Friday, October 2, 2009

Well, Almost Every Day

Sometimes I'll take a picture of something I like, and it's not until I post it that I go Googling to figure out what it is. I just like it, is all. Then it's late, and I'm tired, and I think "Oh, I'll just post this." And wait just a minute there, fella! I uncover something. Or I almost do.

There's a lot of public art in Pasadena--sculptures, mosaics, etc. At Plaza Las Fuentes just east of City Hall you'll find fountains, sculptures and brightly colored tile walls across a wide plaza connecting All Saints Church, the Hotel Maryland apartments, McCormick & Schmick's, California Pizza Kitchen and the Westin Hotel. So, you get it: big plaza. Lots of fountains, lots and lots of tiles, very colorful.

The City of Pasadena website provides fantastic walking tour maps of the public art. The one for this area shows three different possibilities for what we're seeing right here: items 4, 5 and 6 on the map. Item 4, "Dreamer with Fish" fountain by Michael Lucaro (can't find him online but I find a Michael Lucero. Typo, or I'm giving you the wrong link.) In the foreground we have a fountain, and it looks like a dreamy kind of fish. The background must be Item 5, "Pasadena, the City of Roses" tile wall by Joyce Kozloff. Yes indeed, a tile wall with roses on it. That's gotta be it.

Now take a look at item 6. "Tile Fireplace," mantle water fountain, by Ernest A. Batchelder. If you don't know Batchelder, well, he was a Pasadena townie who made such beautiful tiles for which we are so nostalgic that if your home has a Batchelder fireplace the price goes up. The City's website doesn't say when the piece was made, but Batchelder was born in 1875 and died in 1957, so--before that.

Well dang, I don't know what a Tile Fireplace mantle water fountain is, but I'm pretty sure I don't see that in my pitcher. I gotta go back and uncover that particular hidden treasure.


Shell Sherree said...

Tunnel vision can be a good thing!

That's a beauty, Petrea ~ I love it all. {And I don't know what a Tile Fireplace mantle wall fountain is either.}

Laurie said...

I just love a capture mid-stride. Like freezing time.

Now, where are those Batchelders?!?

Katie said...

Cool photo! My eye is drawn right out to the beautiful tile work (and I too like the mid-stride people in the shot). But did you mention mosaics? Oooh I do hope to see some Pasadena mosaics soon!

Petrea said...

Now that I think about it, Shell, a tile fireplace mantle wall fountain might be a new wall fountain made from an old tile fireplace. I've brilliantly deduced this via the fact that the building where this work is located is post-1957. Perhaps a new use was found for a salvaged Batchelder work.

There are a couple in town I have to hunt down, Laurie. It's not like they're secrets, locals know them. I still feel like I'm new around here sometimes!

Katie, next time you come I'll plot out where they are and we'll do a mosaic tour. I believe you're leavin' on a jet plane any minute. Give my love to Dive.

jana said...

ah, of my favorite places to relax and contemplate...i've always admired the beautiful tilework in PLF, and you've captured its serene beauty in this great photo.

keep 'em comin!

Bellis said...

Oh goodie, a mystery! I'll head over there right away to look for the fireplace fountain. Batchelder lived on Arroyo Boulevard between California and La Loma - you can find his house by looking for tiles embedded in the pathway.
P. S. My favorite public artwork is No. 10, the mountain sheep fountain.

from cali said...

So many things I like about this photo: the City of Roses wall, the reflection in the glass, the CA casual style of the woman captured mid-stride and the fountain! NICE.

Dale Trader said...

In regards to No. 6, these Batchelder Fireplace pieces were saved from a house that was being demolished on NW corner of South Orange Grove and Maylin some years back, probably in the early 1980s. Dr. Robert Winter, who was on the Pasadena Historic Preservation Commission at the time, was instrumental in getting the tiles saved and stored for reuse later in this public art project. I was subsequently on the Historic Preservation Commission with Dr. Winter and have this information first hand from him. Dr. Winter lives in Batchelder's house on Arroyo and has a deep attachment to Batchelder's work.

Margaret said...

That's a lovely area to stroll around, great for little kids, who tend to adore all fountains.

Vanda said...

Those are really beautiful tiles. Makes you wonder about the house they came from, and whether it would have been better not to tear it down.

Petrea said...

Why thank you, Jana. Yeah, it's a nice spot. The day I took this was super-hot and I had found some shade.

I got some blurry shots of that mountain sheep lost Art Night, Bellis. Thanks for the tip on the Batchelder house. It's a private home (see Dale Trader's comment), so I'll be discreet and stay on the public road. I believe the current owner is opening it up for a tour during this year's Craftsman Weekend, is he not?

Merci, Cali!

Dale, you're a fountain of information! (Couldn't resist.) Can you tell us what happened over there? Was it demolished all at once or over the years? It was once "millionaire's row" and now it's condos. Though the mansions that still exist over there are lovely.

Margaret, I usually see footprints along the edges of the fountains there.

Vanda, though my pic doesn't include the Batchelder tiles that were moved I intend to seek them out for another post. These are lovely, though, and the plaza is has huge, colorful fountains and walls full of them.

Dale said...

The location where the particular mansion stood, where the fireplace is from, is still a vacant lot! Take a look at Google Maps and put in South Orange Grove and Maylin Street and look on the NW corner on Street View. Makes you wonder why it was so important to demolish the mansion.

The short story of South Orange Grove, Millionaires' Row, is that post WWII a number of the mansions had had become either rundown and/or subdivided into apartments or had become boarding houses, this due to many factors including their elderly owners could no longer afford to keep up the houses and keep servants, and proposals were put forth to start demolishing the mansions and build modern apartments. There was a big blow-up by the wealthy owners of the remaining well-kept mansions, and they went to city council, and a compromise was reached to allow developers only to build luxury apartments, which later became the upscale condominiums you see now.

However, many of the old mansions on South Orange Grove did survive and it's not likely anymore will be demolished.

It will be interesting to see whether the upscale condominiums from the late 1940's through the 1970's will remain much longer, or whether they will be replaced with something more modern and luxurious.

Chuck Pefley said...

Yes, I'm all too well acquainted with that "research" bit. We're so lucky to be able to find information at our keyboard these days, though. Used to take several phone calls, and sometimes a trip to show the image to someone who "should" know the subject matter.

Love the position of the people crossing the mouth of this space.

Linda Dove said...

I love art in public spaces. So important.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Dale. I never knew that and I love learning more about this town. It's so intriguing to me to picture that history.

Of course all this would be impossible without being able to search the web, wouldn't it, Chuck? Imagine having to go to the library every day to do your post! Actually, that sounds like fun. I'd do it if I could make a living at it.

I agree, Linda.

Ms M said...

Great photo; draws your eye right in to the scene. Looks like a lovely place to visit.
And very interesting to read the comments about the history.

Italo said...

huge photo!

L Barlow, AIA said...

The Batchelder fountain is in the wall just north of the shot you took. Robert Winter has an entire collection of these tiles in a shed on his property, and is mentoring an artist friend of mine who has some of the Batchelder molds and has created more from the tiles that Dr. Winter has.

Petrea said...

Wow, LB, that's a pretty fabulous link. Thanks.