The First Days of February ’24 (Photos from around DTLA)

I walk around downtown Los Angeles a lot. It’s an interesting neighborhood, because unlike most big cities, it’s not the central area that everything else revolves around. Sure there’s plenty of tourism (that’s inescapable in Los Angeles), but amongst the towering buildings and hustle and bustle it still manages to feel very local.

On my most recent string of walks I’ve snapped a new batch of photos with added commentary. Though I put less of a focus on post-processing these pictures than I did for the last entry, I put more work into the accompanying stories. Give and take. I also mixed in some pictures I constructed digitally, which I feel is fair game to include because I made them while in DTLA 😏.

Alright, let’s bury another time capsule.

I was going for an artsy and brutalistic angle of the LADWP headquarters. This is the largest municipal utility in the country (with the level of corruption scaled to match.)
Four years after Kobe Bryant’s tragic death, the Lakers installed a statue of him in the plaza in front of Arena. I’m not sure why these (multiple!) trucks were driving around broadcasting the official unveiling given the statue was blocked off from public viewing til the following day, but hey …. iPhone 15 on sale now.
I came back the following day to lay eyes on the bronze in-person. There was a steady stream of people coming and going, and a full block of vendors selling hats, t-shirts and anything else they could fit Kobe’s face on. As for the statue itself, it’s noticeably taller and situated more prominently than all the others in the plaza. Vanessa Bryant also commented during the dedication that the plan is for there to be three Kobe statues in total! I’ll keep an eye on the situation to see what comes to fruition.
Directly across the street from Arena and LA Live is a long-gestating mess of a project called Oceanwide Plaza. While initially this venture was meant to result in another glamorous high-rise in downtown Los Angeles, in 2019 the Chinese developer abandoned the site midstream when its home country cracked down on money exiting for foreign investment. The project is now a set of ghost towers, no more than skeletons haunting the skyline. In five years the most meaningful update we’ve gotten in relation to this type of downtown construction has been a disgraced city council-member, José Huizar, getting significant time in federal prison for taking bribes from developers.
Anyway, in the final days of January a graffiti “bombing” occurred at the Plaza when numerous street artists converged to spray paint nearly every floor of each structure. In the days since, this event has been received positively as an art piece by Angelenos, and the day I went to admire and photograph the work I encountered many people in the area doing the same. Nothing wrong with shining a spotlight on urban blight.
A few blocks away from Oceanwide is another piece of urban art worthy of examination. There are obviously a number of ways this project differs from the graffiti, and pretty much all of them underline how this one is worse. 1) It’s only done with permission; 2) It’s placed high enough in the air to be seen but not felt; 3) It’s not just corporate marketing, but its corporate marketing so outdated that the website being advertised leads to a broken link.
What’s good about it? An artist got paid.
For the first few weeks of January the state of California was preparing for the potential of an ARkStorm aka an Atmospheric River 1,000. In plain terms, this is a storm so fierce and that lasts so long that the whole state floods, and it’s estimated to occur every thousand years. The last time a storm in the region qualified as an ARk was during the early years of the Civil War (which, quick math, was not 1,000 years ago.) In the end, leave it to California to sizzle without the steak, because while the storm’s presence did force the PGA Tour to cancel the final day of its tournament at Pebble Beach, and though a tornado did briefing touch down in San Diego, the storm would not have been out of place in the midwest. Los Angeles even managed to find a benefit in the storm, as the excess rainfall pushed all of the toxic waste jamming up our gutters out into the ocean, where … everything will probably be fine. As evidenced in the video, it did get a little windy.
Passing out while standing up, but always ready for another hit of the good-good 🫠.
Los Angeles City Hall. Built in 1928, it remains a striking structure and a jewel of downtown. It sits at the southeast end of the pleasant and functional Grand Park, which plays host to many free community concerts and events throughout the year. One best kept secret for visitors is the top level of City Hall is freely open to the public, and it offers amazing 360 degree views of the city.
Neotropical environment.
I experimented taking a photo of these buildings in the reflection of the high-rise across the street. I then piled numerous post-processing edits on top of the photo, searching for another level to take the picture. I don’t know that I’d deem this final product “successful”, but by publishing it here I can no doubt deem that it was. Art is never finished, only abandoned.
You can fool the whole world,
down the highway of years,
and take pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
if you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

“Monitor” by Franz Kline (1956). This is hanging prominently at the MOCA, and it’s captured my attention because of its story; Kline had been making smaller works consisting of random brushstrokes when he saw one of his pieces blown up very large using an overhead projector. Kline loved the way his piece looked at that scale, and he set out to transcribe his random brushstrokes into a carefully painted larger version. Art is so often where you find it, and this piece checks all the right boxes for me.
I’ve been doing a personal project for a few years now where I make and send pictures to people on their birthdays as a gift. I consider these to be physical POAPs (Proof of Attendance Protocol) for people in my life. This picture, YELLOW SILLS, was the first one I ever made, and though I loved how the original turned out, over time I came to only see its flaws. This version above is an updated file that I re-crafted to better meet my standards; the benefit of creating in the digital age. I’m even paying to have it re-printed to deliver to my friend in anticipation for my upcoming visit. I’m happy to report that I believe I’ve gotten better at making pictures as I’ve accumulated more hours practicing. At the very least I’ve gotten less bad at it, which is progress all the same. I do wonder if I’ll only see flaws in this picture again in a year.
Here’s a new picture (co-created w/ AI) that underlines how I view my improved sense of taste. The image, STAR STRUCK, is from a small series called TRAILING EDGES, and it demonstrates my learned recognition that when literally anything can be created, maybe the most striking image is one of simplicity. We’ll see how long this newfound certainty lasts 😅.
Yup, my thoughts exactly.
It’s … an epidemic.
(The beer’s mine.)
Distracted driving has officially hit the e-scooter world. Unlike with cars though, the severity of the consequences should keep this in check.
This chair was hand painted by a professional artist and is on display in the hopes that it’ll sell as a piece of artwork. It doubles as a seat for any random passerby looking to take a load off.
At the corner of the high-trafficked area at Flower and 7th there’s premium advertising space above the Uniqlo. Unfortunately for deep-pocketed marketing teams, film director Wes Anderson’s June 23rd 2023 release Asteroid City apparently signed a year-long lease.
For the longest time the work of artist Keith Haring (1958-1990) leaned on the opaque side to my eye. This isn’t unusual, it’s the case for most artist’s whose story I’m unfamiliar with. That said, the more of Haring’s work that I saw, the more I vibed with it. I started to see what he thought was possible with his style, and I begun to see what he saw.
In the very back of The Broad’s gift shop (literally around an unseen corner) this portrait of Haring taken by photographer Annie Leibovitz hangs on the wall for sale. It might be the best application of Haring’s work I’ve ever seen, and it was the skeleton key that fully unlocked him for me. Seeing him literally wear and feel and embody his own work in this way made his art pop in a way that felt alive. I wish he’d worked more in this style, mixing his art with people. Alas, with more time maybe he would’ve.

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