much of her career working in this building, so I thought it would be fun for her to have this. I'm not great at architecture (angles and perspective make me crazy) and this is some challenging architecture! This building is supposed to be a classic example of "Modernist New Formalism"(huh?) from the 1960s, but what that consists of is a LOT of different textures! There are bricks, there are tiles, there are posts, there are roof cut-outs, there are see-through patterned brick thingies, there are honeycomb walls in front of windows…all kind of a nightmare to draw. So rather than try to reproduce it exactly, I followed the example of others and tried to suggest rather than faithfully duplicate...but some of it was not too successful. (Fortunately, there was a LOT of foliage to hide a multitude of shortcomings.)

Still, it gives the flavor of the building, and perhaps Helen will like it as a small memento of her career.

If you want to see a document about this style of architecture, go here. Some lunatic is trying to get this building declared an historic resource. If he had to deal with the ancient plumbing, the noisy air conditioning, the lack of electrical outlets, the dicey elevator, and the horrible lines of sight inside, he might think differently!

Art with a purpose

We had an Open Mic Night for the teens at the library Friday night, and I was able to bring out my painting that I made for our first open mic night several years ago. My co-librarian Anarda and I had first gone to Burroughs High School to see their after-school open mic event to get an idea of what to expect, and one of the kids had made a great poster to put up on an easel behind the performers, which gave me the idea.

About a year before this, I had been out walking one morning and discovered a household a few blocks over where people were either cleaning out or moving out. By the curb, leaning against the trash cans, were four very large stretched canvases (maybe 3x5' each?). They were painted a horrible shade of turquoise, and were covered with little patches--the back side of velcro pairings; apparently they had been hung on the walls of someone's bedroom and had things stuck to them. I promptly jogged home, got my car, and came back for the canvases, but since I had switched my medium a few years before from acrylic to watercolor, they sat in my garage for some time. The advent of open mic night let me put one to use.

I gessoed over the turquoise, and went to the store to buy five very large tubes of acrylic in a particular color palate. I found a photo I liked online, drew a grid on it, and then duplicated that grid on my canvas. And over a weekend, I painted our "poster," which appears here in a photo behind Joey playing his trumpet on Friday night. Some of us can't play an instrument or sing, and painting isn't a talent that translates very well to the stage--but this is my contribution to our program. And it was fun, slopping acrylic around again!